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Sydney cultural institutions launch new biennial survey of Australian art

Sydney cultural institutions launch new biennial survey of Australian art
April 21, 2016

The leaders of three of Sydney’s major cultural institutions - the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW), Carriageworks and the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA) – have joined to launch The National, a new biennial survey of contemporary Australian art.

Commencing as of March next year, The National will take place over a six-year period with editions presented also in 2019 and 2021.

Announcing the initiative, AGNSW Director Michael Brand stated “this major new initiative highlights what Sydney’s leading art institutions do best, that is, create a vibrant cultural life for the city and state.”

Brand added that the initiative was also about building art sector sustainability, commenting “what we need to do right now is profile innovative and exciting new art in Australia … another of the objectives (of The National) is to put Australian art on the international stage.”

MCA Director Elizabeth Ann Macgregor said that the trio had been in discussions over the past 18-months.

Explaining how the new survey would fit alongside the other major biennials, the Biennale of Sydney and the long running survey the Adelaide Biennial of Australian art, McGreggor advised “surely we have enough artists in Australia to be putting more exhibitions on like this. In no way is it intended as a competitor.

“It is time we get over this view in my mind.”

Ben Strout, Chief Executive of the Biennale of Sydney, supported The National in a statement, advising “this is good news for Australian artists and arts audiences in our city.

The National: New Australian Art will provide tremendous opportunities for engagement with contemporary Australian art in the years between the Biennale’s international exhibitions.”

The development of The National is being led by Suhanya Raffel, the AGNSW’s Deputy Director and Director of Collections; Carriageworks Director Lisa Havilah, Director and MCA Curatorial & Digital Director Blair French.

Curators for the 2017 edition of The National are Anneke Jaspers, Curator Contemporary Art and Wayne Tunnicliffe, Head Curator Australian Art, AGNSW; Lisa Havilah, Director and Nina Miall, Curator, Carriageworks; and Blair French, Director, Curatorial & Digital, MCA.

Image shows Michael Brand, Elizabeth Ann Macgregor and Lisa Havilah at the launch of The National.

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