Sunday, May 13, 2018

Gallery Visit

This afternoon we tried to go to the cinema to see Five Seasons: The Gardens of Piet Oudolf, which was only showing this weekend. But unfortunately tickets were sold out before we got to the box office. Instead we went across the road to the Ballarat Art Gallery, where we joined a guided tour, then saw the special exhibit Eugene von Guérard: Artist Traveller.

Von Guérard travelled around south-eastern Australia for 28 years, recording what he saw in his sketchbooks. The exhibition includes many of the sketchbooks, and larger drawings and paintings based on his sketches.

Here's a larger drawing of a local landmark:
"Lal Lal Falls near Ballarat 29th February 1856"

This drawing is owned by the State Library of New South Wales, so it was nice to get the chance to see it in Ballarat. However there is something odd about it. Here is a normal summer view of the falls:
My photo from January 2015. No water falling at all.

And here is a winter view from July 2016:
A bit of water, but nothing like von Guérard's drawing.

In fact the only time I've seen the falls looking at all the way they do in the drawing was after massive spring rains in September 2016:
And then the whole gully was full of water, not dry as it appears in the drawing.

There is a book accompanying the exhibition, which includes a different version of the drawing, although with the same date. The drawing in the book shows a lot less water going over the falls, and looks more like my winter photo. The actual sketch that the two drawings were based on is not on display in the exhibition, so I don't know how much water von Guérard actually saw on his visit to the Falls in February 1856. But I think it is fair to say that he just imagined what the falls might look like with a lot of water in the drawing above.

Elsewhere in the gallery I was quite taken with a Butler's Tray with Folding Stand, made for Alfred Deakin (Australia's 2nd Prime Minister) by  F E Strangward some time between 1910 and 1930:

I love the quilt-like designs made of tiny pieces of timber.

In searching for more information about F E Strangward I found an article in The Argus of 16th August, 1933; a glowing review of an exhibition of his mosaic woodwork in Melbourne. The article was written by Arthur Streeton, art critic for The Argus at the time. There are several of Streeton's paintings in the Ballarat gallery in the same room as this piece of furniture.


  1. It is a much more romantic view of the falls to have the water tumbling over, the artist improving on nature. But as your photos show, it needs to go somewhere. It is interesting that the tree coverage around the falls is about the same.

  2. Thanks for the the lovely pictures, I will be sure to tell Mum, as she would love this exhibition. The woodwork is amazing. Funny that the painter would lie about the water, but then again, it would be hard to say here is a picture of rocks...when English are used to landscapes full of water and green....not dry and olive like the Australian bush.