Five unmissable exhibitions opening in Victoria

Travelling Well | Sue Hewitt | Posted on 13 August 2019

Where to see Balenciaga, Liu Bolin and the Archibald Prize 2019 in Victoria. 

The NGV has the Terracotta Warriors and Heide has Mirka, but not all the art action is in Melbourne. This winter and spring some of the best art blockbusters will be on show at Victoria’s fine regional galleries. From Bendigo to Swan Hill, Geelong to the Yarra Valley, here’s five exhibitions worth travelling for.  


Slides: Winner Packing Room Prize 2019. Tessa MacKay, Through the Looking Glass, oil on linen, 210 x 330.5 cm. © the artist. Photo: AGNSW, Mim Stirling. Sitter: David Wenham, actor; Geelong Gallery, TarraWarra Museum of Art, Liu Bolin's Camouflage is headlining the Ballarat International Photo Biennale; Bendigo Art Gallery.



Five of the best regional exhibitions to see this spring

Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion

17 August – 10 November 

You don’t have to be a fashionista to appreciate the extraordinary talent and influence of one the great haute couture designers of the 20th century, Cristóbal Balenciaga. That’s why Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion will be one of the hottest tickets in town when it hits Bendigo later this month

Although you don’t expect x-rays in a fashion show, this is no ordinary exhibition and the x-rays reveal the tailoring genius of revered haute couture. Featuring more than 100 garments and hats crafted during Balenciaga’s most creative period in the 1950s and 1960s, as well as creations by his protégés and contemporary designers, this is the first time the exhibition from London’s Victoria and Albert Museum has been seen in the southern hemisphere.

Balenciaga dressed some of the most stylish women in the world including Ava Gardner and one of the world’s wealthiest women, Mona von Bismarck, who commissioned him to create everything from ballgowns to her gardening shorts.

Bendigo Art Gallery, 42 View Street, Bendigo. bendigoartgallery.com.au

Archibald Prize 2019

14 September – 5 November

You’ll see some familiar faces at the prestigious Archibald Prize 2019 exhibition, and not necessarily in the crowd. Actor David Wenham, singer Megan Washington and political commentator Annabel Crabb are some of the famous faces among the 51 portraits coming to TarraWarra in a touring exhibition of Australia’s most famous prize for portraiture. 

The hyperreal portrait of David Wenham, looking wistfully through a café window reflecting the streetscape, painted by West Australian artist Tessa MacKay, caught the eye of the Archibald’s head packer Brett Cuthbertson who awarded it this year's Packing Room Prize. But the $100,000 Archibald prize, now in its 98th year, went to Sydney painter Tony Costa’s portrait of fellow Australian artist Lindy Lee.

TarraWarra is the first stop on a national tour of the exhibition and the only place to see it in Victoria. 

TarraWarra Museum of Art, 313 Healesville-Yarra Glen Road, Healesville. twma.com.au

Liu Bolin: Camouflage

24 August to 20 October 

Now you see them, now you don’t. Within the photographic art work of Liu Bolin are hidden figures. The subjects are not painted as portraits, rather their entire bodies are painted to merge with the background. Hence, the title of this exhibition - Camouflage.

In one work, a background of vibrant, cartoon character balloons hides a man almost invisible in the riot of colour. The internationally acclaimed, Chinese artist, also known as The Invisible Man, will visit Australia for the first time to headline the Ballarat International Foto Biennale 2019. More than 80 photographs from Liu’s most important work entitled Hiding In The City spanning 14 years will be shown in Australia’s oldest and largest regional gallery.

Founded in 1884 the gallery’s expansive collection spans the ages from early colonial to modern art , and serves as a timeline reflecting our evolving story from the 19th century  boom times through industrial and agricultural events  to today. History buffs will want to take time to see the original flag raised at the 1854 Eureka Stockade rebellion, which has been held by the gallery since 1895.

Art Gallery of Ballarat, 40 Lydiard Street North, Ballarat. artgalleryofballarat.com.au

Model wearing grey cape by Nicolas Ghesquiere for Balenciaga, x-ray showing the bone and hooped skirt

Model wearing grey cape by Nicolas Ghesquiere for Balenciaga. Photo: David Sims for Vogue.  X-ray showing boning and hooped skirt. Photo: Nick Veasey.


Dovima with Sacha, cloche and suit by Balenciaga, Café des Deux Magots.

Dovima with Sacha, cloche and suit by Balenciaga, Café des Deux Magots, Paris, 1955, © The Richard Avedon Foundation.



The Greatest Team of All

20 September – 10 November

In Cat territory, you can’t ignore the impact of the Geelong Football Club. And when the club turns 160 years old, you need to mark it with an exhibition that kicks goals. Over several decades club historian and life-long Cats supporter Bob Gartland has amassed an extraordinary collection of memorabilia including 30,000 images of players.

Just in time for finals season, the Greatest Team of All exhibition selects treasured objects and images to tell the story of the club and its members. Among them is the original letter to Charles Brownlow’s widow offering to name an award in his honour.

Other highlights include numerous early premiership gold medals and possibly the oldest football club membership card in the world, dating back to 1864. When it comes to art, this historic gallery’s vast collection includes works of national significance such as Eugène von Guérard’s View of Geelong, 1856, and Frederick McCubbin’s A Bush Burial, 1890.

Geelong Gallery, 55 Little Malop Street, Geelong. geelonggallery.org.au

Tracey Moffatt’s Montages: The Full Cut, 1999-2015

11 October – 1 December

Tracey Moffatt’s works are held by the Tate Gallery in London, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, the National Gallery in Canberra and now they’re coming to Swan Hill. The internationally acclaimed Australian photographer and filmmaker spent 17 years collaborating with Melbourne-based film editor Gary Hillberg to produce a series of short films that form the Montages: The Full Cut exhibition.

The pair snipped and edited Hollywood footage, often using it in a way that was not intended, to create a series of eight montage films ranging from seven to 24 minutes long. This is the first time all eight have been shown together. 

It’s the latest exhibition in a gallery that first showed its collection on the paddle steamer Gem and then a wool barge until a purpose-built gallery opened in 1987.

Its collection of about 400 works includes impressive naïve works, Australian prints and drawings from the 1970s onward and art relating to the Swan Hill region.

Swan Hill Regional Gallery, Horseshoe Bend, Swan Hill. gallery.swanhill.vic.gov.au

RACV members can take advantage of discount entry fees to both the Ballarat International Foto Biennale and Liu Bolin's Camouflage exhibition