First Class 17

31 March – 20 May 2018

As 2018 is the tenth year of the uniquely local and esteemed First Class series of exhibitions, we are going to celebrate! The series maintains a tradition of curating around a theme from outstanding work produced by Hunter and Central Coast HSC Visual Arts students from the previous year. Giving young artists a chance to exhibit in a professional gallery environment, the exhibition encourages audiences to experience the richness of talent and the voice of youth. Former First Class curators Kath Grushka, Jody Robinson, Ann Caddey, Tatiana Barista and Belinda Howden will be invited to the special anniversary opening alongside current First Class curators Lisa Who and Helen Willis. The selected artworks in First Class 17 demonstrate a questioning nature- 'where are we going?' We are seeing emerging trends of anxiety, displacment and vulnerability creating a darker malaise in today's youth. Through the avenue of visual arts, these students are revealing sophisticated observations of topical issues including urban and environmental chaos, gender conformity and unrealistic social expectations.

A gallery project curated by Lisa Who and Helen Willis.

Mikayla Pope Blue Cow 1.129 (detail), 2017, fake fur, acrylic paint on paper and board, dimension variable © the artist.

Hunter Red

26 May – 15 July 2018

The Hunter Red suite of exhibitions represents a collaborative vision shared by Hunter-based cultural institutions: Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery, Maitland Regional Art Gallery, Newcastle Art Gallery, Newcastle Museum and The Lock-Up Contemporary Art Space. It has encouraged the group to examine how they cooperate, collect, create, and communicate to a broader audience. Using a popular tourist drawcard as a springboard, the project subverts commonly held misconceptions and examines the present-day motivation of the region’s cultural institutions. A diverse narrative encompassing mutual support, collection sharing, and outstanding cultural practice, Hunter Red takes us to the core of examining identity and belief systems to represent a region that is multifaceted and rich.

A strategic partnership supported by each partner venue through their respective funding bodies.

Megan Cope, (detail) one of the artists working with community members during the Re(A)d Earth artist camps in the region. Photo Nicole Chaffey.

Re(A)d Earth

26 May – 15 July 2018

Re(A)d Earth presents perspectives on contemporary connection to Country for Aboriginal artists and acknowledges the notion of ‘reading’ the earth as elemental in Aboriginal culture. Building on the strength of existing cultural connections and knowledge in the region, the exhibition comprises two components: a formal exhibition and a series of ‘artist camps’ and workshops. The exhibition will be selected from the oeuvre of artists with a pre-existing relationship with the region: whether through commissions, exhibitions or community engagement. Among others, this group includes Jonathan Jones, Archie Moore, Yhonnie Scarce, Judy Watson, Megan Cope, Amala Groom and Chico Monks with artworks drawn from a range of disciplines and practices. By way of knowledge-sharing and mentorship, workshops preceding the exhibition encourage participating artists to make work in response to local stories and the environment for display in the exhibition. .

A galery project curated by Donna Biles Fernando and developed in consultation with the Aboriginal Reference Group.

Kathleen Paddoon NapanangkaNakarra Nakarra (detail), 2007Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander Works on Paper Collection Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery. Donated by Lake Macquarie Art Gallery Society, 2013 © the artist.