On Friday 18 September, New England Regional Art Museum will open a new exhibition With Grace and Gratitude to unveil a major artwork donation, Hydrangeas 1947 by Grace Cossington Smith.
Hydrangeas has been donated to NERAM by the Packsaddle Committee who organise an annual exhibition to raise funds for NERAM with a particular focus on acquiring new works for the NERAM Art Collections. In the thirty-five years of Packsaddle’s history they have donated over seventy artworks by artists such as Aida Tomescu, Suzanne Archer, Gunter Christmann, Ros Laurie, Angus Nivison, Daphne Wallace and Marea Gazzard.
In 2011 Packsaddle instigated the Yellow Room Appeal that saw Maragret Olley’s Yellow Room Triptych 2007 become a celebrated work within the NERAM Collections. The Olley acquisition established a significant relationship with the Margaret Olley Art Trust and Philip Bacon which has both provided funding support for NERAM and paved the way for the acquisition of a museum-worthy Grace Cossington-Smith.
Packsaddle approached Philip Bacon in 2018 for help in their search for such a painting and he facilitated the acquisition in March of this year.
“Barry Pearce, Emeritus Professor at the Art Gallery of NSW and a good friend of Packsaddle, advised us many years ago that Grace Cossington Smith, a significant female artist, was not represented in the collections at NERAM,” said Moira Lloyd, Packsaddle Co-chair. “He thought it an oversight so ever since then we have been on a quest to find a suitable work to donate. This beautiful work is the result of that quest assisted by Philip Bacon who took on the search on our behalf.”
Grace Cossington Smith is one of Australia’s most celebrated 20th century painters and an important early exponent of modernism in Australia. She was known as an exceptional colourist and for vibrant paintings of her own domestic environment, flower arrangements and scenes of Sydney life.
“We are thrilled to reveal this marvellous new acquisition to the NERAM community and our visitors,” said Rachael Parsons, NERAM Director. “Grace Cossington Smith is a seminal Australian modernist artist previously unrepresented in the NERAM Collections. It is wonderful to now have such an exceptional example of her work at NERAM.”
“Packsaddle is a truly unique and quite extraordinary group of women, who have for thirty-five years dedicated their time, expertise and passion to supporting NERAM and living artists,” said Rachael Parsons. “Their annual exhibition is the longest running fundraiser of its nature in Australia and the funds raised have contributed to NERAM in a multitude of ways, from supporting exhibitions, buying lights, establishing and renovating the Packsaddle Studio and residence, contributing to our Adopt-An-Artwork program and of course the acquisition of new artworks. We are so grateful for their continued support and for this truly stunning new artwork.”
Hydrangeas will be shown for the first time at NERAM alongside a small selection of flower arrangement paintings from the Howard Hinton Collection. Viewing the work will be an intimate and quiet experience as only two people are permitted in the Dulce gallery space at one time to comply with COVID regulations.
“As Spring gets underway it is the perfect time to enjoy these gorgeous works,” said Rachael Parsons. “2020 has been a challenging year but this exhibition is a celebration and is full of joy. I think our community and visitors are going to love it.”
With Grace and Gratitude opens on Friday 18th September and will run until Sunday 15th November.