fifty: Celebrating 50 Years of Collecting Fibre Art
This exhibition celebrates the Gallery’s 50th birthday by presenting a selection of the collection’s best-loved works alongside some of its rarely-seen gems. Established in 1968, Ararat Gallery TAMA has a distinctive place amongst Australia’s public galleries through its longstanding commitment to supporting and promoting textile and fibre art – a curatorial and collection focus that began in the early 1970s. Ararat’s decision to align itself with the fibre art movement at this time was a result of Federal and State Government support that provided a funding boost and a validation of craft. However, it’s the region’s historical association with fine merino wool production that ultimately secured the gallery’s fibre art specialisation. The half century milestone of the Ararat Gallery provides a moment to reflect on the importance of the TAMA collection. An extraordinary repository that tracks the development of textile and fibre based practice from the early 1970s through to today; a legacy elevating the TAMA collection to one of the most significant of its kind in Australia. A wide range of acquisitions including traditional quilts, tapestries, baskets and embroideries intersect with a visual arts practice that is increasingly challenging the demarcation of art and craft which blend artistic disciplines and blur the hierarchy of materials. Textile-based art has long been a broad field of endeavour transcending traditional craft media, but it is increasingly merging with painting, sculpture, performance and multi-media in unexpected ways. Ararat Gallery TAMA now finds its home in a bespoke refurbishment of the iconic Town Hall. Spanning over a year and a half in build time, the Gallery has new, expanded, exhibition spaces to showcase its permanent collection and a dedicated contemporary textile space.