Del Kathryn Barton: The Highway is a Disco

NGV Del Kathryn Barton still from RED 2016Two-time Archibald prize-winner, Del Kathryn Barton will be celebrated in the largest ever exhibition of her work to date at National Gallery of Victoria in Del Kathryn Barton: The Highway is a Disco from 17 November 2017.

Featuring 150 new and recent works by Barton, The Highway is a Disco includes a comprehensive display of her paintings and drawings for which she is arguably best known. The exhibition also includes collage, sculpture, textiles and film, all drawn together by the artist’s exuberant and psychedelic aesthetic.

“With a practice spanning art, fashion and film, Barton’s psychedelic images reveal her personal responses to the human experience,” said Tony Ellwood, Director NGV. “She is one of Australia’s most popular artists, renowned for her highly intricate and distinctive hybrid forms, that break down boundaries between humans and nature.”

This show is deeply personal for Barton with the debut of her new sculpture, at the foot of your love – which has been created in response to her mother’s terminal illness. Completed in 2017 and comprised of printed silk and Huon pine, the sculpture is reflective of Barton’s reoccurring themes of motherhood and nature. Featuring a wooden conch shell and an enormous silk ‘handkerchief’, the work is symbolic of Barton’s grief for her own mother.

Barton’s newest and largest painting to date, sing blood-wings sing, comprises five panels and is over 10 metres in length. The painting features a female-focused reimagining of the 1963 Peter, Paul and Mary coming-of-age song, Puff the Magic Dragon. The artist often listens to the folk tune whilst working in her studio as a symbolic reminder to maintain her childlike curiosity through her artistic practice.

Her interpretation of the song and its meaning is depicted by four breasted, rainbow coloured dragons. In her signature style, she blurs human, mythological and animal representations in art, encouraging her audience to see how imagination and desire can test traditional forms.

The exhibition will also feature Barton’s acclaimed film RED – where Cate Blanchett plays a mother re-enacting the redback spider’s deadly mating ritual, alongside actor Alex Russell, Sydney Dance Company’s Charmene Yap and Barton’s own daughter Arella. In RED, Barton conveys the strength of women, the visceral power of female sexuality and encapsulates Barton’s multiple interests in feminism, nature and the maternal figure.

Born in Sydney in 1972, Barton graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the College of Fine Arts, University of New South Wales in 1993. She won her first Archibald prize in 2008 for her self-portrait with her two children and then again in 2013 for her portrait of Australian actor Hugo Weaving.

In 2015, Barton was awarded an Australian Film, Television and Radio School Creative Fellowship, following her directorial debut of The Nightingale and the Rose (2015). Her work is held in major public collections including: the Art Gallery of New South Wales; the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art; the National Gallery of Australia; the Art Gallery of South Australia, and the Museum of Old and New Art.

Del Kathryn Barton: The Highway is a Disco
Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, Federation Square, Melbourne
Exhibition: 17 November 2017 – 12 March 2018
Free admission

For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Del Kathryn Barton, still from RED, 2016. Collection of the artist © Del Kathryn Barton