Ken Unsworth: Truly, Madly

Ken Unsworth at NGV AustraliaKen Unsworth’s dynamic and gravity-defying sculptural installations, featuring resin cast skeletons, grand pianos and saw blades, will be taking over the foyer spaces at NGV Australia in his first major Melbourne sculpture exhibition, Ken Unsworth: Truly, Madly.

Ranging from early sculptural works from the 1960s through to new works that have been created especially for this exhibition, Ken Unsworth: Truly, Madly highlights some of the key works from the more than fifty-year career of Melbourne born, Sydney-based sculptural artist Ken Unsworth. Working intuitively in combining juxtaposing elements, Unsworth references his personal experiences of love and death to create eye-catching installations that spark the viewer’s curiosity.

Highlights of the exhibition include, When the angel of the lord came down – which features a grand piano and pays homage to Unsworth’s wife, who was a concert pianist. A further highlight, Mind games, featuring two skeletons seated at a table, references the game of life and death and Unsworth’s fascination with the human body.

Never-before-seen works include Alphaville – an interactive display that features a montage of subliminal city sounds, including barking dogs, crying babies and prayer rituals, and nearly 5m high buildings that visitors can move amongst. A further new work, When snowflakes turn to stone, features a larger-than-life resin-cast skeleton surrounded by suspended stones and highlights Unsworth’s reoccurring exploration of the human body.

“Featuring works that span across Ken’s five-decade career, the exhibition highlights his ingenious ability to create interactive installations that will spark visitor curiosity,” says Tony Ellwood AM, Director NGV. “The installations feature meticulously arranged objects that often seem to defy gravity, and we hope visitors to the gallery will enjoy the opportunity to experience them here in Melbourne for the first time.”

Ken Unsworth was born in Melbourne in 1931. He studied at the University of Melbourne, Melbourne Teachers College, and the National Art School, Sydney. He has held several teaching positions, including Lecturer in Sculpture, Sydney College of Advanced Education. Unsworth has had numerous solo exhibitions, in Australia and overseas, including a major survey exhibition at the Art Gallery of New South Wales in 1998.

His works have been included in the Mildura Sculpture Triennial, 1973 and 1978; the Australian Sculpture Triennial, Melbourne, 1981, 1984 and 1993; Australian Perspecta, Sydney, 1981, 1985, 1987 and 1988; and the Biennale of Sydney, 1976, 1982, 1984, 1986, 1990 and 2000. He has also participated in major international exhibitions including the Paris Biennale, 1985; Magiciens de la Terre, Paris, 1989; and the Biennale of Istanbul, Turkey, 1995.

In 1978 Unsworth represented Australia at the Venice Biennale. He has has received numerous awards including the Bi-centenary Sculpture Competition Award in 1970, and the DAAD Scholarship, Berlin, in 1987. In 1989 he was awarded an Australian Creative Fellowship, and was made a Member of the Order of Australia for service to sculpture.

Published by ARTAND Foundation, esteemed art curator Anthony Bond OAM, has authored the book, Ken Unsworth. Celebrating the output of his art, the book features contributions by Australia’s leading art historians and curators including Daniel Thomas, William Wright, Felicity Fenner, Jill Sykes, Anna Johnson, and Rene Block who survey Unsworth’s painting, drawing,sculpture, performance, dance collaborations and land art.

Ken Unsworth: Truly, Madly
Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, Federation Square, Melbourne
Exhibition continues to 17 February 2019
Free admission

For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Ken Unsworth with his work, Mind games, 2014. plastic skeletons, aluminium, steel, wooden chairs, steel ball, electrical components 150.0 x 120.0 x 350.0 cm (installation) Collection of the artist © Ken Unsworth – photo by Eugene Hyland