National Anthem / A New Order

AAR Brook Andrew, Emu, 2004Celebrating its first anniversary, Buxton Contemporary showcases Michael Buxton’s extraordinary gift to the University of Melbourne with two collection-based shows: National Anthem and A New Order – on display from 8 March 2019.

‘The response to the museum over the course of the first year of operations has been overwhelming’ says Ryan Johnston, Director, Buxton Contemporary. ‘And we look forward to welcoming even more visitors to our exciting program of exhibitions, performances and other events in 2019. “

“This year we will also launch a new education program with the Victorian College of the Arts, ensuring our remarkable collection of contemporary art is not only publicly accessible but actively used to foster and support new generations of Australian artists.”

To mark its first anniversary Buxton Contemporary has commissioned two distinctive collection-based exhibitions that explore topical currents in the Michael Buxton Collection and the wider cultural landscape. The projects offer audiences opportunities to examine key moments in the recent history of Australian art and ideas that continue to shape the nation.

National Anthem
National Anthem brings together twenty-four artists across generations who critically address Australian national identity. This exhibition is built around key works held in the Michael Buxton Collection at Buxton Contemporary, as well as artworks sourced beyond the collection. It reflects on how the desire for a singular national identity often excludes Indigenous histories and denies the multiplicity of voices, cultures and experiences that enrich, contest and enhance Australian life.

Buxton Collection artists Brook Andrew, Daniel Boyd, Juan Davila, Destiny Deacon, Tony Garifalakis, Tracey Moffatt, Callum Morton, Raquel Ormella, Mike Parr, Tony Schwensen and Paul Yore present works that challenge xenophobic, homophobic, misogynist and racist constructions of national identity.

“Through their practices,” says curator Dr Kate Just. “These artists ask us to consider: How can we acknowledge our colonial history and its impact on the present? How is personal and national identity formed in childhood? What are the issues and impacts of our ongoing connection to British authority and rule?”

“How effective are our national symbols, such as the Australian flag? How does queerness challenge and extend questions of national identity? How do we appear to nations outside our borders? How does our approach to migrants and refugees define us as a nation?”

The exhibition is expanded with the inclusion of a further fourteen artists who are established contributors to this timely dialogue. Deploying a diverse array of strategies, occupying critical perspectives and enacting different voices, Abdul Abdullah, Kay Abude, Hoda Afshar, Tony Albert, Archie Barry, Richard Bell, Ali Gumillya Baker, Janenne Eaton, Eugenia Lim, Hoang Tran Nguyen, Steven Rhall, Christian Thompson, Paul Yore and Siying Zhou radically challenge the fantasy of a singular national identity and translate or transform a lived experience of exclusion or oppression.

Dr Kate Just is a visual artist who works across sculpture, installation, textiles and photography. Just interweaves personal narratives and experiences with diverse histories. She has also curated a number of projects including Dream Weavers with Daine Singer for Contemporary Art Tasmania (2010) and Beckon at Perth Institute of Contemporary Art, with Kate Stones in (2006). She is Senior Lecturer, Graduate Coursework Coordinator at the School of Art, Victorian College of the Arts, Faculty of Fine Arts and Music, the University of Melbourne.

A New Order
There are innumerable ways to join the dots and build connection between the works in A New Order, all of which have been drawn from the Michael Buxton Collection at Buxton Contemporary.

“Within the exhibition and the work of its twelve artists,” says curator Linda Short. “We encounter many interconnecting themes. A will to order or react against it. A tendency for systematic and serial methods. A push and pull within processes that favour chance as much as rules.”

“Patterns become structures that can be seen as something more than composition, as intrinsic to the content of a work or even as its central subject. Found materials are re-purposed and given new logics, from simple objects to complex systems like language. Time and space are also used as a kind of ‘assisted readymade’.”

A New Order brings together the work of twelve artists, spanning three or more generations since the 1980s, who step through the categories of painting, drawing, sculpture, video and installation.

Key inclusions are Daniel Crooks’ ‘time-slicing’ video of Melbourne laneways, An Embroidery of Voids; Daniel von Sturmer’ The Truth Effect, a suite of small-scale video projections of simple studio objects animated to test the mind and eye; and Rosalie Gascoigne’s found-object and text assemblage, Conundrum – composed from her signature yellow retro-reflective road signs.

Also included are a selection of John Nixon’s minimalist paintings from his long-term endeavour known as the Experimental Painting Workshop; and an early example of Rose Nolan’s red-and-white painted fabric banners from the ­Big Word Combos series – a project that continues today. Other featured artists include Stephen Bram, Tony Clark, Emily Floyd, Diena Georgetti, Marco Fusinato, Mike Parr, and Constanze Zikos.

Linda Short is Exhibitions Curator at the State Library Victoria. She was previously curator at Heide Museum of Modern Art (2005—2017) where she produced exhibitions of contemporary and modern art, design and architecture. Short has collaborated with emerging and established artists to produce comprehensive survey exhibitions as well as commissioned projects of new work. Her previous exhibitions include; Born to Concrete: The Heide Collection – a touring exhibition which traveled to Sydney and Brisbane (2013–2014) and Alex Selenitsch: LIFE/TEXT (2015) – a survey of the artist’s multidisciplinary practice.

National Anthem / A New Order
Buxton Contemporary, Corner Dodds Street and Southbank Boulevard, Southbank
Exhibition: 8 March – 7 July 2019
Free entry

For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Brook Andrew, Emu, 2004. The University of Melbourne Art Collection, Michael Buxton Collection. Donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program by Michael and Janet Buxton 2018 © the artist