Sublime Sea: Rapture and Reality

Tamara Dean, Endangered 1, 2018 (detail) - courtesy of Martin Browne Contemporary, SydneyA spectacular, immersive exhibition about the power of the sea in human imagination, Sublime Sea: Rapture and Reality comes to Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery from 14 December 2019.

With more than 100 superb examples of paintings, sculpture, photography, film and the decorative arts, the major summer exhibition reveals how the sense of wonder and awe that has driven artists across the centuries is heightened today as the sea itself is under threat.

Featuring loans from major galleries and museums around Australia including Rupert Bunny’s Sea Idyll, Greg Semu’s The Raft and Oswald Brierly’s Yacht Wanderer rounding Cape HornSublime Sea: Rapture and Reality evokes the overwhelming experience of nature, from intrepid journeys and mysterious grottos to the infinite space of the ocean.

“The exhibition shows how a sublime vision evokes intense beauty that transports the viewer beyond the everyday, as well as overwhelming fear that emphasises human insignificance and often a combination of both,” says Curator Dr Vivien Gaston.

The stars of the sea are also not forgotten – the exhibition includes video footage of the underwater ballet prowess of Australian swimmer and vaudeville/film performer Annette Kellermann – the first woman to defy conservatism and get arrested for sporting a one-piece bathing suit in 1907. Her famous mermaid costume also features in the exhibition.

Contemporary works – including photographic works by Todd McMillan, Anne Zahlaka, Petrina Hicks and Tamara Dean’s Endangered – winner of the 2019 Moran Contemporary Photographic Prize – reflect new realities and insights into human interaction with the sea, the tragic voyages of refugees, threat of plastic pollution and alienation from natural forces.

Evoking both exhilarating awe and disruptive challenge, Sublime Sea seeks a new understanding of our relationship with the beauty and power of natural forces.

The exhibition creates a new ‘cabinet of curiosities’ – combining art and the natural sciences, with spectacular and beautiful examples of marine creatures from Museum Victoria including a polar bear – paying homage to their individual lives, evoking their loss and signalling threats to their environment.

Sublime Sea crosses historical and museum boundaries and brings together art works, material objects and scientific specimens in a rich display that seeks to reinterpret how humans relate to the sea,” says Dr Gaston.

Sublime Sea: Rapture and Reality has been years in the making, and builds on the Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery’s rich history of developing and presenting outstanding exhibitions that focus on their coastal location, stories and relationship with the sea.

Sublime Sea: Rapture and Reality
Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery – Civic Reserve, Dunns Road, Mornington
Exhibition: 14 December 2019 – 23 February 2020
Entry fees apply

For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Tamara Dean, Endangered 1, 2018 (detail) Edition 8/8 archival pigment print on cotton rag paper. Collection of the artist – courtesy of Martin Browne Contemporary, Sydney