A blog devoted to culture in Western NSW, Australia. Western Plains Cultural Centre (WPCC) features Dubbo Regional Gallery - The Armati Bequest, Dubbo Regional Museum and Community Arts Centre presenting a diverse range of exhibitions and events.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010


To win a double pass to the screening of Séraphine presented by the Sydney Travellling Film Festival and Western Plains Cultural Centre this weekend, simply answer the following question:

Where was Séraphine de Senlis born and in what year?

The first to answer correctly by Midday Friday 19 March will win the double pass. The film is being screened at 5pm Saturday 20 March at Readings Cinema.

Leave your answer as a comment to this posting below. For privacy reasons, don't leave your contact details, we will send a post with the winner's name asking them to contact us directly. GOOD LUCK!

For more information regarding the Sydney Travelling Film Festival in Dubbo click here:


Thursday, 3 December 2009

As we near the end of 2009, there are three more shows to go before we see in the new year. This weekend sees the end of HOOKED ON BOOKS and GOOGLEGRAMS. If you haven't caught these shows, be quick before they go. Next up will be WORKING THE FRAMES, a Dubbo Regional Gallery permanent collection exhibition, using the NSW Visual Arts Curricula as its raison d'etre. This is an exhibition in which you will LEARN. The local competition of WASTE TO ART will inhabit the Children's Gallery, and will no doubt pull major crowds as it usually does.

PENNY VOLKOFSKY's exhibition SINGING will end on 13 December, to make way for LARA SCOLARI's LATENT, an exhibition of new paintings, sculpture and video, which will open on 19 December.

FAREWELL to BRIGETTE LEECE who finished up at the Centre this week. Brigette was Manager for the past 5 and a half years, and leaves us to be a full-time mum. We wish her all the best for her future.

This Sunday 6 December will see the scond ART MARKET to be held at the Centre. Beginning at 10am the markets will remain open until all is sold. Drop in and grab a unique christmas present.

Well-known Dubbo identity and Dubbo Regional Museum stalwart, Doug Sadler passed away last month after a long illness. Doug did so much for the city of Dubbo through his work as a teacher, historian, writer, researcher, and mentor, that his absence will be felt for many years to come. Our sympathy goes out to his family and friends.

Regional artist and gallerist Katie Barton also passed away in November after a short illness. Katie was an extremely active and passionate advocate for regional artists in the Central West. Her gallery, Percy Street Gallery in Wellington, was one of only a smattering of commercial outlets for artists living in this region. Her devotion to the arts drove everything that she did. She will be sorely missed and our thoughts are with her family and friends at this difficult time.

until next week.......

Monday, 9 November 2009

A is for Animals

People are fascinated by animal social organization and interactive behavior. Visitors to zoos and viewers of wildlife documentaries are captivated by meerkat social groups going about their business while a designated lookout remains on guard for danger, are intrigued by the incessant hierarchial interactions that occur within a group of ungulates, are awed by the sophisticated social organization of a hive of bees and amazed by the apparently telepathic communication between the members of a hunting pack of wild dogs. The political machinations of a group of chimpanzees approach a human level of sophistication with respect to the strategic development of alliances and the lobbying inherent in this process.

It can be seen in these scenarios that cooperative social behaviour usually functions to enhance the survival of families, tribes and communities by providing mechanisms for the division of resources and the resolution of conflict without resort to serious physical confrontation.

As human beings we’ve long been interested in contemplating the nature of our ‘superiority’ over animals. Our capacity for complex social organization (which culminates in the organization and administration of nations) far exceeds that of the most socially adept animals. War is a human behavioural phenomenon & represents an unusually deleterious manifestation of social organization and behaviour in which large scale conflict is employed to resolve issues as concrete as disputes over geographical boundaries and the resources they contain or as esoteric as disputes over divergent religious philosophies.

Our notions of superiority over animals have justified our putting them to use…as beasts of burden, for transport, as sources of food, vehicles for communication and for the purposes of war. With the advent of warriors mounted on horseback thousands of years before Christ animals became part of the machinery of war involved in skirmish and reconnaissance. Pack animals were crucial to maintaining armies during conflicts. The invention of the wheel gave rise to chariots and chariot warfare and armies that most effectively wielded these tools won battles. Other taxa of animal were given other roles….pigeons were used for communication, dogs and even pigs for the detection of ordinance. Other animals played an important role in maintaining morale as companions and mascots. And then there were those creatures that undermined war efforts…the opportunistic pests, scavengers and reservoirs of disease.

The utility of animals and their exploitation by man makes many people uneasy. The French philosopher & scientist Rene Descartes proposed in the 17th century that animals were automata; soulless machines with programmed responses & no capacity for pleasure or suffering. Modern philosophers disagree with this and argue that man has an ethical responsibility to consider the welfare of the animals which are being used. This is intuitive to anybody that has ever formed a relationship with a pet or contemplated the social behaviours of a group of wild animals. War is a human construct that causes premature and death and suffering in many of its participants, both human and non human. Animals as machines have been responsible for determining the outcomes of wars but it is our empathy with animals impacted by war that generates the most enduring cultural artefacts.
Senior Veterinarian, Taronga Western Plains Zoo
On the occasion of the Opening of A is for Animals: An A to Z of Animals in War at the Western Plains Cultural Centre.

Thursday, 29 October 2009


COUTURE OF PASSION ends this Sunday. This popular exhibition has been a huge success with audiences and will be making way for A IS FOR ANIMALS: AN A TO Z OF ANIMALS IN WAR fresh from the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. The exhibition will be officially opened on Friday 6 November at 6pm with special guest Dr Benn Bryant, Senior Verterinarian, Taronga Western Plains Zoo.

REGIONAL ART SPACE applications will be closing next Friday 6 November. Regional Artists are encouraged to apply for the opportunity to realise an exhibition at the Centre for 2010/11. Application forms can be found here.

The ANIMAL IN ART lecture series continues with a lecture to conincide with A IS FOR ANIMALS. To be held on Thursday 26 November, the lecture will explore Animals in War Zones and feature speakers from both the WPCC and Taronga Western Plains Zoo. The lecture will held be held at 7pm in the QantasLink Auditorium. Entry by gold coin donation.

Sunday 1 November is the inaugural ART MARKETS at the WPCC. Come down to the Centre anytime from 10am - 1pm and check the stalls and exhibitors and support this fantastic local initiative.

Having trouble leaving comments? See where it says the number of comments at the bottom of this entry below? (eg. 0 comments) Click on this to take you to the comments page and let us know what you think. We crave feedback!

Return to WPCC website.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009


Adnan Begic, Curator WPCC is leaving the Centre to pursue other opportunities. Adnan has finished this week after an 18-month stint in Dubbo. We would like to thank Adnan for his contribution to the Centre during this time and wish him well for his future endeavours. Thanks Adnan!

Kent Buchanan will be Acting Curator until the position is filled. Lea Tucker will be Acting Assistant Curator.

Reading Time will be staged in the Children's Gallery each Thursday at 11am until 6 December as part of Hooked On Books: The Albert Ullin Collection. All are welcome and its FREE.

This Business Called Art will be held this weekend (Saturday 24) at the WPCC. The ever-popular professional development workshops for artists will present three aspects of the art business. See previous blog post for details. Hurry book now!

Penny Volkofsky will be giving an artist talk this Saturday 24 at 2pm about her installation Singing in the Regional Art Space. Entry Free.

WPCC is pleased to present The Line of Lode & Death of Charlie Day by 2009 Blake Prize winner Angelica Mesiti in the New Media Space. Mesiti (who is also a member of the multimedia powerhouse The Kingpins) participated in a Broken Hill Art Exchange in 2002 and 2007. This video is the culmination of a collaboration with the community of Broken Hill. The Line of Lode... will be on display until 31 January 2010. (Watch out for the 2009 Blake Prize at WPCC in 2010)

Next up in the Main Gallery is A is for animals: An A to Z of Animals in War. This exhibition from the Australian War Memorial (AWM), was extremely popular whilst in display in Canberra. Using objects from the vast collection of the AWM, this exhibition will provide insight into the hitherto little known role animlas play in warfare. The official opening will be held on Friday 6 Novmber from 6 - 8pm. Special guest speaker will be Dr Benn Bryant, Senior Veterinarian, Taronga Western Plains Zoo. The exhibition will be on display from 7 November 2009 - 31 January 2010.

Until next time........

Return to WPCC website

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

(R)october 2009

The Western Plains Cultural Centre (WPCC) is a veritable nest of activity this October with a host of new shows and events to inspire and provoke.

  • In the Main Gallery is Couture of Passion: Costumes of Dame Joan Sutherland from the Opera Australia Collection which has been a big hit with audiences.
  • The Children's Gallery is playing host to an amazing array of original ilustrations from some of the most well-known Australian children's picture books from the collection of Albert Ullin (pioneering Melbourne children's book specialist). Hooked On Books will make you revisit your childhood bookshelf.
  • The Project Gallery features the amazing digital photomosaics of Spanish artist Joan Fontcuberta. Googlegrams features images created by the artist using Google Images and a host of search terms.
  • The Regional Art Space features a moving installation by local artist Penny Volkofsky. Singing features exquisitely constructed dresses formed out of relief-printed tissue paper. The works stand as memorials to individuals interred in the Dubbo Cemetery.
  • The New Media Space features an interactive project entitled Intimate Transactions. Developed by the Transmute Collective, the piece features a body-shelf on which the participant stands and controls an avatar on a screen, using only their body. An identical set-up at the Albury Regional Gallery, allows both particpants to interact on-screen.
  • The Museum Space features an exhibition entitled Dubbo 10: Community Voices which features objects from the Dubbo Regional Museum collection. 10 members of the Dubbo community were asked to respond to the objects and the results are a fascinating insight into the collection.
  • Check out are Fabulous Fifties display in the foyer display cases. Curated and sourced by WPCC Ambassador Mary Ratcliffe, it features a trove of objects that will take you back to those crazy 1950s.

Each Thursday morning at 11am, join our WPCC Ambassadors for book readings in the Children's Gallery until 6 December. All are welcome (there's plenty of pillows) and its free. Discover old favourites as well as new books you may not know.

50/50 VISION
This Saturday 17 October sees the Centre celebrate its 3rd birthday with a 1950s inspired family fun day. Continuing our decade-inspired events (last year's 20s theme was positively smashing), this year will see a visual explosion of the Fabulous Fifties! There'll be heaps of entertainment, food, exhibitions, dancing demonstrations, hula hoop competitions, 50s displays, music, movies.....fun for one and all! The celebrations kick off at 5pm and continue until 8pm. All are welcome and its FREE!

Saturday 24 October sees the next installment of the ever-popular professional development workshops for artists This Business Called Art. This session will feature 3 speakers discussing differing aspects of the art world - Curator Dr Julia Jones will present a session devoted to the fundamentals of Curating, Arts Lawyer Rebecca Laubi will explore the legal realm in relation to arts practice, and the Artists Anonymous session, Euan McLeod will give us the good oil on his career and experiences as a successful contemporary artist. The workshop will end with an artist talk by current Regional Art Space exhibiting artist Penny Volkofsky, about her haunting installation Singing. The workshop kicks of at 9am and will conclude at 4pm. Registration fee is $25 and includes morning tea and lunch. Contact the Centre on 02 6801 4444 for your space now!

The WPCC will be the venue for the inaugural Art Markets on Sunday 1 November from 10am - 1pm. The markets are being organised by the leader of our hardworking Guides, Waste to Art coordinator and general WPCC stalwart, Lee Cooper. Lee is keen to hear from any artists wishing to set up a stall on the day. Says Lee - "Artists are encouraged to set up a display of their works on the grassy area between the Outlook Cafe and No. 3 Oval (Cricket Oval). One should bring an umbrella (hoping for a sunny day), easels to display, folding chair/table and some float money. There will be access to some easels from the WPCC, and if the weather is inclement, works will be displayed in the QantasLink Auditorium." Further information is available from Lee Cooper on 02 6884 3498.

We would like your feedback on any of the information listed above so feel free to leave a comment or suggestion below by clicking on the COMMENTS button. Thanks.
Back to the WPCC website.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Andrew Frost Archibald Prize 09 Opening Address - Thursday 30 July 2009

Good evening.

The Archibald prize is the most accessible of art prizes. Yet it is also the most frustrating, beguiling, annoying, fascinating and infuriating prize, and more than that, it’s the also the essential art prize on Australia’s annual calendar of art events.

The Archibald Prize is a publicity magnet, it draws in the crowds, it has a decent purse attached to it and it can make the careers of artists. It is liked and loathed in equal measure... Its past controversies are well remembered too - and every New Year promises another.
I think we could agree that the Archibald Prize produces great paintings, some even win, and there are some terrible paintings, and some of these win too.

For any artist who enters the prize, they are potentially taking their place among the pantheon of the greats.

The Archibald’s grand tradition goes back to the teens of the last Century. J.F. Archibald, a journalist and the founding editor of The Bulletin, died in 1919 and bequeathed ten per cent of his £90,000 estate to the Art Gallery of NSW to set up an annual portrait prize. As Peter Ross’s history of the Archibald Let’s Face It wryly notes, the competition’s first year in 1921 was a period of great artistic innovation in Europe with Surrealism, Dadaism, Cubism and Futurism all existing side by side. In Australia, however, the tradition of 19th century academic portraiture was alive and well, as if preserved by its isolation from the rest of the artistic world like a lost land of dinosaurs

Complaints over the Archibald’s perceived lack of innovation, subjects and techniques were voiced by critics as early as 1920 and they seem eerily familiar to critical attitudes today. The Sydney Morning Herald noted in 1932 that “the prize has acted as a magnet to every person with even the most rudimentary knowledge of art. The work has been of an extremely varied nature, ranging from the very fine to most ludicrous and pathetic.” Writing in the Herald art critic John McDonald once described the Archibald competition – along with a range of other portrait themed competitions and exhibitions in Sydney timed to cash in on the Archibald excitement - as a disease. “I’ve often suspected that the Archibald Prize was an antipodean sickness,” he wrote, “but now it seems like a virus that has infected every venue in Sydney.”
The various celebrated instances of protest, litigation and controversy over the Archibald prize are all related to its struggle with the evolution of the contemporary practice of painting. The 1943 court case over William Dobell’s portrait of Joshua Smith – which, it was claimed, was a caricature and not a proper portrait – was eerily echoed in the legal stoush between rejected artist Tony Johansen and the trustees of the AGNSW over his claim that Craig Ruddy’s 2004 winning portrait of David Gulpilil was a drawing and not a proper painting. The Archibald’s controversies have taken on a traditionalist bent, much like the prize itself.
This maelstrom of claim and counter claim is forgotten every year and I have to confess that, no matter how I have felt about a year of entries and winners, I never miss the show. I always feel the excitement and anticipation of each new crop of finalists and hope, not so secretly, to be outraged, thrilled, excited and infuriated all over again. There’s nothing like the smell of oil paint in the morning.

I think the Archibald’s main success as an institution is its enduring popularity with the general public. It’s not for nothing that the Archibald attracts big crowds, not just at the opening and throughout its run at the Art Gallery of NSW, but at places such as here, as a selection of finalists and the winner goes on tour. What is it that makes this prize so appealing?
To look upon the faces of others in art, just as we do in our day to day life, is to make contact with humanity in its most immediate essence. The portrayal of the human body is the direct link between the art of virtually every culture on Earth, and our consistent fascination with the subjects of Archibald portraits is a demonstration of the most meaningful exchange between those people within a culture. I think art at its best when it’s a conversation between people, between the egalitarian impulse and the private need to commune with the creativity of others, to see the world how others see it. That to me is the value of the Archibald Prize, and the reason we all keep going back.

Thanks so much for asking me to be here tonight.

Without any further ado it gives me great pleasure to declare this exhibition open.
Thank you.

Andrew Frost, Writer & Host of ABC1s The Art Life