Mambo show at Newcastle Art Gallery drawing big crowds

Wild about Mambo: Newcastle City Council cultural director Liz Burcham in front of a reproduction of Reg Mombassa's Australian Jesus on the golden motorbike. Picture: Simone De Peak

Wild about Mambo: Newcastle City Council cultural director Liz Burcham in front of a reproduction of Reg Mombassa's Australian Jesus on the golden motorbike. Picture: Simone De Peak

MAYBE it’s a tribute to Newcastle’s sense of humour, or love of the surf, or both, or neither. But the colourful Mambo exhibit at Newcastle Art Gallery has certainly found a local audience.

Mambo: 31 Years of Shelf Indulgence at the Newcastle Art Gallery. Music: Going Higher - bensound.com

The show, Mambo: 30 Years of Shelf Indulgence, has brought in more than 10,500 visitors since opening on November 27, according to Newcastle City Council cultural director Liz Burcham. 

 “It’s fantastic,” she said. “I can’t get over how present this exhibition is in this city’’. The show, full of T-shirts, artwork, sculptures, surfboards and music, is being talked about from morning coffee sessions to dinner parties. It has touched young and old alike.

“The ones I am fascinated with are the teenagers,” Burcham said. “I didn’t just know how far we would go. They are here and they are loving it. And kids, too. They love the colour, the brightness. They see it on a completely another level.’’

Members of the public have even brought in their own Mambo T-shirts and surfboards, some drawing admiration from the curators.

The show runs through January 24, with a few more dimensions to keep the crowds coming. The gallery will be open late into the evening on Fridays January 8 and January 15, with food, refreshments and games for a small fee. There will also be a special event on the final day, January 24, with legendary satirist HG Nelson in conversation with the Mambo show curators, Wayne Golding and Eddie Zammit, and Mambo-commissioned artist Wayne Goold over the theme Art Irritates Life. The morning of January 24 will feature games and fun for families at the exhibit.

Entry to the Mambo show is free daily. It is complemented by the Kilgour Prize exhibit on the ground floor, showing the 30 finalists in the $50,000 prize for figurative and portrait painting. The show also features a selection of works from the gallery’s collection as well as “do it yourself” interactive displays.

The other major drawcard in the city is the Tyrannosaurs Meet the Family exhibit at Newcastle Museum. Featuring an array of fossils and casts of tyrannosaur specimens, it has drawn more than 25,000 visitors since opening on October 31. The show runs through February 28.

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