OUR major public galleries are all exhibiting works from their own collections.
Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery's showing is in many ways the most surprising.
While the Newcastle Art Gallery is able to initiate or augment almost any theme from the 20th century and Maitland's collection has been expanding exponentially and very publicly, Lake Macquarie's gifts and purchases are not often on view.
The present exhibition until July 19 fills the gallery spaces with a linked selection of significant paintings, graphics and sculpture acquired over the past 30 years, though without including such treasures as the exquisite small New Guinea paintings by Dobell shown quite often or most of the Indigenous works on paper from its recently established collecting focus.
The earliest acquisitions here are Jane Lander's sail-studded image of Lake Macquarie and one of Frank Celtlan's mysterious figure groupings.
There is a monumental painting by Brett McMahon from the Ronaldo Cameron memorial collection and a narrative suite of fairytale drawings by John Montefiore.
Alan Chawner's enormous photographic print of incandescent steelmaking at BHP commemorates the end of an era. Two huge photographs by Anne Zahalka make sardonic comment on anniversary celebrations.
More recent works include Lezlie Tilley's laser-cut acrylic totem and the three-dimensional paper cutout of Ahn Wells.
Most recently the gallery has been able to acquire a set of the visionary prints celebrating the 1988 Bicentennial, on display for the first time.
Surprise continues in the presence in the gallery of artists at work. Aaron Bellette layers and adapts photographic images. Hannah Batty's geometrical drawings expand like fractals. Dale Collier explores social media, while Rachel Milne promises more instant portraits.
It's a strong and interesting exhibition as we now expect from curators Meryl Ryan and Rob Cleworth.
- SELECTIONS from the diverse collections of the University of Newcastle form another of its 50th anniversary celebrations.
At the University Gallery until June 20 are a variety of objects presented to the institution over many years. They include ancient books, Indigenous weapons, botanical specimens, an old violin and study collections of butterflies with some imposing beetles.
Artworks have come from many donors. There is the bronze bust by 19th-century French sculptor Antoine Bourdelle presented by William Bowmore. Virginia Cuppaidge's vast enigmatic painting occupies an entire wall. Margaret Olley presented one of her iconic views of Newcastle harbour.
There are many works from higher degree candidates since a recent donation plan was implemented. In this way we get to see work by Maisie Turner, Vera Zulumovski, David Middlebrook, Peter Tilley and many other familiar names. Aaron Bellette has a spectacular magenta photopiece.
The earliest gift is a painted-glass work by Carl Plate, presented by the proto-university's first graduates in 1957.
With so many diverse areas of collecting and the unavailability of such major gifts as the Beeston tapestry in the Great Hall, the exhibition seems seriously perfunctory.
- AMONG artists to have work presented to the university collection is well-travelled artist blacksmith Will Maguire. He fabricates architectural features such as railings and gates, but he is also a sculptor in steel.
The small plant form seen at the university finds an echo in the strong vertical columns of the newly erected memorial to victims of industrial accidents - part of the centenary celebrations of BHP steelmaking in Newcastle.
The long view from Industrial Drive is rather bland, but a closer inspection reveals the tall ball-headed uprights have a muscular individual presence, entirely appropriate to commemorate generations of steel workers.
- HELENE Leane's recent work uses patterning and motifs from Miss Porter's House and its trove of well-loved domesticity. Old lino inspires many works, dominating misty monotypes. Lace medallions are impressed into encaustic.
The old house provides rich themes for artists and this is a well-focused exhibition, on view until June 20, from one of the initial group of artists to be specially promoted by Gallery 139.
- IT is good news that the Cessnock Regional Art Gallery has reopened its doors. It would be even better news to learn there is funding for a professional director. Even the most dedicated amateur committee may find the day-to-day administration ultimately onerous.