DETAIL : Roy DE MAISTRE 1894�1968 'Forest landscape' [Gum trees] c1920  oil on cardboard NGA 1971.44
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… it is continually exciting, these curious and strange rhythms which one discovers in a vast landscape, the juxtaposition of figures, of objects, all these things are exciting. Add to that again the peculiarity of the particular land in which we live here, and you get a quality of strangeness that you do not find, I think, anywhere else. Russell Drysdale, 1960

Russell Drysdale, interview by Hazel de Berg, 1960, Canberra: National Library of Australia, [deB 27].

Download Essay (1MB pdf)

The exhibition Ocean to Outback: Australian landscape painting 1850–1950 is part of the twenty-fifth anniversary celebrations of the National Gallery of Australia. The Gallery’s Director, Ron Radford, curated the exhibition and wrote the essay for the accompanying full-colour catalogue. The exhibition features fifty-eight works by forty different artists, including iconic Australians such as Eugene von Guérard, Tom Roberts, Arthur Streeton, Hans Heysen, Grace Cossington Smith, Margaret Preston, Arthur Boyd, Sidney Nolan, Russell Drysdale, Albert Tucker and Jeffrey Smart. All of the paintings are from the national collection of art.

Ocean to Outback was conceived in order to share these works with the smaller, mostly regional, public galleries of the nation, in an extensive tour that embraces every state and territory. The selection includes famous masterpieces of Australian art that are usually on permanent display at the National Gallery alongside interesting little-known works that, because of their condition, out-of-period framing and insufficient hanging space at the Gallery, have rarely or never been displayed in Canberra; all of these paintings have now been cleaned and restored and appropriately reframed in time for the tour.

Created by our finest artists over 100 years, these paintings of diverse places – familiar or strange, welcoming or forbidding – exemplify the extraordinary and compelling resonance of this continent of Australia.


Catalogue entries written by
Beatrice Gralton
Associate Curator, Australian Painting & Sculpture