Terra Australis Incognita:  

A conversation with Kathleen Soriano about 'Australia' at the Royal Academy - 4

CK Would there be anything you would change?

KS I suppose my regret I'd always imagine that I'd finish on Fiona Foley's "Bliss" or another video piece but because of space but I wasn't able to create the same mood I did with Shaun.  Which I would l have liked to have done at the very end which is to have more of a punch. 

I'm happy with the selection, the catalogue, the Australian season and the programme built.

CK Any plans to show other Australian works?

KS I've done what I can for Australia.  They have to make the best of it.

CK I feel that too.  In some ways if the criticism is coming from Australia - I don't think they realise how hard it is, being on a dense international platform - how you're not even visible.  This is why this is an important show and why I was passionate about AusNexus; because I saw that this was a significant exhibition.  Not just to educate audiences but for those artists themselves that are working to build a bigger audience for their work - which doesn't happen unless there is that familiarity.  It an ambitious and courageous project.

So what's the next exhibition you have planned?

KS We're opening Daumier in a few weeks and a big Architecture project in January.

CK Any highlights or favourites?

KS I had lots of them.  I love the Lycett album from the National Library from Australia.  We can only show one page.  It's very endearing but also incredibly polarising view of what Indigenous people were like at the time of the arrival of the First Fleet and shortly after.  I found that book quite fascinating and seductive even though its an ugly thing in many respects.  I loved Elisabeth Cummings painting at the end.  She looks like she loves paint.  So those two.

CK Do you think it will leave a legacy?

KS It do think it will leave a legacy.  My concern is what kind of legacy for the reasons we spoke about.  It's important for the good news to get out there.  Yes, it may be flawed but it has important benefits.  The legacy will be there.  The legacy is not for me or the Royal Academy, the legacy is really for the artists.

Eugene von Guérard, Bush Fire, 1859.  Oil on canvas.  34.8 x 56.3 cm.  Art Gallery of Ballarat. Gift of Lady Currie in memory of her husband, the late Sir Alan Currie, 1948. Exhibition organised by the Royal Academy of Arts, London in partnership with the National Gallery of Australia

Eugene von Guérard, Bush Fire, 1859.  Oil on canvas.  34.8 x 56.3 cm.  Art Gallery of Ballarat.

Gift of Lady Currie in memory of her husband, the late Sir Alan Currie, 1948.

Exhibition organised by the Royal Academy of Arts, London in partnership with the National Gallery of Australia

Rover Thomas, Cyclone Tracy, 1991.  Natural earth pigments and binder on canvas.  168 x 180 cm.  National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, purchased 1991. © the artist's estate courtesy Warmun Art Centre   Exhibition organised by the Royal Academy of Arts, London in partnership with the National Gallery of Australia

Rover Thomas, Cyclone Tracy, 1991.  Natural earth pigments and binder on canvas.  168 x 180 cm.  National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, purchased 1991.

© the artist's estate courtesy Warmun Art Centre

 

Exhibition organised by the Royal Academy of Arts, London in partnership with the National Gallery of Australia


'Australia' closes on 8 December at the Royal Academy of Arts

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