Art Cases makes contemporary art a hands-on experience

Lottie Twyford 27 July 2021
Two kids play with artworks

The National Gallery of Australia’s Art Cases are hitting the road again this month. Photo: NGA.

Not all suitcases are gathering dust due to COVID-19 – the National Gallery of Australia’s Art Cases is re-packing, revamping and ready to roll through regional Australia.

The idea behind the suitcases is that they’re filled with works of art that can be held and touched by people of all ages and get into the community through schools, libraries, community centres, galleries and aged care homes.

Since the program began in 1990, the cases have been looked at and enjoyed by over a million people.

The National Gallery’s Assistant Director, Artistic Programs Natasha Bullock, said the touring Art Cases are an important program for the Gallery.

“Far from the confines of gallery walls and accessible from their own communities, this rare hands-on art experience provides audiences with new perspectives,” Natasha said.


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It’s all about allowing people access to artworks to kickstart new and interesting conversations with one another and provide pathways of engagement for audiences.

This year, the cases have been filled with 30 works of art by a range of Australian artists, including some of the country’s leading contemporary artists.

The five fresh Art Cases have additional artworks and new supporting material and cover a range of themes, including ‘Earth’, ‘Land and Country’, ‘Past, Present and Future’, ‘Bodies’ and ‘Form and Function’.

“The revised Art Cases have been grouped into themes to encourage learning and provoke conversation through creativity and engagement. Importantly, these new cases have been developed to be more inclusive by elevating women and First Nations artists,’ Natasha added.

NGA touring exhibition manager Mary-Lou Nugent says the art cases are significant as they provide children and adults in metropolitan, regional and remote areas of the country access to works from the national collection.

“The works in the Art Cases are designed to be handled and interacted with and are accompanied by an education resource kit which provides the background of the works and activities to help explore key themes, artworks and artists,” she said.


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For example, Wiradjuri artist Karla Dickens’ Block and tackle explores the impacts of ongoing colonisation on the bodily experience of First Nations people, while Angela Valamanesh’s biological forms encourage us to consider our relationship with the natural world.

Gamilaroi woman Penny Evans and Kaurna man James Tylor will also feature in the cases, with their own contemporary takes on traditional practices as they explore cultural identity issues and the environment.

Kids playing with artwork on colourful boxes

People of all ages are invited to engage with the artworks and start conversations. Photo: NGA.

Art Cases will be at the Goulburn Regional Art Gallery from 8 November to 3 December. If you’re interested in hosting an Art Case in your local community, contact the National Gallery’s Touring Exhibitions team at travex@nga.gov.au to start a conversation. The program is free of charge and freight and insurance are arranged by the Gallery.


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