With a resounding 1500 visitors through the doors in just under two weeks, the Salon des Refusés show was favourably received across industry and the public.
Held in the old bank building on the corner of Smith and Bennett Streets in Darwin, opening night was a jam-packed event with a mix of around 350 people passing through the doors. A cross-section of industry representatives in town for the NATSIAA ceremony and the art fair, the local art community as well as Darwin Festival passers-by, some of who had never been to an art opening before!
By chance of a bureaucratic rejection to use the Chan Contemporary Art Space, the venue’s vacant interior with its heavy circular columns topped by concentric radiating capitals in a glorious Deco rendition, provided a suitably expanse space to accommodate the range of work from a three metre collaborative canvas to the tall Mokuy sculptures.
Over the past two weeks we have received many favourable comments and feedback not only regarding the quality of the works and the show, but also to opening the debate surrounding the NATSIAA; to start a fresh dialogue regarding the event now in its 30th year.
On a national front, prominent journalist for The Australian Nicolas Rothwell writes of NATSIAA’s “tacit understanding” of a year-on-year-off stance favouring traditional or contemporary work. While perhaps an equitable decision that worked well at the time of it’s inception, now questions the significance of the works rejected. Andrew Penn chief financial officer of long-term NATSIAA Sponsor, Telstra, responds with a call to celebrate the diversity and dynamism of the cultural mix that is both traditional and contemporary art.
Well-known blogger and authority on Aboriginal Art, Will Owen [USA] praised the Salon show for a selection of work that “restored a vigor to the annual celebrations that has been lacking in recent years … But most of all, what kindles my excitement about the Salon are the surprises, the kinds of work that I’ve almost given up hope of encountering at the Museum.”
Interestingly this post is followed by a celebratory review of the NATSIAA 2013 shortlist, where he openly states he “couldn’t be happier at being proven wrong. This exhibition has plenty of surprises and much vibrant work.’ The debate is open, and hopefully the award may reinvent itself to provide a platform that is concurrent with the diversity of work and excellence in the field.
The articles and blog posts are linked below for your interest.
We would like to take this opportunity once again to thank all the people who helped get this show off the ground and make it happen. Thanks of course to the artists for the submission of their work and the Darwin Festival for including the Salon des Refusés as part of the 2013 program.
MATT WARD & PAUL JOHNSTONE