Past Exhibitions

Installation view of Dobell Drawing Prize #21. Photo: Peter Morgan


THE POSTGRAD SHOW 2020 12 — 21 February 2021

EXHIBITION DATES:Friday 12 – Sunday 21 February

After years of artistic exploration, inspiration and dedicated hard work behind the sandstone walls of the historic former Darlinghurst Gaol, the National Art School’s graduates of 2020 are breaking out.

It was inspiring to see students improvise to create studio spaces at home and continue working during lockdown, sharing their experiences and supporting each other, then returning to campus with renewed artistic energy and enthusiasm. Visit NAS Gallery, the Rayner Hoff Project Space and open studios to experience fresh, progressive and bold works from our outstanding class of 2020 – the next generation of Australian artists.

Image: The Postgrad Show 2020, installation view, NAS Gallery, 2021. Photo: Peter Morgan

QUEER CONTEMPORARY: SKIN DEEP 18 February — 7 March 2021

EXHIBITION DATES:19 February – 7 March 2021
CURATOR: Terese Casu

Photographer: WADED
Stylist: Kelvin Harries
Hair Stylist: Gavin Anesbury
Makeup Artist: Annette McKenzie
Assistant: Heather Fletcher
Creative Producer: Dino Dimitriadis

Celebrated Sydney fashion photographer, Waded, brings her skills of cutting edge fashion portraiture, to capture authentic but highly styled portraits of diverse tattooed bodies that tell unique stories through their body art.

The LGBTQI+ community are invited to contribute to the Exhibition through an interactive story wall of images and stories about their first tattoo.

Photo: Waded

DOBELL DRAWING PRIZE #22 26 March — 22 May 2021

EXHIBITION DATES: 26 March – 22 May 2021

The Dobell Drawing Prize is an unparalleled celebration of drawing technique and innovation. Presented by the National Art School in partnership with the Sir William Dobell Art Foundation, the biennial prize explores the enduring importance of drawing within contemporary art practice. The 2021 exhibition showcased work by 64 finalists from around the country, demonstrating the vitality and scope of current Australian drawing.


Euan Macleod, Borderlands – Between NSW and QLD, 2020, pastel on paper, 156 x 120 cm


Joanna Gambotto, Hill End Interior 1 (Denningtons Cottage: Kim and Lino’s)2020, charcoal and pastel on paper, 115 x 330 cm


Margaret Ambridge, Suzanne Archer, Maree Azzopardi, Belinda Birchall, Stephen Bird, Tom Blake, John Bokor, GW Bot, Matt Bromhead, Anthony Cahill, Mitch Cairns, Tom Carment, Chris Casali, Susanna Castleden, Joshua Charadia, Maryanne Coutts, Adrian De Giorgio, Damian Dillon, Amy Dynan, Yvonne East, Stephanie Eather, David Fairbairn, Jackson Farley, Philip Faulks, Mandy Francis, Todd Fuller, Joanna Gambotto, Minka Gillian, Jane Grealy, Amanda Penrose Hart, Nicci Haynes, Kendal Heyes, Alun Rhys Jones, Locust Jones, Jumaadi, Jennifer Keeler-Milne, Iluwanti Ken, Martin King, Debbie Locke, Euan Macleod, Brian Martin, Julian Martin, Noel McKenna, Peta Minnici, Reg Mombassa, Nick Morris, Anna Mould, Al Munro, Anh Nguyen, Catherine O’Donnell, Travis Paterson, Maria Petrova, Anna Louise Richardson, Peter Sharp, Emma Theyers, Noel Thurgate, Claire Tozer, Shonah Trescott, Leonardo Uribe, Murat Urlali, Craig Waddell, Fiona White, Paul White, Tianli Zu


In the initial stage of judging, I was surprised by the variety of materials artists use to make drawings – from ceramics, stitching and painting to digital technology. In judging the finalists, we selected some of these works because of their drawing merits. The initial round was judged digitally, so when I saw the finalists hung it was a pleasure and a surprise. My final decision came down to a fundamental drawing practice, with my top three finalists being Amanda Penrose Heart, Martin King and Euan Macleod. Euan’s work is fast and immediate drawing, describing a landscape in a blur of activity. There is an accurate freshness I am drawn to, making Euan the winner of this year’s Dobell Drawing Prize.

– Lucy Culliton

Image: Euan Macleod with his work, Borderlands – Between NSW and QLD 2020, pastel on paper, 156 x 120 cm. Photo: Peter Morgan


EXHIBITION DATES: Saturday 17 April – Saturday 22 May 2021
CURATOR: Deborah Beck

The National Art School is proud to launch its new Drawing Gallery with an exhibition of drawings and works on paper by Guy Warren AM, NAS Alumnus, Fellow and esteemed artist. Drawing has always been at the heart of Guy’s art practice. When he turns 100 in April 2021, he will have been drawing for at least 85 years. He has had a continuing concern with people as an integral part of the environment, using his personal view of the world to depict our relationship with mountains, jungles, rivers, deserts and the sky. He has often extended his art beyond the gallery. In 1994 he undertook the largest drawing ever attempted in Australia, a sky drawing of Icarus at 14,000 feet over Sydney Harbour. Risk taking is an integral part of Guy’s drawing practice, and the ephemeral and beautiful image created with vapour is a testament to his poetic vision.

This exhibition explores the artist’s primal urge to draw and the diverse ways he makes his mark. It pays tribute to the artist’s great contribution to Australia’s visual culture, and a lifetime of creativity based on drawing.

Image: Guy Warren, Intimations of Mortality – Memories of Mort Bay 1982, ink on paper, 155 x 401 cm, courtesy the artist and King Street Gallery on William © the artist

JOHN OLSEN: GOYA’S DOG 29 October — 27 November 2021

EXHIBITION DATES: Friday 29 October – Saturday 27 November 2021
CURATOR: Steven Alderton based on a concept by William Wright AM

The National Art School is proud to present John Olsen: Goya’s Dog, a powerful exploration of an extraordinary Australian artist – from his creative awakening in Spain, through the darkness that threatened to overwhelm him at times, and his ability to reach for the light, pursuing a long and acclaimed career.

John Olsen is one of the National Art School’s most renowned graduates, a NAS Fellow, AO and OBE. Goya’s Dog features over 50 major works, sketchbooks and drawings, many not seen in public for generations.

The exhibition begins in Spain during the mid-1950s when the young artist became entranced and inspired by Spanish culture – art, poetry and music – which drew him to explore a darker, more vulnerable side of his personality and experience. Another visit to Spain in the mid-1960s transformed his palette, which became more dynamic and bold.

“It was a remarkable experience because Spain was completely isolated from the modishness of the 20th century, it was still the essential heart of Europe. And then as I began to study, I became aware that even though Spain is a bright and sunny country, that its principle painting lay on the basis of tone – Velazquez, Goya, Murrillo – and somehow those earthy tones reverberated the soul of Spain.  

“It was very profound … rather than thinking outwards, it made you think inwards. Still in Australia today, they like the sunny side of the world, whereas the Spanish like the shadow side of the world. I found that very intriguing.” John Olsen, February 2021 

The exhibition also features Olsen’s work from the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s, a period when his vital urban Australian ‘larrikin’ voice emerged. The Olsen landscape became like a theatre or stage, where human drama takes place. It is vivacious, teeming with metaphysical life; in parallel with and embracing real life.

Known for the irrepressible vitality in his work and his buoyant personality, Olsen is a visual poet with a deep love of poetry underpinning his work. Yet he has also confronted darkness in his life, reflected in works such as Donde voy? Self-portrait in moments of doubt (1989). This powerfully introspective painting fits within a venerable history of western art, one which looks mortality in the face.

“I’m 93, and I’m more entranced with the dark side. Not in a mournful sense, but in a sense of enquiry.” John Olsen 

Olsen has followed his lifelong urge to set sail into the unknown, delving into the landscape that takes on the form of a living being, full of emotions, foibles and beauty. Through the storms, struggles and soul-searching, he lands on moments of enlightenment, where he is able to capture the energy and elemental life forces of nature, and what it is to be human within this world.

“What I’m talking about is the artist as hunter gatherer. Being daring, and not frightened of the outcome. You’re a journeyman, in the real sense. It’s not the question of failure, it’s the question of understanding and feeling, where you’re able to inhabit your interior world.” John Olsen 

Image: John Olsen, Golden summer, Clarendon, 1983, oil on hardboard, 182.5 x 244.3 cm, purchased with the assistance of Salomon Brothers 1985, Art Gallery of New South Wales Collection © John Olsen/Copyright Agency


EXHIBITION DATES: Saturday 6 – Saturday 27 November 2021
EXHIBITION LOCATION: Rayner Hoff Project Space
CURATORS: Tim and Louise Olsen

This exhibition is a rare opportunity to discover the work of Valerie Strong (1933-2011), who was a practicing artist and teacher for most of her life but seldom showed her work in public.

“As long as I can remember I’ve always been drawing and painting. I always remember my mother getting very annoyed with me for using up all her writing pads as a child.”

–– Valerie Strong, 1965

The 70 works in this exhibition, most never seen before in public, are chiefly from the collection of Valerie’s son and daughter, Sydney gallerist Tim Olsen and Louise Olsen, co-founder of Dinosaur Designs. Dating from 1959 to 2004, the works cross many mediums including oil and acrylic on board and canvas, watercolours, prints and drawings, including several life drawings from the NAS Collection.

“Valerie was an outstanding student at the National Art School, who became an accomplished and inspired artist and teacher in her own right. It’s wonderful to bring her work into the public eye and pay tribute to her as an important part of one of Australia’s most renowned creative families,” said NAS Director and CEO, Steven Alderton.

Valerie Froggett graduated in Painting in 1961 from NAS (then East Sydney Technical College), where two of her most influential teachers were John Passmore and Godfrey Mellor. She met John Olsen in 1960 when he taught at East Sydney Tech briefly. They married in 1962 and in 1967 founded The Bakery Art School in Paddington in an old bakery building where they both taught classes.

Valerie Marshall Strong Olsen: A rare sensibility, showing in the Rayner Hoff Project Space from 6–27 November, accompanies John Olsen: Goya’s Dog showing in the NAS Gallery from 29 October – 27 November, 2021. Valerie and John’s children Louise and Tim have curated this exhibition and share memories of their mother.

Image: Valerie Strong, Hawkesbury I (detail) c. 1987, mixed media on paper, 36 x 39 cm. Collection of Tim and Louise Olsen


EXHIBITION DATES: Saturday 6 – Saturday 27 November 2021
CURATORS: Katrina Cashman and Joe Frost

Kaye Shumack: Drawing Sydney presents a selection of drawings created over the past five years that explore motifs and traces from the urban landscapes of Sydney’s public spaces and streetscapes, revealing the beauty of the city’s lesser known, ordinary locales as well as key landmarks.

These observations, combined with memory of place, elicit the sense of the artist creating a dialogue between time and place, melding the present and the past. As Sydney continues to be re-shaped by large building and infrastructure projects, urban spaces are increasingly contested.

Shumack’s works are inhabited by the energy or spirit of each location, providing clues to the city’s layered history and the ways in which it has been shaped and loved by its inhabitants. Together, this impressive body of work reminds us not to take our city, or its history, for granted. Kaye Shumack is a much-admired member of the NAS community who very sadly passed away recently.

Melinda Hunt, one of Kaye’s fellow Drawing students in the NAS Master of Fine Art program, paid tribute to her:

“We all admired not just Kaye’s remarkable drawings but also her considered, insightful and affirming contributions to conversations about our work and theoretical concerns. Kaye loved being at NAS, her relationships with fellow students and supervisors and her light-filled studio where she could focus on making work. We’re thankful for the opportunity to know Kaye and pleased that thanks to her generosity, she will be remembered through the Kaye Shumack Sunflower Drawing Prize, an annual award of $3000 for an MFA Drawing graduate whose work contributes to broadening awareness of social issues.”

Image: Kaye Shumack, Morning Rush Central Station (detail), 2018, pastel, 46 x 69 cm



EXHIBITION DATES: Thursday 9  January — Saturday 8 February 2020 (including Sunday 26 January)
CURATOR: Djon Mundine OAM

As part of the 2020 Sydney Festival, the National Art School proudly presents Who are these strangers and where are they going?, a 30-year survey of the work of Dr Fiona Foley, one of Australia’s most acclaimed, insightful and challenging contemporary artists, curated by Djon Mundine OAM. Running from January 8 to February 8 in the National Art School Gallery, the show premiered in August 2019 at the Ballarat International Foto Biennale in Victoria. The title comes from a new work, a soundscape based on the oldest known Aboriginal song documenting the first sighting of Captain Cook in 1770, by Foley’s ancestors the Badtjala people of K’gari (Fraser Island).

Image: Fiona Foley, HHH #1 (detail)  2004, Hahnemühle Archival Inkjet Print, 76 x 101 cm. Courtesy the artist and Niagara Galleries, Melbourne

MISFIT: COLLAGE AND QUEER PRACTICE 14 February — 14 March 2020

EXHIBITION DATES: Friday 14 February — Saturday 14 March 2020
EXHIBITION LOCATION: Rayner Hoff Project Space
CURATOR: Scott Elliot

Queer artists have long understood the power of collage as a tool for manipulating the singular narratives that so often exclude them.  Misfit examines the idea of collage as a medium especially susceptible to embodying queer experience. Presenting works by Australian and international artists who engage with performance, video, text, photography, textile, painting, paper and sound, Misfit looks at how the radically reassembled can veer us closer to unseen truths, productive ambiguities and powerful positions of resistance.

Artists: Tony Albert, Archie Barry, Gary Carsley, Brian Fuata, Deborah Kelly, Del Lumanta, Sarah Rodigari, Tejal Shah, Tyza Stewart, Guanyu Xu, Paul Yore

Image: Paul Yore Mother Tongue (detail) 2017, mixed media textile, beads, buttons, sequins, acrylic, enamel, watercolour and found objects, 348 x 212 cm. Photo: Devon Ackermann. Image courtesy and © the artist.


EXHIBITION DATES: Saturday 14 March — Monday 8 June 2020

The 22nd Biennale of Sydney is artist- and First Nations-led, presenting an expansive exhibition of contemporary art that connects local communities and global networks.

Under the artistic direction of Brook Andrew, the exhibition includes  artworks across six sites: National Art School, Art Gallery of NSW, Artspace, Campbelltown Arts Centre, Cockatoo Island and the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia.

Artists: Tony Albert (Australia); Randy Lee Cutler (Canada); Noreen Hudson, Vanessa Inkamala and Ivy Pareroultja from Iltja Ntjarra (Many Hands) Art Centre (Australia); Hannah Catherine Jones (UK); Teresa Margolles (Mexico); Andrew Rewald (Australia); and Lucienne Rickard/Adrift Lab (Australia).

‘The urgent states of our contemporary lives are laden with unresolved past anxieties and hidden layers of the supernatural,’ said Brook Andrew. ‘NIRIN is about to expose this, demonstrating that artists and creatives have the power to resolve, heal, dismember and imagine futures of transformation for re-setting the world. Sovereignty is at the centre of these actions. I hope that NIRIN (edge) gathers life forces of integrity to push through often impenetrable noise.’

NAS Artist Insider interviews

Tony Albert talks about creating his first work in glass, inspired by the original stained glasswindows in the National Art School’s historic Chapel

Randy Lee Cutler and Andrew Rewald talk about collaborating from opposite sides of the world and their shared interest in the secret life of minerals

Lucienne Rickard talks about bringing her yearlong drawing performance project Extinction Studies to Sydney for the Biennale

Image: Teresa MargollesUntitled, 2020, mixed-media installation. Installation view (2020) for the 22nd Biennale of Sydney, National Art School. Courtesy the artist and Galerie Peter Kilchmann, Zurich. Photograph: Zan Wimberley



Boyd Exh_NAS Gallery Level 1 (Nebuchadnezzar Series) #1

EXHIBITION DATES: 10 January – 9 March 2019
CURATOR: Barry Pearce

Landscape of the Soul is a new exhibition exploring the Australian landscape and a sense of place through the complex genius of Arthur Boyd.  From light-filled early landscapes to tormented figures in the bush, the paintings, prints, drawings, photographs and archival material in this exhibition expose an inner landscape and an artist’s creative odyssey. Curated by Barry Pearce, this new Bundanon Trust Touring Exhibition is presented at the National Art School from 10 January to 9 March 2019.

From early, youthful en plein air subjects celebrating light, to the final phase of his career depicting the Shoalhaven on the south coast of New South Wales, encompassing the artist’s journeys from Australia to England and Europe, artworks in the exhibition present the landscape as a theatre for his deeper explorations – not merely topographic, but a psychic sense of place.

Dobell Drawing Prize #21: 28 March — 25 May 2019

Installation view of Dobell Drawing Prize #21. Photo: Peter Morgan

EXHIBITION DATES: Thursday 28 March — Saturday 25 May 2019

Dobell Drawing Prize #21 is a new biennial prize and exhibition presented by the National Art School in association with the Sir William Dobell Art Foundation. The Prize is an open call to all artists and aims to explore the enduring importance of drawing and the breadth and dynamism of contemporary approaches to drawing.

The exhibition showcases the finalists’ artworks across a broad range of media that acknowledges the foundational principals of drawing, while also encouraging challenging and expansive approaches to drawing. Submissions are invited for artworks on paper, but may also include wall drawings and larger-scale works and works utilising electronic media.

National Art School envisions the Prize as a platform for the celebration and examination of current drawing practices. The Prize builds on the energy of both emerging artists who make art through drawing, while also celebrating innovation and technical skill of experienced artists.

A drawing symposium, workshops and a range of artist talks will be held in conjunction with the Prize and exhibition, positioning the National Art School and Sydney at the core of contemporary drawing, research and the exploration of ideas.  Drawing continues to be central to the National Art School’s curriculum, and the opportunity to present and reflect the many facets of contemporary drawing offers artists another forum to explore the dynamic medium of drawing.

The new Dobell Drawing Prize is an acquisitive art award that runs in alternative years to the Dobell Australian Drawing Biennial at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, affirming the Dobell Foundation’s commitment to continuing the development of drawing as a medium in its own right, and a fundamental element of the visual arts.


Congratulations to Justine Varga who has won the Dobell Drawing Prize #21!

Comments from the Judge’s: “Drawing is a fundamental part of many visual art practices. The winner of the Dobell Drawing Prize #21 uses drawing in the most meaningful and sophisticated way. Her work is a distillation of so many components of our collective lives. Drawing plays a pivotal role in this artist’s exploration of us all. The winning work is a powerful, playful and sophisticated 21st century drawing and a deserved winner.”

Congratulations also to Tony Albert who was highly commended, “Highly commended goes to an artist who is relentlessly and skilfully re-writing dialogues about Australian histories. Drawing underpins his practice. Old Sins Cast Long Shadows uses the most simple drawing techniques to tell a formidably sophisticated story.”


Badra Aji (VIC), Tony Albert (QLD/NSW), Leonie Andrews (ACT), Suzanne Archer (NSW), Martin Bell (VIC), M. Bozzec (NSW), Michelle Caithness (VIC), Kristone Capistrano (NSW), Tom Carment (NSW), Tanya Chaitow (NSW), Ari Chand (NSW), Joshua Charadia (NSW), Matthew Clarke (VIC), Penny Coss (WA), Maryanne Coutts (NSW), Fiona Currey-Billyard (NSW) Dagmar Cyrulla (VIC), Madeleine Joy Dawes (VIC), Amy Dynan (NSW), Helen Eager (NSW), Yvonne East (NSW), Stephanie Eather (VIC), David Fairbairn (NSW), George Gittoes (NSW), Richard Goodwin (NSW), Kendal Heyes (NSW), Mark Hislop (VIC), Daniel Hollier (NSW),Pollyxenia Joannou (NSW), Alan Jones (NSW), Locust Jones (NSW), Alex Karaconji (NSW), Sonia Kurarra (WA), Hyun Hee Lee (NSW), Brooke Leigh (NSW), Ruark Lewis (NSW), Tanya Linney (NSW), Lily Mae Martin (VIC), Jonathan McBurnie (QLD), Noel McKenna (NSW), Peta Minnici (NSW), Damian Moss (NSW), Wendy Murray (NSW), Angus Nivison (NSW), Chris O’Doherty aka Reg Mombassa (NSW), Catherine O’Donnell (NSW), Toshiko Oiyama (NSW), Jenny Orchard (NSW), Becc Ország (VIC), Kerrie Poliness (VIC), Monica Rohan (QLD), Wendy Sharpe (NSW), Peter Solness (NSW), Kim Spooner (NSW), Luke Thurgate (SA), Justine Varga (NSW), Mirra Whale (NSW) 

CAUGHT STEALING: 14 June — 10 August 2019

Linda Dement and Nancy Mauro-Flude, 'Cyberfeminist bed sheet transfigured', 2018, courtesy the artists
Linda Dement and Nancy Mauro-Flude, 'Cyberfeminist bed sheet transfigured', 2018, courtesy the artists

EXHIBITION DATES: Friday 14 June — Saturday 10 August 2019
CURATOR: Dr Jaime Tsai

ARTISTS: Hany Armanious, Daniel Boyd, Peter Burgess, Destiny Deacon, Linda Dement, Virginia Fraser and Destiny Deacon, Fiona Hall, Shane Haseman, Sean Cordeiro and Claire Healy, Andrew Hurle, Harley Ives, Nancy Mauro-Flude, Tom Nicholson, Lillian O’Neil, Louise Paramor, Philjames, Joan Ross, Soda_Jerk and The Avalanches, Marian Tubbs, Gary Warner.

Caught Stealing is an exhibition by contemporary Australian artists who mobilise theft as an artistic strategy in their work. A century after the first Dada photomontages, misappropriation continues in the diverse practices of artists demanding social justice, revisions of history, and ecological awareness. Motifs of piracy also signify resistance to the corporate control of the cultural sphere, as well as colonisation and its legacy in Australia.

PAPER TIGERS: POSTERS FROM SYDNEY'S LONG '70s: 30 August — 12 October 2019

Chips Mackinolty
3rd annual Christmas is false consciousness eve party [1978]
The Tin Sheds Art Workshop
Prints, posters, screenprint, printed in colour inks, from multiple stencils
39.9 cm x 54.2 cm
Print run unknown
Courtesy: Chris O’Doherty
Chips Mackinolty 3rd annual Christmas is false consciousness eve party [1978] The Tin Sheds Art Workshop 1978 Prints, posters, screenprint, printed in colour inks, from multiple stencils 39.9 cm x 54.2 cm Print run unknown Courtesy: Chris O’Doherty

EXHIBITION DATES: Friday 30 August — Saturday 12 October 2019
CURATORS: Lesa-Belle Furhagen and Toby Creswell

The National Art School Gallery in conjunction with Sedition: a festival of art, music and pictures presents Paper Tigers an exhibition of the 1970s celebrating Sydney’s dynamic poster art and public protest movements, from the late 1960s through the ’70s to the early ’80s.

Paper Tigers celebrates Sydney’s printed visual culture, including posters, prints and ephemera from a range of both celebrated and anonymous artists and designers, the exhibition presents a snapshot of a period when vibrant and experimental creative production incited social action.

Lesa-Belle Furhagen and Toby Creswell. Photo: Peter Morgan
Lesa-Belle Furhagen and Toby Creswell. Photo: Peter Morgan

Lesa-Belle Furhagen and Toby Creswell are the co-creators and curators of Sedition: a festival of art, music and pictures. The pair are also co-curating the festival’s centrepiece, Paper Tigers, an exhibition of posters and public art from Sydney’s fertile and feral counter-culture scene in the 1970s, at the National Art School Gallery.

With much of the creativity of that time centred around Darlinghurst, the NAS Gallery is an appropriate venue for the show which will present more than 200 artworks including posters, album covers and photographs of the time, films and ephemera of the era..

The vibrant public program includes talks, workshops and live music events in the National Art School’s historic Cell Block Theatre, also a hotspot for performance, music and art school balls in the 1970s. It was here on August 16, 1977, the night Elvis died, that a lairy bunch of art school students had their first gig as Mental as Anything. The band’s guitarist Chris O’Doherty, aka Reg Mombassa, went on to have a successful dual career as musician and artist, and a number of works in Paper Tigers come from his personal collection.

Lesa-Belle and Toby, who worked together on a series of iconic magazines including Rolling Stone, Juice and HQ, chat below about Paper Tigers.

Toby The guts of the idea behind the festival was getting up and being active and making something happen. The 70s was the time when Australia’s cultural cringe was disappearing, women’s liberation was on the rise, and gay liberation. There was no social media or access to other media so people who were doing things on the edge had to resort to squeegeeing up their manifesto and sticking it on a wall.

Lesa-Belle But we don’t want Paper Tigers to be an exercise in nostalgia, we want to take up the issues that were top of mind then that are still relevant today, the whole #metoo thing, where feminism is, issues around domestic violence, a woman’s right to choose – these are still very front and centre today.

Toby The ’70s protest art also had a strong anti-war theme. These things have not gone away, so it’s a not-so-distant mirror to what’s happening now.

Lesa-Belle It was an important time in Sydney’s cultural legacy and one of the reasons for honouring it is Sydney has a thing where it moves onto the next thing, it tends not to honour its past. But at that moment in time, that upheaval produced some incredible works, not just visual art but in music, theatre and film. The Sedition festival more broadly is an acknowledgment of the intersection of all those different cultural mediums at that time.

Where have the artworks come from?

Lesa-Belle Mainly from the artists themselves. That’s been a really interesting part of the journey because we’ve got to meet the makers and get their take on the time. Many were graduates of the art school, like Paul Worstead, who has these most wonderful fanzines held in the National Art School archive. There are works that haven’t been seen before, so it’s not just another poster exhibition. Getting the artists to pull out their works they have held onto, and the stories that went along with those works have really helped craft the show.

Did Sydney’s creativity differ to other Australian cities?

Toby I think there is a Sydney style, I don’t know how to express it – pretty hard-edged with a black humour to it when you look at the people who have come out of here. It’s not very whimsical, it’s very tough-minded and lean.

Why were the 1970s such a creative time?

Lesa-Belle At that time economically, Sydney was pretty depressed, there was a recession on, a lot of people were on the dole, but they used that money to create some amazing work and some amazing happenings. We want to really bring that back to life, not just as an acknowledgement of the legacy but to inspire contemporary artists, musicians, theatre and film makers.

Toby There’s a great poster that Marie McMahon did of St Mary’s Cathedral with all these flames coming out of the windows and two women in front of it, and it says, ‘Keep warm this winter, make trouble.’

How has public protest changed?

Lesa-Belle I don’t think it’s gone, you look at the climate change rallies and the lock out rallies, there is still agitation out there, people still want to be heard. I don’t think we all have to accept that social media echo chamber, we still have a voice and in some ways we live in incredibly revolutionary times. If ever there was a time to arc up, I think it’s now.

Do you have personal connections to the show?

Toby Some posters are for events my punk rock group was involved with, but also we know a lot of the artists from around the place and working in the arts for all this time. Johnny Allen, the original organiser of the Aquarius Festival in Nimbin, ran the Paris Cinema and cabaret shows in Sydney. He’s putting together a cabaret season for the Sedition festival.

Any connections to the National Art School?

Lesa-Belle I have always lived here and the National Art School is like the heartbeat of this area. My daughter and I have done summer school here, it’s not just an institution of learning, it’s a very open place, where gigs are still happening and conversations about art. There’s not so many places like that left in Sydney.

Toby One of the artists in Paper Tigers, Jan Fieldsend, did a map of Sydney in the 1970s, which is a great rough diagram of where people hung out, and the National Art School is at the centre of that.


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MFA Exhibition: 7 — 17 November 2019

EXHIBITION DATES: Friday 8 November — Sunday 17 November 2019

Celebrating the achievements of our postgraduate students, with new art from new artists, on show throughout the National Art School. Visit the Exhibition and Open Studios to experience fresh, progressive and bold works from our outstanding class of 2019.

BFA EXHIBITION: 5 — 15 December 2019

EXHIBITION DATES: Thursday 5 December — Sunday 15 December 2019

Check out the next wave of artistic talent at the National Art School’s BFA exhibition, featuring 135 final year students from all departments – ceramics, drawing, painting, photomedia, printmaking and sculpture. It’s the chance to admire and snap up artworks at the beginning of a brilliant career.


Museum of Love and Protest: 16 February — Sunday 4 March 2018

A number of mannequins in different outfits

EXHIBITION DATES: Friday 16 February — Sunday 4 March 2018

The National Art School is proud to be an exhibition partner of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras in 2018.

The signature event for the 40th anniversary celebrations, the Museum of Love & Protest looks back across four amazing decades and presents an immersive exhibition of original costumes, photographs and rarely-seen film and video footage, iconic posters, storytelling, music and artefacts.

Presented in association with the National Art School, the Museum celebrates 40 years of love, protest, diversity, acceptance, humour, pride, family, passion and creativity. The Museum’s theatrical design combines visual spectacle and moments of intimacy for visitors to discover the extraordinary stories, artists, communities and images of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. Featuring interactive elements, the Museum invites visitors to contribute their own memories and stories of Mardi Gras for others to share. As a special treat, on Friday and Saturday evenings at 6pm, the Museum of Love & Protest really comes alive as fabulous Mardi Gras identities entertain you with their unique spin on Mardi Gras history.


6_Redlands installation C OShea, M_Cope, CCavaniglia

Redlands Konica Minolta Art Prize 2018

EXHIBITION DATES: Thursday 15 March — Saturday 12 May 2018

Guest curator Nike Savvas selects some of the country’s brightest contemporary art stars who in turn nominate one emerging contemporary artist to participate in the exhibition. This pairing of established and emerging artists seeks to encourage mentoring relationships between different generations of artists.

All participating artists submit a recent work to contend for one of two prizes: the Established Artist Main Prize ($25,000) sponsored by Konica Minolta for the sixth consecutive year and the Emerging Artist Prize ($10,000) sponsored by Croll Real Estate. The Viewer’s Choice Prize valued at $1,000 is announced at the end on the exhibition. The two winning artworks in the established and emerging categories will become part of Redlands School’s permanent art collection, providing a valuable resource for visual arts students and teachers.  The 2018 Prize winners, to be announced on 21 March 2018, will be determined on by guest judges: Natasha Bullock (MCA Senior Curator), Judith Blackall (NAS Gallery Manager and Curator), Mark Harpley (Visual Arts Coordinator, Redlands School) and Fabian Byrne (Visual Arts Teacher, Redlands School).

Guest curator Nike Savvas commented on her selection of established artists: “I have selected artists whose practices evidence discriminating, uncompromising and highly individualist approaches to art making. In a cultural climate beset by hype, hits, corporatisation and swinging social agency, the next iteration of this exhibition titled Extreme Prejudice seeks to highlight the personal and critical imperatives that belie and drive such single-minded work.”

Artist Pairs: 

Richard Bell & Megan Cope
Vivienne Binns OAM & Jacob Potter
Vicente Butron & Gemma Avery
Richard Dunn & Adrian McDonald
Sarah Goffman & Connie Anthes
Agatha Gothe-Snape & Aodhan Madden
Gail Hastings & Dan McCabe
Tim Johnson & Hayley Megan French
Lindy Lee & Kath Fries
Stephen Little & Joe Wilson and Chanelle Collier
Jonny Niesche & Mason Kimber
John Nixon & Lucina Lane
Rose Nolan & Renee Cosgrave
Kerrie Poliness & Melissa Deerson
Elizabeth Pulie & Zoe Marni-Robertson
Huseyin Sami & Consuelo Cavaniglia
David Serisier & Oliver Wagner
Jenny Watson & Annie O’Rourke
Hilarie Mais & Conor O’Shea

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EXHIBITION DATES: Thursday 31 May — Saturday 28 July 2018
CURATOR: Emily McDaniel

Measured Response brings together contemporary Aboriginal perspectives that engage with bodily and spiritual practices of art-making and often use themselves as a point of reference for measurement and creation; a weaver uses an arm’s reach to measure lengths of string, a ceramicist choreographs their hands to create form, and hand-blown glass needs the artist’s breath to take shape. Measured Response demonstrates how our relationship to the world is calibrated through our bodily dimensions.

Download the roomsheet here


  • Tamara Baillie
  • Lorraine Connelly-Northey
  • Penny Evans
  • Euraba Artists and Papermakers
  • Julie Freeman
  • Hands On Wagga Weavers
  • Yhonnie Scarce
  • Lucy Simpson
  • Dr Thancoupie Gloria Fletcher (Thanakupi), AO
  • Delissa Walker



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EXHIBITION DATES: Tuesday 14 August — Saturday 27 October 2018

National Art – Part One is an exhibition and celebration of artworks by fifty practising Australian artists who have studied at the National Art School and have generously donated work from their personal collections to the School. This is one of the most significant moments in the history of the National Art School’s Collection, affirming our optimism for the bright future of the School.

National Art – Part One presents an expansive approach to art today, encompassing the broad stylistic diversity that the National Art School promotes. The earliest work is from 1947 and the most recent is from 2018, spanning seven decades, across many generations, art movements and media.

50 National Art School Alumni
1947–2018, spanning 7 decades
165 works donated to NAS Collection



Check out the media about National Art – Part One:


The Australian – National Art: Part One, NAS Gallery, studio practice trumps trends

Sydney Morning Herald – National Art School showcases ‘Fabulous 50’

The Australian – A reunion of the old school



Artshub – Review: National Art – Part One, at NAS Gallery

RUSSH – Come together at the National Art School

Arts Review – National Art: Part One


ABC RN – National Art School invites alumni to donate formative work for new exhibition


The Mix – ABC – episode 34: here

MFA Exhibition: 8 — 18 November 2018


Celebrating the achievements of our postgraduate students, with new art from new artists, on show throughout the National Art School. Visit the NAS Gallery and Rayner Hoff Project Space to experience fresh, progressive and bold works from our outstanding class of 2018 – the next generation of  Australian artists.

BFA Exhibition: 6 — 16 December 2018

Celebrating the achievements of our third year students, with new art from new artists, on show throughout the National Art School. Visit the Exhibition and Open Studios to experience fresh, progressive and bold works from our outstanding class of 2018 – the next generation of  Australian artists.

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