The National 2021 Is Showing at Three Iconic Venues for Contemporary Australian Art Lovers

There’s never been a better time to check out the vibrant Australian art scene, especially after a year that saw so many creatives struggle to stay afloat in a sea of COVID-closures and cancellations. 

Whether you’re a serious collector or a casual connoisseur, The National 2021: New Australian Art is a wonderful way to celebrate contemporary Australian art, with an array of work across three spaces showcasing artists of different generations and cultural backgrounds. New and commissioned works encompass a diverse range of mediums including painting, video, sculpture, installation, drawing and performance. 

As the official website explains, “Through ambitious new and commissioned projects, the 39 artists, collectives and collaboratives featured across three venues respond to the times in which they live, presenting observations that are provocative, political and poetic.” 

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Attendees can enjoy the selected works, curated by Matt Cox and Erin Vink, Abigail Moncrieff, and Rachel Kent at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Carriageworks and the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA). 

Moncrieff’s curation at Carriageworks presents 13 artist projects that place an emphasis on collaboration, kinship and sociality, with artists navigating the measure and texture of our actions and engagement with the world around us.

The artists on show at this venue are A Constructed World (a collaborative project of artists Geoff Lowe and Jacqueline Riva) Vernon Ah Kee and Dalisa Pigram with Marrugeku, Janet Burchill and Jennifer McCamley, Mitch Cairns, Lorraine Connelly-Northey, Agatha Gothe-Snape with Andrew Burrell, Alana Hunt, Karrabing Film Collective, Michelle Nikou, Sarah Rodigari, Darren Sylvester, Brendan Van Hek, Isadora Vaughan.

Over at the MCA, Kent has assembled an impressive collection of thirteen artists who have diverse approaches to the environment, storytelling and inter-generational learning through their works. Drawing on natural materials and processes, as well as found objects and detritus, they explore notions of planetary caretaking, and our relationship to place in an era of dramatic change.

According to the venue, “Women’s practice is central to The National 2021 at the MCA, explored through diasporic and familial histories, labour and learning, and wider mythological narratives.”

And at the AGNSW, Cox and Vink, present 14 artist projects that explore the potential of art to heal and care for fragile natural and social ecosystems. As the venue’s website explains, “In considering our relationship to sentient Country, as both a concept and lived experience, these works engender an attentiveness in and about the world”

The National 2021 is on now until June 20 at Carriageworks, until September 5 at AGNSW and until August 22 at the MCA. Admission to all exhibitions is free. 

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