Exhibitions

Masterpieces from the Hinton Collection

13 April - 18 June 2006

The Howard Hinton Collection left to the people of Armidale has long posed as inspiration for a number of curated exhibitions undertaken by New England Regional Art Museum (NERAM). Former exhibitions such as The Year of 1933 (hosted by the QUT Art Museum in 2001), From a Country Garden, Pets on Parade, Harbour Views and, most currently, A Painted Woman have all, and are, proving to be great triumphs, both as curatorial and educational experiences.

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The Howard Hinton Collection left to the people of Armidale has long posed as inspiration for a number of curated exhibitions undertaken by New England Regional Art Museum (NERAM). Former exhibitions such as The Year of 1933 (hosted by the QUT Art Museum in 2001), From a Country Garden, Pets on Parade, Harbour Views and, most currently, A Painted Woman have all, and are, proving to be great triumphs, both as curatorial and educational experiences.

This exhibition is a culmination of all of these former efforts; a celebration and a gift to offer other galleries around Australia, to show off the "best of" from this highly regarded collection. Once more, viewers will be able to share the generosity of Howard Hinton, and marvel at the choices of his drive and passion which spanned Australian art from the 1880s to the 1940s. As former NERAM Curator Caroline Downer wrote, "it is the only collection of its kind in Australia. He [Howard Hinton] developed his collection for the purpose of encouraging artists, educating students, and for the benefit and enjoyment of the public". Of course, Hinton gave away all the paintings he purchased, only keeping 10 paintings to hang on the walls of his bedroom and 9 unframed Norman Lindsay watercolours and drawings from his trunk, all of which has been captured in the exhibition Hinton's Room, 1990, curated by Joe Eisenberg. This exhibition, which was a recreation of Hinton's room in Sydney, consists of several Streetons, one JJ Hilder and Sister Rigoletta (n.d.) by Jan Van Beers amongst others hanging on his walls. This exhibition, in the form of a stage set, is presented at NERAM from time to time as a subtle reminder of this great benefactor and his legacy.

Masterpieces from the Hinton Collection is a collection of works of art which include McMahon's Point ferry, 1890, by Arthur Streeton, Christmas bush, 1923, by Margaret Preston, Apollo's vanguard, 1933, by Norman Lindsay and The beach, 1918, by Elioth Gruner.

Other well-known Australian artists - both male and female - whose works feature in the exhibition are Lloyd Rees, Sydney Long, Roland Wakelin, Nora Heysen, William Dobell, Ethel Spowers, Vida Lahey, Clare Leighton, Roy de Maistre and Adrian Feint.

Of course, one can never ultimately stipulate what is a masterpiece. But, given the experience in watching viewers' reactions and comments to certain artworks hanging at NERAM in the past twenty years, it is easy to say what is considered a "masterpiece" in the eyes of the public. Certainly, the financial value of several pieces, most especially Mosman's Bay, 1984, by Tom Roberts, can allude to "masterpiece" quality. In fact, Mosman's Bay is regarded as the icon of the Howard Hinton Collection. Thus, in this context, a masterpiece from the Howard Hinton Collection does not necessarily allude to subject matter or quality or indeed the aesthetics of art. The 50 or so paintings in this exhibition can be characterised as the "people's choice", works known for their visitor popularity, for their physical size and grandeur, for their monetary value, and for their constant request to be hung and seen regularly compared to other works in the Howard Hinton Collection at NERAM.

The exhibition is divided into six basic themes:
Still lives
The nude and the figure
Landscapes and exotic landscapes
Seascapes (water views)
Leisure activities
Leisure activities

Overall though, this exhibition is meant to entice viewers into "grabs" of Australian art history, all significant moments with significant artists, all inspired by the Australian landscape and lifestyle, in some shape or form. These artists - indeed, now deemed as icons of Australian art - have paved the way for the emblematic subject matter still seen amongst contemporary Australian art today.

A touring exhibition organised by the New England Regional Art Museum.
Curated by Amanda Cachia and Joe Eisenberg

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