We acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the Country on which the Art Gallery of New South Wales stands.

Art Appreciation 2024 New narratives: exploring the Art Gallery collection

Charles Meere Australian beach pattern 1940, Art Gallery of New South Wales © Estate of Charles Meere/Copyright Agency

Charles Meere Australian beach pattern 1940, Art Gallery of New South Wales © Estate of Charles Meere/Copyright Agency

Join us in 2024 for our popular Art Appreciation lecture series which, as in 2023, focuses on the treasures to be found in the collection of the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

Each speaker in the series will take as their starting point a single artwork or a series of connected artworks and provide in-depth insights into the life and times of the artists by exploring particular styles, individual influences and the contexts in which they worked. 

Held over three terms (a total of 36 weeks), the series will examine historical and contemporary artworks by Australian and international artists working across painting, sculpture, photography, printmaking, drawing, installation and time-based art, and will draw connections between artworks in the Art Gallery’s collection and those held in other collections around the world. It will include important works by well-loved artists such as Vasily Kandinsky, Albrecht Dürer, Samuel Palmer, Hans Heysen, Andy Warhol, Kitagawa Utamaro, John Brack, Margaret Preston and Joan Ross.

The program will include presentations by a range of scholars and researchers, including popular past lecturers who will provide new perspectives on artworks that we know and love.

To book

You can book individual lectures, a whole term or the entire series. Booking links for terms and series can be found under ‘See prices’.

Art Appreciation 2024 New narratives: exploring the Art Gallery collection

Various Wednesdays 6pm
Various Thursdays 1pm
7 February – 21 November 2024

Art Gallery of New South Wales

Naala Nura, our south building

Lower level 3, Domain Theatre

🛈 Find out what you need to know before visiting

Per lecture

$40 non-member
$30 member


12-lecture term subscription

$400 non-member
$300 member 


Series subscription

$940 non-member
$710 member


Wednesday series

Book series
Book term one
Book term two
Book term three


Thursday series

Book series
Book term one
Book term two
Book term three


Bookings and enquiries: 02 9225 1878

Transaction terms and conditions, including cancellations and refunds

If booking tickets on behalf of others, you are responsible for communicating all correspondence from the Art Gallery Society of NSW to them.

  • Term 1 lecture
    Presented by Louis Nowra

    Learn how artists have helped create a myth of Sydney that focuses on the sun, sex, surf, harbour and the bridge. This lecture will discuss how Charles Meere and his painting Australian beach pattern 1940 have helped to conceive Sydney as a beacon of modernism and the harbour as a site of super-natural beauty, and bequeathed an almost mystical aura to our beach culture. 

    Louis Nowra is the author of plays, novels, screenplays, memoirs and other non-fiction, including a recent trilogy of biographies of Kings Cross, Woolloomooloo and Sydney.

    Wednesday 1 May 2024 6–7pm

    Thursday 2 May 2024 1–2pm

  • Term 1 lecture
    Presented by Sophie Gerhard (replacing Alisa Bunbury)

    Hans Heysen was famous for his dramatic landscapes and depictions of slender saplings and gnarled red gum trees. This lecture explores Heysen’s love of eucalypts and the way in which his paintings of the Flinders Ranges influenced an evolving appreciation by urban white Australians of the continent’s dry interior.

    Sophie Gerhard is curator of Australian and First Nations art at the National Gallery of Victoria. She is co-curating an exhibition on eucalyptus trees for the Ian Potter Museum of Art, University of Melbourne.

    Wednesday 8 May 2024 6–7pm

    Thursday 9 May 2024 1–2pm

  • Term 2 lecture
    Presented by John Gagné  

    Jacques d’Auzoles Lapeyre spent much of his life building a timeline of creation to know the exact age of the world. This lecture will use Jean Picart’s 1640 engraving of this eccentric French theologian to open a door to fascinating debates over the history of the universe, the planet and humankind. It will also explore the rich and strange byways of French art in the era of Louis XIII, which brimmed with curious imagery and new experimental techniques borrowed from optics.

    Dr John Gagné is Cassamarca Senior Lecturer in History and director of the Medieval and Early Modern Centre at The University of Sydney.

    Wednesday 15 May 2024 6–7pm

    Thursday 16 May 2024 1–2pm

  • Term 2 lecture
    Presented by Jos Hackforth-Jones

    In the Art Gallery’s Grand Courts, Daniel Boyd’s compelling Sir No Beard 2007 hangs alongside Joshua Reynolds’ grand-style James Maitland, 7th Earl of Lauderdale 1759–60. This lecture will explore 18th-century conventions of celebrity portraits and the ways in which contemporary artists offer new and significant insights into this tradition by considering their influence on the display of historic and colonial art in Australian art museums.

    Jos Hackforth-Jones is an independent art historian based in Sydney, currently editing a series of volumes on art and the British Empire. She is the former director of Sotheby’s Institute of Art, London.

    Wednesday 22 May 2024 6–7pm

    Thursday 23 May 2024 1–2pm

  • Term 2 lecture
    Presented by Claudia Chan Shaw 

    Why did Andy Warhol have a fascination with popular culture, fame and celebrities? Focusing on Warhol’s screenprint Mao 1972 inspired by Mao Zedong’s global fame, this lecture will explore how Warhol transformed the Chinese leader into a consumer item, drawing parallels between propaganda and advertising. Today the cult of Mao continues to influence contemporary artists and fashion designers with a surge in Mao-themed merchandise.

    Claudia Chan Shaw is a designer, broadcaster, author, artist and curator. She co-hosts the TV series Antiques down under and has led World Art Tours for the Art Gallery Society of New South Wales.

    Wednesday 29 May 2024 6–7pm

    Thursday 30 May 2024 1–2pm

  • Term 2 lecture
    Presented by Richard Neville  

    In the first half of the 20th century, the Art Gallery of New South Wales transferred some paintings and drawings considered to be ‘too historical’ to the State Library of New South Wales, located just across the Domain. Looking at works from artists such as Sydney Long, this lecture will consider the questions: when does fine art become a historical archive, and how has this distinction helped shape these two institutional collections?

    Richard Neville is the Mitchell librarian and director of engagement at the State Library. He has published widely on and curated many exhibitions about 19th-century Australian art and colonial-era society.

    Wednesday 5 June 2024 6–7pm

    Thursday 6 June 2024 1–2pm

  • Term 2 lecture 
    Presented by Yvette Pratt  

    This lecture delves into the captivating world of Napoleon Bonaparte’s strategic use of propaganda and the shaping of public perception by dissecting iconic portraits including celebrated military painter Edouard Detaille’s Vive l’Empereur! 1891. It will explore the historical significance of Napoleon’s rule, spanning from the French Revolution to his rise to power.

    Yvette Pratt is the chief operating officer of the Art Gallery Society of New South Wales. Her previous roles include curating children’s exhibitions at the National Gallery of Victoria and as head of the Education and Engagement Centre at the Botanic Gardens of Sydney and Australian Institute of Botanical Science.

    Wednesday 12 June 2024 6–7pm

    Thursday 13 June 2024 1–2pm

  • Term 2 lecture 
    Presented by Kathryn Hunyor  

    Learn about Munakata Shikō, one of Japan’s most internationally recognised artists and a dynamic force in the development of 20th-century Japanese art. His relationship with Yanagi Sōetsu, one of the founders of the mingei (folk art) movement, is well-known, but who were some of the other men who played a critical role in his life, his career and this enduring movement?

    Kathryn Hunyor is a curator and consultant who connects people with Japan through art and personal stories. She works across Australia and Japan with a range of organisations, including the Australian Chamber Orchestra and Sydney Festival, and leads World Art Tours to Japan for the Art Gallery Society of New South Wales.

    Wednesday 19 June 2024 6–7pm

    Thursday 20 June 2024 1–2pm

  • Term 2 lecture 
    Presented by Jason Smith  

    The blind leading the blind 2015 is one of several works by Robert Boynes, dating from 1966, in the Art Gallery’s collection. This lecture will examine Boynes’ career as one of Australia’s most acclaimed painters, and the uncompromising ways in which his images have been critical of social inequality and urban chaos, the alienation of the individual from community, and the degradation of ecologies. 

    Jason Smith is the director and chief executive officer of Geelong Gallery. He was previously curatorial manager of Australian art at the Queensland Art Gallery / Gallery of Modern Art, and director and chief executive officer of Heide Museum of Modern Art.

    Wednesday 26 June 2024 6–7pm

    Thursday 27 June 2024 1–2pm

  • Term 2 lecture 
    Presented by Morris Low 

    This lecture examines the work of Japanese artist Kitagawa Utamaro, with a focus on the erotic colour woodblock prints in Picture book: The laughing tippler vol 3 c1803. Like the other volumes in this set, the book starts with a woman’s portrait and ends with an intimate view of her body, providing a range of sexual typologies that reflect the male gaze and perceptions of the sexual roles of women in Edo society.

    Dr Morris Low is an associate professor at the University of Queensland where he teaches East Asian history. He has written extensively on Japanese science, technology and visual culture.

    Wednesday 3 July 2024 6–7pm

    Thursday 4 July 2024 1–2pm

  • Term 2 lecture 
    Presented by Deborah Beck  

    Fred Leist has been described as a ‘master of reflected light’. Discover an array of works by this Australian artist in collections as diverse as the Victoria and Albert Museum, Chelsea Arts Club in London, Australian War Memorial and National Art School, Sydney. Learn how works such as Shadows 1922 and Moonlight 1942 in the Art Gallery’s collection demonstrate his skills as a portrait painter and his subtle approach to capturing light on water.  

    Deborah Beck is a lecturer, archivist and collections manager at the National Art School, Sydney, as well as an artist.

    Wednesday 24 July 2024 6–7pm

    Thursday 25 July 2024 1–2pm

  • Term 2 lecture 
    Presented by Michael Hill  

    John Brack’s The new house 1953 depicts a stereotypical husband and wife standing in their living room at 1.20pm. Everything is perfect, but this is a cold paradise. This lecture will consider the painting in the light of the post-war critique of Australian suburbia.

    Dr Michael Hill is head of art history and theory at the National Art School, Sydney. His research focuses on Australian sculpture, Sydney’s ecology, the Italian Baroque, and art historiography.

    Wednesday 31 July 2024 6–7pm

    Thursday 1 August 2024 1–2pm

  • Term 2 lecture 
    Presented by Anne Ryan  

    Discover the work of Lesley Dumbrell, one of Australia’s pre-eminent non-objective painters. This lecture will look at her paintings and works on paper in the Art Gallery’s collection within the broader context of her life and times, including her close involvement with the Women’s Art Movement of the 1970s and the studios she has maintained in Melbourne, rural Victoria and Bangkok. 

    Anne Ryan is curator of Australian art at the Art Gallery of New South Wales and, in 2024, is the curator of the Art Gallery’s Lesley Dumbrell exhibition and Dobell Australian Drawing Biennial.

    Wednesday 7 August 2024 6–7pm

    Thursday 8 August 2024 1–2pm

  • Term 2 lecture 
    Presented by Yin Cao  

    Learn about the two main struggles for art that China faced in the first half of the 20th century, between tradition and modernisation and Chinese and Western cultures. This lecture will focus on a group of Chinese paintings in the Art Gallery’s collection created by prominent artists such as Qi Baishi, Huang Binhong, Wu Changshuo, Zhang Daqian, Ding Yanyong, Lin Fengmian and Xu Beihong.

    Yin Cao is curator of Chinese art at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. She trained as an archaeologist at Peking University and Harvard University and in museum management at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC.

    Wednesday 14 August 2024 6–7pm

    Thursday 15 August 2024 1–2pm

  • Term 3 lecture 
    Presented by Peter Kohane  

    Australian artist Lloyd Rees was a teacher in the School of Architecture at the University of Sydney between 1946 and 1987. This lecture discusses Rees’s drawings and paintings with reference to architectural principles, including the framing of human activities by facades, the knitting of a building into its urban fabric and the choice of materials.

    Dr Peter Kohane is a senior lecturer in the program of architecture at the University of New South Wales. He teaches and publishes on architectural design, theory and history, with an emphasis on developments in America, Britain and Australia during the 19th and 20th centuries.

    Wednesday 21 August 2024 6–7pm

    Thursday 22 August 2024 1–2pm

  • Art AppreciationStreeton and post-war impressionist painting

    Term 3 lecture 
    Presented by Geoffrey Edwards  

    While Arthur Streeton is acclaimed for his pastoral paintings and evocations of the Australian landscape, the works that he produced in the late 1920s and 30s after his return from France, where he served as an official war artist, are rarely displayed in public galleries and scarcely accorded the critical recognition they deserve. This lecture will address this relative neglect and also consider the achievements of other post-war impressionist painters.

    Geoffrey Edwards was formerly director of Geelong Art Gallery and is currently an adviser to Sculpture by the Sea. He is trustee of The Colin Holden Charitable Trust and of the Johnston Collection House Museum, and vice-president of the Australian Decorative and Fine Art Society.

    Wednesday 28 August 2024 6–7pm

    Thursday 29 August 2024 1–2pm

  • Term 3 lecture 
    Presented by Molly Duggins  

    In Joan Ross’s Warra Warra Wai 2019, Indigenous Australians and settlers jostle for space amidst a barrage of clashing greetings and warnings on the foreshore of a fluorescent Sydney Harbour. This lecture will traverse the contested terrain of Warrane, reading the layered landscape of Ross’s triptych, collaged from colonial prints and natural history illustrations, as a commentary on the environmental construction of place through Indigenous land management practices and European scientific and aesthetic frameworks.

    Dr Molly Duggins is a lecturer in art history and theory at the National Art School, Sydney where she specialises in colonial visual and material culture.

    Wednesday 4 September 2024 6–7pm

    Thursday 5 September 2024 1–2pm

  • Term 3 lecture 
    Presented by Alastair Blanshard  

    Explore works in the Art Gallery’s collection that take their inspiration from the myths and history of ancient Greece and Rome. These works offer a series of important lessons on the nature of beauty, the role of virtue, the character of our darkest fears and most passionate desires, and the relationship between the human and the divine.

    Alastair Blanshard is the Paul Eliadis Professor of Classics at the University of Queensland. He is the author of a number of books and articles on the impact of the ancient world on the modern.

    Wednesday 11 September 2024 6–7pm

    Thursday 12 September 2024 1–2pm

  • Term 3 lecture 
    Presented by Wayne Tunnicliffe 

    Discover Margaret Preston's A view of the Irish coast 1914, which was recently acquired by the Art Gallery. This landscape, created during her second transformative stay in Europe, shows the remarkable changes in her painting that occurred when she encountered French and British contemporary art, developing from a traditional tonal style to becoming a modern colour painter.

    Wayne Tunnicliffe is head curator of Australian art at the Art Gallery. He is co-curating the upcoming exhibition Modern Women: Australian Artists in Europe 1888-1940 with the Art Gallery of South Australia.

    Wednesday 18 September 2024 6–7pm

    Thursday 19 September 2024 1–2pm

  • Term 3 lecture 
    Presented by Mark Ledbury  

    Explore a series of 19th-century etchings by Charles Meryon, in which the French printmaker engaged with writer Victor Hugo, with views of Paris, and with his medium, experimenting with etching techniques, inks and papers and helping to revive the craft of etching. This lecture will explore Meryon’s innovations, his struggles with mental illness and the ways in which his work engaged with Paris; it will also touch on Meryon’s influence on modernist generations.

    Mark Ledbury is Power Professor of Art History and director of the Power Institute at the University of Sydney and works on European art of the 18th and 19th century.

    Wednesday 25 September 2024 6–7pm

    Thursday 26 September 2024 1–2pm

  • Term 3 lecture 
    Presented by Jeremy Clarke

    This lecture explores East–West cultural exchange during the early modern period. Focusing on a Japanese screen from the late 1500s to early 1600s, The arrival of the Portuguese, and a painting by Dutch artist Abraham van Beyeren, Still life with fruit, a glass and a Chinese Wanli porcelain bowl 1656, it will uncover connections between traders, artists, patrons, consumers and collectors. 

    Dr Jeremy Clarke completed a PhD in Asian and Pacific history at the Australian National University. He specialises in modern China and the East–West cross-cultural exchange.

    Wednesday 16 October 2024 6–7pm

    Thursday 17 October 2024 1–2pm

  • Term 3 lecture
    Presented by Michael Brand

    Wednesday 23 October 2024 6–7pm

    Thursday 24 October 2024 1–2pm

  • Term 3 lecture 
    Presented by Olivier Krischer  

    Discover how John Young established his practice in the 1980s and 90s by exploring authenticity and cross-cultural identity through appropriations from art history. This lecture traces Young’s conceptual journey from Still life with Derains (Retrograde) #2 1987 through Hermit painting #3 1999, in order to contextualise his more recent cycle of large-scale installations, known as The History Projects, which address traumatic histories, archives and diasporic memory. 

    Dr Olivier Krischer is an art historian and curator of modern and contemporary art from East Asia and its diasporas, teaching at the University of New South Wales and the National Art School, Sydney. He is the editor of John Young: The History Projects.

    Wednesday 30 October 2024 6–7pm

    Thursday 31 October 2024 1–2pm

  • Term 3 lecture 
    Presented by Tess Allas  

    The extraordinary narrative-driven works of Robert Campbell Jnr, Milton Budge, Elaine Russell, Roy Kennedy, Ian Abdulla and Laurel Nannup can tell us much about the laws and policies that impact Aboriginal people. These artists and their ‘history paintings’ provide opportunities for us to reflect on the past as well as provide a road-map to a better future. Can we hear their voices calling?  

    Tess Allas is First Nations curator at Museums of History NSW. She is also an artist, lecturer, researcher and writer, who has written on contemporary First Nations art practices.

    Wednesday 6 November 2024 6–7pm

    Thursday 7 November 2024 1–2pm

  • Term 3 lecture 
    Presented by Alison Inglis  

    Spencer Gore’s The Icknield Way 1912 depicts an ancient track in southern England. This modernist masterpiece is just one example of British artists’ long-standing fascination with prehistoric sites and monuments. Starting with this painting, this lecture will trace a thread of ‘ancient landscapes’ through the works of JMW Turner, Augustus John, Paul and John Nash, John Piper, and Graham Sutherland in the Art Gallery’s collection. 

    Dr Alison Inglis is an honorary fellow in art history at the University of Melbourne and has served on several museum boards, including the National Gallery of Victoria and Museums Victoria. Her research interests include 19th-century art and museum studies.

    Wednesday 13 November 2024 6–7pm

    Thursday 14 November 2024 1–2pm

  • Term 3 lecture 
    Presented by Kelly Gellatly  

    Discover how the beach is a defining experience of Australian life and an integral part of how Australians present ourselves to the world. Starting with the work of Charles Conder, Tom Roberts and Arthur Streeton, this lecture will chart Australia’s connection to the beach and examine the way in which depictions of our coastline, across the decades, reflect an evolving sense of ourselves as a nation. 

    Kelly Gellatly is a curator and writer and the founding director of the arts consultancy Agency Untitled. Formerly, she was director of the Ian Potter Museum at University of Melbourne and curator of contemporary art at the National Gallery of Victoria.

    Wednesday 20 November 2024 6–7pm

    Thursday 21 November 2024 1–2pm

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