Wine, art and cultural heritage go hand in hand at the new eclectic Aboriginal Exhibitions Gallery at Rutherglen Estates in North East Victoria.
Just opened, it’s a joint collaboration between Rutherglen Estates’ general manager and chief winemaker Marc Scalzo and visionary Melbourne art collector, Hans Sip, who saw 18 months of hard work come to fruition with the opening of the Aboriginal Exhibitions Gallery.
The first exhibition Dhungala, features more than 40 striking contemporary artworks by Trevor “Turbo” Brown and Craig Charles, curated by art lover and editor of Essentials magazine, Jamie Durrant, who was also instrumental in the joint venture.
An iconic 1880s winery building houses the new cellar door and art gallery that features rustic walls, red gum beams and a well-trodden floor. The space is a perfect backdrop for the significant artworks.
Step inside and as well as tasting some top wines, you will be entranced by the mesmerising artwork of the two late Latje Latje and Yorta Yorta artists, who both had a close personal connection to the Murray River.
Hans Sip, who has more than 600 pieces in his collection, started with early Chinese ceramics and wood carvings in his mid teens, is excited about the joint venture.
It was after he met artist Clifford Possum in 1996 that he started seriously collecting Aboriginal art.
“In bringing this rich and evocative collection of some of Australia’s most esteemed artists to Rutherglen, it is in turn, rewarding to help regional communities learn more about indigenous culture,” he says.
“Wouldn’t it be wonderful if this was just the start, a springboard to not just attract widespread interest, but trigger vigorous debate; to challenge, excite and educate the local community, the region and national and international visitors.
“I am a firm believer in the power of art to communicate across diverse audiences.”
Mr Sip says he couldn’t imagine a better home for his collection than Rutherglen Estates.
The exhibitions will change quarterly drawing from his diverse collection that represents more than 90 Aboriginal artists.
Marc Scalzo says adding the gallery concept to the Tuileries precinct allows visitors to seamlessly flow between immersive and memorable wine and art experiences.
“The idea came out of a casual conversation with local friend, publisher and curator, Jamie Durrant and we were just kicking around some ideas for the new cellar space and now 700 canvasses and artefacts later, we are privileged to be part of a collaboration that helps carry the Aboriginal culture forward for each generation to understand and appreciate.
“Just as each wine’s distinct personality reflects the “ground” from which it comes, much of the art on these walls speak of land, connection and community.”
Jamie Durrant says he is blown away by the enormous possibilities pertaining to preparing class-leading exhibitions that are set to draw large crowds from both national and international audiences.
The new gallery is considered a cultural coup for the region that’s a three hour drive from Melbourne.
This exhibition will run until early next year and future gallery programs will include a series of Wine and Art Conversations as well as artists-in-residence workshops and events.
Aboriginal Exhibitions Gallery
13-23 Drummond St
Phone 0260 327999