Australian art exhibited in London.
It's always a great source of pride when you see Australian art exhibited in the UK. My own grandfather, Murray Griffin, was an Australian artist and I spent my formative years visiting galleries with him and learning about Australian art history. Now I can re-visit famous works from my youth at Trafalgar Square.
Billed as "the first of its kind in the UK", this National Gallery exhibition shows the work of Tom Roberts, Arthur Streeton, Charles Condor and John Russell.
Given the quality of these artworks, it's surprising that they've not been widely exhibited in the UK before now. They have such startling and uplifting colour.
Sadly, the exhibition doesn't features any women. Noting her absence, thank you Jane Sutherland for paving the way for future Australian female artists. I will think of you when I next visit the works of Tracey Moffatt at the Tate Modern.
These works were created in a period when Australia was regarded as part of the British Empire. You can't help but think about the links between Australia and Britain while you are looking at the paintings: the contrast of light and dark; the changes in colour and mood; and the place names.
Surely anyone who works in the Australian tourism industry should visit this exhibition and take notes for it is bound to inspire a Brexit dash to the antipodes.
Charles Conder was born in Middlesex and was sent to Australia by his father as a 16 year old. Can you imagine how he felt as he landed in New South Wales?
The parents of immigration-love child, Arthur Streeton, reputedly met on the ship travelling to Australia in 1854. Streeton himself lived in the Melbourne areas of Richmond, Eaglemont and Heidelberg - places of my own gorgeous childhood.
I love to think about a young Arthur finding out that his work; Golden Summer, Eaglemont; was accepted for exhibition at the Royal Academy in London around the 1900s, thus becoming the first Australian born white artist to be exhibited. It especially appeals to me because I lived in Eaglemont and loved my summers with my artist Grandfather by the Yarra River.
Tom Roberts was born in Dorset and he moved to Melbourne Australia around the age of 10. He temporarily returned to London in the early 1880s to study at the Royal Academy Schools and travel to Spain and Paris. It's a tour that many Australian artists still undertake today.
John Russell was a typical Sydney-sider. A clever and monied networker, he befriended the likes of Vincent van Gogh in Paris, Claude Monet and Henri Matisse and began his own artists colony on a French Island.
Curiously, I don't recall Australians ever using the term "impressionists" within their art history lexicon but perhaps this has changed? I do remember many references to the Australian Heidelberg School of Painters.
However, whatever the language used to describe this period of art, Australians will love seeing images from Australia as well as London.
The titles of the art works evoke such memories for me: Holiday Sketch at Coogee, Departure of the Orient – Circular Quay, Saplings and Golden Summer, Eaglemont.
Ah! How I miss the homeland.
Pleasingly, the initial reviews are excellent. The Evening Standard posted an exhibition review with the headline of "A fascinating show on an explosive theme" and explained "This excellent show explains how four 19th-century Australians re-invented the French art movement for their own new country."
Well, of course!
I think the last major show featuring Australian artworks took place in 2013 with The Royal Academy's Australia exhibition. Let's hope that we see more Australian art in future.