Skip to content
Curtin University of Technology
John Curtin Gallery

Current Exhibitions

Bella Kelly Retrospective & A S S E M B L A G E
On show from Monday 20 June

Bella Kelly, Untitled (Sleeping Lady),1988, watercolour and gouache on paper, 36.2 x 49.2cm

Bella Kelly Retrospective
20 June - 21 August, 2016

The Bella Kelly Retrospective is an exhibition of paintings by the renowned Noongar artist Bella Kelly (1915-1994) including three from the City of Albany Collection as well as approximately 40 others borrowed from private and public collections.

The Bella Kelly Retrospective will build on the research undertaken for the Ripples in the Pond exhibition presented by Vancouver Arts Centre in 2014, which was developed to support the Great Southern Regional Tour of Koolark Koort Koorliny (Heart Coming Home); selected works from the Herbert Mayer Collection of Carrolup Artwork presented by John Curtin Gallery.

Through the Ripples in the Pond exhibition, Bella Kelly’s place in Noongar art history was re-evaluated. Bella Kelly had been previously described as being influenced by the Carrolup Style, whereas the research suggested that she may have been an important early influence on the Carrolup child artists.

Curated by Annette Davis

Developed with assistance from Department of Culture and the Arts: Connect Community Collections Grant.


Janis Nedela, Rose portraits, 1995-2004, collages and mixed media on black and white photographs, 64 x 52.5cm, 13 images in total

20 June - 21 August, 2016

Drawing from the Curtin University Art Collection, Assemblage features sculptures, paintings, jewellery and collage that are linked by a use of found or appropriated materials, and an experimental and playful approach to art-making. The exhibition showcases a range of artworks that are rarely publicly seen due to their fragile, complex or ephemeral nature, and many of the works have recently been restored.
With its roots in cubist collage, and connections to art movements including Dada, Surrealism, Futurism, Pop-art, Fluxus and Arte Povera, ‘Assemblage’ is a diverse and wide-ranging art form. William C Seitz, Curator of the seminal 1961 exhibition, The Art of Assemblage (New York Museum of Modern Art) described assemblages as being made up of both natural and salvaged or recycled materials that were not intended as art materials. For Seitz, the interplay between elements: both created and borrowed, creates new meaning (often through an “aura of associations”) that functions much like a poet’s use of metaphor.i

For the Contemporary art audience this ground breaking and progressive approach may now seem common place, however assemblage art was, and continues to be, a dynamic and inspiring art form. As Seitz describes, the term ‘Assemblage’ denotes, “not only a specific procedure and form . . . but also a complex of attitudes and ideas”ii. Paramount to this ‘attitude’ and conceptual approach is an embracing of experimentation and risk. As Anne Ellegood states, “Defying a classical notion of truth or a conventional idea of beauty in art, these earlier unorthodox practices sought out something new for art with an urgent commitment, ultimately asserting that art can, and should, be risky, contradictory, confrontational, and even unstable.”iii It could be argued that, as a use of found objects is central to its defining characteristics, so too is its eclectic and experimental nature and it is the latter that underpins its continuing relevance and fascination today.

Curated by Lia McKnight, John Curtin Gallery Collection Manager

Click the link to view curator Lia McKnight give a preview of selected pieces from the ASSEMBLAGE exhibition.

i William C Seitz; 1961; The Art of Assemblage; New York: The Museum of Modern Art; p13
ii Ibid, p 10
iii Anne Ellegood; Joanna Burton; 2006; The Uncertainty of Objects and Ideas: Recent Sculpture; Washington, D.C.: Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution; p22