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Ancient, old and new - the art our region has inspired

24 Aug 2020

Continuing to reflect on the Grampians’ wealth of history, we’re delving deep into the meaningful art stories and captivating artworks our region has inspired.

The many museums and galleries in our charming towns are a testament to the talent of local artists and also tell important historical stories.

Our region’s majestic sandstone outcrops and vast pastoral scenes have inspired generations upon generations of artists. Beyond the stunning peaks and enchanting bushlands, native fauna and flora has been celebrated through illustrations, poetry and photography.

Here is a snapshot of our diverse and fascinating art scene dating back thousands of years.


The Grampians ancient art

Home to over 80% of Victoria’s Aboriginal rock art sites, the Grampians is rich in ancient art and stories. Over 200 rock art sites are located in the Grampians National Park, or Gariwerd as it’s known in Indigenous communities, some dating back 20,000 years ago.

Each sacred site is centered on storytelling and used as a chronical to convey knowledge of the Gariwerd land, events and beliefs of the Aboriginal people. Gariwerd’s rock art sites symbolise the deep spiritual beliefs and connections to the land and its inhabitants. From depictions of humans, human hands, animal tracks and birds to drawing upon natural resources to create paintings, our region is reflected in the traditional ancient stories that inspire so much of the art.

Notable sites open to the public are: Gulgurn Manja Shelter , Ngamadjidj Shelter, Billimina Shelter,Manja Shelter and Bunjil Shelter. Brambuk – The National Park & Cultural Centre in Halls Gap shares the region’s unique tapestry of Aboriginal culture and art.

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The Grampians old art

Steeped in gold rush history, the Gum San Chinese Heritage Centre in Ararat transports you back to the goldrush and the harsh realities of an arduous journey to an unknown land. The fascinating stories of Chinese miners, culture and unique textiles, embroideries and relics from the 1850s to 1900s, portray the gruelling harshness of the Grampians landscape bestowed upon them.

Around the same era, renowned Australian writers, poets, photographers and painters sought inspiration in the divine natural powers of the Grampians – immortalising our beautiful rugged mountain ranges, expansive plains and sheltered gullies.

In the mid to late 1800’s Eugene von Guérard frequently travelled through Victoria in search of awe-inspiring scenes of the Australian landscape to draw and paint. His visit to the Grampians inspired one of his most renowned paintings, Mount Abrupt, the Grampians, Victoria (1856).

Another legendary Australian artist Arthur Streeton captured the natural beauty of the region with wonder and admiration. His works can be found in galleries around the nation celebrating Mounts Rosea, Sturgeon and Abrupt and most famously, Mount William, in the Land of the Golden Fleece.

Other pieces of artwork inspired by the Grampians include: In the Grampians; Harvesting near the Grampians by George Webb (1886 – 1900), The Grampians by James Curtis (1879) In the Grampians by David Davies (1885) and The Grampians by Arthur Boyd (1950 – 1952)

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The Grampians new art

Proudly, the Grampians is home to a number of its own local artists. Glass artist James McMurtrie draws upon the mountains which surround his studio to create unique artworks. And in Halls Gap, acclaimed environmental artist Steve Morvell showcases work dedicated to raising human awareness of the beauty and fragility of wildlife and the habitats in which we co-exist. Ros McArthur's studio is circled by the Grampians mountain ranges and National Park - a never-ending source of beauty and brilliance. Decorative local artworks and rich bequests can be found at MUD Gallery in Hamilton.

Smaller private galleries and art spaces see works by artists who have been inspired by the region. From the contemporary Australian photographers displaying their work in Horsham’s Regional Art Gallery to the recently refurbished Ararat Gallery TAMA (Textile Art Museum Australia) housing a celebrated collection of textile and fibre-based art since the early 1970s. Today the collection is arguably the most significant of its kind in Australia.

And finally, the Grampians art and culture scene is not complete without mentioning the Rupanyup Silo Art Trail – the largest outdoor gallery in Australia. It features six wheat silo paintings created by talented artists from all over the world. Each artist spent months in towns drawing upon locals and the region for inspiration. The murals depict a unique story about the host town; speaking to the harshness of the environment, the challenges of life and rural Victoria’s community spirit.

From ancient, old and new art, the Grampians landscape has inspired internationally renowned artists from all walks of life. There’s so much Grampians art and culture to discover. Until our next historical blog instalment, read up here.