Over two hundred Aboriginal artworks across four venues in North East Victoria culminate to produce the epic discovery-drive tourism product North East Aboriginal Art Trail. Featuring the largest display of modern Aboriginal art presented by a private gallery, the new trail couples the finest art viewing with a great selection of food and wine touring, with gallery spaces situated within big-name destinations such as De Bortoli Rutherglen Estate and Quest on Townsend Albury and two lesser-known but no less unique settings: The Plough Inn at Tarrawingee and Myrtleford’s Savoy Club, both located on Victoria’s Great Alpine Road.
The North East Aboriginal Art Trail guides visitors through some of the most scenic areas of North East Victoria and just across the border to the cosmopolitan city of Albury, NSW. While the tour can be comfortably covered in a day, given what the venues offer in food, accommodation, and fine wines, the experience is best stretched out to several days with planning.
Art on display is offered for sale with a range of smaller and mid-sized works allowing wannabe art collectors to get in on the action. In addition, private viewings can be arranged with Gallery Director Hans Sip for seasoned art collectors, including viewing some of Australia’s most significant and precious Aboriginal paintings.
Aboriginal Exhibitions Gallery is the sole Victorian and regional NSW representative of Lockhart River Arts Indigenous Corporation, representing the famous Lockhart River Art Gang of painters.
The following is a roundup of what to expect at each gallery location.
De Bortoli Rutherglen Estate – Rutherglen, Victoria
De Bortoli Rutherglen Estate is the original North East Victorian gallery location of Aboriginal Exhibitions Pty Ltd. Over its past five years of operation, it has hosted one of the most comprehensive displays of Aboriginal art found anywhere in Victoria. Housed within the historic old Seppelts Winery (1886) walls, this fantastic gallery space compliments the beauty of the landmark winery building with its large rustic timber beams and polished concrete industrial floors. The cellar door and gallery is combined within the same building. Also, on-site is the boutique accommodation, which overlooks the vines, and includes conference facilities, bar and Tuileries Restaurant.
Art on display:
While the feature works frequently rotate; paintings, artefacts and sculptures previously been exhibited include senior painters Michelle Possum Nungurrayi, Kudditji Kngwarreyi, Billy Doolan, Jack Macale Loodgengardinge, brothers Luke and John Cummins, Russell Butler, Gertie Huddleston, Djambu (Sambo) Barra Barra, Faith Thompson Nelson; as-well-as the original Lockhart River Art Gang members Rosella Namok, Fiona Omeenyo, Patrick Butcher Jnr and Silas Hobson.
Connecting the old with the new, Aboriginal Exhibitions’ De Bortoli Rutherglen Estate collection represents a journey from traditional historical reference to a modern world view of Aboriginal art.
13-35 Drummond Street, Rutherglen, Victoria
Tel 02 6032 7999
The Plough Inn – Tarrawingee, Victoria
The Plough Inn is a historic pub that was built in 1864. It features a large beer garden framed by old Cobb & Co. stables, providing outdoor dining seating under a 140-year-old wisteria. The pub is open for morning coffee, lunch and dinner five days a week, from Thursday to Monday, and showcases a range of local brewery and winery products within its historic walls.
Art on display:
The dining room within The Plough Inn is highly coloured by paintings created by Lockhart River (Cape York) artists Fiona Omeenyo and Patrick Butcher Jnr. Here, sandblasted and lightly painted antique bricks form a visually subtle, yet warm hanging wall foundation. This cleverly mirrors the warm tones of the polished timber flooring and mid-century modern dining settings. Fiona Omeenyo’s figurative art speaks of harmony and respect for Country and the spirits within; while Patrick Butcher Jnr’s powerful colour field paintings showcase land, sea and sky visuals, presented in a range of different moods influenced by seasonal climate and unique weather events.
Club Savoy – Myrtleford, Victoria
Club Savoy is a local Italian Club that has provided authentic Italian cuisine and entertainment people of Myrtleford and its surroundings for over 50 years. It has been a valued hub of the community since its inception in 1956. Club Savoy is open seven days a week for its two and a half thousand members and guests.
Art on display:
An extensive list of large scale works by Palm Island, Queensland Aboriginal elder Billy Doolan are on display at Club Savoy. These cover a large group of works that promote the continued need for environmental care and educate the viewer on a range of traditional Aboriginal Dreamtime stories intricately painted in fine lines that culminate in powerful visuals. Subjects focus on Country and sense of place, plants used for food and medicine, important animals and spirit figures.
Paintings are also on display taken from Billy Doolan’s Sicilian Dreaming exhibition – a touring show launched in Italy in 2012. One hero work, Etna Dreaming, 2010 was commissioned after Billy’s 2009 visit to Sicily. Etna Dreaming presents the volcano as the breast of a mother that provides nourishment to its children. It is today a celebrated work of Billy’s connecting Aboriginal Australia with Italy.
252-254 Myrtle Street, Myrtleford, Victoria
Tel 03 5751 1296
Quest Albury on Townsend – Albury, NSW
Quest Albury on Townsend has taken the art hotel concept several steps further by displaying more than 170 original paintings and prints within a series of hotel gallery spaces. It also offers Studio Art Suites – a collection of four premium rooms that include original paintings from celebrated Lockhart River (Cape York) artists: Fiona Omeenyo, Patrick Butcher Jnr, Silas Hobson and Rosella Namok. Offering an authentic and highly pleasing in-room experience, the Studio Art Suites provide a fantastic way for guests to connect with Aboriginal art. Housed within the old Farmer’s and Graziers’ Wool Store building, Quest Albury on Townsend has undergone an extensive and impressive conversion into apartments and suites totalling 79 rooms.
Art on display:
The expanse of art displayed throughout Quest Albury on Townsend is extraordinary – and it begins as soon as you step into the foyer. Victorian Latje Latje and Yorta Yorta artists Trevor ‘Turbo’ Brown and Craig Charles are showcased with an exhibition of work titled Dhungala, hanging in the significant level one atrium main gallery space. Here natural light floods in, amplifying the colour, light and movement within the paintings. Craig and Turbo’s work depict Murray River landscapes and its animals. Other original paintings from Jack Macale (Kimberley, WA) and Michelle and Gabriella Possum (Central Dessert) expand the collection with their vibrant prints and large scale canvases livening up level two corridors, stairwells and lift areas. In fact, there’s so much art throughout the hotel, it’s constantly surprising just how exciting walking the halls can be.
450 Townsend Street, Albury, NSW
Tel 02 6058 1100
Stop Press! Billy Button and Bush Track Wines – Myrtleford, Victoria
Just announced, celebrated North East winemakers Billy Button and Bush Track have recently opened their second cellar door in Myrtleford and now have a selection of Aboriginal artworks on display, making it the fifth venue within the art trail. While the two wine brands present some of the region’s most perfumed and well-balanced wines, we’ve also heard the news of new season black Perigord truffles from local growers Alpine Truffles are now in stock at the cellar door; adding the many reasons why this winter a tour of the North East Aboriginal Art Trail is time well spent.
161 Myrtle St, Myrtleford
Tel 5751 1932