Regional art museums, if you’ll pardon the pun, are in the midst of a renaissance. OHO’s recent visit to Gippsland Art Gallery was an eye-opener, and Shepparton’s Art Museum (SAM) is no less a delight.
There’s a core thread of indigenous art, both traditional and contemporary. But there’s also a significant collection of work by women collected over decades, which now forms one of the most significant collections of its kind in Australia. Along with a strong focus on ceramics (including the Sidney Myer Fund Australian Ceramic Award and the national Indigenous Ceramic Art Award), SAM is a compelling reason for art lovers to make a road trip to Shepparton.
The museum is (for now) housed in the multi-purpose space in Shepparton that includes the performing arts centre and an adjacent cafe. Soon, the new development will enable it to show much more of the collection as well as temporary shows by contemporary artists.
Arlo Mountford’s video installations echoed the kind of show you’d expect from much larger institutions like MONA. Upcoming shows promise just as much. Perennial favourites from the collection like Sam Jinks “Woman and Child” is a must-see piece of art. In fact, director Rebecca Coates says that locals show loving concern when the piece is moved – such a part of the community she has become.