Dear Friends of Despard Gallery,
Despite some unique challenges thrown up in 2020, the amazing success of our exhibitions this year reflects the resilience and commitment of our artists. As the international art world increases its presence online, via virtual art fairs and viewing rooms that enable collectors to shop from their homes, Despard Gallery has been active in developing our own artist video series and new digital content. This year marks Despard Gallery’s 34th year of our annual summer exhibition, where we showcase emerging and established artists works in tandem.
In 2020, we hosted ten successful solo exhibitions and group shows, as well as participated in two online national art fairs. Exhibitions of note include two sell-out shows from our emerging painters Zoe Grey and Sam Field, as well as a highly successful solo exhibition by local established painter Anthea Boden, who touched many people with her moving painterly tribute to the refugee community. Other notable exhibitions included our all-women abstraction show, featuring interstate artists Leah Thiessen and Julienne Harris, and Tasmanian painter Anne Morrison.
On a sadder note, this year we lost one of Tasmania’s best-known contemporary painters and a close personal friend, Geoff Dyer. Geoff built a national reputation as a professional artist over four decades, his distinctive landscapes and portraits were hung in the NSW Art Gallery 23 times through the Wynne, Sulman and Archibald prizes. In 2003 Geoff won the Archibald with his powerful portrait of author, environmentalist and friend Richard Flanagan. Geoff drew inspiration from the rugged west coast to the subliminal highland lakes. His larger than life character and creative drive will be long remembered through his many paintings held in collections around the country.
The 34th Annual Despard Gallery Summer Show presents new works from our talented artists stable, showcasing a variety of mediums and themes. Not only does the exhibition provide a visual taster of the year to come, it also acts as a platform to introduce some new faces. In association with the Creative School of Arts and Media, we awarded the second annual Despard Gallery NEXT award, which recognises the talents of a recent graduate by providing an opportunity to exhibit new work in our Annual Summer Group Show, this year’s winner was Ellyn Anderson.
We are excited about our diverse exhibition program, kicking off in February with three Aboriginal women painters from the Lockhart River. Followed by solo shows from Zoe Grey, Josh Foley, Sam Field, Wayne Brookes, Jenny Orchard and the inaugural exhibition by emerging artist Maggie Jeffries. We are also proud to be hosting a significant survey show of major paintings from the Geoff Dyer Estate in March, as well as a major solo exhibition by Patrick Hall in September.
We would like to take this opportunity to extend our sincere thanks for your ongoing support during what has been a challenging year for many. We look forward to 2021 with quiet optimism, heightened environmental awareness and greater support for Indigenous Australians, after a tumultuous 2020. From all of us at Despard Gallery, we wish you a safe and happy festive season and look forward to sharing many more inspiring contemporary artworks in the year to come.