Celebrating and promoting the Outback through art

Organisation: Waltzing Matilda Centre

Project: The John Villiers Waltzing Matilda Outback Art Show

Amount: $37,500 over three years

Year of grant: 2015

Since 1996, the Waltzing Matilda Outback Gallery in the central outback town of Winton has curated an annual art exhibition and competition to promote art and culture in the Outback. The John Villiers Trust supported the Art Show 2012-2014 and in October 2014, provided a grant for a further three years.

The national art exhibition has been held annually since 1996 and celebrates and explores the different themes of the Outback in both painting and three dimensional works in a competitive and professional environment.

Held every year during the peak tourist season between May-July, the exhibition is seen by between 5,000-8,000 visitors. It gives the local community and visitors the opportunity to learn about art in its many different forms, as well as enjoy images of familiar Outback scenes through the eyes of artists.

Each year, a professional artist is invited to judge the art show and competition, as well as conduct a two-day arts workshop in their field of expertise. In 2015, watercolourist and mixed media artist Lyn Butchart was the judge.

Memories, Dreams and Reflections by Kathryn McGovern

Kathryn McGovern’s winning work.

Over the years, the number of entrants has grown considerably. The 2015 exhibition was no exception with 53 works selected to be finalists in the painting section and seven works in the three dimensional section.

In 2015, the first prize for painting went to Kathryn McGovern from Brisbane for an evocative work titled Memories, Dreams and Reflections. 

Anthill Country by Rhonda Rettke

Rhonda Rettke’s felt hat took out first prize in the three dimensional category

Rhonda Rettke from Gympie won the first prize for a three dimensional work for her sculptural felted hat titled Anthill Country.

Unfortunately, on 18 June 2015, just weeks after the official opening on 15 May, a devastating fire destroyed the Waltzing Matilda Centre including the Outback Regional Gallery and, regretfully, all the artworks associated with the 2015 exhibition.

The Centre is currently being rebuilt and will re-open in 2017. This means the John Villiers Waltzing Matilda Outback Art Show will not take place in 2016; however, the Trustees have agreed to extend the timeframe of the grant for a further year to 2018 to accommodate the rebuilding of the Waltzing Matilda Centre and its gallery.