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Art, Design Powerhouse Museum , Ultimo Until Sunday May 1 2022
A beautiful old drawing of gum leaves and nuts
Photograph: Powerhouse Collection | Angophora lanceolata (AppleTree. Red-Gum)’, 1887 Agard Hagman

Time Out says

This deep dive exhibition reckons with our cultural history and ever-changing relationship with the gum tree

UPDATE, June 28: As of June 26, the Greater Sydney region including the Central Coast, the Blue Mountains and Wollongong is under a compulsory two-week lockdown until 11.59pm on July 9. Many events in Sydney have therefore been cancelled or postponed until after this period.

The ubiquitous gum tree gets the artistic celebration it truly deserves with a new exhibition at the Powerhouse Museum. Drawing on 400+ objects from the museum's vast collection, Eucalyptusdom explores our changing relationship to the local hardwood, and artists’ many creative uses of the material.

Opening on July 1 and running until May 2022, the exhibition takes its title from a 1930s text by Edward F Swain, one of Australia’s earliest conservationists. The show highlights the relationship between eucalypts and First Nations Australians, the trees’ important role in the Federation arts and crafts movement, plus the Powerhouse Museum’s unique and longstanding relationship with the eucalypt. Rarely seen items you’ll be able to have a gander at include over 100 timber specimens dating from the 1800s, botanical illustrations and early glass-plate photographs.

It will also showcase 17 new commissions, including from Trawlwoolway multidisciplinary artist Julie Gough. She documents eucalypt trees situated in the vicinity of sites of conflict and violence between Tasmanian Aboriginal people and colonists from the late 1700s to early 1800s. There’s also a work by Wiradjuri/Kamilaroi artist Jonathan Jones, working with Wiradjuri Elder Dr Uncle Stan Grant Sr AM, that considers the connection to the guardian ancestor Dharramalin, central to men’s initiation ceremonies. Nicholas Mangan’s new work analyses the complex history of objects in the Powerhouse collection through film and large-scale sculptural installation. Newly established organisation First Nations Fashion and Design presents a collection of nine wearable garments by First Nation Designers.

A program of performances, talks and masterclasses helps unpack the exhibition. Hear First Nations artists speak about their work in a series of talks inside the exhibition, to coincide with NAIDOC Week (July 5, 7, 8 and 9). Aunty Fran Bodkin, Vera Hong and Lucy Simpson will also discuss how Country is transformed and healed by both visible and intangible forces (July 10).

Powerhouse chief executive Lisa Havilah says, “Beginning with the burning of the Garden Palace exhibition building in 1882, Eucalyptusdom explores the interwoven histories of the Powerhouse and the eucalypt. This exhibition invites us to consider how our changing relationship to eucalypt reflects our ever-shifting comprehension of Country and place.”

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Venue name: Powerhouse Museum
Address: 500 Harris St
Price: Free

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