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This ancient meat-shaped stone is coming to the Art Gallery of NSW

Meat-shaped stone Art Gallery of NSW 2019
National Palace Museum, Taipei Qing dynasty 1644 - 1911, 'Meat-shaped stone'

The Art Gallery of NSW this morning announced their 2019 program, with a mixture of international heavyweights (a retrospective of conceptual art master Marcel Duchamp), exhibitions highlighting local stars (a Ben Quilty solo show) and exhibitions drawn from the gallery's rich collection (including an exhibition focused on Indigenous photography). It's still yet to unveil the summer blockbuster for the 2019-20 slot.

But there's one artwork that really caught our eye (though not our nose or tastebuds, unfortunately). The imaginatively titled 'Meat-shaped stone' is the most famous and popular artwork at the National Palace Museum in Taipei, which holds a treasure trove of ancient Chinese art and artefacts from more than 8,000 years. And yes, it looks a lot like a piece of meat.

The museum will be sending more than 150 artworks to Sydney for Heaven and earth in Chinese art: treasures from the National Palace Museum, Taipei. The exhibition includes paintings, calligraphy, illustrated books, bronzes, ceramics, jade and wood carvings.

But back to the pork. The stone was carved from jasper and dyed to resemble Dongpo pork belly. There's a bit of contention over exactly when it was crafted, but it's from the Qing Dynasty, narrowing it down to somewhere from 1644 to 1911. It's rarely loaned because of its huge popularity, but in 2014 made its way to a Tokyo exhibition, where it was visited by around 21,000 people each day. That's a pretty big audience for a stone that's not even eight centimetres tall.

Heaven and earth in Chinese art: treasures from the National Palace Museum, Taipei is at the Art Gallery of NSW from February 2 to May 5 2019.

Check out our hit list of the best art exhibitions in Sydney this month.