A Review of ‘Just Draw’ at Newcastle Art Gallery

A drawing robot, a dust ‘carpet’ and a kinetic movement artwork! These are just some of the amazing art exhibits at Just Draw, a new kid-friendly exhibition at Newcastle Art Gallery.

We recently visited Newcastle Art Gallery to check out this free exhibition. Curated by Lisa Woolfe and Todd Fuller, Just Draw celebrates the diversity of contemporary Australian drawing.  However, be prepared to be challenged on the definition of drawing as this exhibition features a range of different thought-provoking artworks.

The first art piece we see is Interruption by Grant Stewart which features a robot drawing. Its sensor detects movement and it draws accordingly. Looking at the art, my daughter and I have a philosophical discussion about who the creator of the art is. My daughter reckons its the the robot while I veer towards the artist who designed the robot.

Visit the family-friendly 'Just Draw' exhibition at Newcastle Art Gallery

After this, we find Connie Anthes’s kinetic artwork Untitled (Doorway / Dance #1) which features a erased VHS reel and a fan. It’s a striking piece examining lines and movement and one that kids thoroughly enjoy as they can turn the fan on and off.

Another piece kids will enjoy is Little Star, a 7 minute video comprising of hand-drawn illustrations by Todd Fuller about a dog named Little Star, the 11th dog to be sent into space by the Russians. It’s an engaging film that will have you mesmerised by the transitions of the drawing.

Visit the family-friendly 'Just Draw' exhibition at Newcastle Art Gallery

We marvel at the art work by Hannah Bertram entitled Towards Dust and re-evaluate our perception of dust. This piece was created using dust collected around Newcastle including coal dust, roof dust, bridge dust and even dust from the King Street footpath. Using paper stencils, sifted dust was used to create patterns resembling a carpet on the floor of the art gallery. (This temporary artwork will be swept away at the end of the exhibition).

Visit the family-friendly 'Just Draw' exhibition at Newcastle Art Gallery

Another favourite is the textile artpiece by Jane Théau named Tethered which makes a statement about shopping as a form of entertainment. These textiles are made from repurposed tartalan, a type of muslin used to wipe etching plates during printmaking. Suspended from the ceiling, these figures create a three-dimensional drawing.

Visit the family-friendly 'Just Draw' exhibition at Newcastle Art Gallery

There’s no doubt that this exhibition is kid-friendly. Underneath each art caption is a caption written just for kids. These drawing interpretations are provided by Percy, the 5 ½ year old son of exhibiting artist, Matilda Michell.

Also, be sure to pick up the Kids Art Trail booklet corresponding to the exhibition. The booklet contains activities for kids to do while they look at the exhibition. This booklet prompts kids to carefully examine and analyze the art and formulate their own opinions. There’s spaces for them to draw their own art and should keep them engaged through the exhibition.

Visit the family-friendly 'Just Draw' exhibition at Newcastle Art Gallery

In terms of recommended age groups for this exhibition, I recommend kids five and older will probably get the most of this exhibition. However, supervised kids under 5 will likely enjoy some of the exhibits especially the robot drawing Interrruption and fan installation Untitled (Doorway / Dance #1). And of course, it’s a great exhibition for mothers groups with babies in prams or baby carriers.

I recommend visiting on a Saturday or Sunday morning so you and your family can view the Just Draw exhibition and then participate in ArtCart, a free, drop-in style art activity, where children get creative and make their own works of art in response to current exhibitions. Art Cart runs from 10:30am to 12:30pm every Saturday and Sunday and each art activity takes around 20 – 30 minutes to complete.

There’s also Eye Spy Children’s Tours available. These are guided tours for Mothers’ groups, playgroups, daycare and preschools targetting children 0 – 5 years of age.

Groups of five or more children explore works of art using tactile objects, music and play. Because each group is so different, the tour can be adapted to suit the specific ages of the children visiting. The tours are free and are available for booking Tuesdays to Fridays, between 10am – 4pm

Photo courtesy of Newcastle Art Gallery

Photo courtesy of Newcastle Art Gallery

Eye Spy is available all year, changing with the exhibitions. Bookings essential, contact Audience Programs Officer at least two weeks in advance on 49745112 or email artgallerybookings@ncc.nsw.gov.au

Just Draw runs until 1 May 2016 at the Newcastle Art Gallery. Admission is free.

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