Exhibition
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Past Display
Power to the People!
Dec 2, 2023
Feb 18, 2024
permanent exhibition
Gippsland protest posters from the National Gallery of Australia.

Presented as a companion exhibition to 'John Wolseley: The Quiet Conservationist', this summer the Gallery presents 'Power to the People!', an exhibition of political protest posters created in Gippsland in 1976, and subsequently collected en masse for the national art collection.

Just prior to joining the teaching staff of the Gippsland Institute of Advanced Education (GIAE) in Churchill, John Wolseley encouraged students to express their political concerns through their art practices. In 1976 he organised a rally in Commercial Road, Morwell, with students of the Art School to protest a range of issues such as the destruction of old-growth forests in Gippsland, the proliferation of airborne chemicals used in the coal-fired power industry in the Latrobe Valley, the construction of the Omega Tower in South Gippsland, and to support a strike held by SEC maintenance workers.

Recognised as a socially significant collection of artworks on a national level, the complete set of protest posters, along with drawings and sketches, were subsequently purchased for the National Gallery of Australia (NGA) collection in 1979. This collection was reprinted as an exclusive edition for the NGA by Tony Newsom, printmaking technician at the GIAE, and catalogued under the collective name ‘Wonderful Art Nuances Club’ (WANC).

While essentially tools of political protest, the works are shining examples of the 1970s political protest poster movement, which was in turn part of the wider counter-cultural movement that emerged from the 1960s. Power to the People! is the first time the NGA’s collection of Gippsland protest posters has been shown en masse.

The exhibition features twenty-seven original posters by seventeen artists, all students of the GIAE in 1976 (with the exception of John Wolseley himself):

Libby Bowyer | Nevan Bruton | Ian Close | Peter Dickie | Jennian Farrington | Ian Grace | Brent Greenwood | Joan Jesse | John Kean | Kate McGuire | Tony Newsom | Jan Russell | Heather Shand | Elizabeth Stevenson | Geoff Stewart | Patricia Weedenberg | John Wolseley

John Keane wearing a print by Tony Newsom, with fellow students, being confronted by the manager of Coles New World, Morwell, 1976. Courtesy Tony Hanning.

Artist Ian Close with fellow art students at the Gippsland Institute of Advanced Education, 1976. Courtesy Tony Hanning.
Selected Artworks
Nevan BRUTON
Arbitary law means: exploitation of working class
Year:  
1976
Medium:  
Linocut print on paper
Size:  
30.6 x 31.6cm (image); 56.1 x 38cm (sheet)
Collection National Gallery of Australia. Purchased 1979. 1979.2212.
© 
The artist.
Jan RUSSELL
Blackmail; workers unite; support strike
Year:  
1976
Medium:  
Linocut print on paper
Size:  
26.5 x 34.4cm (image); 38 x 56.1cm (sheet)
Collection National Gallery of Australia. Purchased 1979. 1979.2214.
© 
The artist.
John WOLSELEY
Campaign to ban use of 1080 poison in our forests
Year:  
1976
Medium:  
Linocut print on paper
Size:  
49 x 39.9cm
Collection National Gallery of Australia.
© 
The artist.
Joan JESSE
Coming up fir air; Gippsland forests are pining away
Year:  
1976
Medium:  
Linocut on paper
Size:  
14.7 x 34.4cm (image); 38 x 56.1cm (sheet)
Collection National Gallery of Australia. Purchased 1979. 1979.2216.
© 
The estate of the artist.
Kate McGuire
Dismissal notice; you’ve got a friend
Year:  
1976
Medium:  
Linocut on paper
Size:  
14.7 x 34.4cm (image); 38 x 56.1cm (sheet)
Collection National Gallery of Australia. Purchased 1979. 1979.2216.
© 
The estate of the artist.
Tony NEWSOM
Nevermore
Year:  
1976
Medium:  
Linocut print on paper
Size:  
34 x 48.8cm (image); 56.2 x 76.1cm (sheet)
Collection National Gallery of Australia. Purchased 1979. 1979.2225.
© 
The estate of the artist.
Elizabeth STEVENSON-RYAN
Untitled [Danger 1080]
Year:  
1976
Medium:  
Linocut print on paper
Size:  
44.1 x 61.7cm (image); 50.7 x 76cm (sheet)
Collection National Gallery of Australia. Purchased 1979. 1979.2228.
© 
The artist.
John KEAN
What happened to our native forests
Year:  
1976
Medium:  
Linocut print on paper
Size:  
40.8 x 32.4cm (image); 76.2 x 56.3cm (sheet)
Collection National Gallery of Australia. Purchased 1979. 1979.2229.
© 
The artist.
Brent GREENWOOD
You have a bloody right to say
Year:  
1976
Medium:  
Linocut print on paper
Size:  
31.1 x 15.3cm (image); 38 x 28cm (sheet)
Collection National Gallery of Australia. Purchased 1979. 1979.2210.
© 
The artist.
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