It makes art sexy and accessible: Heide turns 40 years old

He also gives them the credit for leading the retrospective mid-career exhibition. “You used to wait until that poor old artist had one foot in the grave – or both feet in the grave – before they got one.”

John and Sunday Reed ca.  1964

John and Sunday Reed ca. 1964 Credit:Photographer unknown. Lent by Heide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne

According to Kerry Gardner, chairman of the Venice Biennale Council and former board member, Heide gets in the blood. She was closely involved in the construction of what are now the main galleries, as well as the Sidney Myer Education Center.

“It’s a unique proposal: the vision of a couple who had deep personal relationships with the artists because they lived there, and they fed them and worked the land with them, tamed the bush with them and ate with them. They were very contemporary and friends. “And they were part of a political avant-garde that I still think has a great appeal to people today. When you walk around the gardens at Heide, you see a lot of young people,” says Gardner. “It’s a place that attracts young people and families, but it also has a very serious collection of curators and history. “

She believes Harding and Morgan are two of the best curators in this country with a very feminine approach to art history. “They are scholars, but make art history really sexy and really accessible … their peers respect them enormously. The number of books they have written … they really reveal, from first principles, highly regarded art history. They always go deeper.”

There’s an accessibility at Heide that people really love, she says, quoting the current show of Margel Hinder’s sculpture, Modern in motion. “Heide plays this important role in looking deeply into Australian art history and really finding those stars and drilling down in a deep and rich way.”

Margel Hinder works on Mother and Child in 1939. Her work is currently on display at Heide in Modern in Motion

Margel Hinder works on Mother and Child in 1939. Her work is currently on display at Heide in Modern in MotionCredit:Photographer unknown

Nurturing new artists is also part of the museum’s mission, which Gardner says does it very well. “Supporting new talent was what Reeds did, and that’s what Heide still does while we have research shows by Robert Owen, and we look back on Nolan. I’m looking forward to the next one.”

Kathy Temin, artist and professor of art at Monash University, says Heide has been significant to her and her peers, both to its incredible contemporary art exhibitions and to its history as a society that generated the careers of so many artists, including Joy Hester.

The ballad about sexual addiction, 1981-1996 by Nan Goldin, shown as part of Close, Carroll Jerrem’s exhibition, curated by Natalie King, is one of Temin’s highlights. In addition to significant shows, there were life-changing moments. Her last conversation with Howard Arkley took place there at the Clemenger Contemporary Art Awards in 1999.

Setting up her show My monument: White Forest in 2008, curated by then-director Jason Smith and Sue Cramer, Temin was impressed with Smith’s practical approach. “Despite having installers ready to set up the show, he carried the trees in place while walking around covered in white synthetic fur.”

Lesley Harding (left) and Kendrah Morgan in 2015 when they wrote Modern Love about John and Sunday Reed.

Lesley Harding (left) and Kendrah Morgan in 2015 when they wrote Modern Love about John and Sunday Reed.Credit:Eddie Jim

Smith remembers that night with joy, especially the fur. Now he heads Geelong Gallery, he was CEO and CEO of Heide from 2008 to 2014. Although he is a career highlight, Smith is honest about the reality of running it. Apart from the curatorial challenges, there are the physical ones: three buildings and 15 acres of gardens to be maintained, all with cultural heritage overlays.

John and Sunday Reed on Heide II in 1964

John and Sunday Reed on Heide II in 1964Credit:Nigel Buuest

“The nagging fear of making sure there was enough money to pay the bills every month was deeply oppressive and tiring. It’s always been worth it because of the exceptional and consistent quality of our exhibits, world-class, but trying to run a cultural icon at the absolute minimum in a highly competitive market demands an enormous amount of everyone. “

Still, he says, it’s a place that gets under the skin in an uplifting and inspiring way. “I think all of us who have worked there leave something of our heart there.”

He says that Heide is completely relevant to contemporary artists.

Victoria Lynn, director of the TarraWarra Museum of Art, says together with the Beyeler Museum in Basel, Switzerland, that Heide provided inspiration for TarraWarra. For her, the museum’s origins, beginning with John and Sunday Reed’s love of art and artists, support her current philosophy. “That sense of passion for art, embracing groundbreaking architecture and connecting with plants through Sunday’s garden continues to this day.”

An audience will enjoy Heide x Midsumma in February 2020.

An audience will enjoy Heide x Midsumma in February 2020.

NGV Director Tony Ellwood first visited Heide as part of his post-graduate studies. “We referred to it as an example of best practice because it was recognized in the sector as being so beautifully run. As a country child who came into town, it had a real resonance for me; it embodied the best of city life and the life of the country and the personal narrative that came with it [Reeds’] vision of a present future. I just found it all intoxicating as a young adult. ”

This interest and respect has been maintained ever since, thanks to the quality of its programming. He describes it as “one of Australia’s great cultural resources and great cultural hubs”. “It is a pleasure to have a sophisticated cultural offer and then go out and visit the road garden and stroll through the sculpture. It’s a beautiful story about the development of a unique vision. “

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