PLAN YOUR VISIT - See the return of Arthur Boyd's Shoalhaven landscape paintings with new exhibition Wilder Times (6 July - 13 October 2024)



6 JULY – 13 OCTOBER 2024

Bundanon has today announced further details for its exhibition season: WILDER TIMES: Arthur Boyd and the mid-1980s landscape, open to the public from 6 July – 13 October 2024.

The exhibition will see Arthur Boyd’s renowned 1984 commission for Arts Centre Melbourne, a series of fourteen powerful paintings of the Shoalhaven landscape, return to Bundanon for the first time since they were created.

Responding to these paintings, WILDER TIMES brings together over 60 works by seminal Australian artists from the time Boyd created this momentous body of work, providing a snapshot into a period of cultural dynamism in Australia, when ideas of landscape, land ownership and environmental protection were actively interrogated. Artists include David Aspden, Arthur Boyd, Mac Betts, Vivienne Binns, Brian Blanchflower, Mike Brown, Arthur & Corinne Cantrill, Judy Cassab, Bob Clutterbuck, Liz Coats, Bonita Ely, Gerrit Fokkema, Helen Grace, Robert Jacks, Tim Johnson, Robert Macpherson, Susan Norrie, John Peart, Toni Robertson, Howard Taylor, Rover Joolama Thomas, Imants Tillers, Timmy Payangu Tjapangati, Richard Woldendorp, and Women of Utopia. 

Boyd’s commission for Arts Centre Melbourne was one of several invitations to leading artists of the time by renowned designer, John Truscott, for the interiors of Arts Centre Melbourne. These commissions were integral to Truscott’s conception of the theatres as a ‘secular cathedral to the arts’. The ambition to create a space where artforms interconnect resonates deeply with Arthur and Yvonne Boyd’s vision for Bundanon, and speaks to the cultural dynamism of that period across Australia. In preparation for major upgrades to the State Theatre as part of the Melbourne Arts Precinct Transformation, Boyd’s grand lyrical suite of large-scale landscape paintings is reunited with the bushland and river they depict. 

Drawn from rough paintings and sketches made in the landscape and painted in his studio at Bundanon, the canvases record the river Bangli/Shoalhaven from dawn to midnight, capturing the passing of time and the changing of the light. Presented in the main gallery space of Bundanon’s Art Museum, the series is a testament to the celebrated Australian painter’s deep love of the landscape and commitment to environmental preservation – a commitment that ultimately resulted in the gifting of Bundanon to the Australian people less than a decade later. 

The accompanying survey brings together important works across painting, film, photography and printed material created by leading environmentally engaged artists working throughout the mid 1980s. On loan from significant public and private collections across Australia, this selection of key works contextualises the rapidly changing social, cultural and political climate in which Boyd was producing large suites of new work for exhibitions across Australia and Europe.

Presented works include Imants Tillers’ Pataphysical man, presented in the 1984 exhibition ‘An Australian Accent’ at MoMA PS1 New York which attracted critical acclaim; a series of aerial photographs of the Kimberley, Pilbara and Shark Bay by Richard Woldendorp AM, declared a State Living Treasure of WA in 2012 for his contribution to the arts and appreciation of the Australian landscape; Timmy Payungu Tjapangati’s Snake Dreaming, 1984, is a work by an artist who was among the first Pintupi men to begin painting on hardboard at Papunya, a movement that played a significant role in shifting perceptions on Indigenous art from the early 1970s; and the film work Serious Undertakings, 1983, by artist Helen Grace which sees a rigorous and witty feminist critique of Australian identity and the historical art canon, touching on themes of domesticity, motherhood and women’s experience of the landscape.  

A series of films from the National Film and Sound Archive include; Women of Utopia (1984), about the Aboriginal women of Utopia Station near Alice Springs including internationally renowned artist Emily Kam Kngwarray, and Werner Herzog’s award winning Where the green ants dreams (1984), inspired by the first Native Title and land rights case from 1971. 

Sophie O’Brien, Head of Curatorial and Learning, Bundanon, said: “Reunited with the landscape that inspired them, Boyd’s 1984 commissioned suite of paintings are a hymn to the river, the rocky outcrops and the ever-changing natural world. Looking back at this period through the lens of Australian collections, WilderTimes presents a view onto a particular time in Australian cultural history and invokes the vision Arthur and Yvonne Boyd had for a future Bundanon from their earliest days in this place.” 

Dr Steven Tonkin, Curator Art & Design, Arts Centre Melbourne, said: “Taking these paintings out of their dedicated setting and sending them home to Bundanon where they were created, presents the opportunity to see the Arthur Boyd commission in a new light. Viewing these paintings under contemporary gallery lighting for the first time reveals the richness of colours and textures in each work, as well as unearthing details and nuances in the respective landscapes that go unnoticed in their usual context.” 

Rachel Kent, CEO, Bundanon, said: “We are thrilled to be working with Arts Centre Melbourne at an exciting time in their evolution, to bring this significant body of work by Arthur Boyd to Bundanon for our local community and visitors. The conservation, protection and connection to our environment is a central ethos to Bundanon, not only as an art museum embedded in the landscape but also as a wildlife sanctuary on 1000 hectares of land. Boyd’s landscapes are presented in context – and in conversation with – works by leading Australian artists of this period, drawn from public and private collections. These works offer a deep insight into an important moment in our collective history, continuing Boyd’s legacy of creative, cultural and environmental learning.” 

Karen Quinlan AM, CEO, Arts Centre Melbourne, said: “I am so pleased that for the very first time, many of our Boyd artworks were able to be safely removed from their home in the Theatres Building and are now exhibited in the environment in which they depict. The refurbishment of the State Theatre has provided a remarkable opportunity to showcase our Public Art Collection to new audiences.” 

Bundanon will celebrate the official season launch of WILDER TIMES on Saturday 6 July 2024, with an exhibition opening and concert with No Fixed Address. 

WILDER TIMES will be accompanied by a full program of talks, workshops and live events throughout the season, as well as a full-colour catalogue publication with essays by the curator, Sophie O’Brien, and Dr Steven Tonkin, Art Curator at Arts Centre Melbourne. 

To request interviews, further information or imagery please contact Articulate:

Siân Davies

0402 728 462

Sasha Haughan

0405 006 035.


Bundanon acknowledges the people of the Dharawal and Dhurga language groups as the traditional owners of the land within our boundaries, and recognises their continuous connection to culture, community and Country.

In Dharawal the word Bundanon means deep valley.

This website contains names, images and voices of deceased Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.