Internationally Acclaimed Artist Gifts Works to Yarrila Arts & Museum

Published on 29 August 2022

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Ken Unsworth in his studio with ‘The Light of the World’. Photograph courtesy of Robert King.

Ken Unsworth, one of Australia’s most significant contemporary artists, has donated two of his recent works to Yarrila Arts and Museum (YAM) after learning about the planned new gallery and building.

He rose to international prominence when ‘Suspended Stone Circle’ was shown at the Venice Biennale of 1978. This work established Unsworth’s global career and has just been featured as the centrepiece of the reinstallation of artworks in the refurbished 20th Century Galleries of the Art Gallery of New South Wales. Once voted Sydney’s most popular artwork, the work –103 river stones each weighing around 15kg suspended by 309 wires – now hangs over two levels in the newly unveiled atrium.

He has offered YAM two paintings from his 2020 exhibition Indulgence:

  • ‘The Light of the World’ is a large-scale, three panel painting of a mythical paradise, with the spirits of earth, air and water wandering through a dreamscape of islands and waterways;
  • ‘Shipwreck’ features the recurring Unsworth symbol of a stranded boat, together with floating, unmoored figures and an enigmatic cat.

“This is an outstanding and hugely generous donation by an Australian artist who has long been regarded as one of Australia’s most important contemporary artists,” said Chris Chapman, City of Coffs Harbour’s Director Sustainable Communities.

“And now we’ll have a gallery that has the height and size to ensure that works on this scale are shown to their best advantage.

“Being able to attract such a donation from an artist of Unsworth’s calibre, even before the new gallery is open, is a fantastic endorsement of Yarrila Arts and Museum and its future as a regional cultural destination.”

Now 91, Ken Unsworth draws upon an extraordinarily diverse repertoire of skills, methods and approaches to art. He is best known for his conceptual sculptures and innovative performances that combine theatre, dance and art. However, Unsworth has also worked imaginatively across all artistic mediums with a distinctive, personal language of materials and imagery.



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