Taking centre stage at South Australia’s premier arts award, the Flinders University Museum of Art has won a coveted Ruby award for its outstanding Barbara Hanrahan retrospective.
Recognised in the Outstanding Work or Event Outside a Festival category for its exhibition Bee-Stung Lips: Barbara Hanrahan, works on paper 1960-1991, FUMA’s prize acknowledges the high quality of work for an event not as part of a festival program, in a popular category attracting applicants for performances, shows, productions, films, artworks, publications and visual arts exhibitions presented across the state.
Named after late arts patron, Dame Ruby Litchfield, the annual Ruby Awards recognise outstanding work in the South Australian arts and culture sector and this year attracted more than 93 nominations across 11 categories.
Bee-Stung Lips, which has been edited to tour regional SA in partnership with Country Arts SA, featured 150 works in its original iteration showcasing Barbara Hanrahan’s prolific output as a printmaker and the significant contribution she made to Australian and world art, from 1960 until her untimely death at the age of 52.
Curated by Nic Brown, the ambitious FUMA exhibition payed homage to her extraordinary life and the uncompromising work made in her town of birth Adelaide, as well as London and Melbourne, and ran from July until October 2021. Organised thematically to highlight recurring subject and themes,the exhibition exemplified Hanrahan’s mastery and innovation across mediums including woodcuts, linocuts, screenprints, lithographs, etchings and drypoint, as well as rarely seen drawings, paintings and collages.
Abundant, profound and unbound, Hanrahan’s exploration of feminism, classlessness and opportunity is reflected in a legacy of more than 400 works and 15 books, which were seminal in transforming the collective consciousness about women’s roles in society.
Accepting the award on FUMA’s behalf at the Ruby awards ceremony, Director Fiona Salmon says the recognition is testament to the outstanding work undertaken by the talented and professional team at FUMA, supporting exhibition curator Nic Brown, who drew on works from private collections, the Art Gallery of South Australia and FUMA holdings, and collaborated with Hanrahan’s closest circle, to ensure the high quality of the exhibition.
“During her lifetime Hanrahan struggled like many women artists to find a foothold in a male-dominated artworld. We hoped that by reflecting on her achievements and underscoring their significance, ‘Bee-stung Lips’ would bring new perspectives to art historical discourse and make an important contribution to broader conversations around gender equity in the arts and beyond.”
“We are thrilled to have this work recognized by our peers and proud of the impact of the exhibition on discussion especially among younger people encountering Hanrahan’s art and ideas for the first time.”
The concept for the exhibition was envisaged in 2019, when a visit to the Hanrahan Studio in Hyde Park revealed the tantalising possibility for a nationally significant project.
Subsequent support from the Gordon Darling Foundation enabled the production of an accompanying fully illustrated exhibition catalogue designed and published by Wakefield Press.
Two years later, the exhibition and catalogue came to fruition , and the 2022 Ruby Award now recognises the work of the dynamic, dedicated and high achieving team at FUMA which delivered an outstanding tribute to Barbara Hanrahan, and her distinct and important voice in the Australian cultural landscape.
The list of 2022 Ruby award winners can be viewed here.