Crowds who attended the National Gallery of Australia's latest blockbuster in its final days were treated to a sneak peek of Know My Name'ssecond installment this week.
A large sculpture made out of foil balloons filled with helium was suspended across those lining up to see the sold-out exhibition, Botticelli to Van Gogh: Masterpieces from the National Gallery, London, ready and waiting for the remainder of the Know My Name exhibition to open on Saturday.
Titled The Silvering, the Mikala Dwyer sculpture is one of the largest pieces in part two of Know My Name: Australian Women Artists 1900 to Now. The exhibition continues on from the works presented in part one, which has been on show since November.
"Part two is a continuation of our methodology," said Elspeth Pitt, who curated the exhibition along with Deborah Hart.
"We're really interested in looking at alternative histories. We're looking at lineages between artists through time and we're taking a non-linear, non-chronological approach.
"But I think for me, part one was fantastic and amazing, but I feel like having done that we've been a bit freer in part two to look at some other ideas and works that we just weren't able to facilitate or present in part one."
Mainly drawn from the national collection, Know My Name: Australian Women Artists 1900 to Now continues to propose alternative histories, challenge stereotypes, and celebrate the achievements of more than 250 artists from different backgrounds.
It's part of the gallery's overall gender equity initiative, which aims to recast a male-dominated art history and reimagine a more inclusive artistic future.
"It's such a big undertaking to do a show like this. We're looking at a show that has this enormous remit - Australian women artists from 1900 to now - and it could be anything," Ms Pitt said.
"When we first began, one of our collaborators, the artist Gemma Smith ... she said where do you begin? How do you begin to shape this thing? And so part one, we did feel a bit of pressure in doing that.
"We're very passionate about what we do, but we also felt the gravity of it. Now, coming into part two, it was just like, 'Wow, OK, we've done part one, and now we're going to do it again'. So we were excited, and there is just this new energy about part two."
The exhibition also includes two of the gallery's new acquisitions - Dwyer's balloon sculpture and Superstudio by Diena Georgetti, a four-panelled acrylic painting.
The remainder of the works are on loan from other collections, such as Simryn Gill's Forking tongues from the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art.
It features silver-plated cutlery and dried chillies laid out in a large spiral on the gallery's floor.
"The exhibition has been generously supported by Nick Mitzevich, our director and Natasha Bullock, our assistant director of artistic programs. They've given us the space to explore even more stories," assistant curator Yvette Dal Pozzo said.
"In part one there were so many things that we were passionate about covering but part two has allowed even more representation of both well-known artists and big showstopping installations, as well as these key lesser-known artists that we don't often champion."
Know My Name: Australian Women Artists 1900 to Now is at the National Gallery of Australia until January 26.
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