The gauntlet has been thrown down to Australia’s contemporary art scene. The National: New Australian Art is a biennial visual arts program that aims to entice the most talented, most provocative artists into capturing our nation and its place in the world.

Funding has been provided for three exhibitions across three landmark institutions, held in 2017, 2019 and 2021. The collaboration is spearheaded by Carriageworks director Lisa Havilah; the Museum of Contemporary Art’s director of curatorial & digital, Blair French; and the Art Gallery of NSW’s deputy director, Suhanya Raffel.

Emerging and mid-career artists, including Australian artists living abroad, will be commissioned by a panel representing all three institutions. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists will feature prominently and the selection may include multidisciplinary artists whose work extends to dance, film or music.

MCA director Elizabeth Ann Macgregor says, “The project’s emphasis will be on profiling new work and enabling innovative new commissions over six years – providing substantial opportunities for professional development, exposure and career sustainability for our nation’s living artists.”

Not only is The National intended to support new work but it’s hoped it will strengthen the profile of local artists both here and internationally.

“Over six years and three iterations, the project will make a significant investment in Australian artists through the extensive commissioning of new work that reflects contemporary Australia and our place in the world,” says Havilah. “This collaboration creates an exciting and distinctive new arts and cultural event in Sydney for local, national and international audiences.”

The National will be held in the off-years of the Biennale of Sydney. Unlike the Biennale, it will solely focus on local artists, and will feature a mix of new work and commissions and existing works.

The National: New Australian Art 2017 exhibition dates:
Art Gallery of New South Wales: March 30 to July 16 2017
Carriageworks: March 30 to June 18 2017
Museum of Contemporary Art: March 30 to June 18 2017