The Riddoch is a winter wonderland for art lovers

June 8, 2024 BY

The Riddoch Arts and Cultural Centre will present three new exhibitions opening to the public on Saturday, June 15, as part of the winter program.

The exhibitions feature the works of three female artists spanning styles and generations, Clarice Beckett: Paintings from the National Collection, Natalya Hughes: The Interior and Beth Kay: The Feminine Art of Shooting.

Clarice Beckett: Paintings from the National Collection, on tour from the National Gallery of Australia, is an intimate selection of works by one of Australia’s most original and esteemed artists of the early twentieth century

Beckett was born and raised in Casterton in 1887 before her family moved to Ballarat and then Melbourne where she painted everyday life and scenery with an eye for the overlooked, common place and fleeting.

Deeply sensitive to the effects of colour, light and atmosphere, her works captured a world on the cusp of modernisation, evoking both the natural environment and simple pleasures of suburban existence.

Beckett died from pneumonia at 48 years old, not long after painting the sea during a storm. Although a posthumous exhibition was well received by the public, Beckett’s subtle mastery was soon forgotten and her paintings moved to storage.

Almost 40 years later, curator Rosalind Hollinrake, who was alerted by Beckett’s sister, discovered more than 2000 paintings rotting in a Victorian countryside hay shed.

Most of the pieces were destroyed but Hollinrake recognised the gravity of what she had found. In 1971, she staged an exhibition of Beckett’s paintings in Melbourne.

She is now acknowledged as one of Australia’s most important early modernist painters and her work is included in major museum collections.

Director Riddoch Arts and Cultural Centre and Cultural Development Ashleigh Whatling said Beckett has an amazing legacy in Australian art history both for the work and her personal journey as a female artist of the early 20th century.

“We are very proud to have this special collection of works on show in the region she grew up in,” she said.

The Interior by Natalya Hughes is a national touring exhibition presented by the Institute of Modern Art and toured by Museums and Galleries Queensland.

Natalya Hughes (pictured) is one of Australia’s most exciting mid-career artists, known for her explorations of decorative and ornamental traditions and their associations with the feminine, the human form, and excess.

Drawing on the gendered power dynamics between public and private space, Hughes will transform the gallery into a playfully exaggerated consultation room.

Combining sculptural seating, richly patterned soft furnishings, uncanny objects d’art and a hand-painted mural, The Interior creates a stimulating space to unpack our collective and unconscious biases.

Audiences are invited to recline and be enveloped, soothed and held by the furniture’s womanly forms while taking turns playing analyst and patient.

With this bodily encounter The Interior creates a space where the existence of women can be reimagined on different terms in the post ‘Me Too’ world.

“In this work I wanted to explore something of society’s unease with women; I am interested in the representation of women, how we are conceptualised and why expectations of us are so slow to shift,” Hughes said.

“Freud founded psychoanalysis – a theory which informs much of my art making.

“Women are also problematic within his work, but psychoanalysis provides a useful framework for dealing with problems around gender and what we value.

“By mining Freud’s references and imagery of women, I seek to see what they might offer or reveal in order to more equitably reimagine the idea of ‘woman’.”

Also opening this winter is an exhibition from young local artist Beth Kay, The Feminine Art of Shooting – almost exactly 12 months since opening her first solo exhibition at Mount Gambier’s Little Blue Wren Art & Gifts.

Kay makes her mark on the male-dominated sport of bullseye shooting in Australia.

Having her own target range shooting practice Kay began making drawings and paintings using the target design as her launching motif.

Using the gun itself as a powerful mark making tool, Kay loads up and delivers the end of each piece with a speeding bolt of lead.

To complement the winter exhibitions, the first-floor gallery space will be transformed into a creative space Viewfinder.

Acting Programming Officer Kyra Sykes said Viewfinder is an interactive, creative space providing a unique look inside the worlds of exhibiting artists Clarice Beckett, Natalya Hughes and Beth Kay.

“We encourage visitors to explore the artists’ perspectives and discover their own through a variety of activities inspired by the artists’ work,” they said.

Paintings from the National Collection, The Interior and The Feminine Art of Shooting are on view from Saturday, June 15, to Sunday, July 28.

The Riddoch will host an artist’s talk with Natalya Hughes on Saturday, June 15, at 12.30pm, followed by a tufting workshop at 1pm, where participants will create their own textile work using the punch needle tufting technique that Hughes employs in her work.

A panel discussion on Clarice Beckett’s life and work will take place in the gallery on Saturday, June 15, at 11am featuring the National Gallery of Australia’s Assistant Curator Australian Art Deidre Cannon and Conservator Jocelyn Evans.

On Saturday, July 20, there will be a presentation and Q&A with author of ‘The Worlds and Work of Clarice Beckett’ Dr Edith Ziegler.

Activities can be booked online at


“I wasn’t a super social child. I used to sit and paint water lilies and paint them day in and day out.”

It seems that vivid childhood memory from her years at kindergarten set Beth Kay on a path that was always going to be a creative one.

“My earliest memory is doing art at kindy – I never played with the LEGO and didn’t go outside that much either,” she said. “I actually still have one of those early water lily paintings – I found it in a box just the other day.”

And while the kindy paintings are the earliest memory, Beth grew up in an environment rich in creativity.

“My dad is creative – he is a graphic designer – and I did competitive dancing and was musical, I was just always had creativity around me.”

Safe to say when Beth hit Year 8 at school and art became an elective subject you could study as an option full time – she was first in line.

“It was a chance for me to really explore art a bit more,” she said.

Beth attended St Martins Lutheran College until Year 7, spent Years 8-10 at Grant High School and then relocated to Melbourne when the family made the move.

Throughout those school years, her passion for art only grew, and she went on to study a Bachelor of Fine Arts at RMIT with plans to then complete a Masters and go on to be a teacher.

What was set to be chance to immerse herself in art in lecture theatres and studios alongside fellow students was soon stymied by the pandemic and 18 months of lockdowns.

While her study continued – it was in isolation – and when she reconnected with her primary school crush Matthew, a return to her childhood home became priority one.

“We reconnected over the internet while I was in lockdown and we started dating long distance and after six months it just seemed like it was time to move back to Mount Gambier,” Beth said.

That was not just a life changing decision in her personal life but also her art practice. It was when her thoughts moved from teaching art to becoming an artist, in her own right.

“My plan was never to be an artist – I just enjoyed it as a hobby,” Beth said. “The plan was to be an art teacher and the reason I did the Fine Arts course before the Masters in Education was so the majority of my study would be focussed on art and the creative side of things.

“And it was in my final year of my Bachelor of Fine Arts that I started to realise I wasn’t really sure that (teaching) was what I wanted to do but I also thought I was so far into the plan already.”

But she changed tack and despite putting her artistic energies into her own practice rather than a classroom, she does teach art lessons and is about to embark on teaching a drawing fundamentals course.

Her work can be described as a creative collision of fine art and firearms as Beth merges her passion for art with her newer passion – shooting – a hobby she has taken up alongside Matthew.

“It (shooting) was one of his hobbies and he took me shooting and as shooting became a bit more of a focus for me I started thinking of ways to marry the two,” she said.

That saw her starting to almost doodle on the completed targets, which evolved to colouring and then she started designing her own targets with geometric shapes and suddenly she was inspired to create a new body of work.

“It was just a fun experiment and was never intended to be anything but as I continued to explore, it did become something.”

At first glance this abstract offering is a giant leap for the little water lily painting girl who, unsurprisingly became a young artist fascinated with painting landscapes.

“I would take photos every time we went out,” Beth said. “Mount Gambier has so much more green than Melbourne. We did live near the Bay in Melbourne with beautiful views but coming down here and having so much greenery and trees was amazing.”

Beth has continued to evolve as an artist though, through both her studies and life.

“You learn that making art is about what’s happening or how you are feeling,” she said. “I did study abstractism through university and had been encouraged to always push things further.”

One of her university assignments that shaped her philosophy going forward was where she had to draw the same item 50 times.

“I always liked colour and contrast, even in portraits and breaking it down as to the shapes involved and how the light falls on those shapes,” Beth said.

It saw her develop a style where she was creating two and sometimes three toned portraits where they still looked like a person.

That style saw her exploring geometric shapes more fully and somewhat ironically, after telling her father she had no interest in his field – graphic design – she had a strong design component to her work and now, her art practice.

She also packs a small notebook with her so she can draw, sketch or jot down ideas as she is out and about.

Beth already had this Riddoch exhibition in the diary when she unveiled her inaugural solo exhibition at Little Blue Wren Art & Gifts just under 12 months ago but at that time was yet to take shape but all will be revealed on June 15 at the official opening.