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Whistlewood Contemporary House Gallery


It isn’t often a house comes with a pedigree like that of Whistlewood Contemporary! Originally the family home of arts critic and writer Alan McCulloch AO, the Shoreham property is now under the co-directorship of (terrifyingly impressive) arts writers, curators and publishers Susan McCulloch OAM (Alan’s daughter), and her own daughter, Emily McCulloch Childs, who have adapted the space to perform as both home and gallery.

Whistlewood Contemporary is both intimately personal to the family, and expansively inclusive to visitors. The historic walls display a lifetime of research, knowledge and love for contemporary Australian Aboriginal art. Pack a picnic and pop down to the Mornington Peninsula for a visit to this one-of-a-kind house and gallery!

5th April, 2018

Welcome to Whistlewood. Styling and Art Direction  – Rachel Doyle. Photo – Alison Hoelzer

Susan McCulloch and Emily McCulloch Childs. Styling and Art Direction  – Rachel Doyle. Photo – Alison Hoelzer

Side verandah. Styling and Art Direction  – Rachel Doyle. Photo – Alison Hoelzer

Middle gallery featuring art by (l to r) David Beaumont, Robert Fielding, Bernadine Kemarre, Linda Puna, Claudine Marzik. Styling and Art Direction  – Rachel Doyle. Photo – Alison Hoelzer

Main gallery featuring art by (l to r) Djirrirra Wunungmurra, Tuppy Ngintja Goodwin, Teresa Baker, Isobel Gorey Nambajinpa, Nellie Stewart. Styling and Art Direction  – Rachel Doyle. Photo – Alison Hoelzer

Susan McCulloch and Emily McCulloch Childs (wearing jewellery from Indigenous Jewellery Project) in front of Antara by Betty Kuntiwa Pumani. Styling and Art Direction  – Rachel Doyle. Photo – Alison Hoelzer

McCulloch Room family art archives from the 1930s to 1990s with art by Harald Vike, Wilfred McCulloch, Alan McCulloch, Andrew Sibley. Styling and Art Direction  – Rachel Doyle. Photo – Alison Hoelzer

Alcove main gallery featuring painting Minyma Kutjara by Nellie Stewart. Styling and Art Direction  – Rachel Doyle. Photo – Alison Hoelzer

Front gallery featuring art by (l to r) David Beaumont, Robert Fielding, Djirrirra Wunungmurra, Bugai Whyoulter, Nora Wompi. Styling and Art Direction  – Rachel Doyle. Photo – Alison Hoelzer

Photography – Alison Hoelzer

Lucy Feagins
Thursday 5th April 2018

Whistlewood Contemporary , located in Shoreham in the hinterland of the Mornington Peninsula, is housed in the family home of the late art critic, author and founding director of the Mornington Peninsula Regional Arts Gallery, Alan McCulloch OC, and his wife, actress Ella Bromley McCulloch. The 1870’s weatherboard house is layered with iconic Australian art and architectural significance, including Alan McCulloch’s studio he designed and built with Arthur Boyd, and additions by Melbourne architects Charles Smart and David Faggetter.

Whistlewood’s architecture sensitively transitions from the 1870’s to the 2000’s, with rooms that ‘flow into one another, reflecting the evolving styles of the eras.’ Susan and Emily explain that this assemblage of architectural styles enables ‘the display of a wide range of art of different styles and media at any one time.’ The relationship between the home and art space is particularly important to Susan and Emily, who aim to create a welcoming and friendly atmosphere in which people feel, ‘literally, at home with art.’

Whistlewood is primarily focused on showing the work of leading Indigenous Australian artists, and the co-directors describe that ‘visiting and showing the work of today’s leading Aboriginal and other artists from so many different regions is a great privilege.’

Since the late 1970’s Susan has been a leading researcher and writer in Contemporary Indigenous Art, and in the early 1980’s established her own publishing house. The ‘McCulloch’s Contemporary Aboriginal Art: the complete guide’ has been an essential Australian art book since its initial publication in 1999, and is now co-edited by Susan and Emily.

The domestic and the professional realms intertwine continuously at Whistlewood, where ‘Arthur’s Studio’ is now used by Susan, Emily and their assistant, as a quiet space for writing and research.

The range of works on show here include ‘Kimberley ochres, barks from Arnhem Land, brilliant colour canvases from the central, western and eastern deserts, the Pilbara, Far North Queensland, the APY Lands from leading art centres and by award winning and established artists as well as talented newcomers.’ Whistlewood also works with local Aboriginal Arts Centre Baluk Arts , and has a strong focus on arts education through ‘Art Parade’ events.

Susan and Emily’s work, lives and home all coalesce in the hub of Whistlewood. From this gallery and home location, Emily also began a nation-wide initiative in 2012, titled the Indigenous Jewellery Project. This project works with remote community art centres and practitioners towards exhibiting in contemporary craft and design spaces, such as Craft ACT and the Australian Design Centre. In this way, alongside the McCulloch and McCulloch publishing house, Whistlewood Contemporary both expands out into the world, and invites people in to this very special Australian home.

Whistlewood Contemporary
642 Tucks Road
Shoreham, Victoria 3916
Open: Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Public Holidays
11am – 4pm

‘We aim to  create a welcoming and friendly atmosphere in which people feel, literally, at home with art.’ – Susan McCulloch OAM.


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