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