Message from the Director

Welcome to 2019 and another year of dynamic exhibitions, events and classes that celebrate the innovation and artistry of South West Victoria. As last year drew to a close, WAG’s successful programming saw audiences double and an overwhelming response from the community. Our increasing role as a sought after destination and a cultural hub in Warrnambool also saw evermore national and international visitors.

The Paul Jennings Unreal! exhibition has so far brought delight to more than 20,000 visitors. The exhibition continues until February 24 and following, it will be reimagined in the Family Learning Gallery at WAG. Unreal! is a celebration of this Warrnambool author who wrote his first book while lecturing language and literature at the Institute for Adult Education (Deakin University). Since then he has written many books, picture books, and scripts and received more than 64 awards. His books mainly feature short stories that take you through a series of events and end with a twist. Unreal! coincided with launch of A Different Boy, the new book by Paul Jennings and illustrator Geoff Kelly, who signed hundreds of books at the kids launch. The exhibition offered a comprehensive suite of programs and materials including a dedicated children’s activity book. Programs filled quickly and WAG would like to thank Georgie Jones and Clare Ryan, our children’s literature interns from Deakin University, made available through the WIL (Work Integrated Learning) program. Mentored by Gallery staff in collaboration with Paul Jennings, Georgie and Clare were an invaluable help in the delivery of the education and holiday programs.

WAG’s is now looking ahead to design a strategy for the next decade and explore how we can continue to capture and reinvigorate our stewardship of the culture of the South West region. We continue to develop the Family Learning Gallery which will be reimagined in June by Simon Linardi (Atelier Cartel) through the fantasy story-telling of The Bull Cow – a glittering space with hybrid whale-cow creature designed to encourage bold and creative thinking. A future WAG will continue to be a meeting place for culture and education and bring Indigenous culture and programs like On Country: Stories of Gunditjmara Elders where we partnered with the Koori Heritage Trust to record oral histories by local indigenous elders for part of on an on-going exhibition supported by the Helen McPherson Smith Trust.

The first half of 2019 will highlight the permanent collection, in addition to favourite pieces that many like to revisit, we will display for the first time a Japanese Samurai armour from the (1602–1867) Edo period. The armour set has recently been completed through the help of David McKenzie who sourced a facemask and sword while travelling in Japan. The Menpo facemask was worn by both Samurai warriors and their feudals, it covers the face from the nose to the chin and helps to secure a top heavy helmet. The Shaku Edo-jidai Shinken Sword was acquired with funds from the A.L. Lane Foundation. This piece of Japanese history strengthens our cultural ties with our sister city Miura in Japan, which sent a delegation to our exhibition物の気 (mono no ke) by 志村 信裕 (Shimura Nobuhiro) in 2018.

It is a bright year for WAG and we welcome you to drop in and be a part of the cultural life of the region.


Vanessa Gerrans