Five ABC art films you should know

Art viewing doesn’t end when audiences leave the gallery. We speak to the ABC to find out what arts films many audience members take home from the gallery shop.
[This is archived content and may not display in the originally intended format.]

Former senior curator at the Art Gallery of New South Wales Hetti Perkins shares her knowledge of Aboriginal art in art + soul; Image: supplied.

The gallery-going experience is one making its way into the home with the introduction of virtual galleries and many people engaging with artist talks online.

Educational and arts programs, whether bought online or sold at gallery shops, are a key part of the arts ecology.

When people continue the art experience after they leave the physical space by taking a DVD or book home with them, they become more engaged and educated audience members, remember their experience better and are more likely to come back for more.

‘They’re a memento to take home; they provide information and enhance the experience especially when you’re really touched by what you’ve seen.  It creates a virtuous cycle where more informed audience want to see more and become more informed,’ said Cyrus Irani, Manager of Library Sales at ABC Commercial.

Providing access to art history and documentary enhances the exhibition experience and shares it more widely, as many educators who show ABC arts programs in the classroom have already discovered. With that in mind, we asked Irani for his personal top five ABC arts programs.

1. Hannah Gadsby’s Oz

Documentaries are a great way to understand complex concepts, said Irani. One of his personal favourite and one that deserves to be seen more is Hannah Gadsby’s Oz on Australian art history and the evolution of our national identity.

‘It’s entertaining and provides insight into how art reflects and helps mould our identities.’

2. Thrill and Fury: The Art of Tag

While graffiti and street art is becoming more popular, the tag is still a form often ridiculed as vandalism. Exploring self-expression on the street in the form of tags, Thrill and Fury: The Art of Tag provides viewers new insight into the origins of tag culture and the motivation behind the act.   This series was only shown on iview and is available under Screenrights.  More programs that fall into this category will be added to the ABC catalogue to ensure they continue to be accessible to educators.

3. Difficult Pleasure – Brett Whiteley

Part of the Creative Spirits series, this Difficult Pleasure – Brett Whiteley includes interviews with the artist and his own thoughts on creativity and art. He also creates and completes a work during the film.

4. Julie Dowling – Picture the Women

This 2009 documentary on one of Australia’s most collectable artists, Julie Dowling – Picture the Women traces the history and emotions behind the many portraits of her family and self-portraits of the artist herself. It refuses to whitewash a history and a people and captures the personal story of Dowling.

5. The Black Swan – Meryl Tankard

Also part of the Creative Spirits series, The Black Swan – Meryl Tankard explores this Australian choreographer’s early life and works. It looks at her early career in Europe and her return to Australia in the 1980s where her work transcended the boundaries of form and saw her create a unique style all her own.

The ABC has something on most significant Australian artists and offer discounts for wholesale orders.

To find out more about the collection held by ABC archives and also its contemporary arts programming visit

Add your details to the ABC contacts list to receive updates on the latest activities here

Brooke Boland
About the Author
Brooke Boland is a freelance writer based on the South Coast of NSW. She has a PhD in literature from the University of NSW. You can find her on Instagram @southcoastwriter.
Unlock Padlock Icon

Support us to keep providing
Screen news and jobs

Become a member and unlock access to jobs and all premium articles and news content