Located on Wonnarua Country in the Hunter Valley of New South Wales, Maitland Regional Art Gallery (MRAG) is a dynamic gallery, housed in a redeveloped historic building. MRAG aims to foster creativity, enable inclusion, and promote knowledge and illuminate stories for the Maitland community, its visitors, and digital audiences.
Across the summer of 2021/2022, MRAG presented an exhibition and suite of programs titled, A Conspicuous Object – The Maitland Hospital, that illuminated and shared stories from the 175-year history of the hospital on the eve of its closure. The exhibition included ten artists who created works that tapped into the layers and diversity of experiences, people and places across the hospital site and the project highlighted the ways art, history and health could be intertwined to tell stories of the hospital and engage audiences in artmaking activities inspired by the project.
The Create a Soft Sculpture educational video was inspired by the textile sculptures of exhibition artist Susan O’Doherty. These sculptures represented the multiple roles of women who worked in the hospital across two centuries, stitching together found materials from the hospital and fragments of their stories. The video, presented by artist and MRAG arts educator Liss Finney, aimed to engage young people, including children in hospitals, to create their own soft sculpture, using easy to source materials, presented in a friendly manner, with simple instructions. Its success was a combination of a vibrant, professionally produced product, a fun easy to follow activity and strongly connected to the exhibition.
Exhibition view of A Conspicuous Object - Susan O'Doherty sculptures in foreground
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