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An exhibition featuring a unique collection of artworks, donated to Gough and Margaret Whitlam in 1979, will be shared with Blacktown Arts and available to the public at the Leo Kelly Blacktown Arts Centre.

The collection, first unveiled at the Whitlam Institute, University of Western Sydney in June 2019, will be on display from October 18 to November 13, 2022.

DEDICATED to DEDICATED: Whitlam, the Arts and Democracy, includes works by John Olsen, Brett Whiteley, Lloyd Rees, John Coburn, Arthur Boyd and more, and is inscribed with a message of thanks to Gough and Margaret Whitlam for “the marks they have made on the Australian web”.

This major exhibition shows how Gough Whitlam saw the arts not just as a means to enrich the quality of life, but as a fundamental human right and a prerequisite for a healthy democracy.

Gough Whitlam served as Prime Minister of Australia from 1972 to 1975 and led the enactment of a series of far-reaching political reforms.

Whitlam Institute Director John Juriansz said: “The Whitlam Institute is delighted to share this extraordinary collection with the people of Blacktown.

“Whitlam’s belief in a more confident and independent cultural identity for Australia is more relevant than ever.

“This first Australian exhibition highlights why a thriving arts community is important to a healthy democracy.

“The Whitlams’ Folio is one of some 37,000 items in the Whitlam Prime Ministerial Collection, which is surpassed by no other in Australia.”

“The new exhibition also shows how Gough Whitlam viewed the arts as a basic human right and a prerequisite for a healthy democracy. In his own words, “a society in which the arts flourish is a society in which all human values ​​can flourish”.

Blacktown Arts embodies the legacy of the Whitlam administration, striving to help artists shape the cultural environment and identity of Blacktown and beyond.

“We look forward to sharing it with the community through this important new exhibit, which provides a superb insight into the legacy of the Whitlam government,” said Blacktown City Mayor Tony Bleasdale OAM.

A traveling exhibition from the Whitlam Institute within the University of Western Sydney.

Curator: Guy Betts

This exhibition is largely inspired by the Whitlam Prime Ministerial Collection. We would like to thank for their help: The Whitlam Family, The Folio artists and their families, Kim Williams AM, Patricia Amphlett OAM, Professor Barney Glover AO, Vice Chancellor – Western Sydney University, The Australia Council for the Arts, those who shared their knowledge and memories for the exhibition video.


From Wednesday 18 October to Sunday 13 November 2022

Leo Kelly Blacktown Center for the Arts, 78 Flushcombe Rd, Blacktown, NSW 2148

Closing of the special exhibition with a drink: Sunday November 13, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. All invited.

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