Follow that Bunny: the journey of an Australian work of art

Almost 700 Australian works have been taken down from the Elder Wing walls in preparation for the wing’s first temporary exhibition in three decades. The Adelaide Review will follow the journey of one of the paintings over the next year, Rupert Bunny’s A Summer Morning.

The Art Gallery of South Australia’s [AGSA] Elder Wing will be closed until March 2018 in preparation for the high-profile exhibition Masterpieces from the Musee D’Orsay, which will bring the Left Bank to Adelaide with its collection of more than 65 impressionist masterpieces from artists including Monet, Renoir and Manet.

So what of the almost 700 Australian classics that usually reside in the Elder Wing? Well, some will be placed into storage on-site at AGSA; some will be loaned out to other galleries, while others will be sent to Artlab for repairs, including Bunny’s A Summer Morning, which The Adelaide Review will keep an eye on over the next year before it’s re-hanged in November 2018.

Rupert Bunny’s A Summer Morning begins its round-trip journey from the Elder Wing

AGSA’s assistant director Lisa Slade says A Summer Morning is one of about a dozen works destined for repairs.

“That could include glazing, some work to the frame and it might include some checking of the work,” Slade says. “Popular things like [Tom Roberts’] A Break Away, which has actually travelled a lot, and when a work travels a lot its condition is reported. But other works, the Bunny in particular, have been on the wall for such a long period of time, bringing them off the wall just gives us a chance to look at the work to check on its condition and find out a little bit more about the work.”


Bunny has a significant reputation overseas with one of his works in Musee D’Orsay’s collection. The Adelaide Review will check in with A Summer Morning at Artlab as it undergoes repairs and in November when it is part of the Elder Wing rehang that Slade says will “really look at local history within the broader national and international story”.


“We’re working hard to put more women on the wall,” she says. “We’re quite lucky with our collection; our representation of women artists is quite good at AGSA. I don’t want to make it sound like its anywhere near equal or half, because it’s not. But it is quite strong compared to other state galleries. Obviously TARNANTHI has changed our game plan; it’s encouraged us to think more broadly about our history and to really embrace our Indigenous collection. I’m not saying we haven’t historically but we will increase the representation and inclusion of Aboriginal and Torres Island art in the hang.”

Photography: Sia Duff

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