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    Art Gallery of Ballarat

Spring Carnival: Hats and Horses

Saturday, October 06, 2012 - Sunday, December 02, 2012, 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM

Gordon Victor King Gallery
Admission: Free

Coming into the Spring season, there is always much interest in the major events that mark the warmer days and the bright sunshine. Events such as the Melbourne and Ballarat Cups, with the bright colours of the fashions in the field and the festive atmosphere, are evoked in Spring Carnival: Hats and Horses . This is the chance to see many beautiful hats from the turn of the 20th century through to the contemporary designs alongside paintings and drawings of racehorses by well-known Australian artists and others.

Chief amongst the milliners is Thomas Harrison, a Ballarat local who went on to become one of Melbourne's finest milliners from the 1930s through to his retirement in the mid 70s. Starting out as a window dresser for a store in Bridge Street, Ballarat, Harrison spent some time in London and Paris before opening his French-style salon in Collins Street. It was here that the fashionable set would go to purchase that very special hat for the Melbourne Cup. The array of hats on show also includes the work of Ann Austin, another well-known milliner working in Melbourne's most fashionable area at the 'Paris' end of Collins Street. These hats speak of a time, particularly in the Post War years, when the fashion in clothes was relatively sedate and so a flourish or a point of difference could be achieved with a finely made and decorated hat. The exhibition will also include contemporary creations by Ballarat milliner Cecily Davis.

From the fashions trackside to the track itself-Percy Lindsay'sHorse Racing Sceneshows a dramatic moment of action, with a horse and jockey in flight over a fallen horse and rider whose race day has ended ingloriously. Watercolour is used to good effect to capture the immediacy of the scene. Lindsay, of course, is well-known as part of the famous Lindsay family from Creswick and the Art Gallery of Ballarat holds many of his fine landscape paintings.

The exhibition also includes a number of portraits of racehorses which were important of their day and which won major events. Byron's Webb's painting of the English horse Pyrrhus the First captures the beauty of the thoroughbred which won the Epsom Derby and went on to sire other race winners. Another well-known English horse who would go on to sire ten Australian stakes winners was Fisherman. Painted here by Henry Barraud, Fisherman won 70 races in Britain before being exported to Australia where he spent his final days at Maribyrnong Stud Farm.

The New Zealand racehorse Carbine was the sensation of his day, winning 17 of his last 18 starts including the Melbourne Cup of 1890 which he won in record time. The British artist Godfrey Douglas Giles had a military background and had gained experience drawing horses in action on the battlefields in Afghanistan, Africa and elsewhere. His painting of Carbine shows his deep knowledge of horse anatomy and his debt to that most famous of British painter of horses, George Stubbs..