M.A. Skewes and W.R. Griffiths Gallery - Australian Art 1920 to 1950

The era represented in this room was a time of extraordinary social and political change, as two world wars, the Great Depression and advances in technology, science and philosophy altered the art world forever.

Theses works represent the cutting edge of that change and the different traditions and schools of artistic thought and practice.

On the popular front, photography had become universal, so traditional art media and art appreciation faced challenges of relevance. Artists responded in different ways to the challenge of no longer being tied to the expectation of making exact realistic depictions.

On another level, smaller houses meant a greater demand for smaller artworks. Largescale migration brought changes, while cheaper travel made it easier for artists to experience the world. At the same time Australia remained very isolated, with the majority of the population socially conservative and deeply suspicious of innovation.

This room represents competing schools - Tonalists who attempted to capture the essence of a scene; Surrealists who contrasted dream with the rational world; Social Realists, who aimed to reflect society under capitalism, and the romantic and decorative works of the 'Sydney Charm School'.

The Skewes and Griffiths Gallery honours Dr Mary Skewes and Dr William Griffiths, great patrons of the visual arts in Ballarat.