Australia’s largest presentation of contemporary art in the UK, Undergrowth – Australian Arts UK, will be launched by the Hon John Howard MP, Prime Minister of Australia, at a reception in London tonight to coincide with the London premiere of Graeme Murphy’s Swan Lake by The Australian Ballet.
Undergrowth is a two-year program of Australian contemporary arts in the UK, that will see more than 20 world-class Australian contemporary arts companies appearing at the UK’s most prestigious venues and festivals during 2005, with many more to come in 2006.
Undergrowth has emerged from a rapid increase in demand for Australian contemporary arts in recent years, following several highly successful arts presentations in the UK. These include the 2000 Heads Up program of Australian arts in London; the CultureShock Festival for the 2002 Manchester Commonwealth Games; and highly successful presentations of Australian productions: The Ghost Wife written by Jonathan Mills, Cloudstreet written by Tim Winton and presented by Company B, Birdbrain and The Age of Unbeauty by Australian Dance Theatre, and Circus Oz.
Undergrowth will showcase contemporary Australian film, literature, performing and visual arts. It includes large Australian performing arts companies such as The Australian Ballet, as well as artists and companies emerging in the UK, such as Object: Australian Centre for Craft and Design, Australian Theatre for Young People and the Ennio Morricone Experience.
UK audiences and critics are embracing the Australian program. Following the Ballet?s opening night in Cardiff last week the UK’s Independent on Sunday reported: ‘Murphy’s choreography is full of vivid invention while satisfying traditionalists’ most stringent demands. A treat for ballet virgins and connoisseurs alike.’ And The Times reported: ‘The Australian Ballet embraces Murphy’s vision wholeheartedly. The opening performance’..was overflowing with energy; the dancers brilliantly buoyed by the playing of the Royal Ballet Sinfonia’.
The Hon Alexander Downer MP, Minister for Foreign Affairs said Undergrowth is a key initiative of the Australia International Cultural Council. He said: ‘The promotion of the arts on the international stage is critical to developing a strong identity for Australia in other parts of the world. It’s Australia?s arts and culture, together with business, trade and tourism that reflects an innovative, highly creative and sophisticated society with a clearly identifiable character.’
Ms Jennifer Bott, Chief Executive Officer, Australia Council for the Arts said Undergrowth is the result of consistently strong interest and awareness of Australia’s contemporary arts. She added: ‘ The time is right to build on this interest to enable the Australian arts to have a much higher profile and engagement in the UK and European markets. Undergrowth is part of a broad international commitment by the Australia Council to promote the extraordinary work of our artists and companies.’
Other highlights of Undergrowth – Australian Arts UK 2005 include:
Circus Oz, 28 July-13 November: Eccentric, zany and completely unpredictable, Circus Oz is an electrifying mix of daredevil stunts, tongue in cheek humour and high-octane imagination and adventure.
The Cat Empire, 16 July-30 July: Live Australian Music. Since this band last hit UK shores, it has travelled the world, had a number one record at home (Two Shoes), been nominated for numerous music awards and played with the legendary James Brown.
Object Design Exhibition Exhibition, Global Local V&A Museum September – December: Global Local reflects the distinctive qualities and idiosyncrasies of Australian design, presenting the personal stories of 12 contemporary Australian designers working in various media including glass, fashion, furniture and jewellery.
Lucy Guerin Inc Love Me, 26 October – 2 November: Lucy Guerin Inc has an outstanding reputation for unique choreography that blends ideas and formats that resonate with audiences worldwide. Guerin creates choreography that is both elegant and profound.
Undergrowth – Australian Arts UK is a two-year contemporary arts promotion program in the UK in 2005 and 2006. This program is an initiative of the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body, and the Australia International Cultural Council, an initiative of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.