In March 1977 the Newcastle Regional Art Gallery officially opened to the public as one of the first purpose built contemporary regional Art Galleries in Australia. On the 1st September of that same year the exhibition Ghost who walks never can die was held, a celebration of pop art inspired by the long running Phantom comics. In 2017 the Gallery's 40th anniversary of the Ghost who walks returns to Newcastle as THE PHANTOM SHOW curated by Peter Kingston and Dietmar Lederwasch.
The 1977 exhibition introduced up and coming artists of the Australian art world to Newcastle. The exhibition included; timber cut-outs by Peter Kingston, paintings by Richard Larter, collages by Richard Liney, emulsions on board from movie producer Phillipe Mora, serigraphs by Garry Shead and lithographs by one of Australia's greatest psychedelic artists, Martin Sharp. These emerging creatives all moved on to become some of the country's most prominent contemporary artists.
In 2017 THE PHANTOM SHOW will host the largest array of artists ever gathered to celebrate the art of the Phantom. Over fifty artists' works will be exhibited, from the first Phantom comics in Australia and the United States, through to Euan Macleod's depiction Father of the first Phantom 2014. Focusing on Australian artists, many local Novocastrians are producing new works of art for the Newcastle exhibition including Michael Bell, Dallas Bray, Chris Capper, Dino Consalvo, James Drinkwater, Ron Hartree, Aleta Lederwasch, Dietmar Lederwasch, Claire Martin, John Morris, Lezlie Tilley, Peter Tilley, John Turier and Graham Wilson.
Each artist in THE PHANTOM SHOW has their own individual reason for choosing to be involved. As a character the Phantom began in 1936 as a daily newspaper comic strip and is still running to this day in over five hundred newspapers internationally. The comics tell the story of a costumed crime fighter who lives in the ancient Skull Cave in the fictional African country of Bangalla. Unlike many comic strip heroes the Phantom relies on his strength, intelligence, humour and reputed immortality to defeat his enemies.
Due to the comic's long running history the exhibition will have a multigenerational appeal. Everyone 'owns' the Phantom in their own way and through different interpretations of him can recognise his humanity as a point of difference to the more traditional concepts of a super-hero and in doing so capture a shared love of the comic.
THE PHANTOM SHOW Media Release
THE PHANTOM SHOW Children's Art Trail (pdf)