On Stillness

Tamara DEAN Untitled #4, Only Human Ed #1/8 2011 archival pigment print on cotton rag 38.0 x 58.0 cm Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program by Tamara Dean 2019 Newcastle Art Gallery collection Courtesy the artist and Martin Browne Contemporary
12 May – 28 July 2020

On Stillness was an online exhibition presented across the social media accounts of NSW public art galleries. Initiated by the National Art School and Newcastle Art Gallery, it highlighted works of art from the collections of participating institutions that embody the idea of stillness.

For most people, the COVID-19 lockdown brought on a period of rare quiet. A dramatic narrowing of our social and working lives redirected our attention towards modest stimulations: the warmth of the sun or the sound of a treasured voice. As the pace of regular life tentatively resumed, art could remind us to slow down and remain observant. Drawing on a range of genres and mediums, On Stillness celebrated the potential of art to pause time and illuminate the passing moment.

The project provided content to audiences during gallery lockdowns, forged partnerships between geographically distant organisations and celebrated public collections. The parameters of the exhibition were kept informal so it could evolve slowly over time: galleries were encouraged to make one post on the same day each week. Instagram users followed the hashtag #onstillnessexhibition to see the growing number of works and gallery collaborators.

This online exhibition catalogue draws together the 70 works posted by seven institutions over 12 weeks.

Participating institutions and thanks to:

National Art School

Newcastle Art Gallery


Orange Regional Gallery

Wollongong Art Gallery

Tweed Regional Gallery

MAC Lake Macquarie

All images © the artists and/or their estates.


Newcastle Art Gallery
1 Laman Street
Cooks Hill