Quilty: Painting the Shadows
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Quilty: Painting the Shadows Documentary

The National Gallery of Australia's Documentary Fund aims to produce an annual feature-length film on the work of an eminent Australian artist. Nelson Meers Foundation proudly supported the first film in the series, Quilty: Painting the Shadows. This documentary focused on Ben Quilty, one of Australia's leading contemporary artists, and his important new work about the Myall Creek Massacre of 1838.

Directed by Catherine Hunter, Quilty: Painting the Shadows, is a powerful and affecting film that contributes to an understanding of Ben's work, our history and the experience of Indigenous Australians over the past two centuries.

Director Catherine Hunter had unprecedented access to Ben's intimate process, following the artist into the personal space of his studio as he completed one of his most challenging art works. Ben spoke extensively about his drive to create: 'My work is about compassion and empathy but also anger and resistance. Through it I hope to push compassion to the forefront of national debate.'

Why did we fund this? This film is a fascinating exploration of the creative process of an artist with a profound commitment to social activism fuelled by a boundless curiosity about the human condition.

Quilty: Painting the Shadows premiered at the Brisbane International Film Festival in October 2019. The film screened on ABC Television in November, followed by ABC iView, and featured on Qantas' inflight entertainment for three months from February to April 2020.

"It is our intention that this will be the first in a series of documentaries focussed on contemporary Australian artists that will illuminate different facets of current arts practice in Australia. Through the medium of film we are able to engage a broad audience with the lives and creative talents of living artists, as well as the stories of their subjects. We are excited about this inaugural project and look forward to future initiatives". Nick Mitzevich, Director, NGA, 11 November 2019.

Image creditsAll photographs Ben Quilty ©Darryn McKay