In partnership with the Whitlam Institute from the Parramatta campus of University of Western Sydney, Blacktown Arts Centre presents It’s Timely, an exhibition that illustrates how the policies of the Whitlam Government transformed life and culture in Australia. Images document the period between 1971 and 1974 when Gough Whitlam made two campaign policy speeches at Blacktown. Left, Gough Whitlam in 1972.
For international human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson QC, the sweeping changes of the sixties throughout the western world didn’t begin in Australia until the election of the Whitlam Government in 1972. Through his 2004 exhibition The Dismissal: Paintings by Graham Cheney, Blacktown artist and academic Graham Cheney expressed his conviction that the broad community understanding of the arts and their maturation in Australia has a lot to do with Whitlam Government policies between 1972 and 1975.
It was at Blacktown that then opposition leader Gough Whitlam launched his It’s Time campaign policy speech, November 13, 1971, which eventually ended 23 years of conservative government rule. He chose Blacktown because it represented the opportunity, diversity and complexity of the nation, which is even more evident in Blacktown today. Whitlam introduced a reformist program driven by a policy of access and participation. Among the many benefits this produced in western Sydney were the establishment of Westmead Hospital, the University of Western Sydney and the development of arts resources and programs throughout local council areas.
Six contemporary artists of national significance have contributed works to It’s Timely. Gough Whitlam’s son Antony Whitlam will open the exhibition on Tuesday, April 29, at 6pm. The show will continue to June 28.
Left, Gary Carsley, D.106 The Annunciation (Whitlam in China), type-C mono print, 125 x 176 cm. Courtesy of Thatcher Projects, New York and Torch Gallery, Amsterdam.