Identity is often a two edged sword; powerfully symbolic, sharp, quick but inherently damaging. It creates a quick marketing friendly image of a place, its people and its culture. Sometimes this subconscious label is so constricting and profound that the world’s perceptions of a region are misaligned with the reality of a place.
Hunter Red is a seemingly simple concept that unravels to a complex and perception altering creative collaboration. It is a new way of seeing that not only challenges our audience’s perceptions but also perceptions of culture’s role in the identity our region. The external gaze often perceives the Hunter as a masculine, utilitarian landscape with the ubiquitous glass of Hunter Valley Red in a winery as the sole reason to visit the region. We know that we are complex and rich; a diverse narrative bound together in mutual support and outstanding cultural practice.
This collaborative project Hunter Red seeks to challenge and dismiss this one-dimensional view.
We are Hunter Reds but ‘red’ is
the earth on which we stand and share,
our political unrest,
our flesh and blood,
the symbol of celebration and revelry,
and of ‘fallen’ women and angels of mercy.
Hunter Red re-examines beliefs of our value and purpose not only as cultural institutions but also as a region. Its simplicity makes the subversion of commonly held preconceptions even stronger. It forces the cultural institutions to examine how they collaborate, collect, create and communicate to a broader audience. The concept that we are only a glass of Hunter Red, leads us to delve into a complex curatorial response.
The Hunter Red suite of exhibitions represents a collaborative vision shared by Hunter-based cultural institutions: Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery, Maitland Regional Art Gallery, Newcastle Art Gallery, Newcastle Museum and The Lock-Up Contemporary Art Space. Using a popular tourist drawcard as a springboard, the project subverts commonly held misconceptions and examines the present-day motivation of the region’s cultural institutions. A diverse narrative encompassing mutual support, collection sharing, and outstanding cultural practice, Hunter Red takes us to the core of examining identity and belief systems to represent a region that is multifaceted and rich.
Each institution and exhibition examines a different vision of our region. It incorporates voices ignored and marginalised as well as celebrating joy and the fragility of our humanity.
The Hunter Red Collective challenges you to explore all the diverse and innovative exhibitions in this project. We encourage you to utilise this joint cultural statement to alter your perceptions of the Hunter, of community and of yourself.