12/09/2019 | Steven Marshall MP

Ben Quilty is one of Australia's most acclaimed contemporary artists and is launching his first major survey exhibtion in our very own Art Gallery of South Australia. This magnificent display of works will be on display until the 2nd of June and are free for the public to view.


  • Tracey Whiting, Chair of the Art Gallery of South Australian Board
  • Rhana Devenport ONZM, Director, Art Gallery of South Australia
  • Ben Quilty and his family
  • Lipman Karas as the national sponsor of the Quilty Exhibition; and
  • The Neilson Foundation as Principal Donor

I thank Kuma Kaaru for the Welcome to Country and I too acknowledge we are meeting on the traditional lands of the Kaurna people and that we respect their spiritual relationship with their country.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We are gathered this evening to open the first major solo survey exhibition of Ben Quilty’s career.

Yet Ben’s career has already been a profound and productive one. It has spanned 15 years and more than 70 works.

It is therefore a great honour for the Art Gallery of South Australia to be able to celebrate one of our nation’s most acclaimed contemporary artists in this way.

This opening is of immense importance to the Gallery. This Exhibition has been developed here and curated by the Gallery’s Assistant Director, Artistic Programs, Dr. Lisa Slade.

I am sure we all commend Lisa for her work.

Here this evening, Quilty is now unveiled to its first ever audience, before it commences a year of touring across the nation.

Ben Quilty needs little introduction.

His works are a raw and telling exploration and interrogation of what it means to be Australian. They are a unique storytelling where he takes the stage as the ‘People’s Painter’.

Ben is recognised for his bold re-visioning of the Australian landscape and his powerful depictions.

His work is deeply influenced by his time spent in Afghanistan in 2011 as Australia’s Official War artist, as well as by intimate portraits of family and friends.

This evening you will see the most exquisite selection of Quilty’s portraits and landscapes as well as his iconic Toranas, a master-stroke of curating to complement a certain car event which is also happening in our city this weekend.

Ben is well loved by South Australia and vice-versa. We hold several of his works in our Gallery’s permanent collection and Ben has dear friends both here in Adelaide and on the APY lands.

Tonight, you will have an opportunity to see a number of Quilty works for the first time in South Australia. This includes his 2011 Archibald Prize winning portrait of another iconic Australian painter, the remarkable Margaret Olley.

As we stand here in the centre of the city at the beginning of Mad March, tonight’s celebration is a sound reminder of the strong pulse of visual art that lies at the heart of our festival state.

I am thrilled to be able to officially open Quilty, an opportunity for all of us to celebrate and reflect on an already powerful career and an artist who still has many tales to tell.

Thank you.