Pen to Pixel is a celebration of the NGV’s collection of Australian prints and drawings. This collection, which numbers some 7000 items, documents the development of the graphic arts in Australia over the two centuries since white settlement. Pen to Pixel surveys that history, highlighting significant contributions and displaying some of the acknowledged strengths of the collection alongside less well-known works and recent acquisitions.
Spanning over two hundred years, the prints and drawings on display reflect the chronological range of the NGV’s holdings – from the earliest Australian work in the collection, the Sydney Bird Painter’s watercolour of a boobook owl, painted in the late 18th century, to the large-scale computer-generated print by David Harley, made at the beginning of the 21st century.
This selection of works explores the various media represented in the NGV’s collection, charting the development of art practices that has occurred throughout the period and signalling the ways in which technology – from the invention of the camera, to the use of computers as a tool for making art – has influenced this development.
While the variety of exhibited works points to changes in regard to the purposes of and motivations for making art – from visual records of a subject to personal expressions of ideology and identity – above all, it stands testimony to the extraordinary creative diversity that has characterised the successive generations of artists working in Australia.