Diana Al-Hadid <em>Smoke screen</em> 2015. Courtesy of the artist and Kasmin Gallery. Photo: Dan Bradica<br/>
© Diana Al-Hadid

Conversation: Art, Symbolism and Rituals

Past program
Sun 3 Dec 23, 2.15pm–2.45pm

Watch the livestream

Free entry

NGV International

Great Hall
Ground Level

This talk will be held in person and livestreamed. Click the ‘watch the livestream link’ to join us online.

NGV Triennial artists referencing and utilising allegorical narratives and symbolic imagery that reflect societal beliefs, spiritual practices, and mythological stories passed down through generations come together in conversation.

Diana Al-Hadid’s work delves into the mystical and scientific realms, incorporating sculpture, wall reliefs, and works on paper inspired by historical frameworks rooted in religious imagery, ancient manuscripts, female archetypes, and folklore storytelling.

Heather B. Swann explores dark, sensual subjects using history, mythology, and natural sciences as sources for her figurative sculptures, including a human-headed ouroboros symbolising wholeness, unity, and cycles.

Richard Lewer’s biblical-themed paintings, particularly his depiction of the story of Adam and Eve, prompt contemplation of human nature’s complexity and contradiction, addressing contemporary issues amid societal decline and environmental crises without moral judgment.

NGV Curator Ted Gott leads a conversation with the artists, and the themes of memory and magic explored in their work.

About the speakers

Richard Lewer is based in Melbourne and exhibits regularly in Australia and New Zealand. He is known for his video and animation, paintings, and delicately beautiful drawings, which evocatively rework some of life’s less pleasant elements – crime scenes, illness, horror movies and extreme events. He has been a finalist and recipient in several distinguished art prizes and residences. His works are held in private and public collections in Australia and New Zealand.

Heather B. Swann’s practice spans over two decades. Since 1993, she has held more than twenty solo exhibitions. Her work has been included in major exhibitions in Australia, including at the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; and Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide. Her 2021 exhibition, Leda and the Swan, was held at the Tarrawarra Museum of Art, Melbourne. In 2022, Swann was commissioned, in collaboration with Nonda Katsalidis, to create a permanent public artwork for the Setouchi Triennale, Japan.

Diana Al-Hadid received a BFA in Sculpture and a BA in Art History from Kent State University in 2003, an MFA in Sculpture from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2005, and attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in 2007. Her mosaic murals for New York’s Penn Station were among 100 finalists for the CODAawards, an international competition honoring public commissions that integrate interior, architectural, or public spaces. In 2020, Al-Hadid received The Academy of Arts and Letters Art Award. In 2021, she was selected for a Fellowship with the Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship Program. Her work is held in collections including the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Virginia Museum of Fine Arts; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and the Toledo Museum of Art.

Dr Ted Gott is Senior Curator, International Art at the National Gallery of Victoria

Auslan Triennial NGV International