Arts Flashback

To celebrate Arts Victoria's 40th anniversary we've hit the archives
and uncovered some choice moments in the development of
Victoria's arts sector.

Click on the images below to view the stories and photo galleries, share them with others, and find out how Victoria grew to be the arts and cultural powerhouse it is today.


Bell-bottoms, handlebar moustaches, platform shoes, our daring approach to fashion (and facial hair) belied an era of serious social change and political drama in 1970s Australia.

We scrapped the White Australia Policy and welcomed an era of multiculturalism. Aussie troops were withdrawn from Vietnam, and in 1975 our PM was controversially dismissed.

We had more leisure time that ever before. Norm coaxed us off the couch with Life. Be in it and we got fit. But when we weren't out BMXing, ten-pin bowling or roller-skating, we were listening to Skyhooks and Sherbet, tuning into the new world of FM radio, and watching Number 96 on our brand new colour TVs.

Here in Victoria, a creative community of artists, craftspeople, theatre-makers and musicians were laying the foundation of the mighty independent arts sector we enjoy today.

Premier Rupert Hamer put the arts firmly on the Government's agenda with the creation of Australia's first state Ministry for the Arts. Its first priorities? Getting the construction of Southbank's Arts Centre complex moving, creating a chain of regional performing arts centres, and bringing art out into the public.

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Governor General Sir Zelman Cowen and Arts Minister Norman Lacy at the First Australian Sculpture Triennial
Governor General Sir Zelman Cowen and Arts Minister Norman Lacy at the First Australian Sculpture Triennial


First Australian Sculpture Triennial

The first Australian Sculpture Triennial, an initiative of the Ministry for the Arts, was held in 1981 on the campuses of La Trobe University and the Preston Institute of Technology. Participating artists included Colin Suggett, Geoffrey Bartlett, Ray Nollard and Peter Blizzard.


Australian Sculpture Triennial Director, Thomas McCullough, was the former director of the Mildura Regional Art Gallery and the Mildura Sculpture Triennial, which was held between 1961 and 1988 – leaving a legacy of sculptures throughout the regional city.

The Australian Sculpture Triennial continued through the 1980s – the second was held in November 1984, jointly funded by the Ministry and the Visual Arts Board of the Australia Council, and the third Australian Sculpture Triennial took place in September/October during the 1987 Spoleto Festival. It was jointly presented by the National Gallery of Victoria, Heide, ACCA and 200 Gertrude Street, and featured over 60 Australian sculptors and a retrospective of the work of Robert Klippel.

The fourth Australian Sculpture Triennial was held as part of the Melbourne International Festival of the Arts with the same four core gallery partners. As part of the event the City of Melbourne initiated 'On Site', a temporary installation of sculptures at public and private sites along Collins and Swanston streets. Around 60 complementary sculpture exhibitions were held at university, council and commercial galleries, and alternative spaces.

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