Blue Mountains News
New Exhibition No Turning Back: Bob Cunningham Opens at Eskbank House Museum
“Bob Cunningham has made an important contribution to Lithgow’s cultural life,” said Lithgow City Council Mayor, Cr Ray Thompson. “His studio and pottery are well-known and fondly remembered by many residents of Lithgow. Cultural endeavour is a critical part of Lithgow’s future economic success so I’m excited to be officially opening this exhibition to the public on Saturday 23 March.”
Bob Cunningham said about the exhibition: “It exceeds all expectations. It’s been wonderful to see so much of my work gathered together. I am honoured to have the opportunity to exhibit at Eskbank House Museum.”
No Turning Back tells the story of Bob Cunningham's life and work in his own voice. Information displayed in the exhibition was collected during oral history interviews in 2019. The show includes works from the full range of Cunningham’s output and the length of his career.
It includes sculpture, paintings dating from 1951 to 2013, ceramics from both Cunningham’s Lithgow Pottery period as well as those produced post-1994 from his home studio in the Vale of Clwydd.
Many of the works, such as his monotype series, have never previously been publicly shown and are from the artist’s own collection. Photographs documenting Cunningham and the Lithgow Pottery studio dating from the 1970s and 1980s are also exhibited.
Bob worked out of the state heritage listed Lithgow Pottery site at Silcock St, Lithgow between 1970 and 1994. He leased the former pattern and pottery store from the Lithgow Colliery Company for use as a studio. Cunningham founded a lineage of contemporary artists working out of this historic building which is now in its 49th year. Artists have included Antony Symons, Cameron and Colleen Williams, Tim Johnman and Anna Culliton. The studio is currently occupied by ceramicists Jacqueline Spedding and Sarah O’Sullivan.
Cunningham worked across ceramics, painting, print making, drawing and sculpture. He was prolific, producing tens of thousands of works during his career. Through regular exhibitions in his studio he helped other artists to sell their work and brought new art to the region. Lithgow's schoolchildren visited his studio to see these exhibitions and watch Bob create pottery. Many Lithgow residents also visited the studio and spent time with Bob, many receiving informal tuition in ceramics.
Cunningham’s studio was Lithgow’s cultural hub.
The exhibition title No Turning Back was chosen by Cunningham. In 1969, Cunningham and his wife Jill sold their home in Sydney and moved their family to Lithgow. Cunningham stopped work as a shipping clerk and began working full-time as an artist. Although making a living from his artistic output wasn’t always easy, he committed to his new life and the work he was passionate about. He did what many dream of doing and never looked back.
Cunningham has just turned 80 and this is his 50th year living in Lithgow. This exhibition celebrates his work and extraordinary contribution to Lithgow’s cultural life.
No Turning Back: Bob Cunningham
March 14 - May 26 2019
Open 10-4 Wed-Sun
Eskbank House Museum,Corner Inch and Bennett Sts, Lithgow
Saturday 23 March 2019
2.00pm - 3.30pm
RSVP via Eventbrite
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