Perth / Brutal AGWA: Dreaming in Concrete

Perth Brutal. Dreaming in Concrete.
Free Exhibition at the Art Gallery of Western Australia (AGWA):
open 10am-5pm until 17 February 2020

AGWA 40 – Celebrating the anniversary of AGWA’s 1979 Brutalist building. Opened on 2 October 1979 by then Premier Charles Court, the new Art Gallery of WA building was a dramatic example of late Brutalist architecture designed by Polish born Charles Sierakowski.

This exhibition opens out the many layers of the history of the building’s development featuring images of the building in construction and its early days, along with ephemera such as building models, plans, diagrams and drawings, and early promotional brochures about the structure and its place in the Cultural Centre (now undergoing its biggest development since 1979 with the WA Museum project).

The iconic structure marked the end of a 10 year building boom and had been dreamt of for years before that by Gallery Director Frank Norton, whose own international researches and design thinking also fed the building’s final form. 

AGWA 1979 – A Brutalist Gallery in Perth 

In celebration of the Gallery buildings 40th anniversary and the exhibition Perth Brutal: Dreaming in Concrete this limited edition publication is a concise overview of the new gallery project and its place within the Cultural Centre. It includes a biographical sketch of Charles Sierakowski, a factual history of the building’s construction, how gallery spaces were conceived and how they have changed over time. It also explores how various exhibitions have utilised them, how directors, curators and exhibition designers have engaged with them, to local architectural significance and context, as well as the building’s inspiration, influence and legacy.

Contributing authors include, AGWA Curators; Robert Cook, Melissa Harpley and Dunja Rmandic. It also contains essays from Patrick Ford, Annette Condello, Merindah Bairnsfather-Scott, Noel Nannup and Andrew Murray.

$32.95, available from the AGWA Shop.

Guided Tours | FREE
2-3pm, Thursdays, Saturdays & Sundays 

Join an AGWA Voluntary Gallery Guide on a tour that examines Brutalist features of the building and how they fit into the thinking that underpins its design. A viewing of early images and drawings of the building conclude the tour.

Curated by

Robert Cook
AGWA Curator of 20th Century Arts

Related exhibition

That Seventies Feeling…the Late Modern

Related articles

The Conversation Brutalism: How to love a concrete beast
The Australian AGWA: Birth of a modern gallery for modern people
ABC Perth Radio WA Afternoons Art Gallery of WA turns 40
Pelican Magazine From brutal beginnings
Broadsheet A Brutalist Architecture Exhibition Is Coming To AGWA
Art Guide AGWA 1979, A Brutalist Gallery in Perth
ArtsHub Review AGWA’s latest exhibition inspires newfound appreciation for the gallery’s architecture

AGWA 40 logo


2019 marks and celebrates the 40th year anniversary of the main Gallery building as AGWA presents a series of exhibitions and special events looking at the building: the exhibit Perth Brutal: Dreaming in Concrete, plus talks, performances and a symposium presented with Curtin University’s School of Design and the Built Environment. The art of the 1970s in WA will also be revisited in the exhibition That Seventies Feeling…the Late Modern.

AGWA Then and Now

See how AGWA’s iconic Brutalist building has changed over the last 40 years.

AGWA Exhibition Page:


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