Over 21 years (1986-2007), the Director of Sherman Galleries, Dr Gene Sherman - now Chairman and Executive Director of Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation (SCAF) - established Sherman Galleries at the forefront of contemporary art in Australia.
The gallery hosted a program of exhibitions by many of Australia's most significant artists, as well as special projects and exhibitions of work by important international artists.
Gallery artists made vital contributions to art practice in the Asia-Pacific region and the visual culture of Australia. Periodically the gallery initiated, curated and organised both national and international touring exhibitions, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region, with a view to advancing awareness of the work of contemporary Australian artists. Significant touring exhibitions include The Rose Crossing (1999-2000), an exhibition of 13 artists from European and Asian backgrounds spanning three generations, which toured museums and cultural institutions in Brisbane, Hong Kong, Singapore, Perth and Sydney; and Systems End: Contemporary Art in Australia (1996-97), which toured 12 major mid-career and young Australian artists through major state and regional institutions in Japan, Korea and Taiwan.
Sherman Galleries (originally named Irving Sculpture Gallery) was officially opened in 1981 by the Director of the 1982 Biennale of Sydney, William Wright AM, who served as Curatorial Director of Sherman Galleries (1992-2004). Initially, the gallery was dedicated exclusively to the promotion of contemporary Australian and international sculpture through exhibitions, commissions and publications. In 1989, the gallery, housed in a Victorian mansion near The University of Sydney, relocated to a space purpose-designed to exhibit contemporary sculpture and painting at Hargrave Street, Paddington. It then extended to a large contemporary art exhibition space at Goodhope Street, Paddington, with a 350-square-metre outdoor sculpture court echoing in scale the interior space.
After operating out of two substantial and separate Paddington spaces for 13 years, in 2002, the gallery consolidated its exhibition program into one vastly enhanced exhibiting space, adding an Andrew Andersons-designed viewing room, complete with specially designed display facilities to exhibit moving-image work, and housing catalogue archives, as well as general and Asian libraries. This annexe complemented the main gallery, allowing collectors to view extensive stock, including paintings, photo-media work, works on paper and prints.
The main exhibition area at Goodhope Street continued to be a platform for exhibitions of contemporary art; while the sculpture court and two terrace areas encouraged visitors to gather and share ideas.
Dr Gene Sherman has an academic background and sits on various state and national art and education boards. In addition to directing the gallery, she is sought by public, corporate and private art collectors for advice on acquiring and maintaining fine art collections. Dr Sherman is an accredited government valuer specialising in Australian, American, European and Asian contemporary art.
Simeon Kronenberg curator, writer and arts administrator, was an Associate Director and later Director of Sherman Galleries from 2002-07. He was National Director of Museums Australia (the peak national association representing Australia's museums and galleries), 1995-1999, before taking a leadership role directed specifically to artists' professional development with the Australian Federal Government's Bundanon Trust Artists in Residence Program. Building on the generosity of senior Australian artist, the late Arthur Boyd (1920-1999), this program, begun in 1998, offers, in tandem with private benefactors, residency opportunities in an idyllic rural setting south of Sydney. Marah Braye, General Manager of Sherman Galleries (2001-2006) assumed the role of Chief Executive Officer of the Biennale of Sydney and Danielle Earp (nee Johnson) returned to the gallery as General Manager.
Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation will build on the considerable achievements of Sherman Galleries to operate as a privately funded public exhibition space. The aim is, in summary, to champion research and exhibitions of contemporary art - primarily although not exclusively, from Asia and the Pacific Rim - through significant projects by the region's most innovative artists.
The Goodhope Street premises has been refurbished to fit changing exhibition requirements, with the annexe remodeled to allow seating for up to twenty people for viewing multimedia artwork. Established in 2004 and housed in a cottage across the road, Sherman Visual Art Residency (SVAR) continues to welcome national and international artists, curators and writers via specific invitation.
The focused and highly accomplished SCAF team includes Danielle Earp as Director, Amanda Henry as General Manager and Laura Murray Cree as Publications Manager.
Opening on 1 May 2008 with an exhibition of major new work by celebrated Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, SCAF will present up to four exhibitions annually. Please see sherman-scaf.org.au for further details of SCAF mission, exhibitions and events.