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Ron Mueck: Two women 2005


Ron Mueck’s intensely realistic sculpture Two Women depicts two old women huddled in conversation. Figure sculptures often reflect an interest in idealised physical beauty, but the subjects of Mueck’s internationally recognised figure sculptures are ordinary people, often in vulnerable states.

The subjects of Two Women are represented with lifelike accuracy and intricate detail: thick stockings, heavy overcoats sensible flat shoes, wispy grey hair and thin wrinkled skin.

What do older people represent in contemporary Australian society – and how have our attitudes to older people (and their place in the social fabric) evolved? How does the body change as it ages? And what about our attitudes to beauty and the body – especially women’s bodies? We’ll talk about all these ideas, as well as how age, youth and femininity are represented in popular culture.

David Hurlston, curator of Australian Art at NGV, will talk about the artwork and place it in context.

Patricia Edgar, author of In Praise of Ageing, will talk about her personal connection to Ron Mueck and the importance of older people in Australian society.

Ranjana Srivastava, doctor and writer, will talk about how the body changes as it ages.

Stephanie van Schilt, writer and deputy editor of The Lifted Brow, will talk about hair and beauty mythology in popular culture.

And we’ll hear from The List Operators, a Melbourne duo who perform comedy for kids (and their adults).

Australian Art Starting Conversations

Certain timeless works of art make us see the world differently. By experiencing famous paintings or sculptures, we can form an idea of what life was like when they were created.

But how much can iconic art teach us about the world today? Taking four historical works as a starting point, our guests make a series of lateral leaps to explore the diversity of the modern world through the prism of classic art.

After a curator from the National Gallery of Victoria places the work in context, three different speakers will explore the tangents that arise, leading the discussion surrounding the piece in new and unexpected directions. The evening concludes with a creative response directly inspired by the artwork itself.

In this instalment, media scholar Patricia Edgar joins medical oncologist and author Ranjana Srivastava and Ron Mueck curator David Hurlston to respond to Ron Mueck’s Two women. Hosted by Simon Abrahams.

Please enter through the North entrance, via Arts Centre Melbourne forecourt.

Presented by the Wheeler Centre and the NGV.


Simon Abrahams

Simon Abrahams is a strategic arts and cultural leader, dynamic programmer and experienced producer whose work has been recognised nationally and internationally. He is Chair of Theatre Network Victoria, and a freelance arts consultant and performer. Previously, Simon served as the Wheeler Centre’... Read more

Stephanie Van Schilt

Stephanie Van Schilt is editor of The Lifted Brow and co-host of The Rereaders podcast. The former TV columnist for Kill Your Darlings, Stephanie’s writing has featured in various publications including Metro, Crikey, Junkee and the Big Issue.&... Read more

David Hurlston

David Hurlston is Curator, Australian Art and Coordinator, NGV Studio at the National Gallery of Victoria.

He has curated many exhibitions for the NGV and was responsible for the major touring exhibition Ron Mueck which opened at NGV International in January 2010.

The Listies

Writing and performing comedy for kids and their adults (kidults), the Listies are Melbourne-based duo Rich Higgins and Matt Kelly. Originally meeting each other during a production of Roald Dahl’s The Twits (Rich was Mr Twit, Matt was Mrs Twit) they enjoyed performing toge... Read more

Ranjana Srivastava

Dr Ranjana Srivastava is an oncologist, Fulbright scholar and award-winning author. She is a Walkley Award finalist for her columns on medicine and humanity in the Guardian. Her honours include the Human Rights Literature Prize and a medal of the Order of Australia for her contribution the field of ... Read more

Patricia Edgar

Patricia Edgar is a sociologist, educator, film and television producer, writer, researcher, and policy analyst. Through a career spanning four decades she has been at the forefront of media for children nationally and internationally, winning multiple awards for her achievements and programs. ... Read more


Clemenger BBDO Auditorium, NGV International

180 St Kilda Road Melbourne Victoria 3000

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