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NG Art Gallery is proud to present an eclectic exhibition on the iconic Australian institution - the RSL. 'A Bar to Call Home exhibition will explore the quirky, indefatigable nature of the RSL, velour and all. Twenty five of Australia's leading artists have been invited to create their own vision of what the RSL means to them, including Reg Mombassa, James Powditch, Anne Zahalka, Jo Bertini, Eric Lobbecke, Anne Cape, Susan O'Doherty to name but a few. The crazed juxtaposition of the Vegas-style dens, promising inebriation and gambling, and the often arid landscape that surrounds them, is just one unique aspect of this idiosyncratic Australian establishment that the artists will consider.

Few of us have grown up oblivious to the notion of the RSL club. We might remember dad's shuffling visit before Sunday lunch to a low-slung structure that consisted of a wood-festooned hall and bar; or the solitary option for a hot lunch on a long interstate journey; or perhaps the line of musty suits queuing to pay their liquid respects on Anzac Day. For over 90 years, this iconic Australian institution has been an integral part of our social landscape, and whether one dwells in a large city, regional centre or small country town, the ubiquitous 'local RSL' is never far away. A Bar to call Home - the History of the RSL seeks to explore and celebrate the RSL club in all its forms.

However the focus lies with the quirky, sometimes outmoded nature of the clubs - the ochre-brown velvets and vinyls of the early buildings: places that boast canteen-style lunches, bottle-ringed bartops and patrons who are more likely to identify with HRH Victoria rather than Elizabeth. Throughout Australia there are now over 1500 RSL clubs, with Nambour claiming the honours as the oldest left standing. But where did these traditions begin? Originally created in 1916 as The Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League of Australia, the League's purpose was to provide help and support of soldiers from their mates during and after the 1st World War.

At its peak the League had a membership of about 20% of all returned soldiers, with membership restricted to war veterans. Nurses formed their own clubs but were affiliated with the early League. The RSL is many things to many people. It's a business, a charity, a lifeline and a social connection. From the long-suffering staff and clientele to bouncy cheer of the charity workers, the RSL is a mixing pot for locals of all ages and incomes. 'A Bar to Call Home' will be opened by Simon Marnie and run for a month. As with all exhibitions at the gallery, will include the famous Feast for the Senses' on Tuesday 7 May with Richard Morecroft and guest artists Anne Zahalka and James Powditch on The Changing Face of the RSL.

To download a PDF of the exhibition invitation and Feast for the Senses' Dinner on Tuesday 7 May, simply click here.

For further information, please email ng@ngart.com.au

The Daily Telegraph | Apr 2009
The Glebe | Apr 2009
Sydney Central | Apr 2009
The Sun Herald | Apr 2009

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