Augustine Dall’Ava

1950 - Present


Augustine ‘Gus’ Dall’Ava is one of the foremost sculptors working in Australia today. He was born in France of Italian heritage and immigrated to Australia at the age of 5. He attended Richmond Technical School, an inner city trade school, and received no art education as a young adult.

In 1967 a friend took Dall’Ava to see the exhibition Two Decades of American Art at the National Gallery of Victoria. In Dall’Ava’s own words, the exhibition, with works from the Museum of Modern Art in New York, ‘opened up a new world’.

Dall’Ava enrolled at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology and obtained a Diploma of Fine Art in Sculpture in 1973. Following his graduation, Dall’Ava worked as a labourer while he continued his artistic practice. He gradually built up a body of work that was exhibited alongside Tony Pryor and Geoffrey Barlett’s work at the 109 Gertrude Street Studio Show in 1977.

An influential experience for Dall’Ava was his three-week visit to Japan in 1976. He soon developed a great admiration for the artistic culture of old Japan, in particular the bond between the world of nature and the world of art, the sensitive use of everyday materials and the art of serene understatement. Dall’Ava recalls a visit to the home of a Buddhist monk where he saw a shelf of carefully selected and displayed stones, valued not for any intrinsic worth other than their natural beauty. Dall’Ava was so impressed by the austere simplicity of Japanese art and its sense of tranquillity that he incorporated many of it tenets into his practice.

By 1984 Dall’Ava had moved away from the use of framing devices such as screens toward a more fully developed handling of forms in space, creating delicate and elegant biomorphs such as Hybrid Passion 1988. In the early 1990s Dall’Ava started incorporating marble into his assemblages, which he selected for its variegated patterning.

In recent years the natural tones and organic shapes of his earlier works have been combined with the geometry of precise shapes and primary colours. The Dialogues and Conversations series, fully engage the viewer by drawing the eye across a narrative of intricate marble and stainless steel forms. The. Dall’Ava uses found natural objects such as stones, wood and shells contrasted with stainless steel and bright colours, to construct and create his elegant, lyrical sculptures. There is balance and allure in the use of shapes and the assemblage of juxtaposing materials. There is a joy and sense of playfulness in Dall’Ava’s sculptures which challenge the concept of weight – stones are placed to seems light as air, and the intimate size of the works belies the heavy marble base.

Over three decades of practice Dall’Ava has evolved an art of gentle contemplation and with it a mastery of the relationship of forms and elements within the natural and the created worlds.


Solo Exhibitions:
2009                JOURNEY: The sculpture of Augustine Dall'Ava 1975 – 2008, McClelland Gallery &
                           Sculpture Park
2008                13 Dialogues, John Buckley Gallery, Richmond
2007                Sculptures 2002-2007, John Buckley Gallery, Richmond
2004                New Sculptures, Australian Art Resources, Melbourne
                         Recent Sculpture,  BMGART Adelaide
2003               Sculpture & Drawings 1983-2003, Geelong Gallery
2002               If Only Carl Knew, Stonnington Stables Museum of Art, Deakin University
1999, 1994    Australian Galleries, Melbourne
1997, 1993, 1990  Australian Galleries, Sydney
1993               Chicago International Art Exposition
1990, 1988, 1987, 1986, 1984, 1982     Pinacotheca Gallery, Melbourne
1985, 1983    Macquarie Galleries, Sydney

Joint Exhibitions with Geoffrey Bartlett, and Anthony Pryor:
1987                Recent Sculpture, Anima Gallery, Adelaide
1979                ‘The second and last 108 Gertrude Street Sculpture Show’
1978                Recent Sculpture, Watters Gallery, Sydney
                        Made in Fitzroy’ Exhibition no. 3. Three Australian Sculptors, Regional Development Programme, Visual Arts
                         Board, Hobart, RMIT Gallery, Melbourne
1977                ‘108 Gertrude Street Studio Show’, Fitzroy, Melbourne
1975                Realities Gallery, Melbourn

Group Exhibitions:
2010                A Private View: Art Collecting in the City of Glen Eira. Glen Eira City Council Gallery
                        Deakin University Small Sculpture Award Deakin University Victoria
2009               The freedom of angels sculpture in a century of upheaval Geelong Gallery Victoria
                         Deakin University Small Sculpture Award Deakin University Victoria
2008                Winter Collector’s Exhibition John Buckley Gallery Richmond  Victoria
2007                Something old, something new John Buckley Gallery Richmond  Victoria
2005                ART OMI Australia Retrospective Cell Block Theatre, National Art School Sydney NSW
                         Contempora 2 Gallery NewQuay, Docklands Melbourne
2004                Open Air Sculpture Exhibition Qdos Arts Lorne Vic
                         Precious Platters  Jewish Museum of Australia, Melbourne
2003                McClelland Survey & Award 2003 McClelland Gallery & Sculpture Park Langwarrin Vic
                         Less is More BMG ART Adelaide
                         Against the Grain McCleelland Gallery & Sculpture Park
                         Sculpture at RMIT during the Jomantas Years  RMIT Gallery
2002                Focus on Sculpture, Axia Modern Art, Armadale
                         Central Goldfields Sculpture Prize and Exhibition Central Goldfields Art Gallery Maryborough Victoria
                         Festival of Sculpture Toorak Village, Curator Ken Scarlett
                        Wall Constructions, Smyrnios Gallery, Australia
2001                Colour.  Smyrnios Gallery Australia.  Curator Prof. Jenny Zimmer
                         Woollahra Sculpture Prize Sydney NSW
                         Regeneration – Sculpture and Paintings from the Permanent Collection. McClelland Gallery Victoria
2000                Fine Paintings, Sculpture and Tapestry. Australian Galleries, Sydney.
                         Easter 2000 Sculpture Show. Qdos Gallery Lorne. Victoria
                         The Importance of Being Small. Defiance Gallery  Sydney
                         Paintings and Sculpture, Australian Galleries, Melbourne and Sydney
                         Cinderella’s Gems: Art and the Intellectual Mission, 20th Century Australian Art from Nine University
Collections in N.S.W
Gallery We Are Australian, Victorian Art Centre
1997/8            Sculpture, Australian Galleries, Sydney
                         Notations. Victoria University Gallery. Melbourne
1997                House and Garden. Sculpture Heidelberg Austin and Repatriation Medical Centre.
                         Australian Galleries, Melbourne
                         The Japan Inspiration’ Art Gallery of Western Australia
1996                Fifth Australian Contemporary Art Fair, Melbourne
                         Tolarno Galleries in association with United Overseas Bank Ltd. Singapore
                         Australian Galleries, Sydney
                         Art Chicago 1996 at Navy Pier, Chicago Illinois, USA
1995                Australian Galleries, Melbourne
1993                S.O.F.A. Miami Exposition, Miami, USA
                         Fifth Australian Contemporary Art Fair, Melbourne
                         Art Chicago, ‘The New Pier Show’, Chicago Illinois, USA
                         ‘Sight Regained’, Fred Hollows Foundation and Ivan Dougherty Gallery, Sydney
                         Art – Omi, New York
                         Sur – Real with Les Kossatz, Monash Studios, Melbourne
                         Just Sculpture, Ballarat Fine Art Gallery
1992                Third Australian Contemporary Art Fair, Melbourne
                         A tribute to Anthony Pryor, Realities Gallery, Melbourne
                         Hollows ‘Sight Regained’ Exhibition, Westpac Gallery, Melbourne
1990                Group Sculpture Show, Meridian / Australian Galleries, Melbourne
                         Graeme Sturgeon Memorial Fund, Powell Street Gallery, Melbourne
                         Eltham Art Awards
                         Sculpture and Drawings, Australian Galleries, Melbourne
                         Second Australian Contemporary Art Fair, Melbourne
                         On – Site, Sculpture in City Spaces, City of Melbourne
                         Gold Coast City Art Prize for Sculpture, Gold Coast City Art Gallery
1988                Mildura Sculpture Triennial
                        Pinacotheca Group Show- Pinacotheca Gallery, Melbourne
                         Episode 1 – Caulfield Arts Complex
                         A Group Show, Melbourne
1987                Sculpture III, The Lewers Bequest and Penrith Regional Art Gallery
1986                Sculpture. Wollongong City Gallery
                         Third Australian Sculpture Triennial, Heide Park, Melbourne
1985                Sculpture – Wollongong City Art Gallery
                         Mixed Sculpture, La Trobe Valley Arts Centre
                         Hugh Williamson Prize, Ballarat Art Gallery
1984-5            ‘Two Australian Sculptors’ with Anthony Pryor, Schema Gallery, Florence, Italy
                         ‘Australian Sculpture Now’, National Gallery of Victoria
                         Second Australian Sculpture Triennial, Melbourne
                         Sculptors as Craftsmen’ Meat Market, Melbourne
1981                ‘August Works’ Meat Market, Melbourne
                         Eighth Mildura Sculpture Triennial’
                        ‘The Alice Prize’, Alice Springs
                         First Australian Sculpture Triennial’, La Trobe University, Melbourne
                         Ian Potter Commission’, National Gallery of Victoria
1980                Some Contemporary Australian Sculpture, Newcastle Regional Art Gallery
1979                ‘Caulfield Invitation Sculpture’ Exhibition, Caulfield Arts Centre
1978                Seventh Sculpture Triennial’, Mildura Arts Complex

Achievements, Collections & Commissions

Academic Qualifications:
1994                Master of Fine Arts, Monash University.
1971-73          Diploma Fine Art –  Sculpture, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology

2004                Queens Plaza, Brisbane
2000                Deakin University Melbourne Campus Victoria
                         Pacific Power Sydney
1997-2000      Australian National Korean War Memorial. Canberra
                         With Les Kossatz, Sand Helsel and David Bullpitt.
1995                 Melbourne International Airport
1981                 University of New South Wales
                         Ian Potter Sculpture, National Gallery of Victoria

1996                John David Mooney Foundation, Chicago, U.S.A, Visual Arts Export Strategy 2001
1993                ART-OMI, New York
1984                Visual Arts Board Studio, Tuscany, Italy
1982                The Alice Prize, Alice Springs
1979 & 1975   Australia Council, Visual Arts Board Grant

Public Collections:
Australian National Gallery, Canberra; Australian National Korean War Memorial, Dept of Vet Affairs / Australian War Memorial; Burnie Art Gallery, Tasmania; Deakin University Art Collection; McClelland Gallery Victoria; National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne; Parliament House, Canberra; Private Collections in Australia, Europe, U.S.A;  State Bank of New South Wales; Swinburne University; University of New South Wales; Victorian Arts Centre, Melbourne; Western Australia Art Gallery, Perth;

Corporate Collections:
Benson’s Property Group, Arthur Andersen Chartered Accountants, Melbourne; Chifley Tower, Sydney; Collins Place, Melbourne; Conflict Management, Melbourne; Design Works Australia, Melbourne; Melbourne International Airport; Mercer, Melbourne; State Bank of NSW; Tullamarine; Pacific Power, Sydney;