Beginning with the Great Depression and ending with the Second World War, the 1930s was characterised by both optimism and despair.

Brave New World: Australia 1930s presents a fresh look at this turbulent decade, and considers the engagement of artists with the great issues of the time; the Depression and its aftermath, nationalism and body culture, the growing awareness of Indigenous rights, the celebration of technological progress and its antithesis in nostalgia for pastoralism, the changing role of women and increasing anxiety about modern lifestyles, and ultimately the spectre of another world war.

During this decade women artists came to the fore as leaders of the modern movement, Abstraction, Surrealism and Expressionism first made their mark, and conservative forces waged a bitter battle against modern art.

Brave New World reveals the complex creative forces at work in 1930s Australia and provides an expanded view of modernism. Organised thematically the exhibition includes a wide range of artistic production – painting, printmaking, sculpture, photography, decorative arts, fashion, architecture, commercial art and design and shows the rich diversity of the art of this fascinating and contested decade.