Under the Black Flag Art Gallery of Ballarat – 10 September 2022 – 21 January 2023

Black Flag
Black Flag

Under the black flag

Art Gallery of Ballarat

10 September 2022 – 21 January 2023

ARRR, me hearties! 

Mention the word pirate to most people and what springs to mind is pirates from stories set in the 17th and 18th centuries such as Captain Jack Sparrow, Captain Blood or Long John Silver. The Art Gallery of Ballarat presents a new exhibition, Under the black flag, celebrating the rich and diverse history of swashbuckling pirates. This exhibition will thrill with stories and images of pirate adventures as well as incite the imagination with interactive public programs.  

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The exhibition explores the surprising history of piracy. Pirate ships of this time have been described as the original republics where pirate captains were elected, all decisions were made to benefit the entire crew and loot was shared equally among them. There was also a wide diversity of ethnicities and religions within the crew.

Gallery Director Louise Tegart, who has curated the exhibition, said that many artists have drawn inspiration from the thrilling and liberated nature of pirate adventure stories.

“Visitors to the exhibition will see a selection of works by the brothers Norman and Lionel Lindsay, who grew up in Creswick near Ballarat. whose childhood was filled with stories of pirates and buccaneers in their family library. Norman especially immersed himself in stories of pirate adventures which he read when he was confined indoors as a child due to a rare blood disorder. Many of Norman Lindsay’s early works featured pirates and he had a life-long fascination with ships, even building ship models as a hobby.

Lionel Lindsay shared that early obsession and many of his first ventures into printmaking featured pirate imagery.”

The exhibition also features more contemporary works, including pirate collages by Sally Smart, part of her series The Exquisite Pirate, which she created between 2005 and 2017. The series, which are made using textiles created by Javanese artisans in Yogyakarta in Indonesia.

Louise Tegart said that in The Exquisite Pirate series, Smart was presenting the female pirate as a metaphor for crucial contemporary global issues around gender and identity.

“The playful nature of these works, and the serious concerns that they explore, set the tone for this exhibition. It works on different levels ­– we explore this odd corner of popular culture with some fun and engaging works, but for those who look a little deeper, it does take on some very serious concerns.”

Public Programs

Under the black flag features works from the Gallery’s collection. The exhibition also features immersive, theatrical and exciting public programs, such as pirate stories with Penelope BartlauPirate’s parrots where kids unleash their inner artist and create unique pirate-inspired parrots, conjure pirate identities through exploring street art techniques in Urban Pirates, or spot treasure from miles away by creating pirate telescopes.
















Celebrate International Talk Like a Pirate Day by joining master-storyteller Penelope Bartlau as she improvises amazing stories, using artworks from the Gallery’s collection as inspiration for some rollicking pirate stories. Penelope Bartlau is an experienced storyteller who draws on her experience in the performing arts to run fun, interactive experiences for young people, giving them the opportunity to create extraordinary stories.

Monday 19 September. 10.30 am to 12 pm

Age: Primary school aged children

Tickets: $10 per child, parent/carers free

Art Bites: school holiday programs

Pirate’s Parrots

Tuesday 20 & Tuesday 27 September. 10 am–12 pm

Age: 5 to 11 years

Cost: $25 or Gallery Member $20

Urban Pirates

Thursday 22 & Thursday 29 September. 10 am–12 pm

Age: 12 years and over

Cost: $25 or Gallery Members $20

Art Crate: Artmaking activity in the Gallery

Pirate Telescopes

29 August–4 November 2022

Age: All ages

Cost: Free


40 Lydiard Street North,


21 May – 15 October 2022

Bookings and more information


Image credits: Trevor AbrahamPirate cat, 1990. Glazed earthenware. Gift of Dr John Williams, 1990. Collection of the Art Gallery of Ballarat. © Estate of Trevor Abraham

Penelope Bartlau storytelling at the Art Gallery of Ballarat. Photograph by Peter Freund

Why would anyone shiver their timbers? Here’s how pirate words arrr preserving old language

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