Art lovers flock to exhibition

RELATED: The Body Beautiful official opening in Bendigo: Photos

PEOPLE flocked to the Bendigo Art Gallery this morning, to admire ancient art works dating back more than 4500 years.

The Body Beautiful in Ancient Greece exhibition opened to gallery members at 10pm and to the general public at 2pm.

Project curator Sandra Bruce said the exhibition was a major coup for the gallery.

"The youngest piece is 2000 years old and the oldest is over 4500 years," she said.

"It's just extraordinary."

Ms Bruce said the exhibition was on loan from the British Museum in London, and had been touring the world since 2007.

She said exhibition curator Dr Ian Jenkins - from the British Museum - was impressed with how the gallery had displayed the pieces.

"You've got this fantastic juxtaposition, with a contemporary display space showing antiquities," she said.

"He was very excited by our display."

She said the exhibition traced Ancient Greeks' fascination with the human form, starting with a preoccupation with naked male bodies and evolving into an exploration of personality and the human character.

Indeed, audiences may learn some surprising facts about the ancient society when perusing the exhibition.

For example, male athletes used to train and compete naked, in a culture "which encouraged the sexual admiration of young by older men".

Attendees James O'Donnell and Athol Willoughby, who were visiting the gallery from Melbourne, said the exhibition was "absolutely terrific".

"This is undoubtedly the finest regional art gallery in Australia," Mr Willoughby said. 

Lawrence McIntosh, from Strathdale, said the exhibition was "magnificent and historically pertinent".

Viola Sutherland said she liked the fact the gallery provided a strong historical context to the pieces, so people could have a deeper understanding of them.

"It's amazing when you think these things are as old as they are - it's incredible they've survived," she said.

The exhibition is running from August 2 to November 9.

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