Symposium: Hungry eyes
Collecting prints in Australia
Australian museums and galleries are home to some extraordinary, rich collections of prints. But the management of print collections and attitudes toward prints are currently undergoing significant change. Some print study rooms are closing and prints are being integrated into mainstream collections and included in curated, thematic exhibitions.
Is this a better way to engage print audiences? What does it mean for the specialist print researcher? How does Australian practice compare with other parts of the world? As museums and private collectors expand their field of activity to include new media (such as time-based and digital works), what is the future for prints, once seen as the accessible, fresh, even radical end of the collector’s spectrum?
This symposium, featuring curators working with some of Australia’s most significant print collections, will explore these questions and more. The day is also an opportunity to view prints from the Art Gallery of NSW collection, on display for today in the study room and in the research library and archive.
A Print Council of Australia 50th anniversary event, in partnership with the Art Gallery of NSW, ArtSpace and the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre.
Convenor: Akky van Ogtrop, president, Print Council of Australia
Rento Brattinga, master printer
From Amsterdam, with love: a printer/publisher/collector looking back, taking stock, looking forward
In the Netherlands, the VAT on art is still 6%, compared to a general rate of 21% (art being a primary necessity of life, like food), and there is a government-subsidised interest-free loan for 90% of the total price for the acquisition of a work of art. Dutch museums are being renovated with government aid and important art is bought with public funds, such as the Rembrandt portraits of Marten & Oopjen, acquired together with the French Government. Private museums showing the art of passionate collectors have opened, partly thanks to fiscal advantages. This presentation will consider the Netherlands’ generous attitude towards the arts, with the support of the Dutch government and people.
Anne Ryan, curator, Art Gallery of New South Wales
Prints in Sydney: collecting Australian prints at the Art Gallery of New South Wales
The Art Gallery of New South Wales has long been associated with the collection and promotion of Australian prints. The great waves of print production in Australia, including the print revivals of the 1920s and 1960s, were reflected in developments of the Gallery’s collection, and many of our early trustees and curators were integral, both as artists as well as champions of the printmaker’s art. In these times of contracting budgets and almost limitless expansion of what constitutes contemporary art, the Gallery continues to collect prints by Australian artists, maintaining a commitment that has lasted for more than 120 years. This presentation provides a short history of print collecting at the Gallery.
See the accompanying art set Australian print survey 1963-64
Glenn Barkley, independent curator and co-director of curatorial agency The Curators Department
If things could talk
The best way to build a collection is sometimes to put your ear against it and listen to what it might say. Balance this with pragmatism, commonsense and limited budgets and often the murmur you might hear will lead you to printmaking. Based on Glenn Barkley’s experience working with major collections at the University of Wollongong and the MCA Australia, this presentation will discuss the place, purchase and acquisition of prints within contemporary public collections.
Lunch and viewing of print displays
Convenor: Anne Ryan, curator, Art Gallery of New South Wales
Susi Muddiman OAM, director, Tweed Regional Gallery and Margaret Olley Art Centre
Printmaking can be a bit of a mystery, and while there are no better people to explain its intricacies than the artists themselves, Susi Muddiman believes it is the role of galleries to assist where they can – whether that be through exhibitions, public programs, artist talks, demonstrations or commissioning new works. This presentation will examine some of the methods employed by the Tweed Regional Gallery to engage visitors in printmaking, and highlight some of the issues that may be faced in the future for artists prints held in public collections across NSW.
Sarah Johnson, curator, Newcastle Art Gallery
Hidden in the box: secrets emerge from a regional print collection
Regional collections are often under-recognised and unrealised sources of art, in many cases gifted by collectors, gallery supporters and community members and organisations passionate about building collections in regional areas. Newcastle Art Gallery’s print collection includes works by pivotal Australian artists of local, national and international renown. It also charts the course of key printmaking groups such as Newcastle Printmakers and seminal movements in printmaking from the colonial period through the 1960s-70s to the present, while showcasing internationally significant collections such as the Mourlot Collection. This presentation will explore some of the secret aspects of the Newcastle Art Gallery collection and its role as one of the state’s most significant collections.
Dr Thomas A Middlemost, curator, Charles Sturt University Art Collection
Growing a regional, and rural, inland, university, print collection for 20 years
The Charles Sturt University Art Collection was established as a single entity on 6 May 1992. Some of the first donations to the Wagga Wagga Teachers College (a precursor to the university), in 1954, by the artist HR Gallop, were prints, and limited-edition artists prints continue to form a substantial part of the collection. Recently with the help of the Commonwealth Cultural Gifts Program and donors, the collection has acquired a substantial number of important prints and expanded its focus outside Australia, to modern British, and more recently Spanish, and American artists prints. This presentation will discuss some of those works as well as the pitfalls and promise of placing printmaking in public spaces within a geographically dispersed university art collection. It will also make reference to the Margaret Carnegie Print Collection attached to the Wagga Wagga Art Gallery.
Image: Ethel Spowers Special edition 1936 (detail)