ANU art treasures go on display at Drill Hall Gallery

20 April 2017

This is not a collection like any other in Australia's museums. It is unique to the ANU and its community.

New treasures of The Australian National University (ANU) art collection will go on display for the first time on Friday at a major exhibition of works donated to the University's Drill Hall Gallery.

The exhibition, 10 Years of Collecting at the ANU, highlights some of the outstanding additions to the collection through donations, gifts and purchases over the past decade.

Drill Hall Gallery Director Terence Maloon said the ANU art collection of more than 2,500 works, worth more than $34 million, is usually scattered around the campus and is rarely brought together in one place.

"We have chosen 100 treasures from the ANU art collection to celebrate some of the great works of art acquired over the past ten years, and to acknowledge the generous gifts from our benefactors," Mr Maloon said.

"This is not a collection like any other in Australia's museums. It is unique to the ANU and its community."

The exhibition features significant works by indigenous artists such as Timothy Cook, George Tjungurrayi and Jacky Green, as well as the Australian modernist Tony Tuckson, Australian contemporary artist, Greg Hodge, and Papua New Guinean artist Simon Gende.

Highlights include a large work by Timothy Cook called "Kulama" - an expression of his ongoing anxiety about the prospect of death.

"This extraordinary piece represents the black hole in the Milky Way through which Aboriginal people believe they will pass after death to meet their ancestors. It represents the coming of age of the artist and the ANU is privileged to have this as part of its collection," said Mr Maloon.

The ANU Art collection has been bolstered by generous donations from Professor John Altman, the Gascoigne family and the donation by James and Jacqui Erskine of seven major paintings including masterpieces by indigenous artists Emily Kame Ngwarreye and George Tjungurrayi.

The exhibition contains a diversity of ceramics, glass, etchings, photographs and paintings including a collection of minor works from great Australian modernist of the 1950s, Tony Tuckson, hanging alongside works acquired from former graduate students of the ANU's school of Art, such as Sally O'Callaghan.

Another highlight is a series of paintings by Papua New Guinea's Simon Gende, who expresses his response to world events such as the capture of Osama Bin Laden. AFL star Adam Goodes is represented as a Papuan great man in traditional regalia.

The exhibition 10 Ten Years of collecting at the ANU runs from the Friday 21 April to Saturday 18 June at the Drill Hall Gallery, 29 Kingsley Street Acton.