A personal collection of artworks owned by celebrated Canberra artist Rosalie Gascoigne AM and her astronomer husband, former ANU Professor Ben Gascoigne AO, was donated to the University by the late couple's children, Martin, Hester and Toss, through the ANU Visual Arts Foundation.
At first glance, the works seem unconnected, an eclectic mix of abstracts and landscapes in crayon, lithograph and watercolour. But they have one very powerful defining theme: they are all works that Ben and Rosalie, over the course of half a century, either bought together or received as gifts from people who played important parts in their lives.
"This collection was very significant for my parents," said Martin. "One painting was a wedding present; another was given in exchange for a sculpture Rosalie had done of Germaine Greer."
The 12-piece collection includes some of the pair's most treasured works, said Director of the ANU Drill Hall Gallery Mr Terence Maloon.
"There are three works by Carl Plate – whom Ben met when they shared a cabin on the last passenger ship to leave Britain for Australia during World War Two – two of which were painted during visits to the couple's house on Mount Stromlo in the early 1950s," said Terence.
"We are greatly honoured by the Gascoigne family's wish for such a significant gift to be given to ANU. Ben and Rosalie Gascoigne had very strong connections with the University and all three of their children graduated from ANU. These are works that have an intimate connection to the story of their lives."
Originally from New Zealand, Ben and Rosalie married in Canberra in 1943. Ben worked as an astronomer at the Mount Stromlo Observatory from 1941 until 1988 and the couple lived on Mount Stromlo with their three children until 1960.
It was during this time that Rosalie developed the strong feeling for the Australian landscape and honed the sensibility that marks her as Canberra's most illustrious artist. Many of her early sculptures were made from materials that she found during her regular walks through local countryside.
"ANU was such a significant part of my parents' lives, and my two brothers and I are graduates of the University, as is one of my nephews," said Hester.