2021 marks 60 years since the first students came to study at Monash University. It also marks the 60th anniversary of the Monash University Collection, one of Australia’s most important collections of post-1960s Australian contemporary art.
Monash University Museum of Art (MUMA) is celebrating this milestone in the major exhibition at MUMA, Connecting the World through Sculpture, 7 July – 18 September 2021.
Part of a year-long program of celebrations including pop-up exhibitions across Monash’s campuses and a social media program that spotlights the Collection’s diverse holdings, Connecting the World through Sculpture focuses on six decades of sculptural works and is curated by MUMA’s director Charlotte Day.
‘While close to 50 per cent of the 2,500 artworks in the Collection are out on display on campus at any one time (which side-by-side we estimate would be three kilometres of work!)—and many of our works are on loan to other museums and galleries when not at Monash—our sculptural works (with the exception of outdoor public artworks) are often trickier to exhibit in public. They don’t get to be seen as frequently’, says Day.
This exhibition presents audiences with an opportunity to witness a remarkable range of sculpture. Representing the twists and turns that characterise changing sculptural practice, it encompasses abstract, minimal and figurative work; hard metal and soft sculptures; cut-outs, carved and cast works; readymades; and works with conceptual, pop and everyday sensibilities. Young audiences will be able to participate in several artist-led workshops in one of MUMA’s galleries transformed into a studio for the education program MAKING SPACE.
Highlights of the exhibition include Aleks Danko’s The Danko 1971 Concept of Sculpture. SCULPTURE as being the elusive object HA !, 1971; Inge King’s Threshold, 1983–84; Susan Norrie’s Shudder (dialogue), 1995; Nicholas Mangan’s Colony, 2005; Malu Gurruwiwi’s Banumbirr—Morning Star Pole series, 2007–08; Nabilah Nordin’s Trotting, 2020; and Megan Cope’s Currents III, 2020, most recently seen in the TarraWarra Biennial 2021.
Day has conceived of the exhibition as an ‘archaeological dig’ through the Collection, and imagines the gallery space as a series of spatial strata or layers to be revealed through the course of the exhibition period. It comprises three different iterations, commencing with From the Ground Up, moving into The Sculptural Body, and ending with In the Air.
‘One of the most important qualities of the Monash University Collection has been its support of emerging artists and practices as they develop, the result being that we have many very significant artworks by now well-known artists that were able to be supported early on in their careers, including the likes of Patricia Piccinini with her seminal work Still Life with Stem Cells, 2002′, says Day.
The exhibition traces one journey among many possible through the Collection, but the intention is also to reflect on the practice of collecting itself and to reveal the strategies that have shaped the Monash University Collection over time. ‘We are keen to consider, too, how collecting may be approached in the future’, says Day.
This sixty-year anniversary provides opportunity to recognise the generosity of private and public donors to the Collection as well as its many advocates across sixty years, including not only the directors, curators and support staff who have worked on the Collection and its associated committee members and across University supporters, but artists who themselves have gifted work. This year also marks the major donation of a series of limited edition prints gifted by Dr Doug Kagi. For students, this new study collection will provide the opportunity to view works of influential international artists including R B Kitai and Eduardo Paolozzi at first hand.
The three iterations of Connecting the World through Sculpture:
From the Ground Up
Wednesday 7 July – Saturday 24 July
Featured artists: James Angus, Peter Cripps, Aleks Danko, Emily Floyd, Malu Gurruwiwi, Matt Hinkley, Inge King, Geoff Kleem, Nicholas Mangan, Noŋgirrŋa Marawili, Jan Nelson, Louise Paramor, Stuart Ringholt, Ron Robertson-Swann, Marcus Shanahan, Simone Slee, Kathy Temin, Tony Trembath and Louise Weave
The Sculptural Body
Saturday 31 July – Saturday 21 August
Featured artists: Hany Armanious, Janet Burchill and Jennifer McCamley, James Deutscher, Joel Elenberg, Neil Emmerson, Lou Hubbard, Brendan Huntley, Kate James, Linda Marrinon, Anniebell Marrngamarrnga, Victor Meertens, Sanné Mestrom, Nabilah Nordin, Susan Norrie, Fiona Orr, Mike Parr, Patricia Piccinini, David Rosetzky, Mark Smith, Renee So, Darren Sylvester, Francis Upritchard and Ronnie van Hout
In the Air
Saturday 28 August – Saturday 18 September
Featured artists: Lauren Berkowitz, Kate Beynon, Megan Cope, Mikala Dwyer, Mira Gojak, Susan Hawkins, James Lynch, Anne-Marie May, John Meade, Callum Morton, Robert Owen, Joshua Petherick and Koji Ryui
The education program MAKING SPACE is a series of artist-led workshops that invite students to embrace hands-on making and celebrate three-dimensional form within one of MUMA’s galleries, transformed into a light-filled studio. Responding to the three iterations of the exhibition and their distinct formal, material and thematic approaches, MAKING SPACE will explore creative practice and thinking in parallel to the Collection works on display. Led by Yorta Yorta and Taungurung artist Donna Blackall, Singaporean Australian artist Nabilah Nordin, Thai-born Australian artist Vipoo Srivilasa and local artist Meredith Turnbull.
Each iteration of Connecting the World Through Sculpture will conclude with an informal exhibition walk-through with a number of participating artists from 3.30-5.00pm, Saturdays 24 July, 21 August and 18 September.
Charlotte Day and select artists are available for interview.