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Fifty artworks from the Monash University Collection

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Introduction

MUMA’s new writing project, Fifty artworks from the Monash University Collection, presents a suite of specially commissioned texts by art historians, curators and artists. In inviting these responses, our desire was to open the Collection up to a broad range of voices and perspectives – from those who have had close contact with it over five decades, to those new to it. The fifty selected artworks include some of the most well-known and seen of the Collection, as well as others that deserve greater attention. Without being too prescriptive, the selection reflects the material, conceptual, cultural and temporal diversity and scope of the Collection itself.

In these texts, writers examine the selected artworks in detail – offering a close analysis of the specific materials, techniques and installation devices used – and elaborate on their historical and art-historical contexts. Most importantly, each artwork is considered from the perspective of the present, and brought into dialogue with our contemporary moment. As such, the ensuing dialogues reflect the way the Collection functions in the world at large: as an active agent in evoking critical thought.

With currently over fifty per cent of the Collection’s artworks on display around Monash University’s five Australian campuses, these texts are intended to enrich daily interactions with Collection artworks and extend learning, appreciation and knowledge for staff, students and visitors. Published online alongside our searchable Collection database, the project is also crafted with a broader range of online readers and researchers in mind.

In selecting these artworks for attention, newer art forms that are less frequently acquired by museums – such as performance and installation – have been an area of particular focus. As such, Bree Richards writes on Bianca Hester’s performative HOOP PROPS 2011–13, while Anneke Jaspers describes ways to engage with Agatha Gothe-Snape’s functional public artwork on the Caulfield campus, This scheme was a blueprint for future development programs 2015.

Many of the featured public artworks are also the result of MUMA’s ongoing commissioning program and collaborations across the University. These include Ronnie van Hout’s iconic Dayton 2014 sculpture, and Dan Moynihan’s Seeing things 2016 which is among several co-commissioned by MUMA with the Faculty of Science in recent years.

Fifty artworks from the Monash University Collection continues MUMA’s ongoing commitment to commissioning, collecting and researching contemporary Australian art. It builds upon earlier collection publications, such as Change (2010) and Monash University Collection: Four Decades of Collecting (2002).

For their research, erudition and attention to detail we sincerely thank all the authors who have contributed: Geraldine Kirrihi Barlow; Damiano Bertoli; Joanna Bosse; Rex Butler and ADS Donaldson; Ellie Buttrose; Deb Clarke; Justin Clemens; Rebecca Coates; Charlotte Day; Max Delany; Jane Devery; Jenepher Duncan; Jane Eckett; Juliana Engberg; Mark Feary; Charles Green; Angela Goddard; Richard Haese; Kirrily Hammond; Lesley Harding; Lou Hubbard; Helen Hughes; Anneke Jaspers; Annika Kristensen; Robert Lazarus Lane; Victoria Lynn; Hannah Mathews; Tara McDowell; Kyla McFarlane; Robyn McKenzie; Bruce Johnson-McLean; Ian McLean; Howard Morphy; Kendrah Morgan; Kimberley Moulton; Jonathan Nichols; Nik Papas; Francis Parker; Isobel Parker Philip; Francis Plagne; Lisa Radford; Bree Richards; Linda Short; and Kyle Weise. As well, we are grateful to Hilary Ericksen for her careful copyediting of these texts.

Helen Hughes, Curator – Research