Since its foundation in 1974, Murdoch University's Art Collection has grown to become a collection of national significance, as well as shaping the cultural identity and academic experience of our students.
At Murdoch University, we believe art inspires and is a catalyst for change. Through art, we see new perspectives, feel differently and find creative solutions. The priority given to making contemporary art accessible in a variety of our campus settings ensures Murdoch University is truly rich in cultural wealth and this is integral to the teaching and learning experience of our students, staff and broader community.
This is realised by curated displays of the University’s Art Collection throughout various campus locations including Murdoch University Art Gallery, Geoffrey Bolton Library, lecture theatres, foyers, tutorial rooms, offices and boardrooms. Physically woven throughout these settings, the Collection is accessible for all and interacted with by students, staff and visitors on a day-to-day basis.
Above: Tony ALBERT, You Wreck Me #34 (detail), 2020. Collage, printed photograph, vintage Captain Cook ephemera on archival paper, 57 x 76cm. Purchased 2020.
In addition to presenting the Collection throughout our buildings, Murdoch University also commissions site-specific artworks within a variety of campus precincts. Public art projects are supported by the University’s public art policy in which a percentage of all capital and refurbishment project budgets are committed to commissioning or purchasing artworks.
Site-specific art commissions play an important role in enhancing the University’s built environment and its public spaces, giving each space a distinct identity and providing visually stimulating and inspiring surroundings to further enhance student life. Public artworks on campus also assist in strengthening community pride and ownership, whilst contributing to the development and promotion of Murdoch University’s cultural capital.
To find out more about our collection, download a copy of our latest publication.
Murdoch University's Art Collection Board is an advisory body that provides the Vice Chancellor with counsel regarding art acquisitions, strategy and projects.
Current board members
Brandon Munro – Chair
Helen Carroll – Deputy Chair
Dr Elizabeth Constable – External Representative
Tony Chong – External Representative (Legal & Alumni)
Matthew Young – Staff Representative (Professional Services)
Julie Whitlock – Senate Representative
Mark Stewart – Art Curator and Ex-officio
Above: Hermannsburg artists (Ewald NAMATJIRA, Cordula EBATARINJA, Enos NAMATJIRA, Otto PAREROULTJA), Untitled, 1954. Watercolour on paper, approx 29 x 39cm each. Estate of Lavinia Sinclair 2018.
Murdoch University's Art Collection was established with a series of generous donations commemorating the University’s inauguration in 1974. Most notably, the University received eleven items donated by Dr Harold Schenberg (featuring works by Ian Fairweather, Leonard French, Roland Wakelin and Margaret Woodward), and purchased a drawing of Sir Walter Murdoch by Louis Kahan.
In 1975, the University’s Senate formed an Art Acquisitions Committee to establish an art collection. Professor Geoffrey Bolton was appointed Chair and the University’s Library was given the responsibility to catalogue and manage the Collection. Throughout the 1970s and 80s, the Collection advanced with purchased and donated artworks by artists including Charles Blackman, Robert Juniper, Lloyd Rees, Jacob Epstein, Sidney Nolan and Tjapaltjarri Tim Leura.
In 1995, Angie Beck was appointed as the Collection’s first part-time curator. In 1997, the Art Acquisitions Committee disbanded to make way for an advisory board chaired by esteemed curator John Stringer. Providing representation from the visual arts industry, the Murdoch University Art Collection Board observed curation and management of the Collection and provided the Vice Chancellor with strategic counsel.
In 1999, the Board implemented its first acquisitions policy and aimed to develop and maintain a distinctive art collection of the highest calibre. Significant acquisitions included artworks by Hans Arkeveld, Jarinyanu David Downs, Julie Dowling, Tony Jones, Brian McKay, Queenie McKenzie Nakarra, Sidney Nolan, Miriam Stannage and John Tarry.
The Collection flourished in the 2000s, with the appointment of the first full-time curator, Mark Stewart, along with increased funding, resources and a greater position in the University’s priorities. Ongoing development was supported by major artwork acquisitions, public art commissions and successful fundraising campaigns.
In 2006, the first major review of the Collection’s acquisition strategy was undertaken to explore opportunities for future focus and development. As a result, additional focus areas such as abstraction, photo media and Indigenous art from urban and remote communities were introduced.
The strategic acquisition of a wide range of art from nationally recognised artists included works by Tony Albert, Brian Blanchflower, Pat Brassington, Fiona Foley, Rodney Glick, Brent Harris, Petrina Hicks, Joanna Lamb, Janet Laurence, Patrick Mung Mung, Lena Nyadbi, Robert Owen, Christopher Pease, Trevor Richards, Gemma Smith, Alex Spremberg, Darren Sylvester and Karl Wiebke.
In 2016, the University introduced a public art strategy in which a percentage of budget for all building and refurbishment projects is allocated towards the purchase of artwork.
In 2017, Alan Dodge retired from the Board after nine years of service, following the November opening of the Murdoch University Art Gallery.
Highly experienced and respected curator and art consultant Margaret Moore commenced in the role of the Art Collection Board’s fourth Chair in 2018.
Noteworthy acquisitions during this period included works by Abdul Abdullah, Abdul Rahman Abdullah, Brook Andrew, James Angus, Nathan Beard, Jan Billycan, Andrew Browne, Susanna Castleden, Dadang Christanto, Timothy Cook, Bevan Honey, Kitty Kantilla, Rosemary Laing, Danie Mellor, Andrew Nicholls, John Nixon, Michael Riley, Brad Rimmer, Helen Smith, Wakartu Cory Surprise, Christian Thompson, Freddie Timms, Trevor Vickers and Anne Zahalka.