Art with heart: Parliament showcases 50 years of the Murdoch art collection

Special exhibition of artworks currently on show at Parliament House.

In the lead-up to the 50th anniversary of Murdoch University’s foundation in September 1974, an exhibition of works from the Murdoch Art Collection recently opened at WA’s Parliament House.

An Enduring Exuberance – Murdoch University’s Art Collection Turns 50 features 26 works that reflect Murdoch’s founding values of inclusivity, social justice and sustainability.   

The Murdoch collection began with the generous gifting of five artworks and has grown to a collection of more than 2,500 works today. This exhibition includes one of the original five donations – the 1956 oil painting by Ian Fairweather – Mother and Child, and recently acquired works by young, contemporary artist Gemma Smith. More than half of the artworks in the exhibition are by women.

Speaking to guests at the formal opening, including Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, the Hon Michelle Roberts MLA and President of the Legislative Council, the Hon. Alanna Clohesy, Murdoch’s Vice Chancellor Professor Andrew Deeks drew parallels between Murdoch’s heritage as WA’s alternative university and the development of the art collection.

"Like the ‘People’s House’ we find ourselves in, Murdoch rapidly became the ‘People’s University', a place where the doors to higher education were thrown open to women, mature-aged students, First Nations people, country people, and those from low socio-economic backgrounds.” - Murdoch University Vice Chancellor, Professor Andrew J Deeks

"Murdoch was the first Australian university to introduce a flexible admissions system and pioneered the delivery of higher education by correspondence.

“Into this new paradigm, our young University welcomed supporters and benefactors who were drawn to its association and active support for the environment and conservation, social justice and inclusion,” Professor Deeks continued.

“It was a symbiotic relationship built on generosity, kindness – and care – and it was this kindness that laid the foundation for what is now, a nationally significant art collection.”

The exhibition was curated by Murdoch’s Art Collection Manager and Senior Curator Mark Stewart and Assistant Curator Dr Baige Zylstra with assistance from arts student Chelsea Ford. Volunteer guides from the Art Gallery of WA will lead public tours.

(You can see a photo gallery of the official launch of the exhibition here.)

Posted on:

6 May 2024

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