Fine Arts and Decorative Arts Acquisition Policy (2008)

Introduction

The Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (TMAG) is the premier cultural institution of Tasmania. In keeping with the traditional role of the museum as educator, the central responsibility of the Fine Arts and Decorative Arts Departments is to illustrate the history and development of Australian art and decorative arts in all media through the acquisition and display of works of exceptional quality and significance. Indeed one the major aims of TMAG is to build as complete an Australian art collection as possible.

As TMAG is also the State Art Gallery, the institution has a key responsibility to celebrate and to communicate the histories and development of the arts and visual culture of the people of Tasmania. The island of Tasmania has unique cultural contexts that are reflected in the art that is produced on the island. There are stylistic inflections of national and international cultural trends that take on a special meaning for artists and the local community, and become exciting discoveries for interstate and overseas visitors.

Consequently a primary focus of the Fine Arts and Decorative Arts Departments is the acquisition and display of Tasmanian art and decorative arts of exceptional quality and significance.

The Fine Arts collection comprises of over 20,000 items-paintings, prints, watercolours, drawings, sculpture and photography. While recognising specialist interests and concerns, the nature of contemporary art practices lends itself to TMAG curators of the Fine Arts and Decorative Arts working in collaboration in order to help build the best collection possible with the acquisition of objects of common interest. This common interest crosses the boundaries of history, theory, style, taste, imagery, materials, and technique or consists of objects whose art/craft status is open-ended (for example, ceramics decorated by painters, sculptural furniture etc.).

The Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (TMAG) is also aware of the shifting cultural alignments that characterise the twenty first century. The Fine Arts and Decorative Arts Departments are keen to reflect those developments through the acquisition and display of works of exceptional quality and significance.

SECTION 1: FINE ARTS

Overview

The State Art collection of Tasmania was established in 1889 with the opening of a new wing at the Tasmanian Museum. Initially described as the 'National Art Gallery of Tasmania' or the 'Tasmanian Art Gallery', from the beginning, public and private benefaction has been fundamental to the development of art collections at the TMAG.

The State Government has presented works by Benjamin Duterrau, Thomas Bock and W C Piguenit. Former Governors of the State, particularly Sir Ernest Clarke in the 19th century and Sir James Plimsoll in the 20th century have been very generous in their support. There have been donations from family trusts, national and local businesses and corporations, as well as bequests from interested individuals and active collectors and from artists themselves.

The acquisition of twentieth century art at TMAG did not begin in earnest until the 1950s. The Trustees of the time stated, in their art acquisition policy outline, that "the aim of the Gallery should be to build up as complete an Australian collection as possible" which was to include the work of older established artists as well as that of notable contemporaries. This continues to be the focus of TMAG art acquisition policy.

The Australian colonial collection was greatly augmented in the 1960s when many early Tasmanian works on paper were transferred on long term loan from the Royal Society of Tasmania to the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery for safe-keeping and exhibition.

Since 1978, TMAG has acquired major works of art under the auspices of the Commonwealth Government’s Cultural Gifts Program. The taxation incentives offered by the Cultural Gifts Program continues to be a significant factor in benefaction.

In 1982, The Friends of the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery was established, two years later in 1984 The Art Foundation of Tasmania was established. Both organisations provide major funding for the acquisition program. The fund-raising activities of the Art Foundation have been matched by the Tasmanian Government, initially on a dollar for dollar basis and latterly on a one for two basis. A condition of the Tasmanian Government's contribution to the Art Foundation is that 50% of their grant must be spent on Contemporary Tasmanian visual arts and crafts.

TMAG FINE ARTS COLLECTION PROFILE

For convenience, the TMAG Fine Arts Collection is divided in to six main areas of practice- Australian Colonial Art c.1790-1850; Australian Nineteenth Century Art c.1850-1900; European Nineteenth Century Art; Australian 20th Century Art (1900- 1970); Contemporary Australian Art (1970 -2007); Tasmanian Art (1900 to the present)

1.    Australian Colonial Art C.1790-1850

Collection Profile:

With an emphasis of works made in Tasmania c.1810-1850, TMAG holds one of Australia's finest collections of early colonial paintings, drawings and prints.

Key strengths:

Joseph Lycett, Richard Read Snr, John Glover, Benjamin Duterrau, Knut Bull, Thomas Bock, WB Gould, Duke, GTWB Boyes, Thomas Griffiths Wainewright, Anna Maria and Bishop Nixon, Henry Gritten,

2.    Australian Nineteenth Century Art C.1850-1900

Collection Profile:

TMAG has significant holdings of WC Piguenit, the first Tasmanian born artist of note. Many of the Heidelberg School had connections with Tasmania in particular AH Fullwood and Tom Roberts, both represented in the collection. Several very important collections of works on paper- watercolours and drawings.

Key strengths:

WC Piguenit, Haughton Forrest, Louisa Ann Meredith, Simpkinson De Wesselow, Samuel Prout, James Gould Medland, William Strutt

3.    European Nineteenth Century Art

Collection Profile:

TMAG has an extensive collection of British watercolours of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. There are also examples of British, French, German and Belgian academic subject paintings of the late nineteenth century.

Key strengths:

JMW Turner, HR Steer, Andrew Benjamin Donaldson, Philip James de Loutherbourg, Thomas Rowlandson, John Callow, Thomas Girtin, Adolphe William Bougerau, Edward Poynter, Herbert and Alfred Dicksee.

4.    Australian 20th Century Art (1900-1970)

4a. Early Modernism (c.1900-1940)

Collection Profile:

TMAG has a rich canonical representation of Australian art from 1900 to 1940. The collection includes major artists from the early modern period.

Key strengths:

Hugh Ramsay, Frederick McCubbin, Nora Heyson, Sir Hans Heyson, Margaret Preston, Roland Wakelin, Sidney Long, Arthur Streeton, George Lambert, Arthur Murch and Max Meldrum.

4b. Late Modernism (c 1940-1970)

Collection Profile:

TMAG has a rich canonical representation of Australian art from 1940 to 1970. The TMAG collection includes major artists from this heroic phase of the modern period.

Key strengths:

Works on paper, Russell Drysdale, John Olsen, Stan Rapotec, Ian Fairweather, Kenneth Macqueen, William Dobell, David Strachan, Adrian Feint, John Brack, Lloyd Rees and Margaret Olley.

5.    Contemporary Australian Art (1970 -2007)

Collection Profile:

Comprising of painting, sculpture, works on paper and photography, the TMAG collection contains a number of nationally significant works from this period.

Key strengths:

Works on paper. Peter Booth, Emily Kngwarreye, James Gleeson, Inge King, Fred Williams, Pat Brassington, David Stephenson, Gordon Bennett.

6.    Tasmanian Art (1900 to the present)

Collection Profile:

TMAG has a rich and vital collection of local Tasmanian artists both historical (c. 1840 to 1970) and contemporary (1970 onwards).

Key strengths:

Works on paper, Paul Boam, Max Angus, Lucien Dechaineaux Violet Vimpany, Michael Schlitz, Jack Carington Smith, Owen Lade, Margaret MacNiel, Dorothy Bradford, Edith Holmes, Mildred Lovett, Mabel Hookey, Isabel Oldham, Richard Wastall and Philip Wolfhagen et al.

TMAG FINE ARTS ACQUISITION POLICY AIMS OBJECTIVES PRIORITIES

Aims

The aim of the Art Department of the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery is to illustrate the history and development of Australian and Tasmanian art in all media (including painting, sculpture, prints and drawings, photography and new media, decorative arts and design, fashion and textiles) through the acquisition of works of art of exceptional quality and significance for the State collection.

Objectives

Strengthen and develop the collections of Contemporary Australian Art (1970- to the present); historical Australian Art (i.e. c. 1900-1970); Art of Tasmania (1900 to the present); Colonial and Nineteenth Century Art (1804-1900) through the acquisition of works of art of exceptional quality and significance for the State collection.

Process

•     At time of acquisition of a work, the costs associated with conservation and restoration preparation, presentation and storage be estimated and taken into consideration. Information regarding the provenance and history of the work, materials and techniques be sought and recorded.
Artists’ intentions regarding display, storage, conservation and copyright permissions be sought and recorded.

Collection Priorities (General)


•     Collect works of art of exceptional quality and significance

•     Build on current collection strengths

•     Fill gaps in chronologies, styles and media.

•     Encourage gifts of both historical and contemporary artworks and supporting material through the Cultural Gifts Program, donation and other forms of bequest.

•     Develop targeted forms of gift giving and benefaction (for example using the model of The Contemporary Collectors and Benefactors Group of the Art Gallery of New South Wales).


SECTION 2: DECORATIVE ARTS COLLECTION

Overview

The Decorative Arts collection at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery consists of over 20,000 registered items across all areas of the decorative arts, including studio crafts and design. The collection was initially drawn from the TMAG general collection. This was an eclectic mix of mainly historical items that had been donated to the Museum during the 19th and 20th centuries. Most of the collection is of Australian and British origin. While a significant proportion of this material is either Tasmanian or of Tasmanian provenance, much of it had been collected by persons travelling or working overseas in a wide variety of places.

However, there are core strengths derived from significant individual large donations such as the Lady Dry collection of artefacts from Europe and the Middle East (1907), the Guild Hall collection of British archaeological material (1939), the Pearson collection of glass-ware (1954), the Cunningham-Dax collection of pressed glass (1984) and the Easterbrook collection of Australian ceramics (1986). The Wongs’ collection of Chinese artefacts (2003-7) has provided a representation of Chinese ceramics from pre-history to the 1980s. And in 2006 the donation of the George Burrows Collection of Huon Pine Furniture, with generous assistance of the Museum of Old and New Art, has created a new collection focus for the TMAG.

From the early 1980’s, The Art Foundation of Tasmania and The Friends of the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery have contributed substantial funds for the acquisition of items in the studio crafts and colonial collections. Also from 1982 to 1988 the Crafts Council of Tasmania assisted with acquisition of studio crafts across all media.

Since 1978, TMAG has acquired major works of art under the auspices of the Commonwealth Government’s Cultural Gifts Program. The taxation incentives offered by the Cultural Gifts Program continues to be a significant factor in benefaction.

In 1999, systematic collecting was initiated with the appointment of the first qualified Curator of Decorative Arts and the establishment of the costume and studio crafts collections in particular.

SECTION 2: DECORATIVE ARTS COLLECTION

Overview

For collection policy purposes the Decorative Arts collection can be divided into 4 main areas- International and Historical; Tasmanian origin, Australian colonial; Tasmanian origin, Australian 20th century; Contemporary Australian and International.

1.    International and historical collection

Collection Profile:

The general historical collection has been built up almost entirely through donations. While the larger part of this collection division is made up of items of either Australian or British origin it also contains small numbers of items from many cultures throughout the world and from a wide range of historical periods.

1a. Ceramics

Key strengths:

The Professor Shiu Hon and Mrs Nancy Wong Collection of Chinese Artefacts provides a good representation of the historical development of Chinese ceramics from pre-history to the early 20th century. The Lithgow collection has provided an improved representation of British 19th century industrial ceramics in addition to examples from Asia, South America and prehistoric Europe.

1b. Glass

Key strengths:

The general historic glass collection comprises near 800 items, mostly of British and American origin dating from the 19th and 20th centuries. Collection includes decanters, pressed glass, decorative wares and miscellaneous items including flasks and bottles for personal use.

1c. Furniture and wood

Key strengths:

The general and historic furniture collection is small and diverse, comprising around 200 items of domestic, office, church and public furniture from the 18th through to the 20th centuries. A focus collection of chairs has been developed in this area.

1d. Metalwork and jewellery

Key strengths:

This collection is small and very broad. The collections of British silver and 19th and early 20th century jewellery are the strongest: but there are items from ancient Rome, mediaeval Europe, India, China, and the Middle East.

1e. textiles

Key strengths: Mostly comprised of household items and domestic handicrafts such as embroidery and lace.

2.    Tasmanian Origin, Australian Colonial

Collection Profile:

Comprising items made in Australia, and in Tasmania in particular, in the 19th century. By far the largest part of the collection is furniture, followed by a small collection of commemorative silverware, textiles and functional ceramics.

2a. Ceramics

Key strengths:

Very rare, the collection of early colonial ceramics is small and consists of functional objects made in various potteries in Hobart and southern Tasmania. There is a large collection of industrial ceramics from the two major Launceston-based Tasmanian manufacturers, Campbells and McHughs.

2b. Furniture and wood

Key strengths:

The Hamilton Inn Sofa, significant holding of Huon pine furniture, 1830- 1900 (The MONA State Collection of the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery. Collected by Mr. George Burrows).

2c. Metalwork and jewellery

Key strengths:

A significant collection of Tasmanian made commemorative silver, including the Champion Cup and the Garrett Salver.

2d. Textiles

Key strengths:

Tasmanian made samplers; convict made christening gowns, 1840s Commemorative Regatta Flag.

3.    Australian Twentieth Century

Collection Profile:

Comprising items including some Australian artists, but with a stronger representation of Tasmanian artists. The main collection areas have been studio craft and Tasmanian social history.

3a. Ceramics

Key strengths:

Australian studio ceramics representing all major styles and most significant potters, including early Tasmanian potters Maude Poynter and Mylie Peppin; major Australian potters such as Milton Moon, Col Levy, Alan Peascod, Gwyn Hanssen Pigott.

3b. Glass

Key strengths:

A number of items from the early 1970 through to the early 1980s by Richard Marquis, Les Blakebrough, Richard Kay and Con Rhee.

3c. Furniture and wood

Key strengths:

Early Tasmanian Arts and Crafts movement, Dora Walch, Vera Whitesides and Sarah Squire Todd. Furniture designed and made by Clement Meadmore, Tasmania folk furniture, furniture by significant Tasmanian makers David Ralph, John Smith, Peter Adams and Kevin Perkins.

3d. Textiles

Key strengths:

The Ada Grey Wilson collection of Lace; Art textiles 1970 – 1990.

4.    CONTEMPORARY AUSTRALIAN AND INTERNATIONAL (1970- )

Collection Profile:

Comprising predominantly Tasmanian studio crafts that have been acquired over the last thirty years. The strongest areas are contemporary ceramics and international table ware.

4a. Ceramics

Key strengths:

Collection representing most significant Tasmanian and Australian potters: Stephen Benwell, Hermie Cornelisse, Sandra Black, Jenny Orchard, Peter Rushforth. Small collection of international studio ceramics (Bernard Leach, Colin Pearsopn, Michael Cardew); the Profiles collection of tableware.

4b. Glass

Key strengths:

Works representing most of the significant development is contemporary Australian studio glass (Ben Edols & Cathy Eliot, Simon Butler, Clare Belfrage, Richard Clements, Tony Hanning)

4c. Furniture and wood

Key strengths:

Tasmanian studio furniture maker (Linda Fredheim, Mark Bishop, Ann Harry)

4d. Textiles

Key strengths:

Work by Tasmanian textile artists, Penny Malone, Petra Meer, Rosemary O’Rourke

TMAG DECORATIVE ARTS ACQUISITION POLICY AIMS OBJECTIVES PRIORITIES

Aims

The aim of the Decorative Arts Department of the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery is to illustrate the history and development of Australian and Tasmanian decorative arts in all media through the acquisition of works of exceptional quality and significance for the State collection. The department also seeks to develop an international collection.

Objectives

Strengthen and develop the Decorative Arts collections divided into International and Historical; Tasmanian origin, Australian colonial and later 19th century; Tasmanian origin, Australian 20th century; Contemporary Australian and International.

Process

•     At time of acquisition of a work, the costs associated with conservation and restoration preparation, presentation and storage be estimated and taken into consideration. Information regarding the provenance and history of the work, materials and techniques to be sought and recorded.

Artists’ intentions regarding display, storage, conservation and copyright permissions to be sought and recorded.

Collection Priorities (General)

•     Collect works of exceptional quality and significance

•     Build on current collection strengths

•     Fill gaps in chronologies, styles and media.

Encourage gifts of both historical and contemporary works and supporting material through the Cultural Gifts Program, donation and other forms of bequest

•     Develop targeted forms of gift giving and benefaction (for example using the model of The Contemporary Collectors and Benefactors Group of the Art Gallery of New South Wales)