ACU Art Collection: A New Perspective
Australian Catholic University
‘Works of art are critical to the university experience – inspiring intellectual curiosity, fuelling the imagination and enriching campus life,’ writes Caroline Field, ACU Collection Curator. ‘A New Perspective’ showcases 66 of the compelling works in the ACU’s collection, revealing their importance and that of the Collection as a whole, for those on the campus equally to those outside of it.
Dating from early medieval to contemporary works and representing a wide range of disciplines, genres and mediums, the ACU Collection is described as being built ‘to exalt religious resonance and fire the imagination; to expand artist representation and support emerging artists; and, to ensure diversity of artists and artistic practice.’ The Collection and the richly illustrated book features traditional religious art, contemporary artworks, and objects of historical and religious significance. Exemplary pieces by Australian artists such as Karen Mills, Nonggirrnga Marawili, Louise Tuckwell, Belem Lett, Rosslynd Piggot, Angelina Pwerle, Pippin Drysdale and Mary Tonkin fill the pages of the book and attribute greatly to the home-grown talent of the Collection.
The works featured are accompanied by essays by a number of authors – ranging from academics, curators, gallerists, historians, clergymen and women, to artists and arts writers, who provide insights and allow the Collection to be appreciated from various intellectual, theological and cultural viewpoints. As Field writes, ‘Such collaboration promotes not only a deep understanding of the Collection, but also of humanity, religion and spirituality as they are expressed through visual art.’
Covering the book and invoking a stained-glass quality is Robert Moore’s multi-dimensional oil painting Rose Robbin (2016). Director of the Office of the Vice-Chancellor and President ACU, Simone Chetcuti, who has overseen the University’s art curatorial facility since its establishment in 2017, explains in the accompanying essay that the work ‘encourages wonder in the viewer’.
Channelling this wonder and letting it flourish into academic discovery is the crux of the core tenets of the Collection. As an extension of these principles, Chetcuti champions the role of the individual collaborating with the systematic collective and writes ‘Individuals view art in different ways – taste, preference and personal experience all contribute to how we respond to a work of art. That art speaks to us in different ways is one its greatest pleasures.’