This section provides a brief outline of some of the artists who have material by or about them held at UMA
Researchers are advised to search for individuals by name in both the catalogue and digitised items search boxes on the UMA homepage, as well as searching for organisations they were involved with, or other people associated with their practice. Another helpful resource is the editorial archive of literary journal Meanjin. This journal featured the work of Australian artists alongside literary work and may provide researchers with a new insight into an artist’s relationships within the Australia Art scene.
Whilst archival records of Australian artists can be found at UMA, these records comprise mainly of documents relating to their practice. Artwork is held mainly at the Ian Potter Museum of Art and other galleries and cultural collections at the University.
Works of art had been collected by individual academics at the University, and donations and bequests ensured continued growth throughout the decades. One such donation was a collection of 19th century Australian paintings provided by alumnus, doctor and art patron, Dr Samuel A Ewing. The Ewing Gallery was established in the Union building in 1938. In 1971 Kiffy Rubbo was appointed director of the Ewing Gallery and Rowden White Library and began a programme of changing exhibitions funded by the Student Union. From 1974 funding also came from the Visual Arts Board of the Australia Council. In that year a meeting room was converted to the George Paton Gallery and it merged with the Ewing Gallery. Operating during a time of experiment and creative freedom, mainly the 1970s and 80s, the gallery was at the cutting edge of the art scene.
It wound up at the end of 1990 after the withdrawal of Student Union funding. The Ewing Collection is now housed at the Ian Potter Museum of Art.
The rest of the University’s collection was scattered around the faculties until 1966 when the Vice-Principal, R.D. Marginson in collaboration with Professor Joseph Burke established the Works of Art Committee which used a trust fund to begin a modest program of acquisitions as well as consolidating and cataloguing the existing collection.
The Melbourne College of Advanced Education Gryphon Gallery was established in 1972 as part of the Melbourne CAE with the aim to provide professional space for the display of work, whilst also exposing students to current developments in the visual arts - an important alternative to commercial galleries. The gallery ceased to operate in the early 1990s. UMA holds a small collection of programs for, and invitations to, exhibitions at the gallery.
Rasmussen, C. and Richmond, M. (2003). Key 74: Fine Arts in the Post-war University, Keys to the Past https://archives.unimelb.edu.au/resources/keys-to-the-past/keys/key-74
Ward, G. (2013, October 31). Recent exhibition, Creativity & Correspondence: The George Paton Gallery Archive 1971-1990 and other images from the archive. Archives and Special Collections https://blogs.unimelb.edu.au/librarycollections/2013/10/31/selected-images-from-recent-exhibition-creativity-correspondence-the-george-paton-gallery-archive-1971-1990-and-other-images-from-the-archive/
One of the earliest original artwork held at UMA is by Kwatkwat artist Tommy McRae (c.1835-1901). Two ink drawings are housed within the Foord Family collection.
The bulk of material at UMA however, relates to the European centric post-colonial art scene. The following list is an introduction to some of the artists of 20th century; researchers are advised to use the search functions to locate specific artists or topics.
Germain Greer’s Women Artists series
The Women Artists series in the Germaine Greer collection consists of 32 units of publications and research files compiled by Germaine Greer on women artists from antiquity to contemporary practice. This research was originally undertaken for 1979 publication The Obstacle Race: the Fortunes of Women Painters and their Work, although Greer maintained the files up into the late 1990s.
Geoffrey Hogg is credited with pioneering the concept of community art to Australia, working on the Lygon Street Mural, Carlton, the first of many public arts projects. Other work includes the Melbourne Museum Station Mural, and a Victorian Trades Hall Council Art Workshop banner project to paint banners for unions.
The Norman Macgeorge collection holds records of his personal work including travel diaries, recollections of National Gallery Art School, lectures on various topics/issues in art, exhibition programmes and reviews. Correspondence files with other artists ranges from 1914-1951. Bromide prints of ballet dancers that illustrated his book, “Borovansky ballet” can found amongst prints and pictures Macgeorge used to illustrate lectures on art history.
A key figure in art education and advocate for the value of art in early childhood development, Frances Derham was also an artist in her own right, studying with artist George Bell (1931, 1939-1941, 1948-1951), Mary Cecil Allen (1923, 1936, 1950, and 1960) and Ludwig Hirschfield-Mack (1959).
Ludwig Hirschfeld-Mack was a student at the Bauhaus Arts School on Berlin where he obtained a graduate diploma in lithography in 1924 and delivered the first dedicated course on colour at the Bauhaus in 1922-23. He remained there until 1926 and conducted experiments in light projection, developing the "Farbenlichtspiele" (colour-light play), a demonstration of the application of colour theory.
The collection is comprehensive. It contains correspondence with other Bauhaus artists (1936- 1972), material relating to exhibitions of works by Hirschfeld Mack (1946-1962), the Colour Light plays (1920s-1964), photographs and slides (1927-1962), and material relating to, or by, other Bauhaus artists (1946-1961).
University of Melbourne Archives, (2019). Ludwig Hirschfeld-Mack and the Bauhaus Movement, Archives and Special Collections