The CCWA may accept donations of artworks to the collection through the Ministry of the Arts Cultural Gifts Program, provided they fit within acquisition parameters.
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Cruthers Collection of Women's Art
The Cruthers Collection of Women’s Art (CCWA) at The University of Western Australia is Australia’s largest specialist collection of women’s art.
A dynamic program of exhibitions drawing from the CCWA can be viewed year-round in the Lady Sheila Cruthers Gallery, a dedicated space within the Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery.
This interest expanded into a collection strategy she referred to as ‘the artist and her work’ – Lady Cruthers would collect an artist’s work in addition to a self-portrait, with the two works often hung side by side in the family home. Now housed at the University of Western Australia, the Cruthers Collection of Women’s Art holds over 100 self-portraits, many collected as a result of this strategy.
The Artist and Her Work utilises this unusual juxtaposition to showcase the breadth and depth of women’s art practice, replicating the dense and vibrant hanging style of the collection’s original domestic context.
Pairs of works will be exchanged throughout the exhibition period to create a dynamic collection showcase that will reward repeated viewing.
Image: Tania Ferrier, Self Portrait (detail), 1985, oil on board, 41.5 x 54.5cm, CCWA 625. Cruthers Collection of Women’s Art, The University of Western Australia. © Courtesy the artist
The Cruthers Collection of Women's Art (CCWA) is founded upon a substantial gift made by Sir James and Lady Sheila Cruthers to the University of Western Australia in 2007. Lady Sheila Cruthers and her son John began building a collection of women’s art in the 1970s, focusing primarily on portraiture and self-portraiture and as well as key areas such as modernism, post-modernism, feminism and abstraction.
Decades of passionate advocacy and support for the art of Australian women have resulted in a diverse, eclectic and distinct collection and a significant contribution to the history of Australian art.
The CCWA includes works from the 1890s to present day in a variety of media. It features well-known historical figures and prominent contemporary artists as well as a host of significant, yet under-recognised practices.
The CCWA continues to expand through focused acquisition. It aims to contribute to and challenge dialogues about Australian women’s art through exhibition, teaching, research and publication.
Erica McGilchrist, The Abandoned (Kew Mental Hospital), 1954, oil on board, 92 x 69cm. CCWA 974. Cruthers Collection of Women's Art, The University of Western Australia. Donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program by Phillip Boulten. (c) Courtesy the artist's estate.
The Abandoned (Kew Mental Hospital) is one of an important series of paintings and drawings produced during McGilchrist’s 18 month period as an art instructor at the Kew Mental Hospital.
About the production of the ‘Kew Mental Hospital Series’, she writes:
In 1953-54, my sympathy and identification with the `dispossessed’ (perhaps the product of a rootless childhood and a marriage that didn’t offer me a sense of final belonging or true bonding) led me to establish art `classes’ (`art therapy’ was not yet a word to describe such activity) at Kew Mental Hospital in Melbourne, at the invitation of Dr Cunningham Dax, then Director of Mental Hygiene, an Englishman with a special interest in psychotic art and the potential value of pictorial expression as an aid to diagnosis and treatment of certain mental illnesses… The `dispossessed’ - or `possessed’ - were concentrated there in hundreds, perhaps thousands. Kew Hospital was a prison where patients who had been classified as `incurable’ were collected, waiting for death to release them. A series of works on what I saw and experienced at Kew was inevitable.”
The Cruthers Collection of Women's Art is generously supported by SHEILA A foundation for women in visual art.
(The foundation was previously the Cruthers Art Foundation (CAF) established by the Cruthers family in 2006.)