Out of the Darkness: Prints and Drawings from The University of Western Australia Art Collection
Ethel Spowers, Harvest, 1932, linocut, The University of Western Australia Art Collection, University Senate Grant, 1982
Many of the works within this exhibition have not seen the light of day for many years. Works on paper represent a large percentage of the collection’s holdings but because of their fragile nature they are not shown to the public on a regular basis. As in most art museums, large numbers of prints and drawings remain stored in specially designed archival storage boxes due to their number and the vulnerability of the paper medium. This exhibition attempts to make accessible many works which have not been displayed during the Gallery’s 20 year history.
Following some intensive restoration the Gallery has now presented this range of Australian and international prints and drawings from the late nineteenth century to the late twentieth century, many of which focus on key Modernist movements and styles ranging from Cubism, Surrealism, Social Realism and Geometric Abstraction.
There are many familiar names in the show, although the works themselves are less well known. Highlights in the exhibition include a group of five etchings from the 1920s by Marc Chagall, completed for the illustration of an edition of Nikolai Gogol’s nineteenth century tale of Russian life, ‘Dead Souls’; key Australian modernist prints and drawings by Thea Proctor, Adelaide Perry, Ethel Spowers, Margaret Preston, Dorrit Black and Frank Hinder; and a series of American prints from the 1930s including works by American artists Reginald Marsh, Frank Mechau, John Marin, Rockwell Kent, Spanish-American artist Federico Castellon, and Mexican artist Miguel Covarrubias.
Curator of the exhibition, Dr Sally Quin says that visitors will were impressed by the vast array of works from the UWA art collection that are on display. “There is such an eclectic mix of prints and drawings in this exhibition that there was something to appeal to all visitor’s tastes,” Dr Quin said. “It’s been such a pleasure to work on this exhibiton as I have had the privilege to see works that have been locked away in safe-keeping for so long, or indeed have been restored, and to now be able to share those with West Australian audiences is very exciting, “ she said.