STOARC came into being in mid-2008 with the acquisition of a highly significant and unique collection of work by the Portuguese artist, José dos Santos (1904-96) thanks to the philanthropy of Sydney curator and collector Peter Fay. The collection was assembled by Rogelio Vallejo and Hugh Adams from the artist and his heirs. Dos Santos spent his entire life close to Arega, the small village in which he lived and worked. He could neither read nor write and was completely self-taught as an artist. Yet, in the last years of his life he produced amazing, powerful sculptures. Vallejo has said: ‘I believe that José dos Santos teaches us all much about the nature of creativity, particularly when exercised in adversity. Although knowing nothing about art, he freely and inventively used found materials, giving his creatures expression in a way that is an example to everyone.’
The STOARC collection received another significant gift in 2009, when Stuart Purves, Director of the Australian Galleries generously donated the bulk of his collection of work produced by artists from Arts Project Australia in Melbourne. It represents a decade of passionate collecting, and includes work by important figures such as John Northe, Alan Constable, Dorothy Berry, and Lisa Reid. The collection of nearly 200 works had spent much of the previous two years touring as ‘Pearls of Arts Project Australia’, and was accompanied by a substantial catalogue of individual artists from Australia and overseas.
Other artists represented in the STOARC collection include Leigh Blenkinsop, Slim Barrie, Colin Korovin, Albert Louden, Rosemarie Koczÿ, Annemarie Grgich, and Gérard Sendrey.
Image: José dos Santos, installation views, Callan Park Gallery, 2009
Photo: Colin Rhodes