Fortuna: New gifts and loans to the Art Collection

Exhibition dates: 22 February - 13 April 2006


This exhibition featured new gifts and loans to The University of Sydney Art Collection. Visually compelling, the works were diverse and ranged from contemporary painting and sculpture to ancient Chinese ceramics. The youngest artist, Melbourne born Kylie Stillman, created her imaginative piece Tamarack, 2005, by carving a tree into a stack of old Encyclopaedia Britannicas. The work raises questions about the cataloguing of species and natural history, along with the role of books in communicating ideas.


Two of Australia’s most prominent contemporary artists who are renowned for their abstract tendencies, Marion Borgelt and Aida Tomescu, have given generously to the collection. Tomescu’s gift of six works gives an in-depth perspective on the relationship between her printmaking and painting. Borgelt’s Mnemona III is part of a series of paintings that draw on the landscape and feminist ideas of the body. An earlier work by Tony Tuckson, one of Australia’s most important abstract painters of the preceding generation, creates a powerful composition out of swirling thick black lines. It provided a strong contrast to Borgelt’s mediative canvas.


The gaiety of couples dancing in the Western style and the new modernity of the city of Kobe, are some of the lively subjects featured in the woodblock prints of Kawanishi Hide that were on display in Fortuna. These prints made in the early 1930s provide us with a glimpse of traditional and modern Japanese life and capture a sense of immediacy in their depiction of cosmopolitan life.

The oldest and rarest gift in the show was a painted pottery vessel from the Chinese Neolithic period donated by Dr Peter Elliott. This small decorated earthenware vessel is characteristic of Yangshao pottery of north western China.

With the on-going generosity of sponsors and donors the Art Collection is able to represent the continuing story of Australian art and the history of the University. This exhibition celebrated our good fortune. The University continues to be blessed by the Roman goddess of plenty Fortuna.

Captions: Kylie Stillman, Tamarack, 2005, 44 x 28 x 23cm, carved books, purchased 2005 Marion Borgelt, Mnemona, 1995 oil and pigment on linen, gift of the artist through the Cultural Gifts Program

Kawanishi Hide, Dance hall, 1935, colour woodcut, University of Sydney Art Collection, M J Morrissey Bequest Fund 1984, in memory of Professor A.L. Sadler, 2005.