Friday, 14 March 2008

One of Australia's largest and most significant collections of women's art has been donated to The University of Western Australia.

Noted philanthropists and art collectors Sir James and Lady Sheila Cruthers have donated their private collection of around 400 works of women's art made over the past century.

The University of Western Australia's Vice-Chancellor, Professor Alan Robson, said the University was delighted the Cruthers family had chosen the University as a permanent home for their collection.

"We are honoured by Sir James and Lady Sheila's donation of their very significant private collection," Professor Robson said.  "The University has many Western Australian benefactors, including within the arts.  However, their donation is a truly generous one.  It will allow the collection to remain intact and accessible to the public and will assist the University in its goal of achieving international excellence in the arts."

Sir James and Lady Cruthers' son John, who has had a long association with the University, said his family wanted to ensure the collection would be housed and cared for correctly.

"Our decision has been based on the knowledge it is going to a good home - one that will take care of it, use it and make it accessible to the public on a regular basis," he said.  "With the University, we feel we have found a relationship that works for both parties."

The works, collected by Lady Sheila since 1974, includes many paintings, but there are also works on paper, craft objects, sculpture and installations.  The multi-million dollar collection includes more than 50 self-portraits.

Ranging from the 1890s to the present, the collection features major works by leading artists such as Grace Cossington Smith, Margaret Preston, Joy Hester, Grace Crowley and Clarice Beckett.  Contemporary artists featured include Rosalie Gascoigne, Susan Norrie, Narelle Jubelin, Tracey Moffatt and Julie Dowling.

Gallery Director John Barrett-Lennard, said the Cruthers Collection of Womens' Art was nationally important and will generate international interest.

"It is a unique collection, reflecting nearly a century of women's art in Australia as well as the passion and vision of its founders," he said.  "It will complement and extend on the University's Art Collection, which has great works by Australian women artists, though not the range and diversity of, or with the sense of cultural and social history that is in the Cruthers Collection."

The Cruthers family have established the Cruthers Art Foundation to maintain the collection, purchase new works and support women's art through scholarships.  The University will appoint a curator for the Collection and develop a dedicated exhibition space.

The gift will be officially received at an event at UWA's Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery at 5.30pm on Wednesday, March 19.

Media references

John Cruthers  0433 020 237
John Barrett-Lennard 61 8  6488 3715  /  0438 930 271
Janine MacDonald (UWA Public Affairs)  61 8  6488 5563 / 0432 637 716


Media Statements — University News