Justene Williams Santa was a Psychopomp (still)

Justene Williams Santa was a Psychopomp (still), 2014. Museum of Contemporary Art and Tate,purchased jointly with funds provided by the Qantas Foundation 2019, image courtesy and (c) the artist

The Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Tate and Qantas have today revealed the fourth round of artworks in the International Joint Acquisitions Programme for contemporary Australian art. Three new artworks have been jointly acquired into the MCA and Tate Collections, with funds supported by Qantas, giving Australian artists more visibility around the world.

The three new works acquired include a large-scale ochre painting, The Leap/Watershed (2017) by Aboriginal artist Dale Harding; an historically significant early white abstract painting, Untitled (1968) by Robert Hunter; and a large-scale installation incorporating found and domestic materials and a video projection, Santa was a Psychopomp (2014) by Justene Williams. All three works are on display from today at the MCA in Sydney.

Since the International Joint Acquisitions Programme was launched in 2015, the initiative has allowed the MCA and Tate to acquire 23 works by 16 leading contemporary Australian artists. Several of these works have already been on display in the collections galleries at both institutions. Works by pioneering Australian artists such as Gordon Bennett, Susan Norrie and Juan Davila have travelled to the UK to be shown in Tate’s galleries, with further plans underway to show works by Ian Burn in 2020 and Richard Bell in 2021.

Museum of Contemporary Art Australia Director, Elizabeth Ann Macgregor OBE, commented:

“This kind of collecting is of critical importance to the Museum as we seek to ensure that our collection continues to grow and Australian art is seen on a global scale. It is extremely important to place Australian artists in an international context and have their work held in such significant collections.”

Maria Balshaw, Director of Tate, said:

“We are very excited to welcome these three artists into Tate’s collection for the first time, joining the many others whose work we have acquired jointly with the MCA through the support of Qantas. This programme is part of a long-term transformative change here at Tate, collaborating with colleagues around the world to deepen our understanding of international contemporary art and tell new transnational art histories.”

Qantas Chief Customer Officer Vanessa Hudson said the airline’s partnership with the MCA and Tate provides global exposure for Australian artists:

“It’s part of our role as the national carrier to champion the best of Australia and we’re proud to enter a fourth year of partnership with the museums to continue growing awareness of Australian art on the global stage.”

Made possible through a $2.75 million corporate gift from the Qantas Foundation, this ground-breaking collaboration is enabling an ambitious five-year joint programme through which a range of major artworks by contemporary Australian artists will be acquired for the collections of MCA and Tate, co-owned and on display at the MCA in Sydney

The International Joint Acquisitions Programme for contemporary Australian art is now in its fourth year of the five-year program.

Dale Harding, The Leap/Watershead 2017

Harding was born in 1982 in Moranbah, Queensland. He is a Bidjara, Ghungalu and Garingbal man who currently lives and works in Brisbane, Queensland. The Leap/Watershead was made with two types of ochres, applied to the canvas using a device through which the artist blew the pigment onto the surface, a technique that goes back to ancient rock art traditions. Its title refers to a location in the Mackay region of Queensland that carries personal and historical significance for the artist. The Leap was the site where a large group of Aboriginal people died fleeing an attack by Queensland Native Police in the 1860s. Harding’s extended family hold an oral history connected with this place and these events.

Justene Williams, Santa was a Psychopomp 2014

Williams was born in 1970 in Sydney, New South Wales, the artist currently lives and works in Brisbane, Queensland. In Santa was a Psychopomp, Justene Williams creates a simulated snowdome out of found materials, props, domestic objects and a video projection. As with all of her work there is a personal element to this project: It is part of a suite of installations that reference the artist’s father and his passing. She pays homage to the German dada* artist Kurt Schwitters (1887–1948) and his idea of ‘Merz’ (creating a new whole out of fragments).

Robert Hunter, Untitled 1968

Hunter was a leading exponent of minimalist painting in Australia in the 1960s and 70s. He was born in 1947 in Melbourne, Victoria, where he lived and worked up until his death in 2014. Untitled is one of 13 white paintings that formed Robert Hunter’s first solo exhibition at Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne in May 1968. In these works, Hunter created subtle colour shifts in the near white surfaces through a composition of an underlying grid disrupted by repeated arcs and circles. This first major body of work established the guiding principles that would sustain his career spanning almost five decades. Hunter said that these first paintings were ‘about absolute simplicity’, and described the paintings as ‘not expressing nothingness’ but instead ‘using nothingness.’

To see the full list of artworks acquired by the International Joint Acquisitions Programme visit, www.mca.com.au/artists-works/collection/mca-tate-and-qantas-acquisitions/

For more information please email pressoffice@tate.org.uk or call +44(0)20 7887 8730.
High-res artwork images are available to download here.