Universities unite for bushfire relief art exhibition

Abstract painting by Gareth Samson
Sanguine Head (detail). Gareth Sansom, 2003.

Leading artists from the staff and alumni communities from four Victorian universities have donated their artworks for a bushfire relief charity exhibition.

Led by the University of Melbourne’s Victorian College of the Arts (VCA), Art Schools for Fire Relief will feature works by more than 100 artists from the University of Melbourne, Monash University, Deakin University and RMIT, including some of Australia’s leading contemporary artists.

Works by Louise Weaver, Peter Booth, Kathy Temin, Rick Amor, Patricia Piccinini, John Nixon, Sally Smart, Gareth Sansom, Patrick Pound, Louise Hearman are among those donated.

The exhibition will run for three days, from 30 January to 1 February at the University of Melbourne’s Margaret Lawrence Gallery in Southbank. An online catalogue goes live on 28 January and sales will be open from 30 January – 1 February via phone and in person at the gallery, with 100 per cent of the proceeds going to Gippsland Emergency Relief Fund and Wildlife Victoria to support their work.

VCA Director Jon Cattapan said the initiative is an example of the University of Melbourne’s convening power, leadership and collaboration in providing community support.

“All across Australia, the arts community is rallying together to support those impacted by the devastating bushfires. I’m very pleased that our Faculty’s art academics in collaboration with our peers from the other Universities and alumni have got right behind this effort,” Professor Cattapan said.

“There is a convening strength that is being well utilised here to bring four esteemed university art schools together in an effort to provide bushfire support for affected communities and wildlife.

“I’ve been overwhelmed by the response of the visual arts community in aid of a cause which affects us very all deeply. Many of us know people who have lost homes and the impact on our wildlife is chilling. So we want to do something, we share a common goal, and this is one small way we can help make a positive difference.

“In these situations, artists are incredibly generous, as are my University of Melbourne colleagues who have volunteered their expertise in putting all this together.”

With prices starting from $500, many members of the public will be able to contribute to the bushfire relief effort, Professor Cattapan said.

“This exhibition demonstrates the unique role that art, artists and leading art schools can play when they come together in collaboration for a common purpose,” he said.

Professor Kathy Temin, Head of Monash University’s Department of Fine Art and a contributing artist, says the appeal is an opportunity to raise awareness about climate change and bushfires.

“As artists and academics, we are concerned by devastation that climate change is causing,” Professor Temin said. “We want to immediately support the people, communities and wildlife that have been so devastatingly affected by these extreme bushfires.

“This appeal is an opportunity to draw attention to climate change, buy some great art work and provide much needed funds to help affected communities to rebuild their lives.”

Find out more about the exhibiting artists and the exhibition.

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