With a timeline stretching back to the 1920s, this major survey of artworks by the Yolŋu peoples of north-east Arnhem Land represents three generations of the Milingimbi, Ramingining and Yirrkala communities. Presented in the 400sqm temporary gallery, Gululu dhuwala djalkiri reveals the clan lineages, inheritance, and continuities within 100 years of Yolŋu culture. Stories of land, knowledge and ceremony highlight the connections stretching back over millennia and into the Dreamtime.
This exhibition examines a broad group of artists’ profoundly different responses to the space where land meets sea. Over centuries, artists have represented the sea’s changing appearance and meaning – sometimes as part of a journey, sometimes as a site of contact, contemplation or pleasure. Today, with rising sea levels and eroding shorelines, the coastline has become a highly charged space demarcating potential zones of conflict and loss. Coastline draws on the University Art Collection and features artists including Grace Cossington Smith (pictured), Arthur Streeton and J W Power.
Trade, wonder and order drove human interest in collecting animal specimens in the nineteenth century. As museum collections formed and grew they had an immense impact on how we understand the world today. The Natural Selections exhibition draws us into the study of natural history and how museum collections continue to contribute to our understanding of species, their classification and their geographic distributions.
Renowned Indigenous Australian artist Daniel Boyd will present a new project, the first in a series of commissions that invite contemporary artists to engage with the University’s collections. Boyd’s installation reflects upon the origins of the museum as a product of the Enlightenment. He will present selections from across the museum’s diverse collections, displayed within a mirrored installation to reveal the multiplicity of meanings contained within a single object.
The commercial opportunities of photography were quickly realised in 19th century New South Wales. Then a new technology, Sydney’s first photographic studio opened in 1842 and commercial photographers soon established an ongoing presence as populations and prosperity grew after the 1850s gold rushes. From the small-scale travelling photographer with a portable darkroom to large-scale industrial enterprises by the end of the century, this exhibition draws from the historic photography collection to examine the role of the commercial studio in 19th century Australia.
Fragments of identity can be traced in broken and incomplete sculptures, ceramics, and mosaics. Featuring objects from our collection of Roman antiquities, Roman Spectres examines portraiture and funerary inscriptions to discover poignant glimpses into individual stories from the vibrant ancient Roman world.
Image: Marble head of a woman
Roman, 1st century AD
The Hon R P Meagher bequest, donated 2011, Nicholson Collection.
Ancient Egyptians believed in life after death, but only if their bodies were preserved in a lifelike form. Mummification was a practical response to this spiritual problem. This permanent display presents the coffins and mummies of four people who lived in Egypt between 1000 BC to AD 100. The latest technology, including CT imaging, provides new insights into these ancient objects, helping us to understand more about each mummy – their age and beliefs, even their medical conditions.
Featured image (top of the page): From Coastline, Emanuel Phillips Fox, On a French beach c.1909. Oil on board, 25.3 x 33 cm, Neville Holmes Grace bequest, 2018.