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Museums and Collections
 
e-news


August 2018

Welcome to the latest issue of e-news from The University of Melbourne Museums and Collections. This electronic newsletter is circulated each month and provides information on current exhibitions, events and news items from the University’s museums and collections. For details of the individual collections explore the Museums and Collections website.

News

2018 IMAC Award recipient from Birmingham to join us at Melbourne

Alice O'Rourke, the UK recipient of the 2018 International Museums and Collections Award (IMAC Award), will commence her placement with the Museums and Collections Unit in early August. Currently completing her Masters in Art History and Curating at the University of Birmingham, Alice is very much looking forward to her four week placement at the University. During her stay, Alice will work on a variety of collection management and curatorial projects across a selection of the University of Melbourne’s collections, including the Baillieu Library Print Collection, VCA's School of Film and Television Archive and the School of Chemistry Collection. She will also enjoy project work with the Grimwade Centre for Cultural Materials Conservation. The program will provide Alice with the opportunity to develop and apply her professional skills within the collections sector.    

Applications for the 2018 IMAC Award are currently open for the reciprocal part of the exchange, which will enable a Melbourne student to travel to the University of Birmingham early next year. For more information visit the IMAC Award website.

Alice's cultural adventures at Melbourne can be followed via her blog.

Image: Christine O'Loughlin, Cultural Rubble, 1993. University of Melbourne Art Collection. Commissioned by the University of Melbourne with funds provided by the Ian Potter Foundation 1993

New issue of University of Melbourne Collections now available

The latest issue of University of Melbourne Collections is now out and includes a broad range of articles exploring the University’s many rich and varied museums and collections. Find out the story behind Melbourne’s latest contemporary art space with the cover story on Buxton Contemporary and how the University's Classics Archaeology Collection is inspiring secondary students in the Goulburn Valley.   Other highlights include articles about the Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, the Computing and Information Systems Heritage Collection, the Architecture, Building and Planning Library Rare Materials Collection and much more.

Contact the Museums and Collections Unit for details on how to purchase copies. Join the Friends of the Baillieu Library and receive two complimentary issues annually.

Image: Cover image of the latest issue of University of Melbourne Collections

A ride to Heaven or to Hell? A new Dutch broadsheet in the Baillieu Library Print Collection

A bizarre wagon surmounted by a seven-headed beast makes its way across the centre of a tumultuous image. The grotesque central motif of this 1621 broadsheet must have lured the reader to look at its bizarre details and to read the text below, or to listen to someone else read it aloud. Viewers of the time would immediately have associated this scene with the seven-headed beast of the Apocalypse in the New Testament Book of Revelation, and have understood that this was a work of political and religious propaganda.

As the title tells us in a sly piece of satire, this is a Roman (i.e. Catholic) version of a “ride to Heaven”. It is a satirical title because the passengers will all, in fact, find themselves delivered into the doorway to Hell overseen by the monstrous figure of Lucifer. The text below purports to record a three-way discussion outside a print shop, offering a commentary on many of the figures in the scene. A key with letters at the end of the text offers further help in decoding each satirical allusion. The broadsheet was produced in the context of bitter battles between Protestants and Catholics in Europe, and in particular Protestant Dutch animosity to Spanish Catholics during the intermittent Dutch Revolt, which took on new vigour in 1621. More

Image: The Roman Ride to Heaven (Romsche hemel vaert) published by Anthoni van Salingen, 1621. Baillieu Library Print Collection, University of Melbourne. Purchased, 2018

Significant collection on history of the Australian Left to be made available for research

In August 1968, the Soviet Union sent troops into Czechoslovakia to end the liberalising regime of Alexander Dubcek; the incident and its aftermath became known as the Prague Spring. The events in the Soviet bloc were part of an international wave of uprisings and movements throughout 1968 that would have a profound impact on the Australian Left. The Communist Party of Australia (CPA) was one of the few in the international movement to publicly condemn the Soviet action. CPA leader Bernie Taft knew Dubcek personally and was instrumental in convincing the Party to take such a stand.

On the 50th anniversary of the Prague Spring, the University of Melbourne Archives is pleased to announce the opening of the Bernie Taft collection. The collection contains over 100 boxes ranging from the 1950s to the 1990s, comprising correspondence, personal notes, movement documents and much more. It will be one of the most significant collections on the history of the Australian Left to become available for research in recent years. 

To mark these events, the University of Melbourne Archives and the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies will be hosting a free public symposium looking at the legacy of 1968, Bernie Taft and other political collections held in the Archives. More
 
Image: Bernie Taft addressing listeners at Yarra Bank in Melbourne on behalf of the Communist Party, c.1960s. Communist Party of Australia, Victorian State Committee Collection, University of Melbourne Archives 

Melba sings Grainger’s Colonial Song 

Nellie Melba and Percy Grainger performed together only twice, both times in the context of fund-raising for the WWI War Effort in America. Both Grainger and Melba were deeply committed to using their talents for this cause. Exploring this relationship, Grainger Museum Curator Heather Gaunt found another Australian fund-raising connection with Melba singing Grainger’s Colonial Song.

Composed as a gift for his mother, Rose, Colonial Song (1911-1914) was written to express Percy’s ‘personal feelings about my own country (Australia) and people, and also to voice a certain kind of emotion that seems to me not untypical of native-born Colonials in general’. Its patriotic flavour contributed to the audience’s delight when Nellie Melba got up from her seat in the audience at a WWI Red Cross fundraiser in Melbourne in 1917, unannounced, and began singing the song. More

Image: Baron Arpad Paszthory, Madame Melba, c.1902-4 Grainger Museum Collection, University of Melbourne

Connecting collections at Manchester and Melbourne

An exciting project afoot is a collaboration between the University of Melbourne and the University of Manchester to connect these two geographically distant, culturally rich collections. Face-to-face encounters have already taken place between scholars and special collections staff through two workshops: Manchester in July 2017 and Melbourne in April 2018. These workshops saw specialists come together and exchange ideas about the endlessly interesting works of art, books, textiles, maps and objects located in these cities.

The collections are currently being brought together in a virtual space through the ongoing development of a new Connecting Collections website. The site explores the collective’s first major research theme of ‘Foreign Bodies.’ Every month a different collection object is featured, and this month it is the 1597-1601 engraving by Francesco Villamena, Blind man with remedy for corns (Cieco da rimedis per i calli) from the Baillieu Library Print Collection.

Image: Francesco Villamena, Blind man with remedy for corns (Cieco da rimedis per i calli), 1597-1601. Baillieu Library Print Collection, University of Melbourne. Gift of Dr J. Orde Poynton 1959

Computing and Information Systems Heritage Collection

Dr Richard Gillespie, an honorary fellow in the University of Melbourne's School of Historical and Philosophical Studies, has been cataloguing, rehousing and adding further material to the Computing and Information Systems Heritage Collection, which captures many aspects of the history of computing at the University. This builds on the work undertaken by the Computing and Information Systems History Team over the past twenty years.

Additions to the collection include Apple computers, servers and laptops used in teaching labs and by academic staff from the 1980s to 2000s, in the engineering, science and medicine faculties. The archives, comprising department records, computing manuals, research papers and commercial innovations, have been rehoused and fully catalogued. The records include rare operational and programming manuals for early computers in Great Britain and the United States, as University of Melbourne Computation Laboratory staff established close ties with overseas colleagues.

Parts of the collection are on display on levels 7 and 8 of the Doug McDonell Building, and further items will be displayed in the new School of Engineering offices in the South Wing of the Engineering Building later in 2018, and subsequently in Carlton Connect Initiative precinct. Richard welcomes expressions of interest for projects and other potential uses of the collection.

Richard will be undertaking additional work on the other collections in the School of Engineering in the coming months, including the Electrical Engineering and Surveying and Geomatics Engineering collections.
 
Image: A 1984 Macintosh computer used in Computer Science student labs. Computing and Information Systems Heritage Collection, University of Melbourne

Composition students seeking perfection in the Grainger courtyard

A collaboration between the Melbourne School of Design, Parallel Practice, the Faculty of Fine Art and Music, SoundLab and the Grainger Museum will investigate how an open-air courtyard can be transformed into sound performance and recording space.

The central open courtyard within the Grainger Museum is a small, still space, accessible from within the Museum and almost unknown in the University. Open to the sky, surrounded by the brick structure of the heritage-listed building, the courtyard has a unique indoor-outdoor feel and an interesting acoustic. The downside of the space is uncontrolled exposure to the elements.

In 2017, the Grainger Museum began a collaboration, called Grainger Amplified, with key partners, with support from ARUP (SoundLab). The project aims to explore, in a research context, how a state-of-the-art sound performance and recording space could be created within the Grainger courtyard, while retaining the open-to-the-sky vibe. As part of this project development, the team put in a successful submission to Science Gallery Melbourne for inclusion in the forthcoming Perfection exhibition. More

Image: Grainger Museum courtyard

Events

Monkeemania in Australia 

A talk about the exhibition by its curator, Dr Derham Groves

Dulcie Hollyock Room, ground floor, Baillieu Library, Wednesday 8 August 2018, 12.00pm to 1.00pm


Dr Derham Groves will give an overview of the exhibition and its main themes. He will discuss the formation of The Monkees (Davy Jones, Micky Dolenz, Mike Nesmith and Peter Tork) for the band's eponymous TV show in the mid-1960s, at the height of the ‘psychedelic era’. He will explain why The Monkees have been depicted as surrealist glove puppets in the exhibition. He will describe some of the ‘highlights' of The Monkees’ tour of Australia in 1968, such as the ‘wild' behaviour of their local fans and the time that Davy doused a TV reporter with water and was in turn doused himself.

Derham will also discuss the popularity of Monkees merchandise and memorabilia, including what every Australian teenage girl wanted to own in 1968—a pair of Australian-made Monkees pantyhose! He will play some film clips showing The Monkees’ press conference in Melbourne and the band playing a couple of their biggest hits on The Monkees TV show. He will ponder the mystery of the Monkeemobile, The Monkees’ car, which also toured Australia in 1968, but suddenly vanished in 1969. Finally, he will put The Monkees’ tour of Australia into the political and social context of 1968, a very extraordinary year. All in all, Derham’s talk will be an hour-long dose of Monkeemania in Australia.
 
Image: Micky Dolenz puppet by Jonathan Liow

Performance: How to turn a ship around (They could say love)

Ian Potter Museum of Art, Saturday 11 August 2018, 1.00pm to 3.00pm
 
How to turn a ship around (They could say love) is a script and performance developed from email conversations with Danielle O’Brien (a Webb dock-sitter) and Josh Bornstein (lawyer at Maurice Blackburn who developed a legal strategy for the Maritime Union of Australia) in reference to the 1998 Maritime Union dispute. The double-barrelled nature of the title points to different points in history shared by the artists Sam George and Lisa Radford, the dispute and the conversations that ensued.
 
They could say love references not only the act of the union members and their families but also those that sat beside them. They could say love also references the painting Untitled (International Signal Code) 2011 by Sam George and Lisa Radford. This large painting, which was entered into the ANL Seafarers Maritime Painting Prize, riffed-off the history of abstraction by arranging a collection of flags from the international signal code for shipping which could only be read by the sailors (workers) and teachers of the code. The code in this 2011 painting reads 'We can say love'. Part celebration, part lament but also a small gesture of solidarity to what was achieved by the Maritime Union at this time.
 
Chloe Martin and Tref Gare will perform Lisa Radford and Sam George’s script in this 8 minute 8 second performance.

This public program is offered as part of the State of the Union exhibition running until 28 October 2018. 

Free event. Further information and bookings.  

Image: Sam George and Lisa Radford, How to turn a ship around (they could say love) [detail], 2018. Courtesy of the artists

Performances: Silicon ear

Ian Potter Museum of Art, Saturday 11 August 2018, 3.00pm to 5.00pm

The Web Never Forgets

Jasmine Guffond’s The Web Never Forgets traces the history of the Internet cookie. Take a look at this fascinating investigation of the origins of online automated data capture and surveillance capitalism.

Always Learning

For Always Learning, Sean Dockray stages an increasingly reflexive conversation between three devices – an Amazon Echo, a Google Home Assistant, and an Apple Homepod – about the philosophical, moral and political implications of networked machine listening (e.g. 'What should I do when I overhear a wrongdoing?'). The devices anticipate an imminent update after which they will not only understand words, but all sounds.

Join us as Dockray further expands on these listening devices and the impact of the covert collection of information and sounds and where it's all heading.

This public program is offered as part of the Eavesdropping exhibition running until 28 October 2018. 

Free event. Further information and bookings.

Image: Jasmine Guffond, The Web Never Forgets, performance view, 2018. Courtesy of the artist

Current transmissions: 50 Synthesizer Greats

Grainger Museum, Thursday 23 August 2018, 7.00pm to 9.00pm

Nite Art, in collaboration with the Grainger Museum, present a program curated by Liquid Architecture. Featuring Melbourne electronic artist David Chesworth performing 50 Synthesizer Greats, his 1978 album of simple, raw, yet mindful and charming pieces, and a newly commissioned work by Melbourne duo OK EG, aka Lauren Squire and Matthew Wilson.

Free event, no booking required.

This public program is part of the Grainger Museum's latest exhibition Synthesizers: Sound of the future running until 9 September 2018.

Image: David Chesworth performing his 50 Synthesizer Greats at the Toff in Town, Melbourne, 23 September 2017

Bernie Taft and 1968: Tanks in Prague, Turmoil in Australian Universities

Forum Theatre, level 1, Arts West, University of Melbourne, Friday 24 August 2018, 9.00am to 5.00pm


On the 50th anniversary of the Prague Spring, the University of Melbourne Archives is pleased to announce the opening of the Bernie Taft collection, one of the most significant collections on the history of the Australian Left to become available for research in recent years. To mark these events, the University of Melbourne Archives and the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies will be hosting a free public symposium looking at the legacy of 1968, Bernie Taft and other political collections held in the Archives.

Free event. Further information and bookings.

Image: Eric La Motte (photographer), Communist Party banners being carried in the 1963 May Day March in Melbourne [detail]. Communist Party of Australia, Victorian State Committee Collection, University of Melbourne Archives
 

The Universe Looks Down

Artist's floor talk by Kristin Headlam

Noel Shaw Gallery, Level 1, Baillieu Library, Wednesday 29 August 2018, 12.00 to 1.00pm

Kristin Headlam’s exhibition The Universe Looks Down derives from a University of Melbourne commission of a suite of etchings by Kristin in response to the long narrative poem of the same name by eminent Australian poet Chris Wallace-Crabbe.

Join Kristin as she provides a tour of the exhibition and speaks to her creative process in responding to the poem The Universe Looks Down.

Free event. Further information and bookings.

Image: Kristin Headlam, Like videos, the islands glided past, 2016/2017. Rare Books, Special Collections, University of Melbourne

Exhibitions at The University of Melbourne

Monkeemania in Australia

Ground floor, Baillieu Library, from Wednesday 1 August 2018

Monkeemania in Australia celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Australian tour by the American band, The Monkees, in 1968. More broadly, it also provides a snapshot of everyday life in Australia at a very eventful time in history. 1968 was a roller coaster of a year, as a series of tumultuous events—including assassinations, heroic victories in sports, a bloody war, the publication of Gore Vidal's Myra Brekinridge, a devastating famine, and the premiere of 2001: A Space Odyssey—caused people to celebrate one day and despair the next.

Monkeemania in Australia consists of an exhibition and a series of public talks by the exhibition’s curator, Dr Derham Groves, about The Monkees, their Australian tour, their eponymous TV show, their music, and their film Head (1968), a surreal masterpiece. The exhibition runs until 31 January 2019.

Image: Mike Nesmith puppet by Zhuojun Sun

The Universe Looks Down

Noel Shaw Gallery, Baillieu Library, from Thursday 23 August 2018

Kristin Headlam’s exhibition The Universe Looks Down derives from a University of Melbourne commission of a suite of etchings by Kristin in response to the long narrative poem of the same name by eminent Australian poet Chris Wallace-Crabbe. As part of this major commission, the University Library acquired the sketchbooks, preliminary drawings and watercolours which evidence the conceptual development of the 64 etchings in the completed suite. These exploratory images, as well as the prints give a rare glimpse into the creative process Kristin entered into to undertake this unique collaboration. The exhibition is accompanied by a series of talks by Kristin Headlam, Chris Wallace-Crabbe and Lisa Gorton.

Image: Kristin Headlam, The end of Horn, 2016/2017. Rare Books, Special Collections, University of Melbourne

Synthesizers: Sound of the future

Grainger Museum, to Sunday 9 September 2018

Presented by Grainger Museum and Melbourne Electronic Sound Studio

Today’s musical hackers, sound artists and digital musicians who patch and share and experiment with sound are the direct beneficiaries of innovators in electronic sound in the second half of the twentieth century. The Grainger Museum was at the heart of musical experimentation in Melbourne in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when University of Melbourne composer and teacher Keith Humble, and composer and Grainger Museum Curator Ian Bonighton ran a renegade electronic composition studio with early analog synthesizers, including the EMS Synthi 100.

The exhibition Synthesizers: Sound of the future explores this Melbourne scene and, more broadly, the evolution of the commercially produced synthesizer by EMS (Electronic Music Studios Ltd, UK) in this period. The exhibition features key instruments on loan from the Melbourne Electronic Sound Studio (MESS) and the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences. More

Image: Portable analogue synthesizer EMS VCS 3, made in 1969, at the Melbourne Electronic Sound Studio. Melbourne Electronic Sound Studio (MESS) Collection. Photograph Amber Haines

The art of healing: Australian Indigenous traditional healing practice

Medical History Museum, to Saturday 29 September 2018

The art of healing: Australian Indigenous traditional healing practice follows the premise of Tjukurrpa (dreaming). It looks at traditional Indigenous healing practice as past, present and future simultaneously. It presents examples of healing practice from the many distinct and varied Indigenous communities throughout Australia. These are shown through contemporary art practice and examples of plants and medicines.

The exhibition is accompanied by a major catalogue with the perspectives of Indigenous communities represented. The key to this exhibition is revealing that traditional Indigenous healing is a current practice informed by the past, and an intrinsic part of the life of Indigenous people in Australia. More

Image: Judith Pugkarta Inkamala, Bush Medicine, 2017. Medical History Museum, University of Melbourne
 

No one is watching you: Ronnie van Hout  

Buxton Contemporary, to Sunday 21 October 2018

This ironically titled exhibition shines a spotlight on Ronnie van Hout, a Melbourne-based New Zealand-born artist best known for his distinctive brand of existential absurdism. Bringing together works that span more than twenty years of practice, No one is watching you: Ronnie van Hout encompasses sculpture, video, photography, embroidery and text, and features major new installations.

Van Hout’s tragicomic oeuvre references a wide range of sources, from science fiction, cults and cinema to art history and popular and celebrity culture. He frequently draws upon childhood experiences and recollections to create wryly amusing yet heart-rending micro fictions. Casting fragile, lonely figures in the midst of perplexing scenarios, van Hout masterfully evokes familiar and yet strange interior worlds. His unsettling tableaux unleash deep social anxieties and feelings of self-consciousness, triggering the impulse to simultaneously laugh and cry. More

Image: Installation view, No one is watching you: Ronnie van Hout. Photograph by Christian Capurro

State of the Union

Ian Potter Museum of Art, to Sunday 28 October 2018

State of the Union explores the relationship of artists to political engagement through a focus on the labour movement and trade unions. The exhibition presents artworks that investigate industrial action and labour issues alongside the work of artists who draw upon the traditional visual strategies of protest, such as banners, posters, and collaborative actions. In addition to artworks that take trade unionism as a subject matter, the exhibition includes a consideration of artists whose practices are a form of cultural activism through which they advocate for fair working conditions, including those of artworkers.
 
This exhibition takes place at a time when unions and trades councils are working together to win back lost ground. In this moment of renewed momentum, State of the Union provides an opportunity to explore the historical relationship between art and the labour movement, and to consider how this collaborative advocacy for workers’ rights might continue into the future. More

Image: Operative Painters & Decorators Union of Australasia, Victorian Branch banner [detail], 1915. Courtesy of Museum Victoria and the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU)
 

Eavesdropping

Ian Potter Museum of Art, to Sunday 28 October 2018

Eavesdropping used to be a crime. According to Blackstone, in his Commentaries on the Laws of England (1769) ‘eavesdroppers, or such as listen under walls or windows, or the eaves of a house, to hearken after discourse, and thereupon to frame slanderous and mischievous tales, are a common nuisance and presentable at the court-leet.’ Two hundred and fifty years later, eavesdropping isn’t just legal, it’s ubiquitous. What was once a minor public order offence has become one of the most important politico-legal problems of our time, as the Snowden revelations made abundantly clear. Eavesdropping: the ever-increasing access to, capture and control of our sonic worlds by state and corporate interests.
 
Curated by Joel Stern (Liquid Architecture) and Dr James Parker (Melbourne Law School), this project pursues an expanded definition of eavesdropping; one that includes contemporary mechanisms for listening-in but also activist practices of listening back, that are concerned with malicious listenings but also the responsibilities of the earwitness. Eavesdropping is a unique collaboration between Ian Potter Museum of Art, Liquid Architecture, and the Melbourne Law School, comprising an exhibition, a public program, a series of working groups and touring event which explores the politics of listening through work by leading artists, researchers, writers and activists from Australia and around the world. More
 
Image: Athanasius Kircher, Musurgia Universalis in volume 1 of Rome by Francisci Corbelletti [detail], 1650. Rare Music, Special Collections, University of Melbourne

Liquid form: Ancient and contemporary glass

Ian Potter Museum of Art, to Sunday 28 October 2018

Liquid form: Ancient and contemporary glass celebrates the luminous medium of glass. Displaying significant artefacts from the Egyptian and Roman periods alongside the work of contemporary makers, Liquid form examines the development of faience and glass manufacture in the ancient world and demonstrates how these methods have been reinvigorated and extended in the modern era.

Highlighting the treasures in the University of Melbourne’s Classics & Archaeology Collection, Liquid Form is the first major exhibition of glass at the Ian Potter Museum of Art. The exhibition also showcases significant works from major collections around Australia, including the Australian Institute of Archaeology, Melbourne; the Dodgson Collection of Egyptian Antiquities at Queens College, the University of Melbourne; the John Elliot Classics Museum, the University of Tasmania; the RD Milns Antiquities Museum, the University of Queensland and the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne. More

Image: Egyptian necklace, 1550BCE-395CE. University of Melbourne Art Collection. Classics and Archaeology Collection. Gift of Miss D Kilburn, 1962

More exhibitions

For a full list of exhibitions and associated events at the University of Melbourne, visit the websites of the individual galleries and museums.

Ian Potter Museum of Art

Margaret Lawrence Gallery

George Paton Gallery

The Dax Centre

Science Gallery Melbourne

The Professor Sir Joseph Burke Gallery, Trinity College

Buxton Contemporary

Image: Visitors at the Ian Potter Museum of Art. Photography by Jody Hutchinson

University of Melbourne Collections

Issue 22 of the University of Melbourne Collections magazine will be available soon. Join the Friends of the Baillieu Library and receive two complimentary issues of the magazine annually.

 
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