Words: Rose of Sharon Leake
Six new works by five Australian artists – John Mawurndjul AM, Bonita Ely, Vivienne Binns, Nicholas Mangan and Peter Kennedy – have been acquired by the Tate, London and Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA), Sydney as part of their International Joint Acquisition Program for contemporary Australian art. The new acquisitions were made possible due to the Tate/MCA partnership, introduced in 2015, as a result of a corporate financial gift from Qantas. The partnership enables both museums to expand their collections each year, bringing the work of Australian artists to new global audiences.
The new acquisitions include an early bark painting, Buluwana, Female Ancestor (1989) by Kuninjku artist John Mawurndjul AM; a recording of an early performance work, Jabiluka UO2 (1979) by Bonita Ely (represented by Milani Gallery, Brisbane); a single-channel video work, A World Undone 2012 by Nicholas Mangan (represented by Sutton Gallery, Melbourne); an abstracted landscape painting, The Aftermath and the Ikon of Fear (1984–5) by Vivienne Binns (represented by Sutton Gallery, Melbourne); and two multimedia installations, Snare (1972/2019) and But the Fierce Blackman (1971/2011) by Peter Kennedy, (represented by Milani Gallery, Brisbane).
Museum of Contemporary Art Australia Director, Elizabeth Ann Macgregor OBE, said: “This partnership between the MCA and Tate is extremely important as it places contemporary Australian artists in a global context. Tate Modern’s upcoming exhibition is a ground-breaking moment for the partnership, but more significantly, for the artists’ whose works are being placed into this significant context.”
Since the inception of the program, 29 artworks by 21 artists have been acquired into the Collections of Tate and MCA, promoting Australian art globally and helping Australian artists reach new audiences. The five artists join a group of esteemed Australian artists – among them Gordon Bennett and Helen Johnson – whose work has been acquired as part of this ambitious program.
Featured image: Bonita Ely, Jabiluka UO₂ (still), 1979. Single-channel digital video transferred from analogue video, colour, sound, 13:23 minutes, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia and Tate, with support from the Qantas Foundation in 2015, purchased 2020. Courtesy: the artist.