UTS Launches The Watters Gift

The largest single donation to the UTS Art Collection is a snapshot of Australian art practice over five decades.

Words: Donnalyn Xu

UTS Gallery & Art Collection has launched The Watters Gift, a digital and print publication that celebrates the single largest donation to the UTS Art Collection in its 30-year history. The publication and series of online events will celebrate 67 works by 27 Australian artists gifted to UTS by one of Australia’s most influential gallerists, Frank Watters.

Watters Gallery, established in 1964 by Watters and co-directors Geoffrey and later Alexandra Legge, was one of Australia’s longest-running commercial galleries. In 2018, it closed its doors after 54 years of supporting Australian artists.

“Many of the artists included in Frank Watters’ gift to UTS went on to become some of Australia’s most critically acclaimed, while Watters Gallery paved the way for the arts scene in Sydney as we know it today,” says UTS Curator Stella Rosa McDonald.

Curated by Tania Creighton, the collection features works by Micky Allen, Susan Andrews, George Barker, John Bartley, Roger Crawford, Neil Evans, Vivienne Ferguson, Joe Frost, Peter Godwin, Rew Hanks, David Hawkes, Catherine Hearse, Jumaadi, Hendrick Kolenberg, Richard Larter, Jasper Legge, Euan Macleod, Chris O’Doherty, John Peart, Jon Plapp, Evan Salmon, Ken Searle, Paul Selwood, Tony Tuckson, Ruth Waller, and Max Watters.

Coinciding with the launch of The Watters Gift is a series of musical performances Soundscapes, a sonic response to the artworks by UTS Ensemble in Residence, the Australian Piano Quartet. Soundscapes will be scheduled weekly from 1 June, and will be available on the UTS Gallery & Art Collection website and social media channels.

As a compendium of visual and musical artworks, The Watters Gift commemorates Frank Watters’ generosity, and provides a vibrant history of Australian art practice. “Frank Watters’ legacy and that of Watters Gallery feels particularly poignant,” says McDonald. “It reminds us that art – sometimes difficult and always humanising – is the deepest expression of our culture and is worth protecting.”

ARTICLE UPDATE: Watters passed away peacefully on 21 May 2020. One of the gentle men of the Sydney art world, he will be dearly missed.

Image: Richard Larter, Pat #15 and Pat #27. Courtesy: the artist and UTS Gallery, Sydney.

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