Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA)
27 Apr 2007 to 12 Aug 2007
John Barbour, Daniel Boyd, Rose Farrell & George Parkin, David Griggs, Fiona Lowry, Andrew McQualter, Jess MacNeil, Todd McMillan, Kate Murphy, Nell, David Noonan, Patricia Piccinini, Ben Quilty, Lynne Roberts-Goodwin, Louise Weaver
New Acquisitions 2007 was an exhibition of works recently acquired for the Museum of Contemporary Art’s permanent collection that celebrated the material and conceptual diversity of Australian art today. Like its predecessors, New Acquisitions 2007 was not built around one thematic premise: rather, it brought together selected works that explored multiple concerns through painting, watercolour, sculpture, photography, film and video.
In 2006-7, acquisitions for the MCA collection built upon its holding of film and video works by young and emerging Australian artists, with purchases of work by Sydney artists Todd McMillan, Kate Murphy and Jess MacNeil. The acquisition of projection works by Melbourne artists David Noonan and Patricia Piccinini further expanded the Museum’s moving-image collection and Noonan’s haunting, Gothic-style film of owls at night was augmented by a silkscreen created especially for the Museum.
Painting formed a focus for acquisitions with works by Daniel Boyd, Jess MacNeil, Ben Quilty and former Primavera artists David Griggs and Fiona Lowry. From Lowry’s subtle air-brushed application of paint to Quilty’s chunky, textured oils, and from the politically-charged messages of Boyd and Griggs to MacNeil’s fragmented travelogue, a range of methods and ideas was explored. Louise Weaver’s delicately crocheted Oracle Fox was a significant new sculptural addition to the MCA collection. Other recent acquisitions by John Barbour and Nell engaged with manual techniques such as stitching and beading, and unconventional ‘painterly’ materials such as silk and sequins. Farrell & Parkin’s photographs instead featured the artists within hand-constructed theatrical environments inspired by classical and Renaissance texts.
New Acquisitions 2007 introduced a significant new commission by Melbourne artist Andrew McQualter, in the form of a large-scale watercolour painted directly onto the gallery wall. Created only for the duration of the exhibition, this work was designed to be re-made in years to come according to templates provided by the artist. Challenging the idea of permanency and what an art museum ‘typically’ collects, McQualter’s work continued the MCA’s tradition of collecting instruction-based works.
A distinguishing feature of New Acquisitions 2007 was the global reach of its participants. While the artists featured were Australian, a number had travelled and worked abroad through artistic residencies and fellowships in the previous two years. Jess MacNeil’s works responded to time spent in India in 2005, while Lynne Roberts-Goodwin’s photographs of endangered falcon populations were made during the artist’s travels in the United Arab Emirates and wider Gulf region. Opening up new ideas and opportunities for cultural engagement, travel positions Australian contemporary artists alongside their international peers, as part of a wider global dialogue.