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The Laverty Collection

Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA)


20 Jun 1998 to 23 Aug 1998


Peter Booth, Sonia Davis, Ida Penangke Enalanga, Irene Mpetyane Entata, Lorna Naparrula Fencer, Rosalie Gascoigne, Paddy Jaminji, Esther Ngale Kennedy, Robert Klippel, Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Richard Larter, Allan Mitelman, Eubene Nampitjin, Susie Bootja Bootja Napaltjarri, Lucy Yukenbarri Napanangka, Mati (Bridget) Mudjidell Napanangka, Tjemma (Freda) Napanangka, Mintja Nungurai, Lucy Loomoo Nungurrayi, Henry Nupurra, Gwyn Hanssen Pigott, Marie Celine Porkalari, William Robinson, Virginia Mpetyane Rontji, Michael Taylor, Freddy Timms, Fred Tjakamarra, Sunfly Tjamptjin, Uta Uta Tjangala, Mick Namarari Tjapaltjarri, Tony Tuckson, Peter Upward, Dick Watkins, Maggie Napangardi Watson, Ken Whisson, Gali Yalkarriwuy


Sue Cramer

about the exhibition

Brought together by Dr Colin and Mrs Elizabeth Laverty, The Laverty Collection was one of the largest and most diverse collections of contemporary Australian art. Its main focus was Australian art since the 1960s, including paintings from the 60s and 70s, works by younger artists, sculptures, ceramics and other objects. In the late 1980s the Lavertys began collecting Aboriginal art, a collection which grew substantially as they began to gain an understanding of its complexity and depth. The collection is now most well known for this selection of Aboriginal works.

Elizabeth Laverty’s preference was for figurative art, including Richard Larter who was represented in this exhibition with a number of works. The Lavertys often collected works by the same artist, in different mediums, reflecting their loyalty to artists and a long term commitment to evolving bodies of work.

The MCA’s co-directors in 1998, Bernice Murphy and Leon Paroissien, invited the Lavertys to exhibit selected works from their collection, and curator Sue Cramer chose works which highlighted the many facets and strengths of the broad-ranging collection. Cramer’s curating allowed a dialogue to be created between the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal works in the collection. This dialogue was founded on similarities in gestural mark making and in shape and colour. The connective tissue of visual markers exposed the ability of art to transcend cultural difference.

This exhibition had a focus on the themes of abstraction and landscape, and included paintings by Peter Booth, Michael Taylor, Tony Tuckson, Peter Upward and Dick Watkins, who were among the first artists Dr Colin Laverty collected, inspiring a life long passion.

Dr Colin Laverty was a highly respected medical practitioner who was most well known for discovering the link between the human papilloma virus and cervical cancer. In 2012 the couple decided to sell a significant tranche of their extensive collection to, as Elizabeth Laverty said, 'set them free’ from storage. In 2013, Dr Colin Laverty passed away.

The Lavertys were committed to growing their diverse collection and also to making it available for public display. Pieces from the collection were regularly lent to public galleries, and the Lavertys also donated key pieces to state and national institutions regularly, including the MCA.