Selected works from the UniSA Samstag Collection
An exhibition presented by the Anne & Gordon Samstag Museum of Art in the Kerry Packer Civic Gallery, University of South Australia 24 February – 4 March 2010.
The University of South Australia's Samstag Collection consists of works by Samstag Scholars, recipients of the prestigious Ann & Gordon International Visual Arts Scholarships. Since first established in 1992, over one hundred artists have been awarded scholarships. The exhibition and accompanying catalogue presents a small selection from the growing number of works held by the University in its Samstag Collection. It reveals the University as a confident and innovative supporter of the contemporary visual arts, and illustrates the diversity and imaginative strengths that characterise emerging Australian art practice and the Samstag alumni. Drawing richly from an expanded view of the world, the Samstag artists challenge and engage us with explorations of the unknown, or portrayals of everyday realities, intertwined with ambiguities. Catalogue (PDF file, 402kb)
Fiona Hall art commission
In the world we inhabit today, we are all too aware that intelligence and creativity can take many forms, and that the fostering of multifarious ways of thinking and tackling problems and theories is of the utmost importance in our schools and universities – Fiona Hall 2006
Different Forms of Intelligence is a public art work of exceptional imagination, by revered South Australian artist, Fiona Hall, and prominently displayed in a specially crafted glass 'vitrine', on the corner of Fenn Place and North Terrace, the Hawke Building's public entrance.
Commissioned by the University – with support from the Government of South Australia through Arts SA – Ms Hall's thought provoking and iconic work of art presents a powerful symbolic welcome to this landmark educational building.
In Different Forms of Intelligence, each of the five platonic solids (tetrahedron, octahedron, cube, icosahedron and dodecahedron) is represented physically in the form of a brain, whose physiognomy has been altered to conform to the shape of each of the solids. The five 'platonic brains' are made from different materials – bronze, wood and marble. A sixth sculpted form in the ensemble of works is an anatomical depiction of a human brain, cast in lead glass.
Fiona Hall lectured at UniSA's School of Art for many years, and she continues to live and work in South Australia, though her practice and reputation is now international in its dimensions. Hall is especially admired for the great originality of her art and for her masterful skill with wide-ranging materials. Her work is represented in all Australian state galleries and features regularly in exhibitions in Australia and overseas.
Fiona Hall was assisted by artisans Tony Bishop, who carved the marble and tetrahedron forms; Paul Westra, who cast the bronze octahedron, icosahedron and dodecahedron; and Deb Jones, who cast the glass depiction of the brain.
On ABC Radio's Jewel of the Crown series, Erica Green discusses the public art work by Fiona Hall, Different Forms of Intelligence, a commission by the Samstag Museum for the opening of the new Hawke Building. Listen to or download the transcript
Songs of Australia Volume 3, At Home
Songs of Australia Volume 3, At Home was conceived by Aleks Danko specifically for the city centre entrance to the University of South Australia. It acknowledges other, pre-university educational institutions: little schoolhouses, and suburban homes.
Young graduate artist Danko, already an interstate success, left hometown Adelaide in 1972 for Sydney and, later, Melbourne. Re-visiting from a distance crystallizes ideas, and memory. As his houseproud parents aged – they died in 1994 and 1995 – the son began to make art about his formation by parentage, school and place.
'What are you doing boy?', 1991, was a rage-red schoolroom installation, a constructed memory of Saturday classes held behind a tin-shed Russian Orthodox church. 'As you know we are pensioners, day in day out, twenty-four hours closer to death' (RUSSIAN HUMOUR) ALEKSANDER DANKO SENIOR, Adelaide 1991 was a blue-lit floor of autumn elm leaves from which rose a tall, tapering steel plinth surmounted by a tiny plaster model of a house; an inward-looking parents' dream of their native Ukraine. Day in Day out (second version) was a floor filled with dozens of the houses, cast in aluminum; a field of factory-fodder working parents. Teasing, deadpan, those two-faced miniature houses were the model for At Home.
Clothed in brick, and enlarged to life size, there's something wrong. The proportions echo the personal space, of creativity and secrets, given to the sculpture student; the galvanized-iron garage behind the family home at Edwardstown. In Danko's art carnivalesque transgressions inhabit the elegant sobriety of plain, readymade forms and materials. At Home is a shed that masquerades as a house.
The Songs of Australia began in 1996, triggered by present day Coalition and One Nation politics. Volume 1 was Caring, Comfortable and Relaxed. Volume 3 – At Home, conceived in 1997, by completion had five more companions. Volume 7 (this is as good as it gets) was a performance, 20 May 1999 at Adelaide's Experimental Art Foundation, in which two facing walls of blindfolded people and poster slogans muttered at each other and then give way to a children's choir singing The Song of Australia, the 1859 national anthem composed in Adelaide. The sixty-eight present-day mutterings of ready-made slogans included 'In your dreams', 'Black armband white blindfold', 'Uh-Oh the Chinese are coming', 'And yes, God did have a sense of humor', 'I'd rather die laughing, than be married alive' – and 'Bricks of uncanny beauty'.
Danko's art of sardonic jokes, very simple but very mysterious at first sight, grows on us as we get the double, triple and multiple takes. At Home will exercise and shape the minds of those who encounter it in this highly charged place of interface between a city, an arts centre and a university. Those minds will shape present-day Australia.
Daniel Thomas AM, June 1999
Songs of Australia Volume 3, At Home is a major sculptural work by Aleks Danko commissioned by the University of South Australia. At Home is located at the University's City West campus (adjacent to the Yungondi Building in the Lion Arts Centre courtyard).
Aleks Danko was born in Adelaide in 1950. He attended Edwardstown Primary School, Marion High School and then from, 1967-70, the South Australian School of Art, North Adelaide. In 1971 he was awarded the Transfield Prize for Sculpture, following which he moved to Sydney and then later to Daylesford, Victoria, where he lives with Jude Walton.
At Home – a physical place
At Home – a state of being, one of comfort, being at ease
At Home – a repository of memories, first experiences, discovery, and learning about our place in the world; at home (sic!)
This image of the house/home transplanted from its State of Suburbia acts as a conduit between two sites of learning – the private and public experiences of our development as individuals within society.
Our rites of passage are continually inscribed within these two locations as we oscillate between home and school.
Both are particular vantage points where ongoing critique re-evaluates our certainties and uncertainties of the environments (s) around us
Hopefully we are open in our reappraisal. Allowing ourselves to daydream, to reflect and make poetry of our memory
With its reception, this architectural sign/symbol will afford us a measure of reflection; in its seeming constancy, evoke, yet mutely question our reverie…it is a house we may have built on a beach…and then witnessed its departure as the tide took away the last grain of sand…elemental…yet transient…
We are constantly reimagining its reality… – Aleks Danko, 1998
Image: Wandjuk Marika, Clan design, c. 1970, natural ochres on bark, 128 x 53 cm irreg., Max Hart Collection, University of South Australia, © estate of the artist, licensed by Aboriginal Artists Agency 2009
Hayden Fowler, Second Nature v 2008, chromogenic photograph on fuji flex, Samstag Scholar 2008
Fiona Hall, Different Forms of Intelligence 2007, bronze, marble wood cast glass, vinyl and fluorescent light 3.97 x 5.90 x 4.20, University of South Australia Art Collection, image © the artist. Photograph by Samuel Noonan
Aleks Danko, Songs of Australia Volume 3, At Home 1999, University of South Australia Art Collection, image © the artist. Photograph by Michael Kluvanek