EDITORIAL: UNIVERSITY ASIAN ART COLLECTIONS
Paul Donnelly, Guest Editor
Collections are a consistent and essential feature of universities. Most conspicuous, of course, are their libraries which often include rare items valued as much for their aesthetic appeal as their contents. To these can be added institutional archives and departmental teaching collections that are the consequence of accumulated research material, project outcomes or objects used by generations of passionate academics to instruct and inspire students. And then there are the publicly accessible museums and galleries that often owe their origins from all these sources and have developed into independent professional institutions.
Locally and internationally, campus museums and galleries are in the ascendancy. Institutions are enjoying new and expanded premises to support teaching and to better share collections with a broader audience. The opening of the Chau Chak Wing Museum at the University of Sydney is the most recent Australian example of this renaissance of university collections and is the subject of an article in this issue by David Ellis and me.
The multi-layered, complex origins of university collections are a core theme that binds the articles in this issue, demonstrating why they differ from other cultural collections. This is discussed by David Ellis and Shuxia Chen from the perspective of the Asian material at the Chau Chak Wing Museum. In addition to generous bequests, many Asian related objects originally resided within faculties, a legacy of Asian studies having been taught at the University of Sydney for more than 100 years. Academic relationships driving cross-institutional influences can be another inspiration behind collections, as shown in Pam Watson’s paper on the University of New England’s Museum of Antiquities (UNEMA).
Library based university collections offer much to this issue. At the University of Melbourne Library, Xiaoju Liu and Lauren Ellis focus on one aspect of its East Asian Special Collection of around 20,000 Chinese and Japanese items: an almost complete set of the magazine Meishu shenghuo (Arts and Life) that offers an insight into 1930s middle class aspirations of urban China. Remaining in the University of Melbourne, Robyn Sloggett’s ‘reading’ of the Middle Eastern Manuscript Collection shows the deeply personal stories that bind this material through the devotion and intellect of collectors and scholars across the centuries. As a university resource they have been the subject of numerous postgraduate theses.
Philip Goad and Naomi Mullumby elaborate on how the Architecture Building and Planning (ABP) Library collection at the University of Melbourne is the product of a strong relationship between staff, students and librarians. It includes unpublished student theses and research reports demonstrating a direct engagement with the Asia Pacific region and a research culture that generated new knowledge in traditional and contemporary Asian architecture.
Japan has its own focus in this issue. Emily Kang tells us about the Japan Art Catalogue (JAC) project at the University of Sydney. Fisher library is the only recipient in the southern hemisphere of donations of Japanese art catalogues from the National Art Centre, Tokyo (NACT) and is a unique resource for what is happening in the Japanese art world. Ann Stephen at the Chau Chak Wing Museum invited Judy Annear and Reuben Keehan to discuss two significant Japanese artists from its collection of modernist and avant-garde art works, largely shaped by the Dr M J Morrissey bequest established in 1984 in memory of Arthur Lindsay Sadler, then Professor of Oriental Studies. Morrissey had studied Japanese under Sadler in the thirties and it inspired his interest in ukiyo-e woodblock prints, also the subject of a review by Madeline Reece of a small group of late 18th century bijinga (pictures of beautiful women), part of a large collection of ukiyo-e prints gifted to Flinders University Museum of Art (FUMA).
Collecting to increase understanding with Asian neighbours underpins two articles. Sofie Nielsen and Michael Houston discuss the less well-known Asian component of the Berndt Museum of Anthropology at UWA. The Berndts’ engagement with Asian cultures, especially their interest in pre-European contact and exchange between neighbouring peoples of Asia and those along the northern coast of Australia is echoed by Charles Darwin University’s (CDU) increasing commitment to cross-cultural engagement with Southeast Asia, as demonstrated in Kellie Joswig’s article on the CDU’s Art Collection.
I am very grateful for this opportunity provided by TAASA. The opening of the Chau Chak Wing Museum has been an excellent opportunity to survey the splendid and diverse collections of Australian universities that contribute to the intellectual and cultural life of students, staff and the broader public.
Dr Paul Donnelly is Deputy Director, Chau Chak Wing Museum
3 EDITORIAL: UNIVERSITY ASIAN ART COLLECTIONS - Paul Donnelly, Guest Editor
4 CHAU CHAK WING MUSEUM, THE UNIVERSITY OF SYDNEY - David Ellis & Paul Donnelly
6 CHAU CHAK WING MUSEUM’S ASIAN COLLECTION: THE CHINA GALLERY AND ITS INAUGURAL EXHIBITION AUSPICIOUS - David Ellis & Shuxia Chen
8 JAPANESE LATE MODERNISM IN THE CHAU CHAK WING MUSEUM - Ann Stephen, Judy Annear & Reuben Keehan
11 BEYOND THE TIMOR SEA: ASIAN ARTWORKS IN THE CHARLES DARWIN UNIVERSITY ART COLLECTION - Kellie Joswig
14 ACROSS PLACE AND TIME: ‘READING’ THE MIDDLE EASTERN MANUSCRIPT COLLECTION AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MELBOURNE - Robyn Sloggett
17 ENGAGING ASIA: ARCHITECTURAL STUDENT THESES AT THE ABP LIBRARY COLLECTION, UNIVERSITY OF MELBOURNE, 1960-1980 - Philip Goad & Naomi Mullumby
20 BEHIND THE KIMONO SLEEVE: UKIYO-E COLLECTION AT FLINDERS UNIVERSITY MUSEUM OF ART - Madeline Reece
22 TO AFFINITY AND BEYOND: ACTIVATING THE ASIAN COLLECTIONS AT THE BERNDT MUSEUM OF ANTHROPOLOGY, UNIVERSITY OF WESTERN AUSTRALIA - Sofie Nielsen & Michael Houston
24 ARTS AND LIFE: A COLOURFUL TREASURE IN THE EAST ASIAN SPECIAL COLLECTION, UNIVERSITY OF MELBOURNE - Xiaoju Liu & Lauren Ellis
25 COLLECTIONS AND CONNECTIONS: MUSEUMS OF ANTIQUITIES LINKS - Pam Watson
26 EXHIBITIONS ACROSS TIME AND SPACE: THE JAPAN ART COLLECTION PROJECT, EAST ASIAN COLLECTION, THE UNIVERSITY OF SYDNEY LIBRARY - Emily H. Kang
28 RECENT TAASA ACTIVITIES
29 WHAT'S ON: DECEMBER 2020 - FEBRUARY 2021
30 TAASA MEMBERS' DIARY: DECEMBER 2020 - FEBRUARY 2021