Almanac: The Gift of Ann Lewis AO

Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, 8 December 2009 18 April 2010
Curator: Glenn Barkley

Left to right: Richard Dunn,  1919 , 1985; Mikala Dwyer,  Wall sculpture , 2002. Museum of Contemporary Art, donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program by Ann Lewis AO, 2009. Installation view,  Almanac: The Gift of Ann Lewis AO , MCA, 2009. Image courtesy and © the artists

Left to right: Richard Dunn, 1919, 1985; Mikala Dwyer, Wall sculpture, 2002. Museum of Contemporary Art, donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program by Ann Lewis AO, 2009. Installation view, Almanac: The Gift of Ann Lewis AO, MCA, 2009. Image courtesy and © the artists

About the exhibition:

Almanac: The Gift of Ann Lewis AO provided an extraordinary road map of Australian art practice over the preceding fifty years, shaped by the vision of one of Australia’s best regarded collectors and art supporters. This exhibition presented the generous donation made by Ann Lewis to the Museum of Contemporary Art in 2009. As a result of Ann’s roles as a collector, philanthropist and gallerist, visitors to the exhibition could enjoy a collection of works brought together through a unique personal vision. It also included a selection of Ann Lewis’ gifts to Newcastle Region Art Gallery and Moree Plains Gallery, as well as earlier gifts to the University of Sydney’s Power Collection, the precursor to the MCA Collection, which the MCA manages for the University.

Almanac mapped changes in taste and influence, styles and ideas, through a personal collection of depth and currency. It included a range of artworks from different times and locations, beginning with a work from 1953 by Sydney based abstract artist Ralph Balson, to paintings by Aboriginal artists from remote communities.

A diversity of materials and approaches were included in this exhibition, from Hany Armanious’ hotmelt sculpture that solidified the negative spaces of various wine glasses, to works by Rosalie Gascoigne and Neil Roberts that used found objects which carry the traces of their history. Recent works by leading artists from Aboriginal communities such as Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Dorothy Napangardi and Mirdidingkingathi Juwarnda Sally Gabori brought long standing cultural traditions into the present. Ann Lewis was one of the first advocates of Aboriginal art in Australia, a further reflection of the important role she has played during recent Australian art history.

Assembled as a private collection, this exhibition revealed the deep relationships Ann Lewis enjoyed with many of the artists. The end result was a fascinating showcase of her personal networks both in Australia and abroad.

Artists in the exhibition: Hany Armanious, Ralph Balson, Curley Barduguba, Ian Burns, Robert Ambrose Cole, Timothy Cook, Richard Dunn, Mikala Dwyer, John Firth-Smith, Mirdidingkingathi Juwarnda Sally Gabori, Rosalie Gascoign, Ann Hamilton and David Ireland, Callum Innes, Kitty Kantilla Kutuwulumi Purawarrumpatu, Robert Klippel, Emily Kami Kngwarreye, Ildiko Kovacs, Rosemary Laing, Jon Lewis, Marrirra Marawili, George Milwulurrurr, Rosella Namok, Dorothy Napangardi, Jimmy Ngalakurn, Bobby Barrdjaray Nganjmirra, Robert Owen, Gloria Petyarre, Robert Rauschenberg, Neil Roberts, Lola Ryan, Ricky Swallow, Walala Tjapaltjarri, Turkey Tolson Tjupurrula, Victor Vasarely, Wukun Gathinikpa Wanambi, Judy Watson, Louise Weaver, Judith Wright, Timothy Wulanjbirr, Anne Zahalka



Museum of Contemporary Art Australia: 8 December 2009 – 18 April 2010 
New England Regional Art Museum: 18 Nov 2011 – 5 Feb 2012
Wagga Wagga Art Gallery: 9 Mar – 29 Apr 2012
Tweed River Art Gallery: 11 May – 24 Jun 2012
Newcastle Art Gallery: 25 Aug – 11 Nov 2012