The Ian Potter Museum of Art Miegunyah Student Project Award 2019

The Ian Potter Museum of Art Miegunyah Student Project Award scheme gives University of Melbourne students the opportunity to research a work, or small group of works from the diverse holdings of the Russell and Mab Grimwade ‘Miegunyah’ Collection, from the perspective of their study area. 2019 Awardees included students from Architecture, Art History, Criminology, Fine Arts and Sociology, who responded to their selections from this diverse Collection with virtual reality, animation, an art installation and post-colonial and psycho-geographical perspectives. Their research summaries and other creative outcomes can be viewed below.

‘It was a pleasure working with everyone at the Potter. It was such a valuable project in terms of practicing our unconventional interdisciplinary dialogue and working in a professional gallery context.’

– Cameron Hurst and Dominique Tang

Works on Paper, Works on Screen: Recalibrating hierarchies of people, buildings and land in Toorak and The Melbourne ClubDominique Tang, Master of Architecture, Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning | Cameron Hurst, Bachelor of Arts: Art History, School of Culture and Communication

A spotless Toorak mansion gleams in front of a genteel trio, beating back a frame of wiry trees. The Melbourne Club’s stately facade is sprinkled with a few horse-and-cart figures, with some measly foliage to the side. A field of digital points tower over you. There is a pillar from Toorak here, a window from the Melbourne Club there, but it all seems messier, more organic. Through a virtual reality artwork, an architect and an art historian collaborate to examine two works on paper in the Russell and Mab Grimwade ‘Miegunyah’ Collection: Conrad Martens’ Toorak (1860) and Arthur Willmore’s The Melbourne Club (1862)How can we use the digital to explore the ontologies that underpin visual representations of the early colony? And even as we use technology as a tool for critical examination, how does it replicate the ontologies of the past? Our work examines how borders and hierarchies between people, buildings and land echo from 1860s ‘Marvellous’ Melbourne to Naarm/Melbourne today.

A Landscape is a Psychogeographic Time-Machine: An exploration of 19th Century Melbourne’s atmospheres through three works in the ‘Miegunyah’ Collection | Hunter Reyne, Bachelor of Arts with Honours, School of Culture and Communication

Here I discuss the atmospheres captured in, and generated by, three landscapes in the Russell and Mab Grimwade ‘Miegunyah’ Collection, seen through the critical lens of psychogeography. In psychogeography, movement through space is argued to be the primary state of being. Thus, these artworks are not static objects constrained to their time. They reflect a deeply subjective atmospherics, emanating a precise and tangible feeling for the viewer, compelling them to move through their environment and to react in unintentional and delightful ways. Through this method, informed by Juliane Rebentisch’s aesthetics of openness, the spatial dialectics of Gaston Bachelard, and Peter Sloterdijk’s spherological studies, I undertake speculative investigations into Melbourne’s historical atmospheres as seen through the ‘Miegunyah’ Collection. I gain insight into the violently industrialising spaces of the period, but also exciting and empathetic modes of perception and embodiment for the contemporary viewer.

Noblesse Oblige. With Privilege Comes Obligation. An intergalactic, alien remix and mash-up of the Grimwade Collection’s: A catalogue of the different specimens of cloth collected in the three voyages of Captain Cook in the southern hemisphere. | Fiona Martin GCVA VCA, Faculty of Fine Arts and Music

This project endeavours to capture the historic and political gravitas of the tapa cloth specimen catalogue in the Grimwade Collection, Rare Books Collection, University of Melbourne Library. It hints at the magical realism of this fragile book as a site of wonder for the 18th Century reader and a Deleuzean/Guattarian ‘zone of indiscernibility’ for the contemporary readerThe complexity of the book’s textual and aesthetic content is equated with the conundrum faced by present-day white Australians along a non-linear cycle of colonisation. My artistic outcome is an allegory and a pastiche; fanciful and ekphrastic, which I hope will incite your own conjecture. I invite you to cast your mind into a distant future. The year is 2379, a young polymer colloid scientist from the planet > (Greaterthan), travels to a post Drone-War Earth to collect samples of precious late 21st Century domestic-use plastics. A specimen book is created which will reside in stasis for millennia, in an intergalactic library. A tome filled with anecdotes, specimens and poetry, stained with the author’s personal and cultural overlay. The voice of the Earthling is diminished, unrecognised and unaccounted for, apart from what emanates from between the lines and the energy held within the clipped and edited specimens contained within the book.

Hold Your Tongue, Sir: an investigation into Governor Bligh being hauled out from under a bed | Jen Valender, Bachelor of Fine Art Honours (Visual Art), Faculty of Fine Arts and Music

This project investigates the provenance of a propaganda cartoon acquired by the Ian Potter Museum of Art in the Sir Russell and Lady Grimwade bequest, titled Untitled (The arrest of Governor Bligh) (c.1890) featuring the arrest of Captain William Bligh, Governor of the Colony of New South Wales from 1806 to 1808. The image depicts a contested account of the only successful armed takeover of government in Australian history and is, in itself, a representation of rebellion against early colonial censorship. The researcher has elected to include a creative response alongside this report, seeing imagery from the cartoon interwoven with witnessed accounts of the arrest, presented in a digital diorama. The project aimed to uncover what is known about further copies of the caricature and the motivation behind its commission. This investigation rests upon the pivotal question: was Governor Bligh really hauled out from under a bed?

Criminology and the Constructed Australian Identity: a postcolonial perspective | Ella Howells, Bachelor of Arts: Criminology and Art History, School of Culture and Communication 

The Russell and Mab Grimwade ‘Miegunyah’ Collection, specifically the works Bushrangers, Victoria, Australia, 1852 (1887) by William Strutt, and Captain James Cook F.R.S (1784) by engraver James Tookey after artist William Hodges, provide an opportunity to consider how penal colonisation contributed to the evolution of Australian culture, to the present day. A postcolonial perspective will be applied in this project to unpack the multiple effects of British imperialism, including cultural genocide, incarceration of Indigenous populations, and the contrasting, enduring valorisation of the White Australian outlaw settler identity. The British backgrounds of Strutt and Tookey establish the colonial lens, using European techniques that came to define a strain of Australiana which enshrines their subjects with an air of cultural significance. The history represented by these artworks, among many others in the ‘Miegunyah’ Collection, is evocative of the ongoing criminological underpinnings of Australian society, which will be deconstructed, with due consideration of the enduring scope of effects on Indigenous Australian communities.