Expanded USC Art Gallery to reopen to public

Undiscovered is the first career survey of Australian artist, Michael Cook.

USC Art Gallery will reopen on Monday 17 August after closing its doors for 10 months to complete a $1.4 million redevelopment.

The Gallery’s footprint has now doubled through the construction of additional exhibition space and storage for the $6.5 million USC Art Collection, now the largest public collection of art in the region.

The project was made possible by the late Arija Austin, who in 2015 bequeathed her and her late husband Richard’s personal art collection and a portion of their estate to USC.

USC Pro Vice-Chancellor (Engagement) Professor Joanne Scott said Mrs Austin’s gift to the University would have far-reaching benefits for the Sunshine Coast. 

“Her generosity has enabled us to create a building with the capacity to present inspiring world-class exhibitions and to care for and showcase our art collection that is such a significant cultural asset to our region,” she said.

The building, designed by architect and USC senior project officer Gianna Bruschi, now includes two professional exhibition spaces with ceilings up to six metres, more storage for the art collection, and a bigger reception area.

Art Gallery Manager Megan Williams said the first exhibition from 17 August would be Michael Cook: Undiscovered; the first career survey of this internationally recognised Australian artist who lives on the Sunshine Coast and grew up in Hervey Bay.

“Of the Bidjara people of south-west Queensland, Michael had a successful career as a commercial photographer before becoming a photo media artist in 2009, a move driven by a desire to connect with his Aboriginal heritage,” she said.

“In addition to exploring issues of identity, Michael has consistently made images that ask the viewer to reconsider Australia’s conflicted colonial history and its impact on present day.

“His work has been exhibited extensively in Australia and overseas and acquired by the British Museum and the National Gallery of Australia. We’re thrilled to have over 40 works by Michael in the USC Art Collection”.

Ms Williams said COVID-19 restrictions had postponed a “grand opening”.

“However, we can’t wait to share our new gallery and launch exhibition with our communities in a way that is safe for visitors, staff and volunteers”.

Visitors are urged to check the COVIDSafe guidelines on the Art Gallery website https://www.usc.edu.au/art-gallery

The Gallery is co-located with another new building, purpose-built for learning and teaching programs primarily in the School of Creative Industries, including drama and music.

Designed by Wilson Architects, the contemporary building provides a performance space set within the natural environment, creating a cultural hub in the middle of the USC Sunshine Coast campus.

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