Works on Paper: Recent Acquisitions from the MRAG Collection

Graham Fransella, Walking Figure, 1990, etching on paper, 194.5 x 161 cm (paper size) Donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program in memory of Andrew Joseph, 2010
Graham Fransella, Walking Figure, 1990, etching on paper, 194.5 x 161 cm (paper size) Donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program in memory of Andrew Joseph, 2010

Paper is an exhibition of recently acquired works on paper from the Maitland Regional Art Gallery (MRAG) collection, and this is the first time that such a large display of works on paper from the collection have been exhibited together.

Maitland City Council along with MRAG is very pleased to be now in a position to not only have sufficient space to display such a large and stunning selection of works on paper from the MRAG collection; but that there is such a diversity and wealth of artworks in the collection upon which to draw from to crate this exciting exhibition.

Paper, curated by Cheryl Farrell, MRAG Collection Curator, showcases the simplest drawing, to paintings, photography and intricately worked prints, allowing the viewer to observe and discover the many ways artists use paper as a medium for their art. The aim of Paper is to give the visitor an understanding of paper as a surface for art making and how the use of different types of paper can result in so many different types of outcomes – in a way this exhibition and the accompanying catalogue is delivering a paper on paper.

Some of the artworks in the exhibition Paper are long held gems acquired through the Maitland Art Prize but many are recent acquisitions acquired through generous donations or purchased in the last 5 years.

With funding from Arts NSW in 2004/5 MRAG commissioned consultants to prepare an assessment of the collection and recommend a collection focus. As a result of the assessments it was decided that MRAG would focus its collection towards ‘work on paper’.  Since that time the collection has grown from 750 works of art to well over 2500 artworks.  Many of the artworks acquired for the collection over this time have been gifts from MRAG’s generous benefactors and almost all of those art works donated are works on paper as a result of the collection focus.

Paper is a often seen as a simple material used as a surface for art making for thousands of years. It is a material that is familiar to most people – touched, written upon, wiped, burnt, wrapped, filed, and read from on a daily basis; and usually the first material on which most of us, as children, create our first art. Paper is also most often the first material used by artists (with a pencil or pen) to turn a thought into a physical reality; a quick and direct way to communicate an idea.

Joe Eisenberg stated that ‘the art gallery looks simply stunning at the moment, with such a mix of exhibitions – because of the diversity of the Paperexhibition there is something for everyone to enjoy. Even better to think that the artworks in the exhibition are all selected from the ever growing MRAG collection and therefore owned by the city of Maitland’.