Whitehorse City Council

Art Collection

The City of Whitehorse Art Collection represents a significant community, cultural and educational resource for all those living and working in Whitehorse.Art Collection Phillips Fox Painting

The collection comprises works by significant artists of the nineteenth and early twentieth century, and contemporary works by living artists completed in a variety of media including paintings, photographs and original prints, ceramics and textiles. It also includes commissioned site-specific sculptures. 

Development of the Collection

The collection was developed by gift and commission in its early days and subsequently by purchase and a continuing tradition of donations.

The foundation work in the collection was a 1927 Buckmaster portrait of JR Kefford, which was financed by public subscription. Kefford was the Shire Secretary of the Shire of Nunawading and the first town clerk for the City of Box Hill. Council was pleased to acquire a study on canvas for this portrait from Kefford's niece, Margaret Young in mid 2008.

In 1952 JS Gawler, on his retirement from Council, donated two paintings by E. Phillips Fox to the collection. Phillips Fox, as a student at the National Gallery School had joined Tom Roberts, Fred McCubbin and others on weekend sketching tours from 1885, the same year they established the camp at Box Hill.

The collection developed further in the late 1950s, 1960s and 1970s when Andrew Walls, the Town Clerk at Box Hill, expanded the heritage section of the collection.

From the 1980s to the present day, the collection expanded further by way of development through purchasing and through the gifting of works, as part of the Government's Cultural Gift Program. There are now almost 1100 works in the collection. Contemporary works in the collection cover a wide range of media interests and philosophies.

The collection includes:

  • More than 500 works on paper including drawings, collage and over 300 prints
  • Almost 200 paintings with landscapes as the principal subject matter
  • More than 300 contemporary ceramic works representing a useful holding of key works by major figures. More than 200 of these represent a 25 year long term loan from Ceramics Victoria
  • A small collection of sculpture, jewellery, glass, woodwork and works in fibre

The Future of the Collection Art Collection Buvelot

In November 1997, Council approved a policy for the collection. This policy is currently under review and ensures the proper ongoing management and development of the collection.

The mission statement for the collection reads: 'The City of Whitehorse Art Collection will reflect people's experience of life. The collection will thematically represent the environment encompassing a sense of history, people, place and identity which indicates the dynamic nature of the community.'

Adoption of this policy recognises the benefits of the municipality having an art collection. These include:

  • The collection identifies the municipality's heritage, honouring the area as the genesis of Australian Impressionist art
  • It assists in building a community identity
  • It integrates works of art into the community
  • It reflects the culture and interests of the community
  • It provides an educative function allowing residents to enjoy a range of quality art

Council has committed itself to a modest continuing development of the collection and in 2008-09 has purchased a small number of ceramics, paintings, and works on paper. Among these acquisitions is a painting by emerging landscape artist Camilla Tadich, a donated portrait by Ernest Buckmaster and a small collection of ceramics by emerging and established ceramicists. In March 2009, Council accepted the donation of two small contemporary quilts and purchased a large free-motion machine quilted and embroidered piece by renowned quilter Olga Walters.

A range of art cards featuring key works from the collection are available for purchase from Council's three service centres and the Whitehorse Artspace at Box Hill Town Hall. Trained curators manage the collection and its display.

The City of Whitehorse's Visual Arts Committee consists of arts and museum professionals and experts living and working in Whitehorse.

The committee plays an important role in selecting works for purchase or donation and in the development of the exhibition program. 

Access to the Collection

Exhibitions drawn from the collection are regularly staged at the Whitehorse Artspace, a museum space at the Box Hill Town Hall. Works from the collection are also displayed in the foyers of the Whitehorse Civic Centre, Council Chambers and the Whitehorse Centre as well as being on display in the Waratah Room at the Whitehorse Centre.

Works are also on display in the Civic Centre buildings at Nunawading and throughout the Box Hill Town Hall. From time to time, works from the collection are on display at the Box Hill Community Arts Centre. On occasion, works from the collection are lent to public galleries for exhibition. The National Gallery of Victoria borrowed works by Tom Roberts for the major Australian Impressionism exhibition in 2007 and ceramics were borrowed by Deakin University in 2008. Indigenous paintings were also borrowed from the collection by Bayside City Council in 2009.

Art in Public Places Program

The Art in Public Places program has developed the range and scope of the municipality's public art. Council commissioned sculptor Anderson Hunt to create a work called 'Nesting' to grace the Nunawading Mega Mile, the lengthy retail strip on Whitehorse Road. Other major public artworks include Spirit of Whitehorse by Graham Radcliffe and Unity by Stephen Glassborow. Both have been prominently sited on Whitehorse Road. A new public art installation, designed by Council's own Urban Design team, occupies the atrium in the newly refurbished Nunawading Civic Centre.