Home' South Gippsland Sentinel-Times : February 7, 2017 Edition Contents THE SOUTH GIPPSLAND SENTINEL-TIMES, TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 7, 2017 - PAGE 7
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IT has arrived!
The $1.25 million ‘Collection of Social Realist
Art’, bequeathed to the people of Wonthaggi by
veteran art critic and collector Robert Smith, is
here in town, now.
It was delivered to the Wonthaggi Union Com-
munity Arts Centre some weeks ago and the
curators and art experts, employed by the Bass
Coast Shire Council, have already spent several
days appraising, cataloguing and storing the
works at the arts centre.
But like the tree that falls in the forest... art
isn’t art unless it is seen.
So when are we going to see it?
Wendy Crellin spoke of the collection during
her acceptance speech at the Wonthaggi Austra-
lia Day celebrations.
Mrs Crellin was excited about the collection
and its potential to be the catalyst for a regional
art gallery to be established in Wonthaggi.
“The council has made the proper arrangements
for storage and security but we’d like to see it on
display, initially in the Old Wonthaggi Post Office.
That’s what everyone wants including the three lo-
cal councillors; Crs Larke, Tessari and Brown.
“But ultimately, we’re lobbying for a regional
art gallery to be established here with this col-
lection at its heart.
“I’m sure that when the shire does have a cu-
rator appointed that they will want to put on
exhibitions and we will start to see the pieces
in the collection.”
There may, however, be some argy-bargy
about the use of the Old Post Office building,
the former library, on the corner of Watt Street
and McBride Avenue. The shire’s administra-
tion may need it for further office expansion.
This is a super positive story of generosity, of
a challenge accepted by the shire and of great
potential for the future, building on the glorious
mining days of the past.
We’re often told the shire executives get sick
of the negative press.
What a photo opportunity, as the curators
pull out one of the lithographs by the 19th cen-
tury French realist, Honore Daumier.
There are no fewer than 216 of his works in
And what about the pieces by Rembrandt and
Picasso, no less?
The council has already paid eminent art
consultant, Rodney James, up to $24,400 “to
investigate, audit and appraise, provide storage
solutions and future management planning (in-
cluding staffing resource for curation and exhib-
iting) for the Collection”.
Mr James has provided council with a report
which explains the collection, its approximate val-
ue range ($850,000 to $1,250,000), suitable op-
tions for short term storage and the expected short
term costs for transport and modifying a preferred
At the time he did his report, tabled at the
September 2016 council meeting, he said a fea-
ture of the cache of works is a “major collection
of mid-20th century works by the respected so-
cial realist artist Noel Counihan. The collection
of Counihan works on paper is extensive (83
works in total) and is on par with major Austra-
lian museum collections,” he said.
High praise indeed.
“A second major strength of the collection,” he
said, “is the component of graphic art by Eng-
lish, French, Dutch/Flemish, German, Spanish
and Mexican artists. Examples of works by a
number of more famous artists including Rem-
brandt and Picasso...”
The council said it could cost a further
$38,321 to pack and transport the works, to
undertake structural modifications at the arts
centre including shelving and climate control.
That figure doesn’t include insurance.
It does, however, include funding for a part-
It’s exciting. Art is supposed to be uplifting,
it’s supposed to be talked about.
The controversy that surrounded the pur-
chase of Jackson Pollock’s Blue Poles by Goff
Whitlam (for $1.3 million mind you) back in
1973 is a key part of the narrative now.
You can’t buy that sort of publicity.
Let’s have a sneak peek. Or at least tell us
when we can get a bit of a teaser. What does the
Rembrandt look like? What’s the most valuable
piece in the collection?
THE ‘Robert Smith’ art collection has in-
deed arrived in Wonthaggi. The Bass Coast
Shire Council’s communications depart-
ment confirmed that fact this week.
So, why not say something about it soon-
“Out of deference to the donor, we were
waiting to see if he wanted to be involved in
some sort of launch,” said a spokesperson
for the shire.
“And it’s not something you can finish in
a few days. There’s a lot of work still to be
done,” he said.
Aged 88, it may be sometime before Mr
Smith can attend a launch with ribbon sand-
wiches and a cup of tea, even if he wanted to.
Let’s see something from the collection
now, we suggested.
“People will be asking if they can see it
too. We’re not ready for an exhibition,” was
But, after playing phone-tag, arrangements
have been made to get a sneak peek... watch
Waiting for art launch
The $1 million Robert Smith art collec-
tion, which arrived in Wonthaggi recently,
includes more than 600 pieces, among them
86 works by Australian social realist painter,
Noel Counihan, featuring the lino cuts he
made while visiting the local mines in 1944.
$1.25m art collection
worth shouting about
By Michael Giles
A MAN has been charged following the fatal
collision that saw an infant killed on Phillip Is-
land back in December.
On December 17, it is believed a Mercedes
sedan travelling on Smiths Beach Road collided
with a black Mazda CX-9 near the intersection
of Back Beach Road at 7.30pm.
A 15-month-old girl, who was a passenger in
the Mazda, was airlifted to hospital however
died a short time later.
The male driver of the car, female passenger
and another child were transported to hospital
by ambulance with minor injuries.
The four passengers in the Mercedes were not
injured in the collision.
A 24 year-old man was charged with culpable
driving causing death, dangerous driving caus-
ing death, conduct endangering life, driving un-
der the influence of intoxicating liquor, exceed-
ing the prescribed concentration of alcohol and
failing to stop at a stop sign.
He was bailed to appear at the Melbourne
Magistrates’ Court on Friday, February 10 for
a filing hearing.
Man charged over fatal Island crash
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