Artists Supporting The National Art School

The National Art School is one of the great Australian institutions, tracing its history back to the 1840s with a list of alumni that include many of the most respected, influential and loved of Australian artists. It is our largest non-university art school and occupies a campus that is the envy of many, with a mix of sandstone tradition and contemporary teaching and foresight. When I arrived here as Director, I was also struck by the tremendous loyalty, passion and commitment of staff, students and alumni. The constant stream of stories, anecdotes and histories that I hear, from the local to the global, current yet also going back over generations, is relayed with affection and deep admiration through artists, families and friends, colleagues and historians. Every year, a new generation of artists graduate and take us to new horizons and these artists continue to be adventurous and ground breaking, diverse in approach and style.

To maintain and improve these high standards of education we need to assist our students and staff with additional support. Sometimes this is a practical matter such as new equipment to keep pace with technological developments, at other times it’s to assist students from regional or remote areas to attend the School, to bring in outstanding teachers or to take up invaluable overseas opportunities. Our job is to teach and train students to be artists—yet the complex ways in which this simple goal is delivered mean that we are continuously expanding our own horizons and those of our students.

When Roger McIlroy and I approached the artists to support the National Art School through donating a work for this auction, we were met with immediate generosity. This select group have known the School for decades, support its teaching and place in the world and play an important role in defining arts and culture through their practice. With similar enthusiasm, Damian Hackett and Chris Deutscher embraced the idea. It’s this belief in the power of art to give form to imagination, to reveal and illuminate, to get into the dark and the dirty and the graceful and glorious that impels artists to create, audiences to see and collectors to collect, and in our case, to teach artists to be artists.