Year in review: Helen Burton, Director of the Macquarie Group Collection

The last year has presented many successes and a few challenges for the Collection and the art world more broadly.

An exciting first for the Collection, we hosted a fundraising exhibition for the Catherine Hamlin Fistula Foundation (CCHF) in space gallery in March 2020. Sydney artist Wendy Sharpe donated a number of paintings and prints based around her 2019 visit to the CHFF facility in Ethiopia. CHFF hosted several events in the gallery, including International Women’s Day functions and the official opening with Dame Quentin Bryce AD CDO. I’m pleased to report that CHFF were delighted by the fundraising from the exhibition.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our gallery space in Sydney remains closed. However, once restrictions ease, we are eager to host more collaborative art events with non-profits.

We are also providing more significant opportunities for Macquarie staff to engage with the Collection, as it’s a much-loved element of working at Macquarie. We have introduced the Art Ambassador Program, an initiative to train and educate local colleagues about artworks in their offices so that they can lead tours for clients and other staff.

Annual Macquarie Group Emerging Artist Prize

Collection artist and guest judge Nike Savvas selected Emily Imeson’s Alive in the Dead of Night as the winner of the 2019 Prize. I’m pleased to report that the experience of being a finalist in 2019 has led many of the artists to further success with commissions and/or invitations to participate in group shows or solo exhibitions. 

Due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s Prize will be held online, with all finalists receiving an equal share of prize money. Keep an eye out on the Collection’s Instagram and website for more information about our virtual Emerging Artist Prize.

The impacts of COVID-19 on emerging artists

At the commencement of isolation in Australia, the Macquarie Group Collection Committee agreed to continue making acquisitions where possible, in support of emerging artists. Many emerging artists lost their regular income and were ineligible for Federal Government support. In response to our concern for the welfare of artists, the Collection has partnered with the Indigenous Art Code on their national media campaign to promote the importance of the visual arts industry to Indigenous Australians. The Our art is our lifeline campaign will run from August 2020. 

To further support emerging artists, we have begun sharing their personal stories in their own voices on the Collection’s Instagram. Our first story was a profile of emerging artist Douglas Schofield, whose work had recently been acquired by the Collection. Keep following our Instagram to see more artists in the coming months.