Two fairly recent newspaper articles sit on my office desk. They are: Ned Kelly, ever the outlaw, defies the slowdown in the art market and Universities are letting Australian art down. I like the juxtaposition, with one article detailing the record price ($5.4 million) paid for a piece of Australian art and the other lamenting the fact that there is a lack of interest in Australian art history.
In the 10 years I have been teaching art history at the University of Melbourne, student numbers have remained fairly steady. What has grown is the number of educational opportunities for learning about Australian art outside the university. Galleries, auction houses and adult education are now offering their own subjects and courses. Many of which are very well attended.
It is great to see such community interest in Australia's cultural heritage; it would be even better to see that translate to greater numbers studying Australian art the tertiary level.