Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The State of Australian Art History

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.

1 comment:

  1. I agree, but how do we increase enrolment at the tertiary level. Melbourne is an amazing city for it's art scene, the galleries are plentiful, even the streets are filled with street art. I know the Uni does there yearly promotion and advertising to attract students but what happens the rest of the year to create a little continuous hype so when enrolment time comes round there are plenty of potential students lining up. What about the occasional high school tour promotion by the staff of Culture and Communication, or neighborhood pamplets to let people know that school isnt just books but can be a place to learn the finer things in life. I suspect many people have the wrong idea about uni. I'm certain there are many wealthy people with too much time on their hands that would love to have tea and crumpets while discussing fine arts with their high society friends. Perhaps a quarterly info drive to alert specific communities about the arts and what they have to offer.