The University of Sydney Art Gallery has in excess of 7,000 artworks by Australian, European and Asian artists, collected since 1850. This collection includes paintings, watercolours, drawings, textiles, sculptures and much more.

It was thus with some excitement that I made my way up the stairs inside the War Memorial Arch on the northern side of the University’s stunning quadrangle to the art gallery on the second floor.

As soon as I entered the gallery my excitement quickly dissipated. Firstly the entire gallery consisted of one small room, I am guessing some 10 metres by 20 metres in size. This, while in itself a surprise, was not a major problem as it provided sufficient space for a small collection in more intimate surroundings than a major art gallery.


Coming to terms with the size of the gallery I became confused, very confused. All I could see was sheets of white paper hanging on the right hand side of the gallery, roof to floor, with blotches of grey, looking like paw prints of a small animal running across the sheets about half way down. The remainder of the room was white, except for a nice wooden floor and fireplace, and there was what appeared to be a white handrail running down the left hand side of the room. I didn’t quite know what to make of it.

In others of my reviews I have indicated that, while I am no fan of modern art, in recent years I have started warming to some of it.

On reading the sheet accompanying the exhibition I learned that the blotches of grey on the right hand side of the room were ‘migratory shorebirds on the East-Asian-Australasian Flyway’ (now why didn’t I realise that?) while the handrail hid a series of small speakers which relayed a comment on each picture (from the second one) as you passed by.

The comments started with:

Picture 2 – You’ve got a rippa
Picture 3 – There you are, you wont get much better than that
Picture 4 – Wonderful

and so on.

It is unbelievable, to think that with over 7,000 artworks to choose from, the University of Sydney would display something like this.

Being at a loss for words and not in the mood to tell the good lady curator (maybe she was the artist – Barbara Campbell) what I actually though of the exhibition and having viewed it in less than 30 seconds I decided I had better stay a respectable time and create the illusion that I was enjoying the art. I decided 5 minutes would be respectable. Thankfully I didn’t have to stay 5 minutes as another staff member came in and started chatting to the curator. I took this as a signal to make a speedy exit and did so.

I passed up on the opportunity to watch a 95 minute video on this piece of art.

Despite this exhibition, which soon disappeared, I still recommend that you visit this small art gallery should you be in the University of Sydney which I recommend you visit to have a look at the building itself along with two great museums therein – the Nicholson and Macleay museums, neither of which I had heard of until I visited to University just to look at the building.

Dear Reader, take comfort form the fact that they could not possibly have a worse exhibition on show when you visit than they did when I visited.

Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday 10am – 4.30pm
First Saturday of month 12 noon – 4pm
Other Saturdays, Sunday and Public Holidays Closed

Entry Fee: Free

Address: The University of Sydney, NSW 2006 Australia
Directions: Paramatta Road
Phone: 61 2 9351 6883
Website: http://sydney.edu.au/museums/collections/art-gallery.shtml

For my next Sydney – City – ULTIMO – CAMPERDOWN – CHIPPENDALE review click HERE.
For other Sydney reviews click HERE.


2 thoughts on “University Art Gallery – Lost for Words

  1. I’ll never forget a modern art installation we saw in New York City. The wall was entirely white. And the caption detailed how the artist felt that the moment before conceiving of the art was the most incredible, authentic expression of creativity. Then there was the belly button lint sculpture in another room. Don’t even get me started on that!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lol. There was a pure white canvas ‘picture’ about 3m by 3m on show in the National Gallery in Canberra – I can’t recall the caption but wonder if it was by the same artist as the wall in NYC. The Canberra one has now disappeared, Can’t say I shed any tears.

      Liked by 1 person

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