“Traditional museums will only have about 10 to 20 per cent of their collection on show, but at UTS we’re the opposite,” explains Assistant Curator Janet Ollevou, as she leads the way to the UTS Art storage room.
“I don’t even call this a storage room – I call it the waiting room,” she clarifies. “Most things are here because they’re about to go out on display, they’re getting framed up, or they’re waiting for someone to come and discover them.”
With about 60 per cent of UTS’s 1000-piece collection on show at any one time, Janet spends most of her time managing new acquisitions and tracking existing artworks’ locations and condition.
“We like to keep works moving – or try to,” smiles Janet. “There are some works that people are very fond of, so we don’t just go and take it away if it’s happy there. But, there are other areas that like a bit of variety and want artworks to be changed after about six months.
“The marvellous thing about getting to know a collection is being able to see an artwork you’re familiar with in a different context, it’s like seeing an old friend,” enthuses Janet.
As well as managing existing works, UTS Art also commission new works for the collection. At the moment they’re considering opportunities for public art in the new UTS Central.
But, it's not always about the new. One of the best examples of how art can maintain a relevance to architecture, says Janet, comes from the Kuring-gai campus. “Before that campus closed, we found a couple of significant sculptures by Ken Unsworth which were quite corroded. As we researched them we learned they’d been specially commissioned for Kuring-gai by the art committee which was led by the architect.
“We ended up restoring them with Ken's advice, and they look fabulous! We brought them back to the City campus and now they sit so well on level five in the Tower.”
With success stories like this, and a near-decade long career at UTS, you’d think Janet would surely have a few favourite works on campus. Instead, she insists, “My favourite is always going to be the one I placed most recently. I think part of running a collection is that you have to treat all artworks with an equal level of respect and care.”
So, next time you’re in a meeting room, office or foyer, Janet says, stop and take a look at the art. “We want people to feel proud about the UTS collection, because it’s something wonderful to have. Art shapes ideas and in some cases can be an encounter that you carry with you for the rest of your life. If I can offer that experience to anyone, then I've done my job.”
To find out more about the UTS Art Collection, or request artworks for your office, visit art.uts.edu.au or email Janet.Ollevou@uts.edu.au
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