Art Collection | Trinity College - The University of Melbourne

Art Collection

Trinity College’s art collection of more than 600 pieces of artwork embodies the commitment the College places on being a hub of cultural significance and educational excellence.

Managed by the Rusden Curator of Art, pieces include paintings, portraits, drawings and prints, sculptures, Indigenous art, religious art, architectural elements and art objects. The collection can be seen on College buildings, walls, grounds and public places making the artwork relevant and accessible to the College community.

The Professor Sir Joseph Burke Gallery

With the opening in August 2016 of the new Gateway building on Tin Alley, Trinity College has a stunning gallery space for the presentation of works from its own collections as well as externally loaned art works.

Named after Professor Sir Joseph Burke, the University of Melbourne's inaugural Herald Chair of Fine Arts and resident art tutor at Trinity, the gallery is open to the public on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 10am-4pm*, and otherwise by appointment through the Rusden Curator.

(* During July, the gallery will be closed briefly for 30mins from 12.30-1pm) 

Beyond Woop Woop - John Kelly's Antartic Paintings

Our second semester exhibition is a captivating collection of 57 original paintings by acclaimed Irish-Australian artist John Kelly from his time in Antarctica in late 2013 as artist-in-residence with the Australian Antarctic Division.  

The original series of works is complemented by a limited number of original etchings and carborundum prints that Kelly has generously made available to the College to sell, with the proceeds going towards the establishment of an Artist-in-Residence Fund at Trinity.

Opened on 22 June, the exhibition will run until late September.

A fantastic book and catalogue of John’s works, including his blog entries for The Guardian newspaper alongside a collection of photographs taken during John’s expedition, is available through the College’s Advancement Office, along with a small number of limited edition etchings and carborundum prints.

For more information on seeing this exhibition, or to enquire about purchasing one of Kelly's works, contact the Cultural Collections Office - curator@trinity.unimelb.edu.au

Portrait collection

Portraits of past Wardens, notable Trinity graduates and other prominent figures associated with Trinity are displayed throughout College buildings. The portraits are representative of time, place, office and the individual. Styles express a traditional, dignified view of the sitter that is dignified but contemporary approaches to portraiture can also be seen. 

View Trinity's Portrait Gallery

Sir Redmond Barry bust

A marble bust of Sir Redmond Barry, attributed to sculptor Charles Summers and created in 1876, was given to the College in 1881 by Sir William Clarke.

Sir Redmond was educated at Trinity College Dublin, and arrived in Port Phillip in 1839. He pursued an active public life and became an eminent citizen. He played a fundamental role in the foundation of knowledge institutions in Melbourne, but is more popularly remembered as the judge who sentenced Ned Kelly to death in 1880.

Sir Redmond Barry's bust is currently situated in the Leeper Library and accompanied by two terracotta sculptures by Percival Ball painted in 1886.

The Evan Burge bronze gargoyles

When the new library building was under construction, sculptor Peter Corlett was commissioned to create six bronzes for the eastern side of the building to face the University of Melbourne.

The exterior of the eastern wall of the College's Evan Burge building features six gargoyles that honour eminent women and men who have contributed significantly to Trinity College, the University of Melbourne, and the wider community. Those honoured are:

George William Rusden (1819–1903)
Historian, Educationist, Civil Servant and Benefactor of Trinity

Valentine Alexa Leeper (1900–2001)
Scholar, Teacher, Benefactor and Fellow of Trinity College, Daughter of the first Warden, Alexander Leeper

Professor Geoffrey Winthrop Leeper (1903–1986)
Scientist and Environmentalist, Founding Professor of Agricultural Chemistry, University of Melbourne, and Benefactor of Trinity, son of the first Warden

Dame Margaret Blackwood (1909–1986)
Botanist and Geneticist, Deputy Chancellor of the University of Melbourne, Chair of Janet Clarke Hall College Council, and Fellow of Trinity

Professor Alan George Lewers Shaw (1916–)
Historian, Student, Tutor, Dean, Benefactor and Fellow of Trinity

David Bayford Wells (1942–1996)
Member of Trinity College Council and the Foundation Executive, and Benefactor of Trinity

Indigenous Art

Trinity is committed to raising awareness of Indigenous cultures in the College and across the wider community. There is a growing collection of Indigenous art displayed throughout the College such as Tingari ceremonies (2002) by Mantua James Nangala, and a collection of works by the Marika family from north-east Arnhem Land, which supports the College's commitment to Indigenous education and scholarships.

The collection records 31 Indigenous works including Marika family artwork as well as other donated works, works bought by students with E R White Club funds, works created by Visiting Fellows and students, and works on loan from other art collections.

View Trinity's Indigenous Art Gallery

The Marika art collection

Several members of the Marika family from north-eastern Arnhem Land participated in the College's Indigenous Visiting Fellows program between 2007-10. Family members lived in the residential College, conducted seminars and workshops on their style of art, and participated in day-to-day activities on campus and significantly increased the awareness and understanding of Indigenous culture and artistic expression.

In 2008, the Marika family nominated Trinity College as custodian of a number of their family works and Yolgnu cultural items. Members of the family asked Trinity to create a repository of their unique artworks to ensure they will be preserved and cared for into the future.

More about Trinity's Indigenous program

Religious art and architecture

There are many items of religious art in Trinity College's buildings due to its Anglican foundations. The College also displays a variety of traditional and contemporary architectural styles as well as a small collection of sacred irons exhibited with works from the Icon School of St Peter in the College.

Art objects

The College has an extensive collection of art objects, many of which are part of the collection of GW Rusden. They include objects of:

  • netsuke (miniature Japanese sculptures that serve a practical function such as a toggle) in shell, ivory, boxwood, agate, bone porcelain and pottery
  • soapstone and agate
  • enamel
  • footwear in wood, leather, grass and silk
  • medals
  • oriental items
  • souvenirs and other miscellaneous items.

ER White Collection

In 1989 Trinity College sold a John Brack's painting, The Breakfast Table (1958), from its collection to purchase contemporary artworks. The painting, a gift from Mr and Mrs HAL Moran in memory of Mrs Moran's late father, Edward Rowden White, sold for $175,000, a record for a John Brack painting at the time.

The sale proceeds were used to establish the ER White Investment Fund, which is administered by a committee of students, tutors and other members of the College community. Works are selected and purchased by students and exhibited in student areas where they receive considerable attention and comment. The goal of the fund is to promote, encourage and develop the knowledge, understanding, appreciation, and enjoyment of in art within Trinity College. Works purchased under the ER White Fund have reinvigorated the College's collection and enhanced the College's reputation as a place of cultural significance.

View Trinity's ER White Collection

Art donations

Please contact the Rusden Curator if you would like to donate works of art to the Trinity College collection; offers are submitted to the Art Committee. Specific guidelines, principles and procedures for donating to Trinity's art collection are listed in the Acquisition Policy of Trinity College Art Collection.

Most works of art in the collection are processed through the Australian Valuation Office to determine any eligibility for a tax deduction for cultural gift donations.

Contact the Curator of Art by email or phone +61 9348 7121.