Brett Whiteley Studio Comes Under New Ownership Boosted With Extra Funding
By Denise Tsui
In conjunction with the 20th anniversary of the Brett Whiteley Studio—previously the home and workplace of Australian avant-garde artist Brett Whiteley (1939–92)—the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW) and the artist’s former wife, Wendy Whiteley, announced on February 17 that the Studio would now come under the ownership of AGNSW.
AGNSW believes the transfer of proprietorship “presents great promise for the continued vitality of the Studio, and attests to the Gallery’s commitment to carrying on Brett’s legacy to future generations of art lovers.”
The Brett Whiteley Studio is located in the Sydney suburb Surry Hills. Bought by the artist as a warehouse in 1985, he later converted the space into an exhibition space and studio. Presently, the Studio preserves the late artist’s working space and holds his personal collection of books, memorabilia, art materials, inspirational images and quotes as well as his unfinished paintings before his untimely death.
Purchased by the New South Wales government in 1993, the Studio has been open for public access since 1995. In an agreement with the artist’s late daughter, actress Arkie Whiteley (1964–2001), the space has been managed by the AGNSW for the past 20 years. Part of the Studio’s ongoing programming involves rotating exhibitions of the artist’s works that include paintings, sculptures, drawings and graphics loaned from the AGNSW, the Whiteley Estate and private collections.
The transfer of the Studio’s title to the AGNSW comes with an extra boost of AUD 2 million (USD 1.6 million) in funding from Wendy Whiteley, who is also the director of Brett Whiteley’s estate. The money will go toward the Studio’s public programs and also to the highly acclaimed annual Brett Whiteley Travelling Art Scholarship, which will support the grant increase from AUD 25,000 (USD 19,500) to AUD 30,000 (USD 23,400).
Founded in 1999 by Beryl Whiteley (1917–2010) in honor of her son Brett, the award aims to support emerging Australian artists between ages 20 and 30. Painters Ben Quilty (2002) and Marcus Wills (2000) have been among the scholarship’s awardees.
Denise Tsui is assistant editor at ArtAsiaPacific.