NAS Archive and Collection

About

The National Art School has occupied its current site, the former Darlinghurst Gaol, in some form since 1922, although its beginnings can be traced back to the Sydney Mechanics School of Arts in 1843, with an early iteration of the National Art School established in the School of Arts building in Pitt Street, Sydney in 1873. It moved to its present site in 1922 as the art department of East Sydney Technical College (ESTC), from which the National Art School was formed.

The bulk of the work in the NAS Archive and Collection consists of paintings and drawings collected from students since 1922 when the art school first operated in Darlinghurst. Some work predates this move and was made when the art department was part of Sydney Technical College in Ultimo.

The National Art School is a key repository of work by the following artists: Lyndon Dadswell, Douglas Dundas, Rayner Hoff, Lorna Nimmo, Peter Rushforth, Colin Lanceley, Garry Shead and artists who participated in the Commonwealth Reconstruction Training Scheme.

Purpose of our Collection

The National Art School is the custodian of a collection which aims to document the history and works of past and present students and teachers who have studied and worked at the National Art School, and to document the creative and historical activities associated with the National Art School and the site. It represents the heritage and culture of the National Art School and is a unique and nationally significant art collection.

The National Art School encourages appreciation and critical perspectives of art and its role in society through direct engagement with artists and original works of art.

The Collection performs a major role within the National Art School, both as a teaching resource and historical record. Items include works on paper, paintings, prints, sculpture, teaching aides, artifacts and archives related to its important history as an educational institution and the former Darlinghurst Gaol.

It is the largest collection in Australia of student works made on the site where they are housed.

The NAS Collection is divided into three categories:

  • The Student Collection
  • The Art Collection
  • The Archive Collection
The Student Collection
About

The Student Collection is comprised of a range of media reflecting art practice of the 20th and 21st century and is the largest proportion of the NAS Collection. This Collection has now grown to 3,340 items.

Works have been created by students enrolled at NAS at the time of the items’ creation and under the guidance of training and have either donated to NAS or acquired specifically by NAS. Items in this Collection also incorporate works made by teachers as part of demonstrations and training for students. The context for this Collection is as a teaching resource.

Within the Student Collection, the largest component are works on paper. Student drawings and finished artworks on paper also include posters, photographs, etchings, woodblocks, silkscreens, lithographs and watercolours on paper. Artworks of the buildings and people around the campus are also collected.

Student paintings include works on canvas, cardboard, Masonite and wood. These are predominantly used by the National Art School for research and exhibitions, and consists of portraits, landscape, life painting, still-life, abstraction and other genres.

The Student Collection also includes a wide range of media including ceramics, moving image, sculpture, and mixed media.

 

Examples of works in the Student Collection
Margaret Olley, 'Portrait of Jocelyn Rickards', c 1943, oil on canvas, 51 x 42 cm, National Art School Collection © the estate of Margaret Olley. Courtesy Philip Bacon Galleries, Brisbane
Jocelyn Maughan OAM, 'Two hand studies', 1957, 51 x 31 cm, pencil on paper, National Art School Collection, gift of Jocelyn Maughan, 2017
Jocelyn Maughan OAM, 'Seated male life drawing', 1957, pencil on paper, 36 x 24.5 cm, National Art School Collection, gift of Jocelyn Maughan, 2017
Beth Macdonald, 'Grace (three quarter size life study)', 1933, painted plaster, 99 x 30 x 45 cm, National Art School Collection, gift of Leonie Furber, John Meyers and Jan Ritchie, 2015
Rayner Hoff, 'Folder of 22 drawings of bones and muscles drawn as teaching aids for students of Anatomy at the National Art School, Front elevation of the male trunk, quarter life size 1926-32', pencil and pen and ink on card and paper, 37.5 x 26.2 cm, National Art School Collection, gift of Rayner Henstock, 2018
Rayner Hoff, 'Front elevation pelvis to knee' c1926-32, pencil, pen and ink on card and paper, 26.3 x 25 cm, National Art School Collection, gift of Rayner Henstock, 2018
Rayner Hoff, 'Society of Artists medal, Sydney, Australia', 1923, double sided silver medal in original case, 5 cm (d), National Art School Collection, gift of Stephen Henstock, 2019
Freda Robertshaw, 'Standing female life drawing', c.1937, graphite on paper, 56 x 38 cm, National Art School Collection
Roslyn Edkins, 'Woman with boa', 1931, oil on canvas, 69.6 x 56.5 cm, National Art School Collection
Margaret Woodward, 'Colin Lanceley', 1957, pencil on paper, 50 x 35 cm, National Art School Collection, gift of the Woodward Collection, 2019
Allan Waite, 'Seated Figure', 1948, oil on canvas, 33 x 47 cm, National Art School Collection, gift of Allan Waite, 2007
Isabella Edwards, 'A Love Letter of Five Years', 2019, porcelain, glaze, stain, oxides, 21.5 x 22.5 cm, National Art School Collection, acquired through the NAS Collection Fund, 2019
Fiona Hall AO, 'Julie Harris, Kerry Lester, Peter Perdrio, Sue Jenner' from 'East Sydney Tech Photo Album', 1974, handmade album with 67 silver gelatin photographs, 31 x 31 cm (each), National Art School Collection, donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program by the artist, 2018
Jean Hallstrom, 'Ronnie', 1930s, plaster over metal armature, 133 x 51 x 30 cm, National Art School Collection, gift of Margaret Hill and Merran Esson, 2016
Keith Looby, 'Self Portrait', 1958, oil on Masonite, 83 x 57 cm, National Art School Collection, gift of Brian and Eleanor Thornton, 2018
Jack Kilgour, 'Male, back view', c.1940, black Conte on paper, 73 x 58 cm, National Art School Collection, gift of Jocelyn Maughan, 2015
Sophie Cape, 'Self Portrait', 2008, oil on canvas, 30 x 30 cm, National Art School Collection, donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program by the artist, 2018, © the artist
Bill Brown, 'NAS library roof', 24.6.1965, ink on paper, 48.5 x 40.5 cm, National Art School Collection, gift of Bill Brown, 2018, © the artist
Luke Sciberras, 'Pears', 1997, pen and ink on paper, 28 x 38 cm, National Art School Collection, donated via the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program by the artist, 2018, © the artist
Joan Ross, 'Not a still life (with real pumpkin)', 1981, watercolour and collage elements on paper, 50 x 30 cm, National Art School Collection, donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program by the artist, 2018, © the artist
Jacqueline Hennessy, 'How to disappear completely', 2019, oil on linen,122 x 92 cm, National Art School Collection, acquired through the NAS Collection Fund, 2019, © the artist
The Art Collection
About

The Art Collection currently comprises 716 artworks by alumni, finished works by past and present teachers, and visiting artists as well as artwork collected throughout the history of the institution. This collection includes work of a variety of media including paintings, drawings, prints, photographic media, moving image, sculpture and ceramics.

The Collection at first grew in an ad hoc manner, but has now been expanded and enhanced to illustrate the development of Australian art and artists from their student work to major examples of their mature work. With so many of Australia’s most prominent artists having trained at the National Art School, the NAS Collection has become an invaluable resource for research and education. The Art Collection was greatly enlarged in 2018 during the exhibition National Art: Part One, during which 50 NAS alumni generously donated 160 works to the Collection. Over 100 of these have joined the NAS Art Collection, and the rest are in the NAS Student Collection. The works donated spanned seven decades of artists’ practice, and demonstrate the breadth of exceptional work produced by NAS alumni.

 

Examples of works in the Art Collection
Jan King, 'Antiope', 2014, waxed steel, 40 x 48 x 38.5 cm, National Art School Collection, donated via Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program via the artist, 2018
Colin Lanceley, 'The Burial of the Dead' from the portfolio 'The Wasteland', 1976, colour screenprint on white Velin Arches paper, 101 x 68.3 cm, National Art School Collection, gift of Kay Lanceley, 2017
Godfrey Miller, 'Standing female model with leg and arm lifted', 1950-60, graphite on paper, 25.7 x 19 cm, National Art School Collection, gift of Matilda Quera, 2012
Lorna Nimmo, 'National Art School', 1940, pen, ink and watercolour on paper, 50 x 35 cm, National Art School Collection, purchased 2017 © the estate of the artist
Les Blakebrough AM, 'Three tilted bowls', 2016, southern ice porcelain, 12.5 x 17 cm; 12.5 x 17 cm; 11.5 x 17 cm, National Art School, donated via the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program by the artist, 2018
Douglas Dundas, 'Seated male', clothed with waistcoat, c.1940, graphite on paper, 39 x 31.5 cm, National Art School Collection, gift of Matilda Quera, 2012
Frank Medworth, 'Tram Passengers', c.1940s, oil on canvas, 152 x 122 cm, National Art School Collection, gift of Margaret Tuckson, 1986
Peter Godwin, 'Blue and White Curtain, Sandi’s ring and flying fox mask', 2009, egg tempera on linen and marine ply, 120 x 120 cm, National Art School Collection, donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program in memory of Lois Godwin, 2018
Roy Jackson, 'Driving South from Toowoomba', 1995, acrylic on canvas, 176 x 222 cm, National Art School Collection, gift of Clea Bain, 2020
Jean Bellette, 'Female Portrait', c.1948, brown and sanguine conte on paper, 52 x 38 cm, National Art School Collection, gift of Marie McMahon, 2016
Michael Johnson, 'Cormorant', 2013, oil on canvas, four parts, 101.5 x 329 cm (total), National Art School Collection, donated via the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program by the artist, 2018, © the artist
Julie Rrap, 'Outerspace No. 9', 2010, digital print on Archival Rag Paper,175 x 120 cm, National Art School Collection, donated via the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program by the artist, 2018, © the artist
Juz Kitson, 'Naked Simplicity; radiant with the warmth of an immense compassion', 2016, Southern Ice porcelain, Jingdezhen porcelain, Merino wool, horse hair, paraffin wax, marine ply and treated pine, 130 x 65 x 33 cm, National Art School Collection, donated via the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program by the artist, 2018, © the artist
Luke Sciberras, 'The road from Momba', 2017, oil on board,120 x 160 cm, National Art School Collection, donated via the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program by the artist, 2018, © the artist
Guy Maestri, 'Innocent X', 2017, painted bronze, 66 x 46 x 26 cm, National Art School Collection, donated via the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program by the artist, 2018, © the artist
Lucy Culliton, 'Bibbenluke garden snow pear trees', 2009, oil on canvas, 130 x 130 cm, National Art School Collection, donated via the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program by the artist, 2018, © the artist
Robert Owen, 'Study for Mantra 6/1 (or panel #6), (Music of Arvo Pärt, Spiegel im Spiegel)' from the series 'Music for the Eyes', 2005-06,synthetic polymer paint on linen, 150 x 150 cm, National Art School Collection, donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program by the artist, 2018, Image courtesy and © the artist
Anne Zahalka, 'Outlawed!' from the series 'The Landscape Revisited', 2017, pigment ink on rag paper, 90 x 121 cm, National Art School Collection, donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program by the artist, 2018, © the artist
Reg Mombassa, 'Conflict Resolution II', 2015, coloured pencil and glitter on paper, 42 x 59.5 cm, National Art School Collection, donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program by the artist, 2018, © the artist
Tim Maguire, 'Untitled 20091108', 2009, oil on canvas, 182 x 162 cm, National Art School Collection, donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program by the artist, 2018, © the artist
The Archive Collection
About

The Archive Collection contains over 700 items that are divided thematically into two broad categories, namely Darlinghurst Gaol and the National Art School, which includes all its former iterations such as TAFE and the East Sydney Technical College. This includes drawings, documents, manuscripts, posters, historic photographs, maps, plans, negatives, film and ephemera.

 

Examples of works in the Archive Collection
East Sydney Technical College Handbook for 1951, 20.5 x 13.5 cm, 19 pages, National Art School Collection, gift of Jocelyn Maughan, 2019
National Art School staff photo, 1933, silver gelatin photo, National Art School Collection
'Ticket for the NAS Artists Ball, Trocadero, George Street', 1937, National Art School Collection, gift of Gwenna Thatcher, 2007
'Exhibition of Fine Arts by C.R.T.S.Trainees in Art', David Jones Gallery, 13-23 April 1948, National Art School Collection, gift of Klaus Freideberger, 2008
Jean Hallstrom, 'Flayed figure', 1930s, plaster, 77.2 x 35 x 18 cm, National Art School Collection, gift of Margaret Hill and Merran Esson, 2016
Juvenile handcuffs from Darlinghurst Gaol period c.1860, metal, National Art School Collection, purchased with funds donated by Reg Richardson
Photographer unknown, 'Phyllis Shillito, Katharine Hepburn and Bill Crisp outside the Cell Block Theatre', 5 July 1955, silver gelatin photograph, National Art School Collection, gift of David Shillito, 2017
Walter Liberty Vernon, 'Ground plan of Darlinghurst Gaol', 1900, ink on paper, 82 x 51.5 cm, National Art School Collection
Collection Highlights

Find out more about our Collection Highlights through the link below.

Darlinghurst Gaol

Darlinghurst Gaol – a brief history

From 1822, when the perimeter walls of Darlinghurst Gaol were begun, to 1914 when the gaol inmates were moved to Long Bay, this unique group of sandstone buildings housed some of the most notorious criminals in Australia’s history.

The site occupied by Darlinghurst Gaol had been a significant one to the Indigenous population of Australia for thousands of years before white settlement. With the arrival of the British fleet in 1788, Sydney was established as a penal colony, and by 1822 the local inhabitants had largely been dispossessed of their land.

In the early 1820s it was decided to build a large gaol in a prominent position on Darlinghurst Hill, overlooking Sydney, so it could be seen as a constant reminder that Sydney was a penal settlement. 30,000 tons of local sandstone were used to build the massive walls of the gaol, built over two years and completed in 1824. Convicts overseen by skilled stonemasons recorded their quota by carving their personal marks or dargs into each stone they cut, and many of these can still be seen today on the perimeter walls.

Due to lack of funds, work was abandoned on the prison for another twelve years.
Designs for the gaol, by government architect Mortimer Lewis, were radically altered by George Barney, who arrived to take charge of the project in 1836. Built partly by prisoners, and partly by free labour ticket-of-leave tradesmen, the gaol symbolised a colonial ‘coming of age’ in the minds of many. But it was a brutal place in the early days of the gaol, with the lash, solitary confinement, the gag and the straightjacket all used as ways of subduing unruly inmates.

Over the 73 years it was in operation, Darlinghurst Gaol hosted some significant prisoners, including Bulletin editor JF Archibald, later premier of NSW George Dibbs, and poet Henry Lawson, who spent 159 days in Darlinghurst for drunkenness and non-payment of alimony. Lawson recorded his gaol experience in at least seven poems, including in his haunting 1908 poem ‘One Hundred and Three’, in which he describes his cell as ‘a stone coffin’, and christened the gaol ‘Starvinghurst’.

The gaol was also the site of 76 executions, 13 of which were held in public on a gallows outside the main gate in Forbes Street. Here the son of an aristocrat and convicted murderer John Knatchbull, was hanged in 1844 in front of a crowd of 10,000 people. Later more private executions were held on the permanent gallows built in E wing. The notorious bushranger Captain Moonlite was hanged here in 1880; Aboriginal outlaw Jimmy Governor in 1901; and the last woman to hang in NSW, Louisa Collins, in 1889.

The gaol closed in 1914, and during the First World War, the site was again used for incarceration, this time as a military detention camp for German and Irish internees. In 1921, massive renovations were undertaken to convert the gaol site to an annex of Sydney Technical College.

Access

Contact us

Please contact Deborah Beck or Isabel Hesketh via email, telephone or post:

Deborah Beck
Lecturer, Archivist and Collections Manager

Isabel Hesketh
Curator, Collections

National Art School Archive and Collection
Forbes Street
Darlinghurst NSW 2010

Tel: +61 (0) 2 9339 8796/8674
Email: nasarchives@nas.edu.au

FAQ
How many works are in the Collection?

There are currently 4,768 works in the NAS Archive and Collection.

 

Do you have a list of past NAS Collection Exhibitions?

Visit the Past Exhibitions page on our website.

 

Do you keep records of former students and staff?

Enquiries from researchers or biographers regarding former students and staff at any point in the NAS’s history are welcome, but please be advised that in many cases we can provide only limited personal information, and, in the case of alumni, sometimes no more than confirmation of department and year of graduation.

We do not hold records of students who graduated prior to 2000. Please contact TAFE NSW or State Records NSW.

Most records which are over 30 years old are available for public consultation. Records which are less than 30 years old can be accessed with the permission of the Head of the relevant department of the School. There is restricted access to some series of student records until they are 75 years old in order to maintain personal confidentiality.

 

Do you keep records of former Darlinghurst Gaol inmates?

NSW Government’s State Archives & Records Authority holds prisoner records in the Photographic Description Books [Darlinghurst Gaol].

The records in this set date from 12/08/1871 – 13/07/1914. All records can be accessed through the NSW State Archives website. Ref: NRS-2138. The records are held at the Western Sydney Records Centre.

Other Darlinghurst Gaol records relating to earlier prisoners (1841-1870) also exist at State Records, but these do not have photographs and have not been digitised.

Index to inmates at Sydney Gaol and Darlinghurst Gaol [catalogue record | microfiche]
Darlinghurst Gaol entrance books: 1850–1854 [catalogue record | book]

 

Where can I find information about Darlinghurst Gaol?

We hold many items from the Darlinghurst Gaol period in the NAS Archive and Collection. See COLLECTION HIGHLIGHTS. These items can be viewed by appointment.
See also:
PUBLICATIONS
GAOL TOURS

The State Archives & Records Authority of New South Wales also holds many records as well as the State Library of New South Wales – see more online.

There are also items relating to Darlinghurst Gaol in the Collection of Sydney Living Museums with some items on display at the Justice and Police Museum, Sydney.

 

Can I visit Darlinghurst Gaol?

We offer regular Darlinghurst Gaol Tours – please visit the Gaol Tours section of our website.

 

Where can I find information about East Sydney Technical College (ESTC)?

There were multiple departments at ESTC, if you are interested in departments other than the art department, please contact TAFE NSW.

If you would like to find out more information about the art department, please contact us.

 

Do you keep oral histories from site?

We have a number of oral histories recorded and are transcribing more each year. If you are interested in finding out about Oral Histories, please contact us.

 

How can I donate artwork to NAS Collection?

NAS Archive and Collection collects material in relation to its collections policy, see PURPOSE OF OUR COLLECTION.

The Acquisitions and Collections Committee meets quarterly to access all proposed acquisitions that fall within our Acquisitions criteria. All offers of donated works by NAS alumni and staff will be considered, as well as items for the NAS Archive, for example historic photographs of the site, items or documents relating to the gaol or the art school. Please consider the size of the work being offered as this does impact our ability to accept the work.

If you have an item that you wish to donate, please contact us.

 

Can I donate funds to enable NAS Collection to purchase artwork?

If you would like to donate funds to help us acquire new works, please contact Hannah Dickson, Fundraising and Development Manager at hannah.dickson@nas.edu.au or on (02) 9339 8638.

 

Can I donate funds to enable NAS Collection to conserve artwork?

Many older works in the NAS Archive and Collection are in poor condition and require conservation. We aim to conserve one or two objects each year. If you would like to support this process, please contact Hannah Dickson, Fundraising and Development Manager at hannah.dickson@nas.edu.au or on (02) 9339 8638.

Items that fit this policy can be considered for donation under the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program. For more information, please visit their website.

 

Can you give me advice about values of an artwork I own by a former student/member of staff?

We are unable to give formal valuations of artworks by former students or staff. Please find a range of valuers listed on the Museums and Galleries NSW website.

 

Do you loan works out for exhibition?

The National Art School has a unique collection of over 4,500 artworks held on site which is available for research, loan and exhibition purposes.

Objects from the Collection are available for loan, provided that the borrowing institution conforms with the borrowing requirements.

If you would like to borrow a work from the Collection, please write to National Art School CEO/Director Steven Alderton.

 

Do you have an image library?

We have high resolution, reproduction quality images of works in the Collection – please contact us.

 

Volunteering in the NAS Archive and Collection

Occasionally we have opportunities for volunteering in the NAS Archive and Collection. If you are interested in applying, please contact us and include a brief summary of your experience and interest, and include a current CV.

Volunteering and internship opportunities also exist in the NAS Gallery. Please visit our Working at NAS page for more details.

Visit

The NAS Archive and Collection is located on campus at the National Art School, (corner of Forbes and Burton Street), Darlinghurst, NSW 2010, Australia.

The Archive and Collection is open all year round to students, staff and external researchers, biographers including members of the general public.

Access is strictly by appointment only. To make an appointment, please contact us.

Collection Online

The NAS Collection is not online but we hope to have an online presence in the next few years.

Please see Collection Highlights for more information on some works in the Collection.

If you are interested in supporting us to get online, please contact Fundraising and Development Manager hannah.dickson@nas.edu.au or telephone (02) 9339 8638.

Display

Works from the NAS Archive and Collection are frequently displayed in the NAS Gallery and are also on display in public places around the site. Works are also sent out on exhibition loan throughout the year.

Publications

NAS Gallery exhibition catalogues featuring objects from the NAS Archive and Collection can be purchased from reception at the Forbes Street entrance or online HERE

Other publications on the history of the National Art School’s site and key figures include:

  • Deborah Beck, Set in Stone: The Cell Block Theatre, UNSW Press, 2011
  • Deborah Beck, Hope in Hell, A history of the Darlinghurst Gaol and the National Art School, Sydney, republished 2020 (first edition Allen & Unwin, 2005)
  • Deborah Beck, Rayner Hoff: The Life of a Sculptor, NewSouth Publishing, UNSW Press, 2017
  • Deborah Beck, Bailed up – Bushrangers at Darlinghurst Gaol, Sydney, National Art School, 2014
Copyright Statement

National Art School respects the rights of artists, creators and copyright holders. The text and images displayed may be used for private research and study only, or research and study as defined by section 40 of the Copyright Act 1968. For any other intended use, or for image reproduction requests, please contact us. Copyright in the content of the website remains with NAS or with other copyright holders whose permissions may need to be sought.

The content of this website (or any part of it) may not be: posted to any other website; modified, republished, distributed, reproduced or communicated in any form; used for any public performance or display including a transmission over a network; reproduced in any form including without limitation, the extraction and/or storage in any retrieval system or inclusion in any other computer program or work (except as is incidental to viewing NAS website). Contravention is an infringement of the Australian Copyright Act 1968.

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