A retrospective of the artworks and materials produced in the campaign to save Sydney College of the Arts.
It has been a troubled year for the visual arts in NSW, with the on again, off again merger of Sydney College of the Arts and the threatened closure of National Art School in East Sydney.
In November last year, University of Sydney announced plans to ‘gradually over the next three years’ move SCA out of the historic Callan Park campus. Then in a surprising turn in June 2016, Vice-Chancellor Michael Spence announced that University of Sydney and UNSW had signed a Heads of Agreement for students at the college at Callan Park to transfer to one of the courses offered by UNSW Art & Design in Paddington. What was touted as a merger was really the closure of SCA.
SCA students were quick to react, forming a united front and protesting the decision in direct actions that included the storming of the Sydney University Senate, and the SOS red cape vigil at the Art Gallery of NSW on the day the winner of the Archibald Prize was announced. The sustained pressure, along with high profile support from SCA alumni, politicians and arts patrons, forced University of Sydney into a hasty back down, and the UNSW merger was cancelled.
As an alternative, the University proposed a move of SCA to its main campus at Camperdown, although the ‘resource-intensive mediums’ of ceramics, glassmaking and jewelry were to be jettisoned and 60 percent of academic staff terminated. The University also suspended the intake of new Bachelor of Visual Arts, Masters and PhD candidates in 2017.
Once again, students responded, this time by occupying the SCA administration building and ousting Dean Colin Rhodes. That occupation is in its fourth week and is the longest-running university occupation since the 1970s. The fight for SCA and recognition of the value that art makes to Australian culture continues.
This exhibition reflects the collective efforts of the students, staff, alumni and wider community. Hours and hours of time and commitment lie behind each element in this show.
• The photographic wall is compromised of several photographers including:
• Anne Zahalka; Bryden Williams; Liam Kesteven; Juanel de la Foret; Hayley French; Katie L. Williams; Barbara Doran and many more who have contributed under the banner of ‘letscastay’.
• The Alumni scroll has been created by Anne Zahalka and is a testament to the Alumni network that collectively shared a google doc to build this impressive record.
• The videos have been created by Tim Heiderich and Liam Kestivan who have followed the campaign from its early gestation. Video 2 documents the burial of the Time Capsule created by Katie L. Williams. The Time Capsule documents this campaign has been registered with both the Mitchell Library and the World Time Capsule register in the US. It can be opened in 100yrs. Barbara Doran and Tim Alewood worked with Lindy Lee, Jane Campion, Ben Quilty and Reg Mombassa in video ‘What is the value of Art’?
• Special thanks goes to Susie Nelson chief printer, Suzy Faiz corner stone organiser, the Vigilights and countless others who have marched, held market stalls, cut red capes, circulated petitions, participated in events, spread the word and given up home and family to hold fort!
Please join us next Tuesday the 18th of October for an event further commemorating this campaign and the plight to amplify the value of art education.