Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art has unveiled the first work purchased through the new MCA Foundation, a major work by Gordon Bennett titled “Home Décor (Relative/Absolute) Flowers for Mathinna #2 (1999).”
The subject of the painting, a young Tasmanian Aboriginal girl named Mathinna (1835–56), was taken from her biological parents and later “adopted” by the Governor of Tasmania, Sir John Franklin, and his wife, Lady Jane, for their own self-promoting. When Sir John Franklin and his wife returned to England in 1843, Mathinna was cruelly abandoned and sent to the Queen’s Orphan School.
“Home Décor (Relative/Absolute) Flowers for Mathinna #2 (1999)” is from Bennett’s “Home Decor” series in which he appropriates images from famous artists including Jackson Pollock, Piet Mondrian, Margaret Preston, and Jean-Michel Basquiet. The series aims to create dialogue relating to the position of Indigenous art in the context of linear art history and the appropriation of Indigenous motifs by non-Indigenous artists. The addition of the depiction of Mathinna in the painting purchased by the MCA adds another dimension to the “Home Decor” series in which issues of identity – both cultural and artistic – are further explored.
The Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA) has created the MCA Foundation to raise funds specifically for the acquisition or commission of works for the MCA Collection. The Foundation is chaired by Ari Droga who is joined by a Foundation Council made up of Justin Miller, Catriona Mordant, Dr Dick Quan, Andrew Roberts, Nick Tobias, Ivan Wheen, and Shannan Whitney, all philanthropists and strong advocates of contemporary art.
MCA Foundation Chairman Ari Droga said: “The Foundation is delighted to help the MCA acquire works by important Australian artists to add to its contemporary art Collection. This will create a legacy for future generations of MCA visitors to enjoy. Our thanks to the generous MCA donors who have contributed significant funds to the acquisition of this work and the MCA’s on-going acquisitions program.”