The story of Arija and Richard (‘Dick’) Austin’s personal art collection cannot be separated from their life story. Arija and Richard led lives marked by extraordinary experiences including travel and work opportunities that at times sound like myth or legend. They also faced significant challenges: Arija immigrated to Australia from Lithuania due to conflicts of war, and Australian born Richard was a prisoner of war during World War II. The Austins’ motivations in collecting were in part driven by these individual and shared personal histories as well as by a deep and abiding love for art, culture and aesthetics.
In 2015, Arija bequeathed just over 200 artworks and objects from their collection to the University of the Sunshine Coast Art Collection as well as part proceeds of the sale of the estate for a major capital works project to redevelop the University of the Sunshine Coast Art Gallery, completed in 2020.
An Acquisitive Instinct: The Arija and Richard Austin Collection includes artworks and objects from the Austin collection to express the story of two people, each with a discrete yet complementary collecting instinct; Richard’s focus on traditional artworks and artefacts from across Asia, and Arija’s passion for design, animals, and contemporary and naïve art from Europe and Australia form the basis of their collection.
The works in the Austin collection held by UniSC predominantly originate from Asia, the Pacific and Australia, with a small number of European pieces. An Acquisitive Instinct marks the first public exhibition of many of these pieces. Additional objects from the Austin collection now held with the De Deyne Family are also on display.
Installation view of An Acquisitive Instinct: The Arija and Richard Austin Collection at UniSC Art Gallery. Photo: Carl Warner.
11am, Saturday 28 January 2023
With exhibition co-curators Rachel Harris and Megan Williams and objects conservator, Melanie Fihelly.