To celebrate the opening of Artspace Mackay in February 2003, artist Tate Adams generously donated over three hundred works on paper, artists' books, wood blocks and reference books to the Mackay Regional Council Collection. This major donation significantly enhanced an already impressive artists' books collection established in 1995 by Mackay City Library. It also served to reinforce Artspace Mackay's profile as an important cultural landmark in the region. Since then, the Mackay Regional Council Art Collection has continued to grow and expand.
Artspace Mackay established the first national artists' book conference Focus on Artists' Books in 2004. This conferenece and the associated Libris Artists' Book Award have become major cultural events, bringing to Mackay artists, scholars and enthusiasts from around Australia and internationally. These events have succeeded in raising the profile of Mackay's collection, and attracting further donations by publishers and artists eager for inclusion.
The Cultural Gifts Program
In 2004, Artspace Mackay was officially endorsed by the Australian Taxation Office as a Deductible Gift Recipient. This classification has enabled numerous benefactors, collectors and artists to donate items of signifcant cultural heritage through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts progam. A selection of these exceptional donations are displayed in this exhibition. Locally too, important donations have been forthcoming.
Lockhart River Art Gang
In 2006, Geoff & Fran Barker (Lockhart River Art Centre 1996 - 2001) donated an historically important archive of 43 early prints and one work on canvas by founding members of the 'Art Gang', including Rosella Namok, Fiona Omeenyo, Samantha Hobson and Sammy Clarmont.
The Pioneer Potters Collection
The Pioneer Potters, Mackay, was formed in 1975 by a small group of potters who wished to improve their skills. The underlying aim of the group was to have a contact area for inspiring ceramicists and to improve the standard of pottery in Mackay. This was accomplished by holding seminars and workshops with experienced potters from around Australia and overseas.
The Pioneer Potters established annual acquisitive awards that attracted entries from local, national and international artists. This collection was built up over a number of years and features prize-winning entries, as well as exceptional pieces acquired from visiting artists and workshop participants.
In 2006, the Pioneers Potters Inc. generously donated the entire collection of 64 pieces to Mackay Regional Council.