The Whitehorse City Council Art Collection represents a significant community, cultural and educational resource for all those living and working in Whitehorse.

The Art Collection comprises works by significant artists of the nineteenth and early twentieth century; and contemporary works by living artists completed in a variety of media including paintings, photographs and original prints, ceramics and textiles. It also includes commissioned site-specific sculptures.


Development of the Collection

The collection was developed by gift and commission in its early days and subsequently by purchase and a continuing tradition of donations.

The foundation work in the collection was a 1927 Buckmaster portrait of JR Kefford, which was financed by public subscription. Kefford was the Shire Secretary of the Shire of Nunawading and the first Town Clerk for the City of Box Hill.

In 1952 JS Gawler, on his retirement from Council, donated two paintings by E Phillips Fox to the collection. Phillips Fox, as a student at the National Gallery School had joined Tom Roberts, Fred McCubbin and others on weekend sketching tours from 1885, the same year they established the camp at Box Hill. 

The collection developed further in the late 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, particularly when Andrew Walls, the Town Clerk at Box Hill, expanded the ‘heritage’ section of the collection.

During the 1980s, 1990s and early this century, the collection expanded further by way of development through purchasing and through the gifting of works to the Art Collection. Today, the Whitehorse Art Collection numbers over 1,300. Contemporary works in the collection cover a wide range of media interests and philosophies.

The collection includes:

  • More than 630 works on paper including drawings collage and limited edition prints
  • Almost 200 paintings with landscapes as the principle subject matter
  • More than 420 contemporary ceramic works representing a useful holding of key works by major figures. Some 270 of these represent a generous 25 year long term loan from Ceramics Victoria
  • A small collection of sculpture, jewellery, glass, woodwork and textiles. 

Future of the Collection

Council approved a new policy for the Art Collection in 2009. This policy, due for review in late 2014, ensures the proper ongoing management and development of the collection. 

The statement of purpose for the collection reads: "Whitehorse Art Collection reflects, engages and inspires our diverse community. The City of Whitehorse preserves and develops the collection for the benefit of residents and visitors." 

Adoption of this policy recognises the benefits of the City having an art collection.

The Whitehorse Art Collection: 

  • Identifies the City’s heritage and honours creative work in all media, including Indigenous art and, in particular, recognises the area as the genesis of Australian Impressionism
  • Integrates works of art into the community so the community is regularly exposed to quality art
  • Reflects the culture and interests of the community
  • Provides an educative function which allows residents to enjoy a range of quality visual art, thereby enriching their lives
  • Provides access to key aspects of the development of fine art and craft in Australia 
  • Acts as an important reference point for historical studies
  • Is a valuable resource for schools and tertiary institutions. 

Council has committed itself to a modest continuing development of the collection and in 2013 has purchased two ceramic works by Indigenous ceramic artist Rona Panangka Rubuntja, a small artist’s book by Kari Henriksen and a small painting by William Breen. A large textile, by members of the Australian Quilters Association, was donated and is on display in Box Hill Library. Important ceramic artists Barry Singleton and Greg Daly have also donated large ceramic works to the Ceramics Victoria Collection, within the Whitehorse Art Collection.

A major catalogue of the Art Collection, accompanied by essays, was published by the City of Whitehorse in 2003. An insert of current works is updated every year. A range of art cards, and publications, featuring key works from the collection, are available for purchase from the Whitehorse Artspace. 

Part-time trained curators manage the collection and its display. Council's Visual Arts Committee – consisting of arts and museum professionals and experts living and or working in Whitehorse – plays an important role in selecting works for purchase or donation and in the development of the exhibition program. 


Access to the Collection

Exhibitions drawn from the collection are regularly staged at the Whitehorse Artspace. Works from the collection are also displayed in the foyers of the Whitehorse Civic Centre, Council Chambers and the Whitehorse Centre. 

In addition, works are on display in the committee rooms of the Council’s Civic Suite, in meeting rooms at the Box Hill Town Hall and, on occasion, at the Box Hill Community Arts Centre. Works from the collection are also lent to public galleries for exhibition. In 2011 two major works by Emanuel Phillips Fox were loaned to the Queensland Art Gallery. In early 2013, a major collaborative exhibition was held at Whitehorse Artspace, Manningham Art Gallery and Maroondah Art Gallery, showcasing the wealth of historic and contemporary artwork in all three municipal collections.


For more information, download the pdf icon Art Collection Policy.pdf (26.38kB) and pdf icon Art Exhibition Policy.pdf (22.38kB).