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Robert Smith Collection on show for first time

Robert Smith Collection on show for first time

Friday 30 July 2021

The inaugural exhibition featuring artworks from the Robert Smith Collection is on show in the foyer of the Wonthaggi Union Community Arts Centre.

The exhibition, Noel Counihan, Robert Smith and Wonthaggi, will feature 26 works drawn from the Collection by curator Ken Scarlett OAM, an expert in Australian art and sculpture.

The exhibition will be on display from Tuesday, 3 August until Friday, 19 November. The foyer is open Tuesday to Friday, from 10.00am to 4.00pm. Please remember to wear a mask and check in with the QR code, when attending. Density limits will be in place.

Bass Coast Shire Council CEO Ali Wastie said the exhibition focuses on the work of Noel Counihan, which reflects the impact of spending time in the mines of Wonthaggi during World War II.

“It also explores some of the ongoing continuity of content that manifests in subsequent works,” Ms Wastie said.

“Expanding the research into the artistic lineage of Counihan’s work, the exhibition presents some significant works from renowned international artists such as Francisco Goya, Käthe Kollwitz and Honore Daumier, whose style and interests would have influenced Counihan.

“Through this research, the exhibition reveals the core humanist values present in the Robert Smith Collection, and its direct relevance to the history of Wonthaggi,” Ms Wastie concluded.

The exhibition is accompanied by an illustrated catalogue containing commissioned essays from Ken Scarlett and Professor Ken Wach, with extracts from the writings of Bernard Smith and Robert Smith, as well as a summary of Roberts’s career by Ron Wilkes.

The Robert Smith Collection was gifted to Council by Mr Smith in 2017. It is made up of around 600 works, including limited edition prints, works on paper, paintings, sculptures, ceramics and photographs.

The works are by Australian and International artists spanning from the sixteenth century up to the millennium. The collection also includes a vast collection of books, magazines and periodicals. More of the collection can be seen online via