The residential students on this year’s ER White committee have made a bold decision in acquiring a work by self-taught local artist Mitch Gobel.
Mitch Gobel’s Oliver’s Creek is the latest acquisition to the extraordinary ER White collection, a collection that is almost certainly unique amongst national tertiary institutions.
While guided loosely by the curatorial role at Trinity College, the ER White Society is autonomous and their decision-making is their own. This year’s purchase reflects admirably the strengths of that process.
Gobel is a young self-taught artist whose fusion of colour and resin produce works that are striking in their richness and depth. Strongly engaged with environmental issues, it is not difficult to see in Gobel’s work the Australian landscape from an aerial vantage point.
In Oliver’s Creek, the sinewy blue ribbons of the creek bed cut across the topography surrounding country, drawn out in vibrant reds, pinks and ochres of dry summer grass and bushlands.
This is Gobel’s country, the area around Mornington Peninsula where he grew up as a boy and continues to live. The family’s property back on to the Oliver’s Creek Bush Land Reserve, and in childhood he recalls countless hours spent ‘as a kid mucking around at the creek, building forts to protect my brothers and I from what I now realize were imaginary monsters that we had created. This is ‘Oliver’s Creek’ in respect for the beautiful home we grew up in.’
Such is the palette of his colours in Oliver’s Creek, it is tempting to see in Gobel’s work a deeper understanding of the sense of place and respect for country reflected elsewhere in the College’s art collections, in the Indigenous works from north-east Arnhem Land.
This year’s ER White purchase, like so many in years past, is a significant addition to the collection and one that will no doubt will be much admired by the College’s community in the years ahead.
About the ER White Collection
After a quarter of a century the story behind the ER White Collection and the endowment that supports it are broadly known, but it is worth repeating in summary.
In 1958, in memory of her late father Edward ‘Teddy’ Rowden White, Mrs Moran and her husband purchased a painting by a young artist, John Brack, and gifted it to the College.
The Breakfast Table is a contemporary and striking work, with its flattened perspective and harsh shadows set against the brilliant yellow glow of morning sunlight on a set table. But perhaps it was, for its time, a little too challenging for Trinity.
In 1989, with the support of the family, the work was sold at auction on the condition that the proceeds were used to establish a fund that would enable residential students to build a collection of contemporary art works of their own, the ER White Collection.
Read more about Trinity College's art collection here