It is common practice for Parliaments as the seat of government to house an art collection representing local artists and depicting key Parliamentary identities, landmarks, landscape features, local culture and story.
The Parliament of Western Australia’s art collection features original artworks in various genres that have been presented, purchased, or are on loan to the Parliament of Western Australia.
The collection will appeal to those with artistic or cultural interest as well as those who simply want to celebrate what it means to be Western Australian.
This online catalogue, while expansive, is limited to those artworks where copyright permission has been provided to Parliament to reproduce the artwork. The broader collection can be viewed by participating in an art tour, delivered on the last Friday of every month by experienced guides from the Art Gallery of Western Australia.
History of the collection
The Parliament House art collection dates back to 1820 and includes works from some of the state’s most celebrated artists, Pietro Porcelli, Owen Garde, Elizabeth Durack, Willliam Boissevain, Philippa Nikulinsky and Robert Juniper, who was cited as a 'living treasure' before his death in 2012.
In the 1950s and 1960s, Claude Hotchin Esq, OBE (later Sir Claude), businessman and art benefactor, was a significant contributor and facilitator of the collection.
Claude Hotchin initially donated artworks to commemorate the golden jubilee of the federation of the Australian states on 9 May 1951 with further donations made in the early 1960s to meet art requirements for the newly constructed 1964 eastern wing of Parliament House. In total, 19 artworks were donated depicting historic buildings in the southern part of the state.
It is understood that Sir Claude Hotchin also facilitated the Local Government Art Gifts collection, comprising 97 artworks in various mediums, donated by local government authorities from across the state. The artworks include architectural or landscape features or activities from the local government area. These artworks were also obtained to meet the art requirements of the 1960s extension.
In 1997 Philippa Nikulinsky, artist and botanical illustrator, donated a collection of artworks used on the cover of the Conservation and Land Management magazine, Landscope. These were presented to Parliament by the then Minister for the Arts Hon Peter Foss, MLC.
The Aboriginal art collection, largely housed in the Aboriginal People’s Room and adjacent Aboriginal People’s Gallery, is dedicated to honouring Aboriginal people in this state. The collection primarily commenced in 2004 when these two areas were designated.
The collection includes artists such as Tjyllyungoo Lance Chadd, Sandra Hill and Christopher Pease, and speaks to the centrality of land and nature, ancestry and Indigenous iconography and the impacts of European colonisation. Through both story and medium, the collection reflects the diversity of Indigenous culture in Western Australia. The form and style represent the various cultural regions of the state.
The Aboriginal Art collection has been enhanced through a generous loan arrangement with Edith Cowan University and through the Parliament and Edith Cowan University artist-in-residence program, a joint initiative established in 2016. In 2018, the program featured Dr Penelope Forlano, a designer whose work focuses on sculptural public artworks that explore narrative, personal and public engagement.