IT’S a little known fact that the Bass Coast Shire Council already owns, on behalf of the community, six original works by Noel Counihan.
Purchased by the Bass Coast Arts and Cultural Forum for Wonthaggi’s centenary back in 2010, the pieces didn’t arrive in time to be part of the celebrations and have since been squirrelled away in the shire’s vaults, as yet unseen by the community.
It is anticipated that they will be brought out and exhibited as part of the official opening of the State Coal Mine Rescue Station next year.
Thanks to Counihan’s connection and fondness for Wonthaggi, after his experiences here during the Second World War, the famous series of lino cuts known as ‘The Miners’ was purchased from the Counihan family at a fraction of their real value but they are acknowledged as being among the most important pieces in the shire’s existing art collection.
Of course, should the shire council vote in favour of the motion before it at its upcoming council meeting on Wednesday, September 21, to officially accept The Robert Smith Social Realism Collection, the six works it already has will simply form part of that overall collection.
Our art collection
The Council’s General Manager Healthy Communities and Governance, David Elder, provided some details about the shire’s existing collection:
Q1. How many pieces of art are there in the shire’s (indoor) art collection?
A1. There are 97 pieces of art and the Mapping Photograph series of Wonthaggi contains 59 photographs.
Q2. Where are they displayed?
A2. The pieces are displayed in Council-owned buildings, as much as possible in foyers, entrances and meeting rooms in the Wonthaggi Civic Centre, Inverloch Community Hub, Cowes Cultural Centre, Newhaven Visitor Information Centre and Grantville Transaction Centre. Pieces from the collection have also at times been on display in local libraries and at the Wonthaggi Union Community Arts Centre. We are also in progress of adding a virtual gallery including part of the collection on our website.
Q3. Where are the others stored?
A3. In hallways and offices, and in specialised archival storage boxes.
Mr Elder confirmed that the shire’s collection does include the six lino prints in ‘The Miners’ series by Noel Counihan circa 1947, from his visit to Wonthaggi in 1944 (Braceboy, In the narrow seam, In the shadow of disaster – the wife, The Miner, The Cough and The Young Wheeler).