• intouch magazine | #03 august 2015


Comprised of art, artefacts and literature from the Newcastle Art Gallery and Newcastle Region Library collections, this exhibition celebrates the 70th anniversary of Dr Roland Pope's significant gift to the city in 1945. His donation was the catalyst for the building of our cultural institutions and decades of cultural benefaction to Newcastle.

A Sydney based ophthalmologist, one time cricketer for Australia and a notable collector of Australian art and literature, Pope made a large scale donation to Newcastle from his collection with the requirement that a library and art gallery be built for the city. In 1957, five years after Pope's death, the War Memorial Cultural Centre opened to house Newcastle Region Library, and in 1977 the purpose built Gallery we know today opened next door.

Newcastle Lord Mayor Cr Nuatali Nelmes said the city owes a debt of gratitude to Pope. "Clearly, Dr Pope was a man of vision and he saw that same visionary spirit in Newcastle," said the Lord Mayor. "Although he had no connection here, he knew that Newcastle had the makings of a great city and that every great city needs thriving cultural institutions. There is no doubt that our city would have developed those institutions at some point in our history, but that time came much sooner due to Dr Pope's generous gift and his interest in our future."

This exhibition acknowledges the legacy of a single man who contributed much to the development of culture in the Hunter region. Housed across both venues; A gift to the City will showcase the breadth of this significant donation.

THE ROLAND POPE ART DONATION Pope's gift included more than 120 works of art. These included works by such artists as Jean Bellette, Ethel Carrick Fox, Elioth Gruner, Sali Herman, Hans Heysen, Sydney Long, Max Meldrum, Thea Proctor, Alison Rehfisch, David Strahan and Lloyd Rees, Arthur Streeton and Roland Wakelin - some of the key artists in the Newcastle Art Gallery collection today.

One such work, Russell Drysdale's The crow trap 1941 was purchased from Macquarie Galleries, Sydney in 1942. "The works are eclectic, reflecting the taste of an astute collector of art, who purchased works by some of Australia's most eminent artists of the time," said Lauretta Morton, Manager, Newcastle Art Gallery.

"Pope was a regular client of Macquarie Galleries in the 1930s-40s, sometimes purchasing works of art on a weekly, fortnightly and monthly basis. His choice of works reflected the diverse stable of artists that Macquarie represented at that time."

THE ROLAND POPE LITERATURE DONATION The significant collection of books gifted by Pope reflected his wide-ranging interests. Highlighting his sporting passion, the impressive range of cricket books cover a period from the 1860s to the 1940s. Pope not only loved sport but also good living and the finer things of life. The collection includes books on food and wine, architecture, gardens, ballet, art, music, etiquette and the theatre.

"Pope assembled a magnificent library of natural history titles with an emphasis on ornithology," said Suzie Gately, Manager, Newcastle Region Library. "Birds were a long-time passion of the collector and this is a collection built on knowledge and expertise. Its scope extends across all continents and many famous names in ornithology."

"The outstanding collection of Gould’s Birds is the jewel in a gift which has many highlights."

DUAL EXHIBITIONS Newcastle Art Gallery, the Roland Pope art collection, 15 August - 1 November 2015 Newcastle Region Library, the Roland Pope literary collection, 15 August - 31 October 2015. Take home a free exhibition brochure, available at both venues.

IMAGE: Jerrold Nathan Portrait of Dr Roland Pope (1944) oil on canvas. Purchased 1946 Newcastle Art Gallery Collection

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