Published on 6 March 2013
Renowned Sunshine Coast architect and philanthropist John Mainwaring has donated his substantial personal art collection to the University of the Sunshine Coast.
USC Gallery Curator Dawn Oelrich said the collection was of great significance to both the University and the broader community.
“John co-designed USC’s award-winning Library in 1997 and has a long connection with our University,” she said.
“He has made this gift to maintain our connection with him and to make his collection available to the public.
“In addition to more than 105 art works, John has written volumes about how his collection influenced his distinctive sub-tropical architecture. This historical context is valuable for USC’s design, education, public policy, town planning and engineering students, and also for the broader community.”
The collection is currently touring Australia in an exhibition called An Architect’s Eye. It was previously housed in Mr Mainwaring’s office in Brisbane and homes at Noosa and Brisbane.
Mr Mainwaring said he wanted the pieces to “live on” as a unified collection after they had provided him with so much inspiration.
“I studied art before architecture and collecting art has been an integral part of my attitude towards life and my design philosophy,” he said.
“I want to continue to contribute to the cultural evolution of the campus.”
Ms Oelrich said the donation would broaden USC’s existing public collection of large-scale paintings from Australia’s Western and Central Desert.
“Of particular importance are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander paintings and prints from areas such as Far North Queensland and Arnhem Land,” she said.
Mr Mainwaring said he had bought many of the pieces directly from artists and community cooperatives while working in these areas over past decades.
“I developed a strong affinity with Indigenous art and have enjoyed learning about the landscape and universe through these works,” he said.
Prominent artists in the collection are Lawrence Daws and Blair McNamara (Sunshine Coast), Sally Gabori (northern Queensland) and Rammey Ramsey and Boxer Milner (northwestern Australia).
The collection includes contemporary paintings, abstract art, and even a few paintings by Mr Mainwaring and his mother, a botanist and watercolour artist.
He said art and architecture were inextricably linked and one of his favourites was a Lawrence Daws painting of the Glass House Mountains, sunlit in winter, that “brought the Coast into my living room”.
— Julie Schomberg