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The Shepparton Art Museum collection includes a significant collection of Australian and International Ceramics, historic and contemporary Australian landscape paintings, prints and works on paper, and a growing collection of Australian contemporary art.

Eighty Years of SAM: The Collection

Celebrating eighty years of the Shepparton Art Museum, 80 Years of the SAM: The Collection catalogue offers new perspectives on an established collection.

Featuring 80 works selected for 80 years, the essays and artwork texts reveal collection strengths, notable works, and the continued engagement of contemporary artists from the collection’s first beginnings to the present day.

Three themes emerge: place, ceramics, identity. These deliberately porous groupings draw from, and connect, the SAM Collection with the narratives, community, and landscape of Greater Shepparton.

Though the pieces are stylistically and materially diverse, taken together they reveal intersecting stories about the people, places, and histories of Australian art and culture.

The publication features two major essays, written by SAM Director, Dr Rebecca Coates, and former SAM Director, Peter Timms. These essays examine the history, context and collecting habits of the Shepparton Art Museum, and its humble beginnings in 1936, with the acquisition by Sir John Longstaff of John Rowell’s A Wet Day at Tallarook, right up to 2017.

Editors: Rebecca Coates and Sarah Gory
Authors: Anna Briers, Belinda Briggs, Gabriella Calandro, Holly Rose Campbell, Rebecca Coates, Sarah Gory, Jennifer Isaacs, Hester Naomi Lyon, Laura De Neefe, Philippa O’Brien, Kirsten Paisley, Drew Pettifer, Jessica Solty, Peter Timms and Lilian Yong.

Eighty Years of SAM – The Collection is the Museum’s most definitive Collection publication since 1987.

You can purchase a copy of the publication at SAM’s shop, or via phone by calling +61 3 5832 9861. It costs $29.95, or $25 for Friends of SAM.


1949 Streeton
Sir Arthur Streeton
Granite Boulders, Buffalo, c.1913-14

Shepparton Art Museum's collection was established in 1936 with a fifty-pound grant from the Victorian State Government.

Sir John Longstaff and Robert D. Elliot were instrumental in securing initial money to fund the collection and Longstaff became advisor to the Shepparton City Council on acquisitions. By 1949 the collection totalled 37 works and was displayed in the Town Hall. The collection policy of the time aimed to secure a historical selection of Australian Art with a few European paintings.

By 1960 the collection was one of the few left in regional Victoria that lacked a purpose built gallery. With the redevelopment of the Civic Centre in 1965, a gallery was incorporated. Significant changes took place in the 1970s with ceramics becoming the focus of the collection and collecting policy. The creation of the Victorian State Government Ministry for the Arts in 1972 saw an increase in funding to Shepparton Art Gallery, that assisted in growing the collection, which currently houses over 3000 works of art.

In 2011, approval was granted by Greater Shepparton City Council to rebrand Shepparton Art Gallery to Shepparton Art Museum, or SAM.

With an updated collection policy, SAM's collecting activities focus mainly on acquiring Australian ceramics and contemporary art, with major works acquired through the biennial sidney Myer Fund Australian Ceramics Award, and Indigenous Ceramic Award, respectively.

Ceramics Collection

Penny Byrne
Four Horsemen of the 21st Century Apocalypse, 2009

Shepparton Art Museum holds one of Australia's leading collections of historic and contemporary Australian ceramics. The collection includes objects made by the first convict potters, and a large collection of domestic and decorative ceramics made by early commercial potteries in Australia such as Bendigo Pottery, Lithgow Pottery, Hoffman Brick Company and Premier Pottery.

Ceramics by Merric Boyd, one of Australia's earliest studio potters is strongly represented in the collection alongside pottery, paintings and works on paper by artists associated with the Arthur Merric Boyd Pottery at Murumbeena, including John Perceval, Arthur Boyd and Mary Boyd.

Australia's leading contemporary ceramicists are represented in the ceramic collection in bodies of work by Gwyn Hanssen-Pigott, Stephen Benwell and Deborah Halpern. Contemporary artists engaging with the ceramic medium or reworking traditions are also represented by Aleks Danko, Penny Byrne, Renee So and Brendan Huntley.

SAM holds a unique collection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island ceramics, including work by the late Dr Thanacoupie Gloria Fletcher AO, Hermannsburg Potters, Janet Fieldhouse and Danie Mellor. Indigenous Australian ceramic work is acquired biennially through the Indigenous Ceramic Award.

Paintings & Works on Paper Collection

1949 McCubbin
Frederick McCubbin
The Wood Sawyer, c.1905

The first work acquired into the Museum's collection was A Wet Day at Tallarook (undated) by John Rowell, and subsequent acquisitions reflect an interest in painting of Shepparton, and wider Australian landscapes. Artists from the Heidelberg School including Frederick McCubbin, Arthur Streeton, Eugene von Guérard and Ethel Carrick Fox are represented in the collection, with some of their works depicting local sites and landscapes.

Australian women modernists, including important works by Margaret Preston, Grace Cossington Smith, Thea Proctor, Clarice Becket and Marguerite Mahood, amongst others make up an important part of the Museum's painting collection, alongside paintings by the Melbourne-based ROAR Studio artists such as Pasquale Giardino, Peter Ferguson and Wayne Eager, and paintings by Tony Tuckson and Peter Booth.

The collection holds over 500 works on paper, including many prints from the 1970's print-making revival by John Brack, George Baldessin and John Peart.

Contemporary Art Collection

Sam Jinks
Woman and Child 2010

SAM has a growing collection of contemporary Australian art that complements and speaks to works and themes in the existing collection, such as investigations of Australian landscape traditions, ceramic art practice and the use of clay, print-making and sculptural traditions.

Contemporary art is collected by artists working across artistic disciplines and conceptual concerns, and the collection includes work by Matthew Griffin, David Noonan, Sam Jinks, Patricia Piccinini, Benjamin Armstrong and Tracey Moffatt amongst others.