Heads Up Heroes
Many of the portraits on display in Multivocal are a product of the University of Melbourne’s tradition of celebrating the achievements of its professorial staff through portraiture. Successive incumbents of the Ormond Chair of Music, Deans, Professors and key figures in music have been formally captured by artists over the decades, typically in the traditional forms of oil paintings and sculptural busts. This exhibition shows a very small selection of these formally commissioned depictions of leaders in the musical world at the University, by significant Australian artists.
Other images in the portrait selection tell a story about the relationship between the creator and their subject – from the pencil sketch portrait of cello teacher Louis Hattenbach set down by music student Ernest Moffitt on a piece of music examination paper, to the photographic portrait of artist Arthur Streeton dedicated to fellow music-lover Marshall-Hall, and the bust of composer Percy Grainger sculpted by his friend and physician, Kaare Nygaard. These portraits point to the importance of the shared musical experience and relationships that form through a mutual love of music. One of the earliest portrait images in the exhibition, Georgette Peterson’s triumphantly gestural photographic portrait, conducting baton raised high, is a powerful testament to the significance of women making their mark throughout the history of music at Melbourne University.