Cultural Advice

Aboriginal Peoples are advised the Library Collection contains images, voices and names of deceased people in physical and online resources.

The Library recognises the significance of the traditional cultural knowledges contained within its Collection. The Library acknowledge some materials contain language that may not reflect current attitudes, was published without consent or recognition, or, is offensive. These materials reflect the views of the authors and/or the period in which they were produced and do not represent the views of the Library.

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The Art Collection includes material across a diverse range of art and design topics. Historical publications from the South Australian School of Art along with past student works are also held in the Collection. Some books are rare, fragile, or valuable, including limited editions. Some books contain material that could be considered controversial and may cause offence. 

Banner picture - Artists books display, Art Special Collection, UniSA Library 2021

Access and explore the collection

The Collection is housed in the Jeffrey Smart Building at the University of South Australia City West Campus. Access is by appointment only. Some items may be borrowed for teaching purposes by UniSA staff.

Contact Ask the Library to make an appointment or for more information.

You can explore the Collection by browsing Collection Discovery or searching the Special Collections Catalogue.

South Australian School of Art

When the South Australian Society of Arts was formed in 1856, one of its declared aims was the establishment of a School of Art and Design. This ambition became reality in 1861 when the South Australian School of Design was founded under the management of the Society of Arts with Charles Hill as first Master. The School is the oldest of UniSA's antecedent institutions. The School went through a number of name changes over the years and in 1958 became the South Australian School of Art. In 1973, the School merged with Western Teachers College to form the Torrens College of Advanced Education.

The historical material in this Special Collection includes student magazines, letter book, newspaper clippings, lecture notes, Committee minutes, photographs of student works, and much more. These unique and valuable items have been digitised and may be viewed via the Library Collection.

Trevor Nickolls Collection

Trevor Nickolls was a significant urban Aboriginal artist, born in 1949 in Adelaide, South Australia and died in 2012. Trevor had been exhibiting since the 1970’s and his painted works are represented in collections in France, Germany, the Netherlands, the United States, Canada and Australia. Trevor became the first Aboriginal artist to be exhibited at the Venice Biennale in 1990, alongside fellow artist Rover Thomas. 

'A major theme in his art is "Dreamtime to Machinetime" a theme which articulates the cultural transition which many Aboriginal people have undertaken in their journey from their traditional cultural heritage of living in the Dreamtime, into the world of mechanisation and technology. Trevor Nickolls work often presents various interactions between these two different worlds or shows the dilemma of living within both.' (AIARTS biography 2021, p. 1) 

Within the UniSA Library we have numerous published books on Trevor’s artistic journey, exhibition guides and journal articles showcasing his painted works. Archival material of note includes 5 of Trevor’s sketch books, the 1990 Venice Biennale exhibition book about the journeys of Trevor Nickolls & Rover Thomas and the Trevor Nickolls biography created by Australian & International Arts, AIARTS. This biography links Trevor to the Ngarrindjeri First Nation and lists all exhibitions and works that Trevor took part in during his lifetime. View the Trevor Nickolls Collection items in the Special Collections Catalogue.    

Exhibition Catalogues

UniSA holds a strong and diverse collection of art exhibition catalogues from Australia and around the world. These exhibition catalogues are now housed in specially designed holders on Level 5 of the Jeffrey Smart Building and may be borrowed by students and staff.


From the Collection

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Related UniSA Library Guides

Picture - Artists books display, Art Special Collection, UniSA Library 2021