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50 Treasures: T150 Artist Portraits by Michael Marzik

Our forty-first treasure is a series of artworks, the T150 Artist Portraits by Michael Marzik  from the James Cook University Art Collection. Michael Marzik is an Austrian freelance photographer and Arts industry professional, born in Switzerland, and now based in Cairns. 

Professor Diana Davis answers the question "why is this significant?" 

Michael Marzik's significant photographic portraits celebrate the essence of six artists and their unique contribution to the university. His subtly contemplative photographic style and use of black and white unerringly position each artist in a sophisticated creative soliloquy. These photographs embody the working legacy of senior and important artists, each with an impressive trajectory of teaching, wide ranging arts practice and exhibitions sampled only briefly here.
Michael Marzik, Ron McBurnie, 2016, Giclée digital print on Archival Hahnemuhle PhotoRag 308gsm, 49 x 64 cm, Edition 1/5. James Cook University Art Collection. ©Michael Marzik.

Historically, when Townsville TAFE's Department of Art and Design transferred to JCU in January 1991, then Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ray Golding, enthusiastically envisioned great possibilities in expanding JCU's range of creative arts. His vision was realised in an innovative suite of new degrees bulwarked by the staff's creative interactions with the concept of research as they acculturated to the university – and the university likewise. Golding sought to treasure the arts as an asset bridging town and gown through praise and renown. These artists were key to modelling the centrality of a practice base providing a potent magnet to undergraduates and postgraduates alike.
Michael Marzik, Jane Hawkins, 2016, Giclée digital print on Archival Hahnemuhle PhotoRag 308gsm, 49 x 64 cm, Edition 1/5. James Cook University Art Collection. ©Michael Marzik.

A quiet contemplative man, James Brown once undertook a parallel painting project with visiting Korean Professor Kim. Involving a year's fieldwork, each painted the landscape as he saw it. The resultant exhibition - Collaboration: Two Cultures at Flinders Gallery, Townsville in 1998 - was a powerful demonstration of differential intercultural perception and contribution to global awareness. When Ron McBurnie invited Tate Adams to partner him in re-incarnating Lyrebird Press at JCU, the result was a resurgence in artists' books and a powerful hub developed, ultimately generating Monsoon Publishing and Red Rag Press.
Michael Marzik, James Brown, 2016, Giclée digital print on Archival Hahnemuhle PhotoRag 308gsm, 49 x 64 cm, Edition 1/5. James Cook University Art Collection. ©Michael Marzik.
Michael Marzik, Anneke Silver, 2016, Giclée digital print on Archival Hahnemuhle PhotoRag 308gsm, 49 x 64 cm, Edition 1/5. James Cook University Art Collection. ©Michael Marzik.

Anne Lord's passionate connection to the natural environment has merged in various ways with her art practice, albeit always with a broad pedagogical purpose as, for example, when she installed a work titled ROT on a traffic island in Fortitude Valley, Brisbane to confront viewers with its ineluctable degradation. Sculptor Jane Hawkins interrogated the psychology of the human figure both at a personal and public level. Her impressive range of public commissions showcase her mastery of the three dimensional figure and her keen perception of the human condition. Bob Preston and Anneke Silver are both influential exponents of the power of art to enhance and interact with public spaces while guiding human traffic as it traverses them. Examples are Bob’s monumental floor mural at Brisbane International Airport's Departures and Anneke's seasonal mosaics located near Victoria Bridge in Townsville's CBD.
Michael Marzik, Anne Lord, 2016, Giclée digital print on Archival Hahnemuhle PhotoRag 308gsm, 49 x 64 cm, Edition 1/5. James Cook University Art Collection. ©Michael Marzik.

The university treasures the creative sensibilities of these six artists who have, each through their own inimitable oeuvre, both transcended the constraints of academia to enrich space and place and extended JCU's creative reach in immeasurable ways.
Michael Marzik, Bob Preston, 2016, Giclée digital print on Archival Hahnemuhle PhotoRag 308gsm, 49 x 64 cm, Edition 1/5. James Cook University Art Collection. ©Michael Marzik.

Over the course of 2020, JCU Library's Special Collections will be unveiling 50 Treasures from the collections to celebrate 50 years of James Cook University. 


Author Biography
Professor Diana Davis is currently an Adjunct Research Fellow in the Centre for European Studies at ANU. A Life Member of the APS, she holds a BA, Dip.Ed., MA (Australian Literature) and B.Ed. (University of Melbourne), and a PhD in Social Psychology (Monash). Prior to ANU she held positions at RMIT, Monash and JCU where she was initially Professor of Education and then Foundation Professor of Creative Arts. In this role she variously headed the Departments of Creative Arts, Art and Design, and Music before their amalgamation into the College of Music, Visual Arts and Theatre under her leadership.

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