Guide to the Art Monthly Australia Archives [MSS 289]

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Manuscript Name Art Monthly Australia Archives
Manuscript Number MSS 289
Last Updated August 2021
Extent 55cm (5 boxes)
Location Special Collections, UNSW Canberra
Abstract Correspondence, financial papers, audio tapes for "Art monthly Australia". Includes material pertaining to the Aboriginal art supplements, 1990 and 1992. Correspondents include Ken Whisson, Bernard Smith, Peter Fuller, and Humphrey McQueen

Scope and Content

This collection comprises correspondence, newspaper and magazine reviews and clippings, programs, reviews and audio cassette tapes relating to Art Monthly Australia.

Date Range of Content



The collection has been arranged in box then folder order.

Administrative History

The first issue of Art monthly Australia, (AMA) was published in June 1987; its founding editor was Peter Townsend, then the distinguished (and also founding) editor of Art monthly (UK), that country's leading magazine of contemporary visual art. Townsend modelled the Australian magazine on its namesake and it quickly became a lively and critical forum for debate on contemporary Australian art. Townsend edited both magazines for six years, travelling between London and Australia, before returning permanently to England in 1993, when he was succeeded as editor of AMA by Peter Timms, a well-known writer and curator. Timms edited the magazine for five years - his first issue was number 58 (April 1993) and his last was number 107 (March 1998). Philippa Kelly, who had worked as Art monthly Australia's managing editor for the previous eight years and had broad experience in the visual arts, was then appointed editor; her last issue was April 2002. Deborah Clark was the 5th editor, and saw Art Monthly Australia publish its 200th issue in June 2007, Deborah's last issue was October 2007 - read her final editorial here.

Art monthly Australia is an incorporated public company, and exists as a non-profit organisation. The magazine is produced ten times a year, from March to December. Art monthly Australia's income is derived from sales and subscriptions, advertising, philanthropic and corporate sponsorship and donations, and government funding. Over the eighteen year-life of the magazine it has been vigorously supported by the Australia Council, initially with annual funding and now with triennial funding. The magazine has also sought and received some funding from state and territory arts funding bodies.

The Australian National University (ANU) School of Art, Canberra, has hosted Art monthly Australia since 1992. The magazine was originally published in Sydney by Sam Ure Smith, but within two years Peter Townsend moved it to Canberra (in 1989) where it was self-published. The new location enabled Art monthly Australia to position itself as a truly national magazine. David Williams, Director of the School of Art, is the Chair of the AMA Board, whose other members include people from around Australia with strong professional expertise in different spheres of the visual arts and publishing - academic, commercial, museological, and commercial. The magazine has a strong relationship with the ANU academic community, including collaborations and exchanges on academic committees, publishing ventures and in public lectures.

Art monthly Australia pays its contributing writers and also pays fees to artists, agencies and institutions. The magazine pays for its printing and distribution and office costs.

In 2007 Art monthly Australia published its 200th issue and is in a mature phase of its development with 20 years of publishing and is positioned very strongly in the market for Australian visual art. AMA has always been an important magazine in that market, now it is vital. Under Peter Townsend AMA carved a niche for itself as a key player in Australian visual arts, and in the subsequent years it remained essential reading on the Australian scene. In the last few years Art monthly Australia has, to an extent, been re-invented, and currently commands a central place in art journal publishing in this country, where it has a strong reputation as an intelligent, well informed and accessible visual art magazine with truly national coverage. Its monthly currency is unique in Australia.

Art monthly Australia web page, retrieved 21 January 2008.

Administrative Information


This collection is available for research - no copying.

Restrictions on Use

No copying is permitted without the permission of the copyright owners.

Preferred Citation

Art Monthly Australia Archives, Special Collections, UNSW Canberra, Australian Defence Force Academy, MS 289, Box [Number], Folder [Number].


This collection was acquired from Art Monthly Australia in two installments in 1992 and 1993.

Access Terms

Topical Subjects

Publishers and publishing -- Australia -- Archives.

Art -- Australia -- Periodicals -- Archives.

Corporate Names

Art Monthly Australia -- Archives

Container List

Box 1

Folder 1
Material for Aboriginal Art Catalogue, 1990

Folder 2
Correspondence from Terry Smith, Christopher Heathcote, Fred Williams, Ken Whisson, etc, 1987-1990

Folder 3
Correspondence regarding financial matters, 1988-1989

Folder 4
Correspondence from Humphrey McQueen, Bernard Smith, Nigel Lendon, Ken Scarlett, Natasha Serventy, etc, 1987-1990

Folder 5
Thailand: correspondence, printed booklets and clippings of art reviews of exhibitions and a symposium paper
Drafts of articles by Michael Denholm

Folder 6
Correspondence and drafts of articles by Michael Denholm

Folder 7
Correspondence from Peter Fuller, Rosalie Gascoigne, Pat Gilmour, Adrian Jones, etc

Box 2

Folder 8
Correspondence from Alison Carroll, John Clark, Betty Churcher, Jacques Delaruelle, Janine Burke, etc

Folder 9
Correspondence from Art Museums Association of Australia, Australian Exhibitions Touring Agency, Australian National Gallery

Folder 10
Correspondence with galleries regarding the Moet and Chandon Award

Folder 11
Correspondence regarding copyright permissions to reproduce works of art in Art monthly Australia, 1987-1989

Folder 12
Correspondence and material regarding festivals and sponsorship, 1987-1989

Folder 13
Material regarding the France-Australia catalogue
Correspondence regarding art bibliographies and festivals

Folder 14
Correspondence regarding the City Art Institute's forthcoming exhibitions at the Melbourne Art Fair

Box 3

Folder 15
Correspondence regarding the Australian Bicentennial Authority, printing, distribution, Murray Bail, profiles and cartoons

Folder 16
Correspondence regarding Aboriginal art, Fine Arts Press

Folder 17
Correspondence regarding the Aboriginal Urban Art Supplement, 1990

Folder 18
Correspondence regarding the Aboriginal Urban Art Supplement, 1990, and Aboriginal Art Supplement, 1992

Folder 19
NAVA material, 1987-1990

Folder 20
Correspondence regarding New Zealand travel, Australian Bureau of Statistics, Paul Taylor, Ken Shepherd, Daniel Thomas and grants

Folder 21
Correspondence regarding ARCO Art Fair, 1990 and 1991

Box 4

Folder 22
Correspondence between Peter Townsend and Annabel Davie, 1987-1991

Folder 23
Photocopies of published reviews

Folder 24
Newspaper clippings and press advertisements

Folder 25
Photocopies of newspaper clippings

Folder 26
Photocopies of newspaper clippings

Folder 27
Copies of reviews and Adelaide Festival Programme
Parliament House Construction Authority newsletter

Av 1

Av 1-7
Audio cassette tapes (7) of interviews with Jan Senbergs and James Mollison and 'Semiotics made simple'