Collector Profile

Dr Michael Elliott

Dr Michael Elliott, a Melbourne collector with a soft spot for Australian ceramics, has built an approach to collecting that stems from a visceral connection with an artist’s work.

By Inga Walton

After a career as a lecturer and administrator at Swinburne University of Technology and later at RMIT, Dr Michael Elliott is largely retired these days, but his interest in the art world remains just as keen. In 2013, Elliott donated important works by the likes of Penleigh Boyd, Stephen Benwell, Owen Rye, John Glover, Gary Bish, Janet Beckhouse, and Gary Bradley to the National Gallery of Victoria, with a further 16 works going to the Art Gallery of Ballarat.

Elliott's extensive collection of Australian ceramics still reads like a roster of acclaimed practitioners, including Vipoo Srivilasa, David Ray, Janet Mansfield OAM, Sony Manning, Milton Moon AM, Fiona Murphy, Peter Rushforth AM, John Dermer, Alan Peascod, Gwyn Hanssen Pigott OAM and David Pottinger. Also dispersed around the house are works by Norman Lindsay, Margaret (Meg) Benwell (mother of Stephen), James Gleeson AO, Sandra Leveson, and botanical studies by Kay Craig. A self-confessed "plant and tree freak", Elliott has placed large-scale ceramic works by Kirk Winter, Robert Barron and Brian Keyte in the garden as features.

When did you first start collecting artworks?
I was taught in high school by James Mollison AO, and he switched me on to art and design, and what it might mean, and how you might do it graphically, and lay out pages and things. I'd never even thought about it. So with 50c in my hand I'd just go around and buy these little etchings that I found in an antique shop in South Yarra near Melbourne High School. James produced and designed the ... Subscribe to read this article in full

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