Alisa Bunbury

Honorary Fellowship Project: Silent witness: The Art of Eric Thake

Eric Thake (1904–83) was a significant Melbourne artist who, through his five-decade career, demonstrated a unique vision, transforming the everyday into the gently surreal through his whimsical sense of humour and a refined modernist aesthetic.

Best known for his linocut An Opera House in every home (1972), depicting dishes drying on a rack, Thake's engaging art is little known among the wider community today. However, within the arts community he is widely recognised as an important artist long overdue for considered study and a substantial survey exhibition (the last being in 1981).

For her honorary fellowship project, Alisa is developing a catalogue raisonné of Thake's paintings, gouaches, prints, bookplates, photographs and design projects. The project will require in-depth primary research into his life and artistic output.

Key moments in Thake's career include his early training at the National Gallery School and with leading modernist teacher George Bell; his work as one of Australia's first Surrealist painters; his travel as an Official War Artist; his long-running Christmas card series; and his later interest in capturing quirky sights through photography, in an age long before Instagram or Pinterest.

Alisa's research will be the basis for a variety of projects to bring Eric Thake's art to wider public attention and could result in a Melbourne-based and regional travelling exhibition.

Alisa Bunbury is currently employed as Grimwade Collection Curator (part time) at the Ian Potter Museum of Art, University of Melbourne, and as a freelance curator, writer and researcher.

From 2002 to 2017, she was Curator of Prints and Drawings at the National Gallery of Victoria, and prior to that was employed as Curator of Prints, Drawings and Photographs at the Art Gallery of South Australia (1999–2002).

Alisa was the Harold Wright Scholar in the Prints and Drawings Department at the British Museum (1998–99), and holds a Postgraduate Diploma in Curatorial Studies and a Master of Arts from the University of Melbourne (1994, 1998). She has written a wide variety of publications on Australian and international art, and curated numerous exhibitions.