Dobell Foundation Celebrates 50th Anniversary

On October 4 2022, the Dobell Foundation celebrated 50 Years of giving and gifting to the Visual Arts in NSW.

The event, delayed by one year due to the Covid pandemic, was held in the Northern Foyer of the Sydney Opera House in front of the vibrant mural, Five Bells, by John Olsen. The mural was the Foundation’s first major commission and gift, to celebrate the opening of the Sydney Opera House in 1973.

Guests included representatives from many of our partner organisations including the Art Gallery of NSW, The National Art School, The Art Gallery Society, Museums and Galleries NSW, and the Queens Club, as well as representatives of the arts media.

Below can be found the welcome speech by the Foundation’s Chair, a full list of donations and gifts made over 50 years, images from the event and some media reports.

Speech by Michelle Belgiorno-Nettis.
Chair, Sir William Dobell Art Foundation.

Sir William Dobell Art Foundation – 50 Years of Giving


 Dobell Australian Drawing Biennial 
In 2014 established a biennial curated exhibition of contemporary drawing with AGNSW. Runs in alternate years to the Dobell Drawing Prize at NAS. 

• Dobell Drawing Prize at National Art School 
In 2019 resurrected an open competitive prize at NAS to create opportunities for artists to have their work exhibited. 

• Dobell Drawing School for Year 11 Visual Arts Students 
Run by NAS, students from disadvantaged regional public schools in NSW spend a week in Sydney honing their drawing skills. 

• Regional Workshops for Visual Arts Teachers 
Fund annual up-skilling courses in regional centres with training by NAS academic staff. 

• Art Gallery Society Learning Curve Lecture Series and Live in the Lounge interviews 
Support continuing education courses for lifelong learning 

• Dobell Exhibition Grant with Museums and Galleries NSW 
An annual grant of $40k for an outstanding curated exhibition by a Regional Gallery 

• Bundanon Artist In Residence Scholarship 
Funding for materials and transport for a selected AIR each year 

• Donation towards purchase of Iluwanti Ken work to commemorate the opening of Sydney Modern at AGNSW


• Robert Klippel Sculpture
Donated to Art Gallery of NSW.

• John Olsen 5 Bells Mural
Donated to newly completed Sydney Opera House in 1973.

• John Olsen Painting
Donated to Newcastle Art Gallery.

• Dobell Sketch Books
Donated to Australian National Gallery.

• Bert Flugelman Sculpture
Donated to City of Sydney (now located Pitt & Spring Streets).

• Sydney College of the Arts
Annual $2500 student prize.

• National Art School
Annual $2500 student prize.

Annual $2500 student prize.

• Julian Ashton Art Prize
Annual $2500 student prize.

• Arthur Boyd Painting
Donated to Macquarie University.

• Sydney Nolan Tapestry
Lent to University of Western Sydney.

• ABC – Film on Dobell
Donated $40,000.

• Dobell Print Royalty
Donated to Australian Opera.

• Dobell Chair of Art, Australian National University, Canberra
Major contribution to establish the Chair.

• Dobell Memorial Lectures
Seven overseas and Australian Lecturers, printing and donating Limited Edition Books on each lecture to Libraries.

• Dobell Self Portrait
Joint purchase with Art Gallery of NSW

• Dobell House, Paddington
Purchased, renovated and leased to Australian Centre of Photography with substantial rental subsidy. Building sold by ACP in 2020 and they kept the funds.

• Dobell Sketches
Donated 900 to the Art Gallery of NSW – Value $75,000.

• Young Art 1.
Collection of 25 plus works of young and emerging artists – tour of Regional NSW Regional Galleries – owned by Foundation.

• Book on Dobell
Substantial donation to Brian Adams.

• Dobell Art Prize Wangi
Donated a 20th Anniversary prize to 5 young artists of $5000 each.

• Art Gallery of NSW
Visiting Artists donation.

• Australian National University
Dobell Chair – additional equipment.

• Australian National Gallery
Donated 24 Dobell Sketch Books.

• Sali Herman film
Substantial donation towards production of film on Sali Herman.

• Gunnery Art Centre Woolloomooloo
Purchase, refurbishment of Dobell studio for visiting artists.

• ABC – Film on James Gleeson
Major donation as James had been Foundation Art Director .

• Oliffe Richmond Sculpture
Presented to Art Gallery of NSW.

• New England Regional Museum and Art Gallery.
Major donation towards refurbishment of Gallery – Dobell Room named.

• Arthur Murch
Assistance with book on Dobell.

• Southern Highlands Gallery
Catalogue Printing.

• Art Gallery of NSW
Donation – 1964 Dobell Retrospective Art Gallery of NSW.

• New England Museum and Art Gallery
Further contribution to Stage 1.

• Victorian Art Centre
Half-cost of exhibiting Dobell Drawing Prize.

• Wangi Memorial Committee
Several donations to assist with Maintaining Dobell’s home.

• Sydney Children’s Hospital
Loan of paintings.

• Beagle Press
Donation towards Lou Klepac’s book “Australian Painters of the 20th Century”.

• Art Gallery of NSW
Donation of $10,000 towards Conservation of Dobell’s drawings.

• NSW Department of Education
A major sponsor (originally $125,000) towards ART EXPRESS (annual showcase of outstanding work from the HSC examination in Visual Arts).

• Elizabeth Donaldson
Donated $4000 towards her book “William Dobell: An Artist’s Life”. All proceeds to Wangi House.

• Dobell Prize for Drawing established at Art Gallery of NSW
Established in 1993 and continued for twenty years. As an acquisitive prize more than 40 contemporary drawings, including the winning works, were added to the Gallery’s collection.

• Outstanding Visual Arts Teacher Award
Annual donation to a public school Visual Arts Department which achieved outstanding student success in HSC art.