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Sasha Grishin's spiritual home
Professor Sasha Grishin has been a friend of the Library for a long time. He was a Library Creative Fellow in 2010, he wrote a history of Australian art at the Library and he has presented fascinating public lectures at the Library on printmaking and artists' books in Melbourne and on contemporary artists' books.
Sasha was born in Melbourne. He trained as an art historian at the universities of Melbourne, Moscow, London and Oxford and established the Department of Art History at the ANU, where he is presently the Sir William Dobell Professor of Art History. He also works internationally as an art historian, art critic and curator and has published extensively on contemporary and medieval art.
Here, Sasha shares his warm recollections of the dome as a formative influence on his intellectual life.
'Initiation into the arts in Melbourne since the 1960s might involve lying on the floor of the Great Hall at the National Gallery of Victoria, looking at the Len French ceiling and then running your fingers through the stream of cold water on the water wall. But for the previous generation, when the National Gallery was at the State Library, initiation into the arts consisted of lying on the floor under the great dome. I belong to that generation.
'Although I had left Melbourne by the time I was in my early 20s, I have never severed my links with my spiritual home, the State Library of Victoria, despite many years in exile abroad and in Canberra. The Library has a phenomenal collection of books and memorabilia dealing with all aspects of Australian art and a surrounding intellectual community to match.
'I returned to the Library as a Creative Fellow in 2010. During my fellowship I completed a 300,000-word history of Australian art, Australian art: a history. The Library generously stepped in as a co-sponsor of the publication and provided access to the materials in their Pictures Collection.
'The Library and its domed reading room is the heart of the intellectual hub of Australia. It is a phenomenal scholarly resource, modern and digital, but with a sentimental core that goes back into the 19th century.'