Publication Details

Boyde, MJ, Making it Accessible: Mary Alice Evatt and Australian Modernist Art, in Dixon, R & Kelly, V (eds), Impact of the modern: vernacular modernities in Australia 1870s-1960s, Sydney, Sydney University Press, 2008, 125-136.


In his autobiography art historian Bernard Smith recounts how, as a young art teacher posted to a school at Murraguldrie in country New South Wales (NSW) in the mid 1930s, he tried unsuccessfully to borrow books on modern art from the country lending service of the State Public Library. On a visit to Sydney he made an appointment to see the NSW Chief Librarian W. H. Ifould, “a man of considerable power and influence in New South Wales” who was also a trustee of the National Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW). Smith took to the meeting the small catalogue listing the art books in the country section and “asked, as discreetly as he could manage, why it offered no books on modern art.” Ifould was very clear: “There are no books on modern art in the Country Reference Section…because to the best of my knowledge no one in the country is interested in modern art.”

Link to publisher version (URL)

Sydney University Press