Flinders University Museum of Art is custodian of 24 works of art by Adelaide-born printmaker extraordinaire, Barbara Hanrahan (1939-1991). Characterised by playfully complex narratives that draw on personal experience and fantasy, woven with witty commentary on twentieth century society and culture, Hanrahan’s work is fearlessly direct and unashamedly decorative in style. Her prints – including linocuts, etchings, woodcuts and screenprints made between London and Adelaide in the 1970s and 1980s – were collected over two distinct periods in FUMA’s history.
First acquisitions were made between 1983 and 1994 when FUMA’s collecting spotlight was on South Australian prints and posters under the recommendation of Brian Callen (1941-1991), a practising artist and manager of the then Flinders University Visual Art Studio, as well as artist and FUMA curator Louise Dauth (1951-). An early purchase was The eye of God (1974), which features Hanrahan’s recurring celestial and personified imagery of the sun and moon, reflecting her enduring love of the written and visual works of Blake, for whom the ‘Eyes of God’ were ‘Angels of the Divine Presence’.
FUMA’s holdings grew with the addition of Hanrahan’s folio, Twelve linocuts: a suite of prints (published 1990, Brindabella Press). Here the artist revisits and reimagines a selection of her earliest etchings and linocuts made during evening classes at the South Australian School of Art between 1960 and 1962. The reworkings include Girl with a bird on her head and reveal the initial development of Hanrahan’s female protagonists cloaked in flower-tangled hair, semi-clad in Edwardian garb influenced by her grandmother’s 1911 copy of The Girl’s Own Annual.
A second wave of Hanrahan acquisitions was prompted during the project development and South Australian tour of the 2021 survey exhibition Bee-stung Lips: Barbara Hanrahan, works on paper 1960-1991. Several works were donated by the artist’s partner Jonathan P Steele, facilitated by Susan Sideris (Hanrahan Studio manager and former director of Kensington Gallery), such as Man in the moon (1982) and Birth (1986), while Snakes and ladders (1978) was gifted by art historian and Flinders University alum Dr Paula Furby and Douglas Furby. This group of holdings depict Hanrahan’s established archetypal women with varying degrees of vices or virtues, and represent conceptual developments around beauty, sexual identity, marriage and motherhood.
From the FUMA collection, 10 prints are touring in Bee-stung lips: Barbara Hanrahan while others are drawn on for object-based learning across disciplines within Flinders University.
Collections Curator, Flinders University Museum of Art
Adelaide, Australia, 2023
© Flinders University Museum of Art
 N. Brown, ‘Time travel, bees and celestial bodies in the art of Barbara Hanrahan’ in N. Brown (ed) Bee-stung lips: Barbara Hanrahan, works on paper 1960-1991, Wakefield Press, Adelaide, 2021, p8.
 B. Hanrahan in Twelve Linocuts: a suite of prints, Brindabell Press, Canberra, 1990.
 The Girl’s Own Annual (1911) was edited by English writer Flora Klickmann (1867-1958).