Set up in 1979 under the management of Brian Callen, the Visual Arts Studio taught a range of techniques to students undertaking the Visual Arts major and provided an on-campus centre for informal creative art. Callen, a graduate of the South Australian School of Art, had a particular interest in contemporary South Australian art practice and was encouraged to add to the Art Museum’s holdings works by local artists including Ann Newmarch and Barbara Hanrahan. Callen was also responsible for the design of all FUMA catalogues and posters during his 15 years at Flinders.
The Visual Arts Studio was integral to the FUMA Artist in Residence Program, an initiative of JVS Megaw founded with the encouragement of Robert Edwards, then Chair of the Aboriginal Arts Board, and John Kean, then resident art adviser of Papunya Tula Artists, and the support of grants from the Aboriginal Arts Board of the Australia Council, the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies and the Visual Arts Discipline of Flinders University.
The Program involved a series of short-term residencies for Indigenous artists of diverse backgrounds that took place between 1979 and 1992. Participants included David Corby (1979), Turkey Tolson (1979), Bede and Francine Tungatalum (1980), David Malangi (1982), Banduk Marika (1986), Byron Pickett (1986), Kunwingie Kerry Giles (1988 and 1992), Peter Dabah (1990), Mitch Dunnett Jnr (1992-3) and Kunyi June McInerney (1992), who worked under the guidance of Callen. As well as contributing to the development of FUMA's ATSI collection (works produced during the residencies were purchased at a price determined by the artist), the residencies lent substantial encouragement and support to Indigenous arts practice.