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Thursday, 6 March 1980
Page: 614

Senator KNIGHT (ACT) - My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Home Affairs. Is the Jackson Pollock painting Blue Poles, which was purchased for $1.3m in 1973, now deteriorating? Will the Minister give details of the nature of the deterioration of Blue Poles and, more importantly, what action is being taken to prevent further damage? Can he give any estimate of the current value of Blue Poles!

Senator SCOTT (NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister Assisting the Minister for Trade and Resources) -The Australian National Gallery has sought conservation advice concerning the condition of the painting Blue Poles. The advice suggests that the painting is not in need of conservation treatment at this point, but that it should be kept in a stationary circumstance and in a stabilised environment. By 'stationary circumstance' I mean that it should cease to travel. As a result of that advice the National Gallery has determined that the painting should not be placed on public exhibition until such time as it can be hung in its permanent home in the new gallery.

So far as the value of the painting is concerned, it is a very difficult matter to arrive at the value. It could probably be ascertained only by an auction sale, and even at auctions values change almost from day to day. As a matter of interest, a painting by Jackson Pollock was sold in 1976 reportedly for in the vicinity of $2m. Beyond that comparison I can give no further estimate of the value.

Senator KNIGHT - I ask the Minister a supplementary question. I want to be clear on one point. Did the Minister say that at present no conservation action was required provided the painting was kept in its current stable situation? Secondly, in view of the Minister's answer, could he assist in arranging for me, and perhaps others who are interested, to inspect Blue Poles?

Senator SCOTT - Yes, I did say that on inspection it was the considered opinion that no conservation treatment was necessary at this stage. As for Senator Knight's interest in inspecting the painting, it seems to me it would be most appropriate if such an arrangement could be made for Senator Knight and any other interested senator. I shall pass that suggestion on to the Minister concerned.

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