Felton Bequest’s 2020 gift to NGV Triennial

Equity Trustees

An immersive light sculpture which promises to test the perceptions with rapid vectors, loops, straight lines, curves and complex geometric forms lit up in white neon is one of the showcase works set to draw culture vultures out of COVID-induced hibernation and back to Melbourne’s arts precinct when the NGV Triennialopens on 19 December (tomorrow).

Acquired by the Felton Bequest and gifted to the NGV, the bright lights of the installation by Welsh artist, Cerith Wyn Evans, C=O=D=A 2019-20, will be among 86 projects by more than 100 artists, designers and collectives from more than 30 countries at this free blockbuster exhibition which runs until 18 April 2021.

The Felton Bequest is one of Victoria’s oldest and largest philanthropic trusts, established in 1904 with £380,000 – an amount which at the time provided the NGV with access to funds more than London’s National and Tate Galleries combined.

“The NGV Triennial brings together the latest thinking in international contemporary art, design and architecture,” said Sir Andrew Grimwade CBE, Chairman of the Felton Bequests’ Committee. “As a keen art collector and enthusiast, I am sure Alfred Felton would have delighted in this unusual and mesmerising installation – and the enthusiasm surrounding the NGV Triennial.”

Alfred Felton spent a lifetime associated with another Melbourne icon – the Espyin St Kilda which now has a floor named after him (the Ghost of Alfred Felton) and featuring pictures and paraphernalia from the time he lived there from the 1890’s until his death.

The Felton Bequest is now valued at more than $50m and divides its income equally between the NGV and charitable causes that support women and children. It is one of more than 650 charitable trusts managed by Equity Trustees, which distributed more than $90 million in grants and bequests last year.

“It is an honour for us to be the stewards of Alfred Felton’s legacy,” said Jodi Kennedy, General Manager, Charitable Trusts and Philanthropy, Equity Trustees.

“In the description of this work by Cerith Wyn Evans, it says ‘It is possible to follow the intersections of the work with the eye, but the way is so intricate that it becomes impossible to take it in at a glance.’ This could just as easily apply to the impact the Felton Bequest has had since it was established.

“This year more than most, we have had to think carefully about how philanthropy can meet the challenges we face in our community. We know that to fulfil its potential in contributing to lasting, positive change, philanthropy must be focussed, informed and committed. Alfred Felton created a trust that was forward thinking and focussed – his legacy has stood the test of time,” she concluded.

C=O=D=A 2019-20 by Cerith Wyn Evans will be installed in the NGV space devoted to 18th century art on level 2 of NGV International.

The 2020 Philanthropy Annual Giving Review, which reports of granting and funding, and its impact, for the FY20 year, was released on 15 December and is available online.

/Public Release.