Artspace acknowledges contribution of master printmaker

Artspace Mackay has something in its collection that no other regional gallery in Australia has – 593 artists’ books.

This collection, the largest in regional Australia, owes much of its prestige to an amazing philanthropic donation by a man who was regarded by many as the godfather of Australian printmaking.

That man was master printmaker and Member (AM) of the Order of Australia, Tate Adams, who died this week aged 96.

Mayor Greg Williamson said Mr Adams generously donated a substantial portion of his personal studio collection in early 2003 to celebrate the opening of Artspace Mackay.

“Over three hundred works on paper, artists' books, wood blocks and reference books were added to our collection because of that gift,” Cr Williamson said.

“The collection, then held by Mackay Regional Council Libraries, already contained some significant artists’ books, but Tate really got behind what we were trying to achieve as far as creating a preeminent regional collection,” he said.

“This gift became central to the gallery’s art collection policy of focusing on artists’ books.

“The Artspace team was very sad to hear of his passing.

“Tate is very much part of the Artspace Mackay story and his legacy will live on through our collection and future exhibitions.”

Mayor Greg Williamson also offered council’s condolences at yesterday’s ordinary meeting of council and said Mr Adams’ life’s work and generosity would be acknowledged every time Artspace’s Tate Adams Reading Pod was used for the sharing and viewing of artists’ books.

Anyone who would like to view the Tate Adams’ artists’ books in the collection are encouraged to make a booking for an artists’ book viewing in the reading pod by contacting Artspace Mackay on 4961 9722.


Tate Adams established the first diploma of printmaking at RMIT where he taught for 22 years.

During this period, he also ran the leading printmaking gallery, Crossley gallery.  In retirement, Tate focussed on Lyre Bird Press in Townsville, his artists’ book press, which continues to this day publishing critically appraised books of original prints.