The permanent Australian Collection at Queensland Art Gallery has been reimagined and the gallery is hosting a weekend of festivities to celebrate. From meditation sessions to artist talks and must-see pieces in the exhibition, here’s what to expect when the rejuvenated collection opens.
Featuring classic pieces alongside contemporary commissions, the new display reflects the evolution and diversity of Australian art. It also addresses many of the cultural divides that still exist within Australia.
“Bringing together art from different times and across cultures, we trace narratives of geography — as country, as landscape, as the place we live and work — and we share stories of traversal and encounter, of immigration, colonisation and the expatriate experience,” says Dr Kyla McFarlane, Acting Curatorial Manager, Australian Art.
“After 120 years of building the collection, there are many stories to tell; in doing so, we acknowledge that we live in a country with a complex history.”
There will be a range of events on opening weekend, including tours with artists and curators, a drop-in weaving circle with Quandamooka weavers and meditation sessions.
With more than 200 works on display, the exhibition has a lot for you to take in. When reflecting on the exhibition, McFarlane highlights these five pieces among the key selection of works to see as you are exploring the collection.
Judgement day (Bell’s Theorem) by Richard Bell, 2008
Proclaiming ‘Australian art does not exist’, this piece highlights the issues inherent with classifying Australian art, given that much of our celebrated art comes from Indigenous cultures. Bell emphasises his point through additional statements integrated into the work.
National art: A simplistic view ‘Queensland series’ by Robert MacPherson, 1978
This work presents an outline of Queensland in repetition. Made from plywood, the representations of Queensland consider how a state is built and, more broadly, the construct of a nation.
Sleeping bride by Arthur Boyd, 1957–58 (pictured)
Arthur Boyd is one of the prominent figures of Australian Modernist art. This work was created after the artist travelled to central Australia and encountered the isolation of Indigenous Australians who live in remote shanty towns. The work is reflective of Boyd’s influences, including Picasso and Rembrandt.
Under the jacaranda by R Godfrey Rivers, 1903
Though he went on to become an important part of the Brisbane community, R Godfrey Rivers wasn’t born in Australia – much like the Jacaranda, which is native to Central and South America. This work highlights this parallel using a motif that has become an important part of our landscape. It is common for visitors to the gallery to lay jacaranda flowers under the work in spring.
Lights, Darwin Harbour by Ian Fairweather, 1957 and The gift (from Argonauts of the Timor Sea) by Michael Stevenson, 2004–06
On loan from a private collection, Ian Fairweather’s work is about his 16-day journey at sea on a homemade raft. After leaving Australia, he wound up on Roti Island in Indonesia. Michael Stevenson’s piece is a companion to this work – it was created years later and it is a replica of the raft.
The exhibition also features new commissions by Helen Johnson, Daniel Boyd, Dale Harding, Alick Tipoti and Sonja Carmichael.
Opens 30 September
Queensland Art Gallery
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