Rockhampton’s nationally significant art collection will be one of the cornerstones of the new Rockhampton Museum of Art, and, as part of the move to the much anticipated new premises, an extensive publication of its artworks is being developed, made possible with funds from Gordon Darling Foundation.
Rockhampton Art Gallery’s collection had its genesis in the 1970s when long term Mayor Rex Pilbeam embarked on a campaign to buy artworks by the likes of Sidney Nolan, Margaret Olley, Brett Whiteley and more. Rockhampton Art Gallery now possesses more than 2,000 artworks, including artworks by some of Australia’s most significant artists, forming one of the finest collections of Australian art outside a capital city.
The peer-contribution collection publication will comprehensively detail the strength, history and content of the collection through original writing by 12 established and emerging arts writers from across Australia, including the writing of Fernando do Campo (NSW), Hamish Sawyer (QLD), Jacob McQuire (QLD), Jonathan McBurnie (QLD), Karen Stephens (QLD), Kellie Williams (VIC), Madeleine King (QLD), Shanna Muston (QLD), Tess Maunder (VIC), Trudie Leigo (QLD) and Bianca Acimovic (QLD).
[For more details on writers, see artist biographies below].
Although it will be released at the opening of Rockhampton Museum of Art in 2021, work commenced in 2019 with the engagement of the writers keeping everyone busy during the COVID-19 lockdown.
Rockhampton Regional Council Community Services Spokesperson Cr. Drew Wickerson said that the publication will be an informative addition that further interprets Rockhampton Museum of Art collection from a diversity of perspectives and narratives, with the essays forming selected highlights of the Collection.
“The publication will be academically thorough, so it will support further insights and awareness to those who may be unfamiliar with Rockhampton Museum of Art Collection. While at the same time it will be written in a style accessible to those who have a general interest in art but do not want to be overwhelmed by an art history dialogue,” he said.
The project is supported by Gordon Darling Foundation, a public charitable trust established to support Australia wide activities of importance in the Visual Arts.
“Rockhampton Regional Council is very pleased to receive the support of Gordon Darling Foundation for the project which will play a major role in the professional development of emerging and established arts writers. It’s a great opportunity to broaden awareness for our nationally significant collection while also support these writers to contribute to the academic discourse of Australian cultural collections,” Cr Wickerson said.
When it opens in 2021, Rockhampton Museum of Art will be positioned as one of Queensland’s leading cultural institutions, holding an extraordinary and diverse collection, protected and documented to the highest museum standard for the benefit and enjoyment of present and future audiences. Along with exhibition space, Rockhampton Museum of Art will provide access to flexible meeting places, learning resources and educational facilities that promote accessibility and regional liveability.
Writer Fernando do Campo says of the opportunity: “As an artist and academic who spent his teen years in Central Queensland, I am thrilled to be able to re-engage with the region by thinking through the impact that this incredible art collection has had on my life. Rockhampton Museum of Art Collection publication will become a major record of art discourse, and one which I am proud to be involved with.”
Curator and project manager, Shanna Muston based in Biloela, is contributing as a writer to this project and says: “Rockhampton Art Collection is fantastic to research, there is such diversity in the works and artists represented with incredible stories to uncover and share. I am very appreciative of this opportunity and excited to be involved. It will be great to see what the other writers cover in their essays also, with such a collection of different areas of interest and experiences.”
Jonathan McBurnie, writer for the Collection publication based in Townsville says: “Collections such as this are incredibly important to the regions, because they form a vital part of cultural life of the place. Australia is an incredibly vast country, and for many of us in the regions, these galleries service the community to an incredible degree, because we have to be so self-sufficient. Therefore, such collections hold works from a variety or artists both national and international, and importantly, they are often the primary source of works by artists of the particular community. With the ever-increasing urgency for institutions to collect the most fashionable contemporary art of the world stage, the regional gallery collection is more important than ever, serving its community in a very real way, by supporting its artists and building a culture. Rockhampton Art Gallery has been pivotal in growing the Central Queensland region and beyond, offering exhibitions on par with any metropolitan gallery, and punching way above its weight in terms of programming and servicing its community.”
Rockhampton Museum of Art is funded by the Australian Government through the Building Better Regions Fund; the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland and through the Building Our Regions program; and Rockhampton Regional Council.
ABOUT THE WRITERS (pictured left to right on photo montage)
Fernando do Campo is an Argentinian-Australian artist and academic who spent his teenage years in Central Queensland. His art practice and research engages with the histories of non-human animals. He has presented solo exhibitions in Australia and the USA and group exhibitions internationally. Fernando is Lecturer at UNSW Art & Design, Sydney. Image credit: Shan Turner Carroll
Hamish Sawyer is a Brisbane based independent curator and writer. From 2016 to 2019, Hamish was the curator of Caloundra Regional Gallery and he has previously held positions at the Queensland Art Gallery / Gallery of Modern Art and Institute of Modern Art. He has written for art publications including Vault and Art Monthly Australasia.
Jacob McQuire is a Dharumbal/South Sea Islander artist with deep connections to the Rockhampton region. As a contemporary artist, Jacob combines his cultural knowledge with his skills in journalistic literature, video and audio. Jacob specialises in capturing oral histories and reconfiguring them in written and audio-visual formats.
Jonathan McBurnie is an artist and cartoonist based in Townsville. He is the Creative Director of Perc Tucker Regional Gallery and Pinnacles Gallery, and is currently working on a number of artistic and curatorial projects, including a graphic novel and his seventeenth solo exhibition.
Karen Stephens is an Australian born painter based in far remote Queensland. Her immersion in the environment informs a sustained investigation of the outback landscape, and she uses its inner regions as fertile ground to explore the personal as the universal. Karen is represented by GALA Gallery Rockhampton. In 2018 Karen was appointed as Exhibition Coordinator of the Outback Regional Gallery, Winton.
Kellie Williams is the former Director of Australia’s longest-running regional contemporary art space, Umbrella Studio Contemporary Arts. Kellie is a curator, writer and artist. She was co-curator of the ground-breaking national touring exhibition Legacy: Reflections on Mabo, developed in close collaboration with the Mabo family. While based in Townsville Kellie was also President of Professional Arts North Queensland Inc, and sat on the Townsville City Council’s Arts Acquisition Committee. Kellie has extensive arts management experience including leading independent arts organisations, producing creative content in both the visual and performing arts sectors, and working for the Government sector including grants management at Arts Queensland. Kellie has a strong interest in contemporary feminist theory and women’s issues which she often expresses through her contemporary artistic practice. Kellie has a Bachelor of Fine Art (Visual Art), a Bachelor of Environmental Science (hons) and a Company Directors Diploma from the Australian Institute of Company Directors.
Madeleine King is a curator, writer, and researcher whose most recent role was Deputy Director of Institute of Modern Art in Brisbane. She has curated exhibitions with Australian artists including Agatha Gothe-Snape and Wrong Solo, Ryan Presley, and Ross Manning. Madeleine has published writing on contemporary art and design history including as editor of Ryan Presley: Prosperity (2018) and Ross Manning: Dissonant Rhythms (2017), co-editor of Imaginary Accord (2016), and as co-author of Remotely Fashionable: A Story of Subtropical Style (2015). The latter book was shortlisted for the Queensland Literary Awards in 2016, and was an outcome of a research fellowship at the John Oxley Library, Brisbane. Madeleine holds a Master of Arts (Research) and is currently a PhD candidate at Griffith University, where she is looking at models for the care and management of Aboriginal rock art in Central Queensland. Image credit: Mark Lawson
Shanna Muston is an artist and artsworker living and working in Biloela, Central Queensland. She is currently the Banana Shire Council Arts and Cultural Advisor where she manages the Banana Shire Regional Art Gallery. Shanna is passionate about ensuring regional communities have access to arts and cultural experiences and opportunities. Shanna holds a Bachelor of Fine Art with Honours from the Queensland College of Art, Griffith University, and a Graduate Certificate in Museum Studies from Deakin University.
Tess Maunder is a curator, writer, editor and researcher with over ten years industry experience in Australia, the US and Asia. She is currently manager of VAULT Art and Culture Magazine where she oversees all aspects of the quarterly print publication being made public alongside team Editor Alison Kubler, and Assistant Manager Hester Lyon. Prior to this, Tess was Curatorial Colligate of the 11th Shanghai Biennale, Why Not Ask Again led by Chief Curators Raqs Media Collective (11 Nov 2016 – 12thMarch 2017). Tess was Director and Editor of her own printed volume Absolute Humidity; published by Hardworking Goodlooking (Manila/New York) in 2018; the hardback volume proposed a new constellation of conversation at intersection of artistic practice and the environment, climate and ethics with a focus on discourse from the Asia-Pacific region. She was an advisor for the 2019 Creative Time Summit ‘Speaking Truth’ in New York; and has previously held positions with Queensland University of Technology, Institute of Modern Arts, Brisbane and State Library of Queensland; among others. Tess writes regularly for international publications, academic journals and catalogues and has a special passion for expanding interdisciplinary art discourse through printed matter. Image credit: Michael Pham
Trudie Leigo is an independent curator who has worked in the arts for nearly 20 years, Trudie holds an Master in Museum Studies and a Bachelor in Art History & Theory and Social Anthropology from University of Sydney. Based in Bundaberg, Trudie is passionate about the regional arts industry.
Bianca Acimovic is Rockhampton Art Gallery’s Director. She has over 15 years of experience working within a range of cultural facilities. She holds a Bachelor of Visual Arts majoring in Sculpture and Gallery Studies, a Master of Museum Studies and is currently completing a Master of Applied Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Bianca’s experience is centred on the development and management of regional galleries to enhance visitor engagement, breaking down stigmas to situate cultural intuitions at the heart of the community.