Aboriginal Masterworks: A legacy of Australian cultural significance


A major exhibition of Indigenous Australian art, ‘Sung into Being: Aboriginal Masterworks 1984-94 including more than 100 paintings and sculptures by eight Australian Aboriginal artists from the Janet Holmes à Court Collection opens at the Queensland Art Gallery (QAG) from 22 July 2017.

The exhibition celebrates songs and ceremonies connected with the creation of the land, embodied by rich poetic narratives in paintings and sculptures by Australian Aboriginal artists from the Kimberley and Arnhem Land. Artists represented include Rover Joolama Thomas (c.1926–1998), Jack Wunuwun (1930–91), John Bulunbulun (1946–2010), Jack Kalakala (1925–87), Les Mirrikkuriya (1932-95), England Banggala (1925–2001) and Terry Ngamandara Wilson (1950–2011), from a creative period when these Indigenous artists were exploring new ground, and the works were acquired at the time with great foresight by Janet Holmes à Court and her husband Robert (1937–1990).

‘Sung into Being’ offers audiences a unique opportunity to access works by a seminal group of Indigenous Australian artists with an intimate knowledge of their creation stories and clan lands. The exhibition captures an intensely productive and exciting period when Aboriginal art first began to be exhibited and collected as fine art and embodies both the stylised aesthetic of the Kimberley and the colour palette and imagery of central and southern Arnhem Land.

Janet and the late Robert Holmes à Court developed their internationally renowned art collection together from the 1960s through to 1990 and Janet has continued the acquisition of works for the collection since Robert’s death. Motivated by a keen interest in Australian and Indigenous art, their resulting collection is a wonderful legacy of Australian cultural significance.

Rover Joolama Thomas, Kukatja/Wangkajunga, Australia c1926 – 1998 / The shade from the hill comes over and talks in language 1984 / Janet Holmes à Court Collection / © Rover Thomas 1984/ Licensed by Viscopy, 2017

The exhibition gives a particular focus to Rover Thomas, one of the first Indigenous Australian artists acquired for the Holmes à Court Collection. Thomas a renowned figure, forged new conventions in Aboriginal art and created new opportunities for the east Kimberley school of artists. He also opened the way for the general acceptance of Aboriginal art both nationally and internationally.

John Bulunbulun, Ganalbingu people, Australia 1946-2010 / Murrukundja Manikay (Song cycle) / Janet Holmes à Court Collection / © John Bulunbulun / Licensed by Viscopy, 2017

‘Sung into Being’ also includes two important series of paintings by brothers-in-law Jack Wunuwun (1930–91) and John Bulunbulun (1946–2010), depicting their clan manikay (song cycles).

An ambitious canvas painting by Wunuwun of the Banumbirr (morning star) Murrungun people’s creation narrative is expanded in 30 exquisite small bark paintings representing elements of the song and dance sequence. Bulunbulun’s series is a strong contemporary interpretation of the Ganalbingu people’s Murrukundja Manikay – the ceremonial songs and dances that tell the history of Macassan visitors to northern coastal Australia.

Jack Wunuwun, Murrungun/Djinang people, Australia / Banumbirr Manikay – (Morning Star song cycle) 1988 / Janet Holmes à Court Collection / © Jack Wunuwun 1988/ Licensed by Viscopy, 2017

Feature image: John Bulunbulun’s Murrukundja Manikay (Song cycle) (detail)

Watch how James Turrell’s ‘Architectural Light’ will transform GOMA


This animation gives a sense of how GOMA will be transformed by James Turrell’s magnificent ‘Architectural Light’ commission. QAGOMA is dedicated to bringing a long-dormant vision for the GOMA building to life some ten years after its opening. The city and community can equally share in this truly public artwork which will be illuminated nightly.



This indicative animation gives a sense of how GOMA will be transformed by a magnificent ‘Architectural Light’ commission by renowned artist, James Turrell.

The Queensland Government is joining with the Gallery’s Foundation to complete the original design intention for the building. Without the Queensland Government’s extraordinary generosity, a truly outstanding lead donation from Paul and Susan Taylor, and a significant contribution from the Neilson Foundation, an enterprise on this scale would be impossible. We thank our supporters who have already donated to the 2017 Appeal. If you would like to help us realise this transformative project, you can make a donation to the Appeal.


James Turrell

You can also watch the Director’s announcement of this stunning commission at the launch of the 2017 QAGOMA Foundation Appeal.

Spider-Man: Super Hero of the Marvel Cinematic Universe


Spider-Man is Marvel’s most beloved neighbourhood defender. Debuting in Amazing Fantasy 1962 #15, he recently joined the Super Heroes of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) on screen in Captain America: Civil War 2016.

As the gatekeeper of one of the world’s richest holdings of comic book narratives – more than 8000 characters developed over nearly eight decades – Marvel has been a dominant force in popular culture since 1939. ‘Marvel: Creating the Cinematic Universe’ begins with a display of those comic books that inspired the characters who inhabit the MCU, and includes the first comic book appearances of these characters including an original drawing from Amazing Fantasy 1962 #15 on loan from Prints and Photographs Division, The Library of Congress, Washington, DC

Wayne Nichols an acclaimed Australian comic book artist and commercial illustrator, best known for his work in the United States illustrating titles for Marvel Comics (The Incredible Hulk, Exiles), IDW Publishing (Orphan Black, The X-Files) and Dark Horse Comics (Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, Falling Skies) was commissioned to design the mural Homage to Spider-Man 2017 for the exhibition. Nichols captures the dynamism of Spider-Man swinging through the streets of New York City, a nod to the drawing process that still underpins comic artwork creation today.

NIchols introduces us to his mural Homage to Spider-Man which has been hand-painted directly onto the wall from his original drawing, and talks about his experience as a comic book artist.


Go behind the scenes to experience more than 500 unique objects from your favourite films which offer a glimpse into the work of production designers, storyboarding and pre‑visualisation artists, costume and prop designers, and visual effects artists alongside the original comic books which introduced the characters and influenced the films.


Feature image: Installation view of Homage to Spider-Man 2017, ‘Marvel: Creating the Cinematic Universe’, GOMA 2017 / Photograph: Natasha Harth © QAGOMA

Albert Namatjira’s legacy celebrated


‎The first chapter in the newly reconfigured Australian Collection display at the Queensland Art Gallery (QAG) is now open, leading with an exploration of the life and lasting legacy of Albert Namatjira. ‘Indigenous Australian Collection: Namatjira Story’ concentrates on one of the largest thematic holdings in the Gallery’s Collection, including a special focus on the Hermannsburg School art movement that began at the Lutheran mission of Hermannsburg in Central Australia, also Namatjira’s birthplace, in the 1930s.

William Dargie, Australia 1912–2003 / Portrait of Albert Namatjira 1956 / Oil on canvas / Purchased 1957/ Collection: Queensland Art Gallery / © QAGOMA.

Namatjira occupies a significant place within Australian art history, being the first widely recognised Indigenous artist. His work Western MacDonnells c.1945 – featured in the display – was the first by an Aboriginal person to enter the Collection in 1947.

Namatjira’s famous landscapes are on display along with the works of his five sons, artworks by Namatjira’s great-grandson Vincent Namatjira, a comprehensive display of watercolours by Hermannsburg School artists, and pottery by the Hermannsburg Potters. Other artists featured include Ginger Riley and Lin Onus, alongside William Dargie’s Archibald Prize winning Portrait of Namatjira 1956.

Vincent Namatjira, Western Aranda/Pitjantjatjara people, Australia b.1983 / Albert Namatjira in Sydney – Yeah! ‘Albert’s Story’ 2014 / Synthetic polymer paint on linen / Purchased 2014. Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art Foundation / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery / ©Vincent Namatjira/Licensed by Viscopy

In late September the Gallery will continue to unveil its newly reconfigured Australian Collection display when the Win Schubert and Josephine Ulrich Galleries reopen at QAG after a major storage upgrade. The new Australian Collection display will capture major historical moments from first contact to colonisation, and exploration to immigration, with an emphasis on the Queensland experience. The re-opening of these spaces brings to life a vision to draw out key strengths and fresh narratives in our extensive Australian holdings.

The new display will bring the Indigenous and Contemporary Australian collections into conversation with our historical holdings, and explore stories about Queensland and Brisbane from the region’s own perspective. This is the first time that QAG has attempted to truly integrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander works alongside the familiar non-Indigenous artists of this country, to tell a fuller story of Australian art.

DELVE DEEPER INTO THE australian collection

Major survey at GOMA celebrates Yayoi Kusama


A career-spanning survey of work by leading contemporary artist Yayoi Kusama opens at GOMA in November. ‘Yayoi Kusama: Life is the Heart of a Rainbow’, co-curated by QAGOMA and National Gallery Singapore, is a wonderful journey through key moments in Kusama’s vast artistic career over seven decades. Now in her late 80s, Kusama is one of the most recognisable artists working today.

The survey explores key motifs in Kusama’s work since the early 1950s, her engagement with the body, and her expansive conception of space. It includes more than 70 works: early painterly experiments, a multi-decade presentation of the celebrated ‘net’ paintings, soft-sculpture and assemblage, performance documents, iconic ‘infinity rooms’ and large-scale installations from later in her career.

The exhibition culminates in an immersive presentation of Kusama’s most recent paintings from the visually arresting ‘My Eternal Soul’ series (2009 – ongoing). When Kusama began her epic painting series in 2009, she initially intended it to comprise 100 canvases. Still ongoing, the series of works now includes more than 500 paintings, 24 of the very newest of which are featured in the exhibition.

‘Life is the Heart of a Rainbow’ also includes two artworks by Kusama commissioned for the Gallery’s 2002 Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art. Narcissus garden 1966/2002 returns to the QAG Watermall while the Children’s Art Centre at GOMA presents the hugely popular interactive installation The obliteration room 2002–ongoing, a work that has been displayed at over 21 venues in 15 countries, and viewed by more than 5 million people.

QAGOMA’s long-standing relationship with Kusama and her Tokyo-based studio was established in 1989 when she participated in the exhibition ‘Japanese Ways, Western Means’ at QAG. Kusama’s practice was then the subject of an in-depth focus in ‘The 4th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art’ (APT4) in 2002-03, and in 2011-12 a solo exhibition of her new and recent work ‘Look Now, See Forever’ was presented at GOMA.

Now, ‘Life is the Heart of a Rainbow’ offers a great overview of Kusama’s long and productive career, from the 1950s to today, drawing on QAGOMA’s holdings as well as collections in Japan and South-East Asia.

Feature image: Yayoi Kusama in front of Life is the Heart of a Rainbow (2017) ©YAYOI KUSAMA, Courtesy of Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo/Singapore, Victoria Miro, London, David Zwirner, New York.

Cinémathèque Live will electrify GOMA in June


GOMA’s Australian Cinémathèque, the only Australian art gallery with purpose-built facilities dedicated to film and the moving image, will be electrified across three evenings by intimate performances combining projection, lighting and spatialised sound from some of the world’s most compelling experimental electronic and electroacoustic musicians.

Alessandro Cortini (Italy/United States), Grouper (United States), Lawrence English (Australia) and Xiu Xiu (United States) perform as part of the inaugural Cinémathèque Live program from Friday 23 to Sunday 25 June 2017. This is a unique opportunity to see the most exciting developments in contemporary electronic music.

It’s important to recognise that our body is also an ear; it just listens differently to acoustic stimulus.

Lawrence English

At 7.00pm on Friday 23 June Portland-based artist and musician Liz Harris (Grouper) performs with acoustic guitar and piano layered with ethereal vocals and cassette tape loops. Then at 8.00pm, Italian musician Alessandro Cortini, who records and tours with Nine Inch Nails as well as his own projects, will deliver aa expansive and hypnotic set.

Xiu Xiu, the American trio of Jamie Stewart, Angela Seo and Shayna Dunkelman, have added a second performance at GOMA at 5.00pm on Saturday 24 June, after their 8.00pm session sold out. Xiu Xiu’s Twin Peaks set was originally commissioned by QAGOMA to coincide with the 2015 exhibition ‘David Lynch: Between Two Worlds’. This captivating mix of post-punk and synth-pop, classical and experimental styles will now be performed for the last time in Australia, at the venue where it debuted.

Lawrence English

Cinémathèque Live concludes with two programs on Sunday 25 June. The first at 5.00pm features Klara Lewis (Sweden) and Sarah Davachi (Canada). The second program at 7.00pm features Lawrence English (Australia) and Elysia Crampton (United States) from 5.00pm onwards.

Cinémathèque Live is an exciting new initiative for the Australian Cinémathèque, building on its decade-long commitment to showcasing the work of influential filmmakers, international cinema, and contemporary artists working with the moving image.

Feature image: Alessandro Cortini