Vale: Sydney Ball


We farewell Adelaide-born abstract painter Sydney Ball (1933–2017), who passed away in March. Ball moved to New York in 1962 where, through his studies, he was exposed to the rise of Abstract Expressionism, rubbing shoulders with Mark Rothko, Lee Krasner, Barnett Newman, Robert Motherwell and Willem de Kooning.

Returning to Australia three years later, he helped to bring hard-edge abstraction to the attention of Australian artists. In 1968, his work was an essential part of the influential exhibition ‘The Field’ at the National Gallery of Victoria. The subject of more than 70 solo exhibitions, Ball is represented in collections nationally and internationally.

Sydney Ball, Australia 1933-2017 / Byron Spring 1980 / Screenprint on wove paper / Purchased 1981 / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery / © The artist

His vitality and interest defined him; as Artshub’s Gina Fairley writes, he was always planning his next work with an infectious enthusiasm. Sydney Ball is remembered as a great teacher and phenomenal artist, whose legacy changed Australia’s art vision in the 1960s and will continue to influence future generations.1

Sydney Ball, Australia 1933-2017 / Pawnee summer 1973 / Synthetic polymer paint and enamel on cotton canvas / Acquired 1973 with the assistance of an Australian Government Grant through the Visual Arts Board of the Australia Council. Trustees’ Prize (winning entry) / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery / © QAGOMA

1 Text drawn from Gina Fairley, ‘Vale Sydney Ball’, 6 March 2017, vale-sydney-ball-253306, accessed 9 March 2017.

NSW and West Australian banksia


NSW and West Australian banksia 1929 is one of a number of paintings by Margaret Preston in which she used the floral still life to bring attention to the natural world and landscape as a way of expressing place and the notion of ‘home’. The distinctive organic forms of the banksia and restrained use of colour were emblematic of Preston’s commitment to painting native flowers as part of her quest to create a uniquely Australian national art.

Margaret Preston, Australia 1875-1963 / NSW and West Australian banksia 1929 / Oil on canvas / Purchased 1972 / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery / © Margaret Preston 1929/Licensed by Viscopy 2017

O’Keeffe, Preston, Cossington Smith: Making Modernism’ is on view at the Queensland Art Gallery and is accompanied by an exhibition publication available from the QAGOMA Store.

The exhibition explores the intersection of three remarkable modernist painters who each used colour and abstraction to create a distinct, identifiable art. Even though they did not discuss their work with each other, North American artist Georgia O’Keeffe (1887–1986) and Australians Margaret Preston (1875–1963) and Grace Cossington Smith (1892–1984) shared a passionate curiosity for the natural world, and each worked within the emerging transcultural discourse of Modernism.

The exhibition is presented by the Heide Museum of Modern Art, Victoria, the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, and the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane, in partnership with the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, Santa Fe, and supported by the Terra Foundation for American Art and the Gordon Darling Foundation.

Stellar Up Late for ‘Marvel’


The Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) will present a stellar line-up of pop, electronica and rock across six Friday nights when ‘Marvel: Creating the Cinematic Universe’ Up Late kicks off from 28 July to 1 September 2017.

Live music from Australian acts Art vs Science, Black Cab, Habits, Olympia, Models and NO ZU will feature in the six week long program, which also includes a resident DJ, pop-up bars and talks in the exhibition space. This Up Late program offers audiences a unique after-dark experience of Australia’s first major Marvel exhibition – the largest ever presented in an art museum.

Doors open from 5.30pm with resident DJ Emma Stevenson spinning records in GOMA’s River Room, before the headline performers take to the stage on the following dates:

Each Up Late evening will feature local artisans delivering an ‘All in the Details’ talk where they will highlight and discuss the craftsmanship involved in some of their favourite pieces in the exhibition. Artisans across a wide range of creative fields will participate in the discussions, including blacksmith Robert Everingham, make-up artist Billie Weston, jeweller Bianca Mavrick, and textiles conservator Michael Marendy.

‘Marvel: Creating the Cinematic Universe’ Up Late is exclusively sponsored by global apparel retailer UNIQLO, also principal partner for the exhibition.

‘Marvel: Creating the Cinematic Universe’ is organised by QAGOMA in collaboration with Marvel Entertainment. The exhibition has received additional support from the Queensland Government though Tourism and Events Queensland (TEQ) and Arts Queensland.

Feature image: ARIA award winning Art vs Science.

Vale: Win Schubert, AO


It was with deep sadness that the Gallery – and the greater Queensland arts community – said farewell to one of its greatest supporters and friends, Mrs Win Schubert, AO, following her recent passing.

Mrs Schubert was one of the most generous benefactors in the QAGOMA Foundation’s 37 year history. Her inspiring patronage – which spanned over two decades – enabled the acquisition of over 100 important works for the State Collection, many of which are visitor favourites. Who wouldn’t recall with delight Cai Guo-Qiang’s poetic and allegorical assembly of 99 animals, Heritage 2013; Yayoi Kusama’s Flowers that bloom at midnight 2011; or the recently displayed Kohei Nawa’s PixCell-Double Deer #4 2010?

Cai Quo-Qiang’s Heritage 2013, GOMA, 2013 / Photograph: Brodie Standen / 99 life-sized replicas of animals: polystyrene, gauze, resin and hide/ Commissioned 2013 with funds from the Josephine Ulrick and Win Schubert Diversity Foundation through and with the assistance of the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art Foundation / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery / © The artist
Yayoi Kusama’s Flowers that bloom at midnight 2011, GOMA, 2011 / Photograph: Natasha Harth / Fibreglass-reinforced plastic, urethane paint, metal frame / Purchased 2012 with funds from the Josephine Ulrick and Win Schubert Diversity Foundation through the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery / © The artist
Kohei Nawa, Japan b.1975 / PixCell-Double Deer#4 2010 / Mixed media / Purchased 2010 with funds from the Josephine Ulrick and Win Schubert Diversity Foundation through the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery / © The artist

These are just a few of the Gallery’s acquisitions made possible through her remarkable generosity. The last, and most significant acquisition made with Mrs Schubert’s support, was Nick Cave’s Heard 2012. This majestic work was brought to life with performances over summer that captivated thousands of visitors and were undoubtedly highlights of the celebrations for GOMA turning 10.

Mrs Schubert (centre) enjoying the performance of Nick Cave’s Heard 2012, GOMA, 2016 / Photograph: Chloe Callistemon / 15 wearable sculptures (six parts each) / Purchased 2016 to mark the tenth anniversary of the Gallery of Modern Art with funds from the Josephine Ulrick and Win Schubert Diversity Foundation through the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art Foundation / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery / © The artist
Performance of Nick Cave’s Heard 2012, GOMA, 2016 / Photograph: Chloe Callistemon

While Mrs Schubert generously supported a number of ambitious and engaging international acquisitions, her giving primarily focused on art from Australia and Queensland. Most outstandingly, her support through the Josephine Ulrick and Win Schubert Foundation for the Arts enabled the Gallery to hold Australia’s most comprehensive collection of works by Ian Fairweather.

The Josephine Ulrick and Win Schubert Galleries, QAG, 2014 / Photograph: Joe Ruckli.

Mrs Schubert’s inspiring benefaction was acknowledged in 2012 through the naming of galleries 10-13 of the Queensland Art Gallery as the Josephine Ulrick and Win Schubert Galleries, and again in 2015 when she was awarded the Gallery medal. Upon receiving the Gallery medal, QAGOMA Director Chris Saines, CNZM stated that ‘Her support continues to expand the distinct and enduring significance of art in our lives. We remain humbled by her generosity and moved by her dedication to the Gallery, to the arts, and to the Queensland community.’

In addition to recognition from QAGOMA for her enduring patronage, Mrs Schubert was also honoured by the State and Federal governments for the greater role she played in the development of art in Queensland. In 2014 she was recognised as a Queensland Great and also appointed as an Officer of the Order of Australia in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list. Mrs Schubert was also granted the keys to the City of the Gold Coast in 2015 for her ongoing contribution to Gold Coast arts and culture.

Those who knew the very private Mrs Schubert knew that her generosity was matched by her humility. The motivation for her giving was never to seek accolades or public recognition, but purely because she found great joy in sharing her passion for art. Mrs Schubert was unique and while her physical presence at the Gallery will be greatly missed, her legacy lives on through the many works her generosity helped to acquire.

James Turrell light commission to transform GOMA


A major architectural light installation by internationally renowned light artist James Turrell (United States, b.1943) is set to transform the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) in its 10th anniversary year.

QAGOMA Director Chris Saines said the James Turrell commission would illuminate GOMA’s facade at night from early December with support from the Queensland Government, generous donations from leading benefactors, and the 2017 QAGOMA Foundation Appeal.

The ambitious and dramatic artwork will be a permanent installation, transforming the way the building is seen and experienced.

In 2002, after Architectus + Davenport Campbell won the international competition to design GOMA, lead architects Kerry Clare, Lindsay Clare and James Jones envisaged an artist-illuminated ‘white box’ on the building’s main pedestrian approaches.

Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane

Turrell’s architectural light installation will activate the potential of GOMA’s white box facade and realise one of the architects’ original design intentions with the building. It will see GOMA’s eastern and southern facades illuminated from within from dusk with an evolving pattern of light developed by the artist for the location.

“We have our day clothes, but when we go out at night we often dress up. Like buildings, we have a different life at night, and I have always wanted to give this life to buildings, to cloak these structures in a beautiful raiment of light. It is amazing how much light can change your perception of a building”.

James Turrell, 2016

The artwork will be visible from around the Cultural Precinct and across the river, adding substantially to the presence of the already iconic building, giving it new life after dark.

The Queensland Government had generously contributed funds towards the development of the ambitious commission and QAGOMA has been fortunate to receive an outstanding lead donation from Paul and Susan Taylor, and a generous contribution from the Neilson Foundation.

In helping realise the extraordinary artwork, it is the focus of the 2017 QAGOMA Foundation Appeal, seeking further support from Foundation members and the broader community to realise an iconic addition to GOMA and Brisbane’s cityscape.

Turrell’s work will showcase GOMA and it has the potential to become yet another impressive ‘destination artwork’, the likes of which the Arizona-based artist has created around the world.

For more than half a century, Turrell has worked with light and space to create immersive and moving artworks that play with viewers’ perceptions. His large-scale luminous installations – located in or on buildings, or within landscapes – attract visitors from around the world.

Turrell has created more than 80 ‘Skyspaces’, chambers with an aperture in the ceiling open to the sky, including Within without (2010) at the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, and Amarna (2015), at the Museum of Old and New Art in Hobart.

Since 1974, he has been working on a monumental project at Roden Crater, an extinct volcano in northern Arizona, while continuing to create works for public and private institutions in 24 countries. In 2014 Turrell received a National Medal of Arts — the highest award granted to artists by the US National Endowment for the Arts

Inventive colour: The art of Grace Cossington Smith


Grace Cossington Smith (1892–1984) was one of the most inventive colour painters to emerge from Australia’s first wave of modernism in the early decades of the twentieth century.

Unknown / Grace Cossington Smith, c.1930–40 / 8522207 / Collection: Australian War Memorial, Canberra

After growing up in Sydney’s northern suburbs, in 1914 Cossington Smith moved with her family to the Turramurra residence that would become her lifelong home and the centre of her creative production. She had already begun studying with the painter Antonio Dattilo-Rubbo, whose central Sydney studio became the site of much artistic experimentation during the interwar period. Though she travelled in Europe from 1912 to 1914, Cossington Smith claimed to have learnt the methods of Van Gogh, Cézanne, Gauguin and Seurat under Dattilo-Rubbo rather than overseas.

Grace Cossington Smith, Australia 1892-1984 / The bridge in building 1929 / Oil on pulpboard / Gift of Ellen Waugh 2005 / Collection: National Gallery of Australia / © Estate of Grace Cossington Smith

Cossington Smith left Dattilo-Rubbo’s studio in 1926, after which Sydney’s light-filled harbour and the leafy terrains around Turramurra formed the main subjects of her art. Around this time the book The New Science of Colour (1915) by the American writer Beatrice Irwin fuelled Cossington Smith’s interest in colour as a force capable of invoking the energetic undercurrents of her subjects. This is exemplified by her paintings of the construction of Sydney Harbour Bridge in the late 1920s, which form some of the most compelling examples of early Australian modernism.

Grace Cossington Smith, Australia 1892-1984 / Foxgloves growing 1929 /Oil on pulpboard / Private Collection / © Estate of Grace Cossington Smith / Photo: AGNSW/Jenni Carter
Grace Cossington Smith, Australia 1892-1984 / The window 1956 / Oil on hardboard / Gift of Graham and Judy Martin 2014, assisted by the Australian Masterpiece Fund / Collection: Art Gallery of New South Wales / © Estate of Grace Cossington Smith / Photo: AGNSW/Christopher Snee

While Cossington Smith worked in relative seclusion from her upper–North Shore home during the following decades, she was a regular contributor to group and solo exhibitions in Sydney. In the 1940s her work shifted in palette and tone to reflect the sombre hues and loose forms of Australia’s native bush. She embarked on her last series of paintings in the 1950s, based on the rooms and spaces around her home. These interiors typify her desire to express ‘colour vibrant with light’.

As a result of her solitude and self-effacing manner, Cossington Smith’s work was not widely known until late in her career. She died aged 92 in 1984.