Queensland Art Gallery: Brisbane’s architectural landmark


Australia’s most outstanding concrete public architectural works have recently been chosen from a judging panel comprising some of Australia’s best-known architects and building experts with Robin Gibson’s Queensland Art Gallery among Australia’s top 10 most outstanding and distinctive architectural landmarks in Australia. The structures selected from a list of 45 nominations based on architectural merit, innovation in the use of concrete and exemplar of time.

Gibson’s vision of Brisbane celebrating its river changed the face of the city’s South Bank waterfront, with the Gallery winning the Sir Zelman Cowan Award for the most outstanding public building in Australia when it opened in 1982. 

Queensland Art Gallery under construction, with architect Robin Gibson AO (left) and then Gallery Director Raoul Mellish, c.1981 / Photograph: Richard Stringer

Queensland Art Gallery from Victoria Bridge, Brisbane, 1982 / Collection: QAGOMA Research Library / Photographs: Richard Stringer

The other nine structures, many modernist in style are Jørn Utzon’s Sydney Opera House; Australia Square Tower by Harry Seidler and Associates; Roy Grounds Australian Academy of Sciences’ Shine Dome in Canberra; the High Court building in Canberra; Sydney’s Punchbowl Mosque; the Melbourne University Carpark; the Gladesville Bridge in Sydney (which was the longest single-span concrete bridge in the world when it was built in 1964); the Victorian State Offices, and James Cook University Library in Townsville.

The Queensland Art Gallery Watermall featuring Huang Yong Ping’s Ressort 2012 / Photograph: M Sherwood © QAGOMA
The Queensland Art Gallery Watermall featuring Ai Weiwei’s Boomerang 2006 / Photograph: N Harth © QAGOMA
The Queensland Art Gallery Watermall featuring Yayoi Kusama’s Narcissus garden 1966/2002 / Photograph: N Harth © QAGOMA

The selection was based on three criteria: Architectural Merit (the form, function and structure of the building); Innovation in the use of concrete as a material, as a structure, and aesthetically; and finally, Exemplar of the time, which determined whether the project redefined and expanded concrete’s potential.

The publication of the Top 10 List marks the 90th anniversary of the establishment of the organisation that represents the heavy construction materials industry, Cement Concrete & Aggregates Australia (CCAA), August 26, 2019

Elliott Murray is Senior Digital Marketing Officer, QAGOMA

Featured image: Queensland Art Gallery / Photograph: Richard Stringer

Visit Roy and Matilda and create an adventure


Roy and Matilda are two mice who love art galleries, one day they take their family to visit the Queensland Art Gallery. It was night time when they arrived and as no one would see them, they decided to look around for a while.

They found a little hole in the bottom of a wall and set about making a cosy home. One day, a man who worked in the Galley’s workshop restoring and carving frames found they were living there and decided to make them a special little front door.

Look for Roy and Matilda’s front door in the Australian Art Collection

During the day, the mice stayed in their new home while people came to look at the paintings and sculptures, however at night when everything was quiet again, they came out of their home for a new adventure.

Each night Roy and Matilda and their children Millicent, Algernon and Myfanwy went looking for a painting they liked so they could climb in. On one occasion Matilda heard beautiful music, Roy heard it too, so the lady in E Phillips Fox’s painting Bathing hour said she would look after the children while they searched for the mysterous music.

The lady listened. “I’m not sure,” she answered. “It may be the sound of the waves, or peoples voices… Why don’t you leave the children with me for the day,” asked the lady. “They’re playing happily. I’ll look after them for you.”

E. Phillips Fox, Australia/France 1865-1915 / Bathing hour (L’heure du bain) c.1909 / Oil on canvas / 183.5 x 113.3cm / Purchased 1946 / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art

“Before we continue with our search for the music, I must get my coat cleaned,” Roy told Matilda. “Ask the ladies in Monday morning by Vida Lahey,” she suggested. ‘They’re doing their washing. I’ll wait for you.”

Vida Lahey, Australia 1882-1968 / Monday morning 1912 / Oil on canvas / Gift of Madame Emily Coungeau through the Queensland Art Society 1912 / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art

Next stop afternoon tea in the painting Under the jacaranda by R Godfrey Rivers. They all sat in the shade. The flowers from the tree had fallen on the ground and looked like a blue carpet.

R. Godfrey Rivers, England/Australia 1858-1925 / Under the jacaranda 1903 / Oil on canvas / Purchased 1903 / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery
R. Godfrey Rivers, England/Australia 1858-1925 / Under the jacaranda 1903 / Oil on canvas / Purchased 1903 / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art

Don’t let the story end

Visit the family’s home at the Queensland Art Gallery, just look for the letters ‘R’ and ‘M’ carved into their beautiful wooden front door in the permanent Australian Art Collection hang.

Continue reading Roy and Matilda’s The Mysterious Music to find out what happened next on their great adventure as the two mice visit works from the Gallery’s Collection, and who they found playing a piano.

Bring the family into the Gallery to create an adventure of your own, the excitement of finding Roy and Matilda’s carved door can enliven the imagination of little visitors, this is a perfect way for young children to be introduced to fine art.