The renovation of our Collection storage facility at the Queensland Art Gallery (QAG) posed a particular challenge for the curators in Australian Art. The Josephine Ulrick and Win Schubert Galleries and Queensland Artists’ Gallery will be temporarily closed during the renovation period, resulting in many treasured works from the Australian Art Collection being away from view.
In the meantime, it was important that some of the Collection’s most loved works remain in the Gallery for our visitors to enjoy. We had an exhibition gallery next to the QAG Watermall available to us for this project and this is what happened next.
Change is afoot at the Queensland Art Gallery with the Collection Storage Upgrade project.
Before the Australian galleries closed, we identified works from each gallery that we knew were some of the most beloved, along with key works from storage. In Gallery 5, we wanted to showcase this selection while making reference to the storage space renovation. This resulted in Moving Pictures: Towards a Rehang of Australian Art, which includes a salon hang of Collection favourites, along with other significant works.
The salon hang is positioned on a metal grid that echoes our storage racks, giving visitors an insight into how paintings are kept safe behind the scenes when they’re not on display. Two sculptures by Queensland sculptor Daphne Mayo are also displayed in their storage crates, continuing the ‘open store’ narrative from wall to floor. The mirror-lined box in Gordon Bennett’s If Banjo Paterson was Black 1995 adds to this dialogue, while also bringing Bennett’s complex and critical response to cultural histories in Australia to this selection of Collection works.
And many Gallery visitors will be relieved to see that R Godfrey Rivers’ very much-loved Under the Jacaranda 1903 joins our small but significant selection of paintings of female subjects on a wall opposite the salon hang.
Michael Hawker, our Associate Curator Australian Art, worked closely with our colleagues in exhibition design to configure the display of paintings on the salon wall – a tricky task when you consider the different sizes of the works, their diverse subject matter and even the presence of large frames. You’ll see familiar works by Russell Drysdale, Rupert Bunny, Vida Lahey, Ian Fairweather, Sydney Long, E Phillips Fox, Nora Heysen and many others on this rack. Once this was in place, the Learning team worked with Michael and our two volunteers to gather material for the ‘wobble board’ (a portable wall label on which visitors can see details for all of the works on the salon wall) and content for the interactive touch screens in the space.
While the renovations are taking place, the curatorial team in Australian Art are also working on a whole new presentation of QAGOMA’s Australian Collection for when the Australian galleries reopen in September 2017.