Last month, the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA) awarded former Chair of the Gallery’s Board of Trustees Richard (Dick) Austin AO, OBE (1919–2000) with the inaugural QAGOMA Gallery Medal. The medal recognises Austin’s incredible vision, energy and leadership that even now continue to guide the Gallery towards Asia and the Pacific as a key Collection and exhibition focus.
Chair of the Gallery’s Board of Trustees, Professor Susan Street AO and QAGOMA Director Chris Saines CNZM presented Austin’s wife, Mrs Arija Austin, with the Gallery Medal in an intimate ceremony at Mrs Austin’s home. The gold medal, designed by acclaimed Queensland jeweller Barbara Heath, carries the iconic breezeway lattice pattern borne by many Queensland homes complemented by a cascade of silver ‘water’ droplets. Like rain, which nourishes and cultivates, the design alludes to the precious and transformative gift of dedicated service made by the awardee to both the Gallery and Queensland’s cultural landscape as a whole.
As the Gallery gears up for its flagship event, the Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (APT8), next year, it is undeniably important to recognise the contributions of individuals that have been pivotal to our ongoing success. For turning our gaze towards Asia, without a doubt, there can be no more deserving recipient of the QAGOMA Gallery Medal than Dick Austin.
Dick was a prisoner of war of the Japanese and learned the language which was very useful to obtain support of fellow Australians. He embraced Asia in his Foreign Affairs career and later as Chairman of the Queensland Gallery Board of Trustees. His extensive personal collection of Asian art was donated to the University of the Sunshine Coast Foundation by Arija Austin on her passing earlier this year. The auction of the vast collection contained within their Buderim home was auctioned on November 14 & 15. 940 lots were sold by public auction at the University Innovation Centre.
R I P Mr & Mrs Austin of Buderim