As ‘Sugar Spin: you, me, art and everything’ featuring over 250 contemporary artworks from brand-new immersive works to large-scale visitor favourites draws to a close this weekend , we continue with our second last chapter profile – ‘Treasure’.

Imagine your hand
holding a treasure passing it on
Imagine a small happy hand
holding this treasure

Here we see ‘treasure’ as both care and currency — things we value most highly. Bea Maddock considers the coastal contours of her Tasmanian home and the beautiful cadence of the languages once spoken here, alongside niches of tightly wrapped treasures. Fiona Hall offers a museum-like cabinet of birds’ nests, binding together our emotional response to these small perfectly-made homes and the value carried by the shredded currency from which they are made.

Fiona Hall, Australia b.1953 / Tender 2003-06 / US dollars, wire and vitrines / 86 nests / Purchased 2006. The Queensland Government’s Gallery of Modern Art Acquisitions Fund / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery / © The artist / Photograph: Natasha Harth © QAGOMA

We honour those we care about with valued gifts and a wish to pass these treasures from one generation to the next. Shown here is a traditional Palawa shell necklace by Tasmanian artist Jeanette James, made from shells gathered on Flinders Island. It testifies to the skills passed through generations from mother to daughter and beyond.

Gold is perhaps the most iconic form of treasure and one that drew people to Australia from all around the world. This chapter includes a group of nineteenth-century goldfield brooches with tiny nuggets of gold, as well as picks and shovels, given by miners to their sweethearts. Japanese netsuke from the same period were made to be worn and held; these tiny sculptures frequently represent nature, the relationship between people and animals, and the spirits. These items, unable to be carried beyond this world, are often passed on, becoming reminders of loss, love and those who are no longer here.

Lee Mingwei, Taiwan/United States b.1964 / Writing the unspoken 1999 / Wood, steel, light fittings, glass, writing paper and implements, envelopes, cushion / Three booths / Purchased 2000. Queensland Art Gallery Foundation / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery / © The artist / Photograph: Natasha Harth © QAGOMA

Lee Mingwei’s three quiet pavilions, equipped with pen and paper, hold treasures that invite us to think deeply about something we may have been afraid to say, the secrets we each hold and what might be achieved by sharing or committing them to paper.