Wander under the stars and meet some iconic Australian drovers

Installation view of the Under the Milky Way activity / Drawing on Robert MacPherson’s interest in the Southern Cross, children are invited to make their own constellation of stars, using acrylic rods, in this immersive sound and light interactive activity.

Young gallery visitors can journey into outback Australia, experiencing life under the Southern Cross when the Gallery opens its new exhibition for children in time for the school holidays.

Developed in close collaboration with one of Australia’s leading contemporary artists, ‘Robert MacPherson: Swags and Swamp Rats’will run from 27 June – 5 October 2015.

Robert MacPherson’s immense body of work is often informed by history, language and rural Australia. This new exhibition introduces young visitors to the ideas, places and people who have inspired MacPherson in an environment evocative of the Australian outback.

QAGOMA Director Chris Saines CNZM said the new exhibition continues the Gallery’s longstanding tradition of working with Australian and international contemporary artists to create interactive installations and activities specifically for children and families.

Young gallery visitors interact with the Learn the Lingo activity / Robert MacPherson often includes words in his artworks and is especially fond of words and phrases that are now considered old fashioned. Many of these words were used by Robert’s childhood heroes the drovers. Children are invited to use a selection of words from the artist, printed on blocks, to build a sentence, story or poem. Some of the blocks included in the activity are double sided with the old-fashioned term in red and the contemporary equivalent on the back.

‘The first of five interactive zones and activities in the exhibition, Learn the Lingo, invites children to discover the language used by drovers – the hardworking stockmen and women of outback Australia. Children are invited to create sentences, stories or poems using words printed on wooden blocks. Some of MacPherson’s favourite drover words are printed on double-sided blocks, with children able to turn them over to reveal the modern day equivalent,’.

Visitors can also make their own drover character as part of the digital Drover Muster activity, using facial expressions and accessories from the artist’s 2400 Boss Drover drawings in 1000 FROG POEMS: 1000 BOSS DROVERS (“YELLOW LEAF FALLING”) FOR H.S. 1996-2014, an artwork by MacPherson recently gifted to the Gallery.

Young gallery visitors engage with the Drover Muster digital interactive / In this digital interactive, young visitors are invited to create their own drover character using a selection of facial features and accessories drawn from Robert MacPherson’s 2400 pictures of boss drovers in the QAGOMA Collection artwork 1000 FROG POEMS: 1000 BOSS DROVERS (“YELLOW LEAF FALLING”) FOR H.S. 1996 – 2014. This Collection work will be on display as part of ‘Robert MacPherson: The Painter’s Reach’ and a slideshow of individual drawings will be projected in the Children’s Art Centre space.

The artist’s interest in the Southern Cross star constellation is the inspiration behind the Under the Milky Way activity in which children can use acrylic rods to make their own constellation of stars and learn how stars were used by drovers as a navigation tool.

Before leaving the exhibition visitors can take a walk with drovers in the immersive Dawn ’til Dusk installation encountering different sounds of the outback.

Installation view of the Under the Milky Way activity

‘Swags and Swamp Rats’ coincides with Robert MacPherson: The Painter’s Reach, QAGOMA’s major exhibition of work by the artist showing at the Gallery of Modern Art, 25 July – 1 18 October 2015. Curated by New York-based curator and writer Ingrid Periz, ‘The Painter’s Reach’ explores the entire creative of this conceptual artist whose practice has been a constant presence on the Australian art scene for almost forty years.