I cannot believe that this is my first review of an exhibition launch. I have attended a few but never really had much to write about. This time, however, I was able to spend quite a bit of time exploring the exhibition as well as enjoying the launch. The exhibition in question is Collection Intervention, now on display at the Rockhampton Art Gallery. The aim of the exhibition is for the Gallery’s collection to be reinterpreted by contemporary Queensland artists. Rockhampton has amassed one of the most incredible collections of Australian art. To paraphrase the Mayor, Margaret Strelow, the collection contains a remarkable piece of work by almost every well-known Australian artsit. It would be fantastic to see these works permanently on display!
Rather than temporarily displaying a set selection of pieces, this exhibition has a twist. Every few weeks, a new Queensland contemporary artist takes over the show and curates something different based on their own ideas and perceptions. In total there are six artists. I think this is a great idea. The result is one concept, but, six unique displays. I would hope that this encourages repeat visitation as people might return to see another artist’s interpretation of the collection. Since the show is running until June 3, I think I will return to see it in a new light.
The first artist who curated the show is Carmen Beezley-Drake (on display until February 28). What struck me immediately was the number of large, dominant works. Instead of clashing, however, they complemented each other so well in the space.
Rather than post a photo in the following sections, I have instead provided a link. Not only will you find the photograph by clicking on the link, but also, some more information about the artist.
A highlight for me was seeing the work of Ben Quilty The Evo Project Sheep Wash Road painted in 2012. It is a really amazing example of how the canvas itself can become part of the artwork and how the absence of paint in some areas can contribute to the whole. It is a large work and something you could not miss.
Going from large to small, another work that I appreciated was Shuffle by Victoria Reichelt. I have been binge watching The Office recently so this is probably why it stood out. It looks just like any normal office set-up. Except for the duck.
Finally, there was a series of three photographs by Fiona McDonald that really caught my attention. To create each of these works, McDonald has weaved together two photographs. You really have to look at the work up close and then far away to gain an understanding of the effect.
Apart from the incredible works on display, I also really appreciated the artwork labels. They were simple, didn’t contain art jargon that can be so alienating, and were printed on transparent stickers. In short, they were subtle and not distracting. I thought it would have been great to have kids labels as well. Especially since so many of the artworks were whimsical and fun.
Although I said it was an exhibition launch review, I have not yet mentioned anything about the actual event. I arrived a little bit early because I am “that person” who must always be early. Luckily, I was not the only one. I should clarify that by early I mean I was there at 5.50pm for a 6pm opening – nothing too ridiculous. When I walked into the gallery, it was clear that they were really well prepared and had everything ready.
Visitors were welcomed with a complimentary glass of champagne, which I thought was quite nice. We were allowed to walk around the exhibition with drinks. This did make me feel a little nervous. Cheeseboards (so good) and other small bites were dotted around the exhibition space. All in all, the catering side was simple but very effective. Especially considering it was a free event.
After around 45 minutes, the speeches began. It was officially opened by the Mayor and we also heard from Director Bianca Acimovic. They spoke a little about the future of the Gallery and about the show itself. After the speeches, we were free to linger as long as we liked until 8pm. Overall, the launch was relaxing and people were enjoying themselves. The vibe I got was that it was a regular crowd of people who probably come to all the openings.
Overall, I am glad that I took the opportunity to experience an opening at another regional art gallery. Usually I am one of the people behind the scenes organising and planning the event so it did feel strange being on the other side! I am looking forward to visiting again when a different artist takes the curatorial reins.