The grand doors of ‘Toonarbin’, the magnificently restored Georgian home of early settler, Captain Henry O’Reilly, and former convent, were opened wide to Flying Arts Alliance and guests on Friday, 24 August 2018.
Our gracious hosts, and the house’s owners, Allen Hunter and Carmel Dyer, generously opened their home and hearts so we could grow our 500 Club donor circle at this special fundraising event. Over 80 guests were treated to a rare tour of an exquisite art collection, fine food and wine at this gala event.
Flying Arts’ 500 Club is a valued group of donors who significantly help us grow our programs and services that support and develop established, emerging and aspiring artists, young people and communities across Queensland. 500 Club donations strengthen our signature event, the Queensland Regional Art awards, and, importantly, help us connect isolated regional and remote Queensland communities through visual arts activities and programs.
Thank you to our current 500 Club donors including Peter and Louise Hickson, Mary-Louise North, Lee Nevison, Bart Mead, Prof Glyn Davis, John O’Toole, Andy and Helen Stephanos, Dimitri and Holly Stephanos, Wendy Brooks, Sarah Barron, Kathy Schaefer, Judith and Graham Bell, Peter and Geraldine Castleton, Robert and Chesne Nason, Nicholas and Dianne Eden, Karen Stephens, Brad Haseman, Shaaron Boughen, Kasia Kondas, Luigi and Pamela Casagrande, Noel Gardner, Robby Nason, Susan Ostling, Mike and Sharon Mitchell.
If you are interested in donating to the 500 Club, or would like to give to Flying Arts Alliance ‘Art for Life’ fund, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or donate online https://flyingarts.org.au/donate/
Images Credit: Thomas Oliver www.thomasoliver.photo
Flying Arts Alliance, Chair Prof John O’Toole, Art at ‘Toonarbin’ Opening Address
I’m John O’Toole, the Chair of Flying Arts and privileged to be your MC tonight.
On behalf of all of us, I would like first to acknowledge the traditional owners of this areas, and ongoing custodians of the Arts here in Queensland, the Jagera and Turrbal peoples, their elders past, present and to come.
And on behalf of Flying Arts, next to acknowledge our gracious hosts, Carmel Dyer and Allen Hunter, for inviting Flying Arts to share their incomparable house and art collection with us tonight – more from them, and more of the house, shortly.
And finally to our VIPs tonight… that’s all of you, art lovers who have literally had to put your money where your mouth is to come tonight to this aesthetic feast. As always it’s affirming and reassuring to see our regular supporters and patrons, and lovely to welcome so many new faces to the Flying Arts family.
I’m here to tell you why you’re here, in case you don’t know. You can take your choice of any of these three reasons, or preferably all of them:
- First: To indulge your love of art with what must be one of Australia’s finest private collections of Australian masterpieces, all round us;
- Second: To find out who and what Flying Arts is, if you have had the misfortune to come from another state or have lived under a stone all your life… or perhaps are one of that suddenly endangered species the New Australian Immigrant;
- Third: To let us tell you about how joyful you will feel as your purse-strings loosen when you become a 500 Club donor!
The longer-term benefits of that are all outlined in the 500 club pack that our Board members and Staff are waiting to bestow on you.
Best of all is the glow of satisfaction you will get from knowing that in a real and tangible way you are keeping Queensland’s visual arts, our traditions and our innovations alive and healthy. Your donations help us to fund the Queensland Regional Art Award and our programs in remote and rural communities. Most important, Queensland’s youth and young artists will benefit from your loosened wallet as donations support our Young Artists in Residence and Small Schools Programs that provide exceptional art experiences and access to professional artists. You’ll hear more of that in a few minutes.
But now, I’ll get on to this evening’s star attraction – Toonarbin and what’s in it.
A bit of Housekeeping is necessary, as we are in a private house, as guests of the owners, and also in a gallery full of precious works of Australian art.
You are welcome to look around the house and the artworks and the garden, but please restrict yourselves to this ground floor only, unless you are on a tour with Allen or Carmel.
… And if there should be a sudden conflagration and you feel impelled to remove a painting from the walls to rescue it – don’t forget to give it back.
Now, a word about the house from its owner. Quite fortuitously, I’d been round and seen Toonarbin in its previous, complete dilapidation, after the Catholic nuns moved out or moved on – or mostly moved up I think. They left the house as a sad relic. I was also lucky enough to meet Carmel and Allen just when they were beginning to restore Toonarbin, and here is Carmel to pick up the story.
Host, Carmel Dyer, speaks about ‘Toonarbin’
To tell you a little about ‘Toonarbin’, I’d like you to look around these rooms, and notice what you see – a large reception space with bi-fold timber doors, rendered solid brick walls in a strong colour, rich red cedar joinery, decorative plaster, some beautiful paintings, and all of us here in our early 21st century fashions.
Now, imagine a similar scene 150 years ago, about 1870. We’d see oil lamps, different paintings, a fireplace over here, and the front wall of this room was here…but otherwise much the same, except everyone is dressed differently – the women in beautiful silk, floor-length dresses with narrow waists and bustles; the men in three-piece suits, bow ties and top hats on arrival. And Toonarbin is home to Irish ships’ Captain Henry O’Reilly, his wife Mary and their children, as it will be for three generations.
Now let’s travel forward to the late 1920’s. Toonarbin is now a Sisters of Mercy Convent. Numerous changes, extensions and partitions are made and the house is clad in the red brick façade you see today.
And this room? It’s now a chapel. Imagine the arch bricked up, the fireplace removed, stained glass windows installed and everything is painted a pale pink/beige. You’d see the Stations of the Cross on the walls, an altar behind me. And of course there would be pews, prayers, the saying of Mass and singing of hymns.
When we bought Toonarbin in 2007 we undertook a 5-year project to restore it to a family home again, revealing and repairing its many beautiful original features, while respecting where possible its life as a Convent. These two rooms are an example of some of what was required throughout the house. Original plaster work was repaired using traditional methods. The opening between the two rooms was restored, and all the cedar joinery was sanded back by hand and finished to its original beauty.
We are glad to have done this to preserve a piece of Brisbane’s history and to share it with you. So, welcome!
John thanks Carmel and Introduces Jo St Baker, Art for Life Major Award Winner 2017
I’m sure the old Flying Arts hands will be patient while I just briefly tell to the newbies our well-known tale of Flying Arts. Forty-seven years back, in 1971, that’s how long ago a young local artist, Merv Moriarty, won a prize in a painting competition.
Inspired by Queensland’s Flying Doctor Service, he used the proceeds to teach himself to fly. Then, our own daring young man in a flying machine took his artistry, his teaching ability and his distinguished artist friends to the air and to the bush, to give the gift of art lessons and workshops to far-flung and art-starved corners of Queensland. We’ve been doing it ever since, first as The Flying Art School, and now as Flying Arts Alliance. And you can read all about what we do to support the arts in Queensland on our website, our social media and our communications, that will whet your appetite for throwing yourselves into supporting us too … But I’ve also got a living breathing example to exhibit tonight, a live witness to all this:
So as they used to say to kids in US movies – it’s time for the Sandman… from our own Flying Arts family: the winner of the 2017 Queensland Regional Art Award with her evocative and mysterious sculpture the Sandmen, to explain what Flying Arts has meant to her: Jo St Baker!
Jo St Baker ‘Art for Life’ Major Award Winner, Queensland Regional Art Awards 2017
As the recipient of the prestigious Queensland Regional Art Award 2017 I am happy to be here to witness and support this 2018 wonderful fundraising event.
I would like to pay my respects to the traditional owners of our vast land, past, present and future and acknowledge the importance of the position that we and the Arts play in the building of a strong relationship and cultural voice within our state and country.
This year has gone by very quickly. Every year my aim is to grow professionally, creatively, and personally. It has been a busy year full of forward steps, opportunities, and professional advances.
Doors have opened and I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for the part that you have played in this extended journey. Through your relationship and contributions to Flying Arts great things are happening for many artists all over our state. Fine Art, Indigenous Art, Contemporary Art are all represented and the bar is constantly being raised.
Your generous contributions as 500 Club donors to fund the prize money I received as the Major Award of the Queensland Regional Art Award (QRAA) 2017 have enabled me the time to do more private study and research, write, paint, carve and enter other art awards with a focus on my painting, which is my main income.
So too the awarded funds have aided with costs, studio rent, materials and decent tools.
I have worked very hard, but it has also provided me with the space to breathe and experiment creatively. I am working towards another large solo show next year having just closed The First Wave, my first solo exhibition in a regional setting.
Stepping on to a Regional Gallery platform has definitely been a prominent highlight in my career.
In June I was invited to sit on a panel of artists and curator at the NAVA (National Association of Visual Arts) and Moreton Bay Regional Councils ‘Sustainability of Practice’ Forum where we presented and discussed issues on and around professional practice, art as business and being an artist in these times. It was a great afternoon.
My winning sculpture, The Sandmen is currently on tour of Queensland as part of the QRAA touring exhibition, Iconic Queensland, taking my voice and stories to places I may not get to visit. I am proud of what they represent as they are a code to my own personal heritage.
Made of sand, they are tiny fragments of biological and geological data of lands, seas and people from various parts of the world. I too represent lineage from multiple places and people and I believe that perhaps the surreal human forms that I bring to a contemporary platform are a lot like all of us.
Since last year my network has grown. I now have seven (7) works in the Caboolture Regional Art Gallery’s collection. Two of these were purchased from the residencies that I was involved in – Drawn to the Mountain in the Glasshouse Mountains and The Brett Whiteley Drawing Room.
The Brett Whiteley Drawing Room was a prelude to his visiting exhibition ‘Other Places’ officially opened by Wendy Whiteley and was based on one of his favourite subjects – the Moreton Bay Fig bonsai.
Before I finish I would like to extend to you all a warm welcome to my studio in Redcliffe if any of you are up that way.
And finally I’d like to mention that I have just been invited as one of 15 participants to help QAGOMA Learning run the first iteration of Art as Exchange. This will be a 3-day workshop in the Bunya Mountains where I will get to work collaboratively with facilitators and guests of the Bunya People’s Aboriginal Corporation with the aim of producing resources for schools and adaptable professional learning opportunities for artists and arts workers. I am so excited about this project.
Thank you Flying Arts and the support of the 500 club donors, you are a vital force in Regional Art in Australia. You are greatly needed and are a conduit of communication, education and support to all aspects of the state’s cultural health.
I wish you well and look forward to a strong future for the Arts and artists in Queensland.
John thanks Jo and introduces Mary-Louise North, Board member and Convenor of Flying Arts Alliance’s Development Committee
Now as you’ve all been hanging out to find exactly what the 500 Club means to you and to Queensland artists, here’s our Board Member Mary-Louise North, the Convenor of the Flying Arts Development Committee:
Mary-Louise North, the Convenor of the Flying Arts Development Committee
I think we are all here tonight for the love of art – and because we believe art makes a difference to the quality of people’s lives.
Flying Arts makes this difference, and our small but dynamic organisation extends this influence throughout communities across the State.
And it has done for many years – I grew up in the country, and my mother and her friends were taught art by Mervyn Moriarty a very long time ago – they all enjoyed upskilling and all the camaraderie.
Flying Arts has been there for Queenslanders, through droughts, floods, through times of prosperity and hardship, for 47 years.
We have heard first hand from Jo St Baker, the kind of difference Flying Arts can make.
In fact, last year, we held over 200 individual activities, for over 32,000 participants and attendees, in 64 locations around the state.
That adds up to quite some difference.
The Board and Staff are very proud of this record. But we also know and as you can imagine – that all this comes at a very significant cost. And, a need for ongoing support.
At this point, I would like to thank our major sponsors who keep Flying Arts flying. These include the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland, The Tim Fairfax Family Foundation, University of Southern Queensland, The Australian Government’s Regional Arts Fund, provided through Regional Arts Australia, Travel Associates, Toll, Gandel Philanthropy, Holding Redlich, the Queensland Regional Art Awards sponsors, Andy Stephanos and our regular givers.
Thanks to Sirromet for donating their Signature Sparkling wine for us to enjoy tonight.
And in a special category are our 500 club donors.
500 Club donations support the work of Flying Arts whose programs and services benefit thousands of artists, educators, young people, communities and schools across Queensland, including rural, regional and remote areas.
To become a 500 Club donor, you can take a seat on our Flying Arts plane by donating a minimum of $500 – of course, it can be more – or much more… All donations are fully tax deductible.
It is an annual subscription – therefore renewed each year.
In return, as a 500 Club donor, firstly, you will receive updates as to how your donations are making a difference – providing benefits to individuals throughout the State, regardless of age, background and location – to sustain a lifelong interest or career in the arts, and importantly, making a difference to their communities.
And secondly, 500 Club donors will be able to see first-hand the benefit their donation is providing, by, for example, receiving invitations to our inspiring exhibitions and exciting special events, thereby meeting the artists and those who directly benefit.
Now, as I look around the room, I see those friends of Flying Arts who already provide support to our 500 Club and this includes all members of our Board. So, please continue to renew your subscriptions. Everybody needs friends!
But I’m sure these returns just explained, are ROI’s that everyone in the room would aspire to.
We invite you All to become Flying Arts Friends through a 500 Club donation tonight, and thereby enter into a mutually beneficial new friendship.
And, tonight we will be drawing a lucky Toonarbin door prize generously donated by our hosts, Allen and Carmel. It is a very special publication about the history of their beautifully restored home. Everyone is in the draw for this fabulous book!
If you would like to become a valued 500 Club donor, around the room we have our hard working Cabin Crew AKA our Board Members.
Hands up, Board Members.
They have information and 500 Club forms, and are ready to help you join.
Or you can register at the desk in the entry hall (where you collected your name tags).
In summary – Flying Arts needs your support and we’d like to continue making friends and filling 500 Club donor seats on our Flying Arts journey, and for you to take up the opportunity of enhancing the quality of life of others.
John O’Toole thanks Mary-Louise North and announces Toonarbin book winner
There’s still time too, for signing up for the 500 Club and talking to our Board and staff about Flying Arts.
OK Folks, let’s see who gets the beautiful Toonarbin book.
Carmel and Allen, will you do the honours, please?
Mary-Louise North thanks Robby Nason
John O’Toole thanks hosts, Carmel Dyer and Allen Hunter
So on behalf of us all, please thank tonight’s hosts Carmel and Allen.
And we won’t exploit their hospitality. Our evening with Allen and Carmel will end promptly at 8.30 – so scuttle off now and see that Heysen drawing or Cossington Smith still life just one more time, and have that last drink, and decide that yes you really did want to join the 500 Club after all, and see our staff members.
Thank you for supporting Flying Arts Alliance and Good Evening!