Assistant Minister of State Assisting the Premier, Ms Jennifer Howard MP: Opening Speech
Good afternoon everyone.
I’m delighted to be here to represent the Premier and Minister for the Arts, the Honourable Annastacia Palaszczuk, who regrets she is not able to join us.
This incredible exhibition, Colours of Queensland, is a true celebration of Queensland’s artists and a wonderful display of the breadth of artistic talent across our state, and I am thrilled to be here to launch it today.
Queensland has many outstanding individual artists and arts companies – and it is vital that we celebrate these artists and achievements, and the key role they play in ensuring the vibrancy of local communities.
Flying Arts has been instrumental in supporting artists in these communities for more than 45 years –through its ongoing commitment to promoting and championing visual and media artists in Queensland’s regional and remote communities, and providing these areas with vital access to arts programs and services.
The Queensland Government is committed to fostering a rich and diverse arts and cultural sector, and supporting our regions and is proud to support Flying Arts Alliance and the Queensland Regional Art Awards.
Flying Arts Alliance receives funding from Arts Queensland’s Organisations Fund 2017–2020, along with touring funding from the Playing Queensland Fund and an investment from the Arts Leverage Fund.
Small to medium arts organisations, like Flying Arts, can transform lives with the experiences they offer and this exhibition is testament to that.
This exhibition focuses on participating artists’ response to what brings colour, vibrancy and life in their local communities and regions. I would suggest a simple answer is the artists themselves are key to delivering this for their communities, and of course organisations like Flying Arts.
This exhibition includes six winners from the Queensland Regional Art Awards, along with 30 commended artists, out of more than 170 works submitted for the awards.
I would like to congratulate the major prize winner, Karen Stephens, and all the winners, commended artists and all the participating artists.
Thank you for giving us the opportunity to see your works here in Brisbane and I wish Flying Arts all the best as you take this exhibition to regional centres and showcase
the abundance of artistic talent we have in Queensland.
Assistant Director, Learning and Public Engagement at QAGoMA, Simon Wright: Opening Speech
What is special about Queensland?
If you’re not from Queensland, apparently it’s a commonly held belief that we harbour a unique state of mind, that something might “only” have been able to come from here… or, that, somehow, a Queenslander usually stands stand out from the crowd.
Even if any of this were untrue, we can all be proud of this state’s unique features, and surely, like a good wine ageing gracefully, the immediate and longlasting affects of her soil and climate must show up in our tastes, in our pallettes and in the ways we perceive ourselves.
Those of us connected to her geography and embedded in her communities, from the very far north and gulf country, way out west, along the seaboard and interior, and here in the south-east, can be relied upon to have something unique to say about Queensland.
And today we can see 36 points of view communicating these artist’s ideas through the lingua franca of visual culture – thanks to the Queensland Regional Art Awards, Flying Arts and their array of funding, corporate, philanthropic and project partners.
It’s vital to acknowledge this array of voices and supporting networks, and it’s evidence of an arts ecology that has roots and branches in all our nooks and crannies, an ecosystem that unites many communities of interest over vast distances.
If Queensland were a country, it would be among the 25 biggest countries in the world… 7 times the size of the entire United Kingdom. Victorians would be impressed to know we could accommodate their state almost 8 times…
And so it is no mean feat that this exhibition can be organised here and then offered to audiences around the state in touring venues at Cloncurry, Chinchilla, Texas, Mackay and Goondiwindi.
Congratulations to all of the artists in this project, and to those who have been recognised for special mentions and awards… it’s an eclectic, declarative and insightful display.
For many of us, recognition and acknowledgement of our efforts are parts of the feedback loop we naturally lean toward when looking for an incentive to continue, develop professionally, or dare showcase our skills and ideas.
Projects like this do much more than we might first imagine…. In the museum business “the exhibition effect” is core to planning and delivery. It creates a forum for meaning and engagement.
When does a work of art gain significance?
We might think a work is finished when it’s signed, or saved, or standing…
But locating the moment a work becomes significant isn’t just at the moment of its production, but the moment of its public presentation, and thereafter every time it’s presented.
Like an artist, an artwork may build in significance over time, by gaining a provenance. Both rely on getting an opportunity to not just tell a story, but exemplify the real significance of telling stories again and again.
As Nitchse said, if something happens once it is insignificant – its happening again and again is what matters.
Dare I say that the creation of value, within the artist, as a sense of achievement in having done a work, is one thing, but that value adding – or the moment of a work’s real transfer – are the moments when the work meets the world.
To me, that’s the difference between being an artist and not being an artist.
Everybody makes things, but these ‘exhibition’ moments of transfer towards public recognition create ‘a system’, full of ‘affects and effects”… dynamics that aggregate and help define our arts sector, however big or small, local or international.
The power of art is relational – it needs an audience… a thing without an audience is an open circuit, with no circulation, but when a viewer closes that circuit we see they provide a continuous path through which a current can flow.
The exhibition effect is really a loop that signifies art from things, and artists in our communities.
We might think then of an exhibition a bit like a coin, with the head of an artist and the tale of an audience, one not possible without the other, both with a reason for being, to hold a system of value in place.
In exhibitions artists are born. In exhibitions their confidence is tested, their work is tested, critiqued, revered – all currencies of exchange value.
In ‘the Colours of Queensland’ we can see efforts well spent by those who know the cost it takes to be an artist in this society, for those of us who recognise the value they create in our culture by taking that path.
And so if this is true, so must its opposite also be true – our simple test is to ask would this be an exhibition without artists?
With a resounding “no” please allow me to declare the exhibition open and ask you to congratulate our artists and organisers!
Flying Arts ‘Art for Life’ Award Winner, Karen Stephens: Acceptance Speech
Good Afternoon dignitaries and guests.
For the 2016 QueenslandRegionalArt AwardsI was asked to respond to what brings colour, vibrancy and life to my local region by drawing on personal experience and observation.
My subject is the introduced species of The Noogoora Burr which thrives in drought like conditions of remote Queensland and my species were from home in Winton. In the Desert Channel Country the burrs are considered “Weeds and Problem plants” (Alexander, 2006).
My Mum has travelled from Winton to be here today and has brought some actual specimens of Noogoora burrs. Any one that has ever come into close contact with one these burrs possibly has not forgotten. Come and see us before you leave today so we can introduce you.
While I was painting Noogooraville passers by to my studio would say -what is it? Geez that’s weird!Some would stop to look and stare then leave. Others would rejoice and stay longer to understand. Their response allowed me to see how others respond to what is alien.
From such a small thing that most onlookers found foreign I found a complex argument. My aim wasto embrace the Colours of Queensland by analysing the lens of multiculturalism, colonisation and identity politics through contemporary landscape painting.
Diversity enriches our state with colour, vibrancy and life. My painting proves that it also bringsincreased anxiety to accept what is different within our boundaries. Noogooraville does not solve the argument.It’spictorial and spatial logic leaves the eye circling to demonstrate the controversial and vexing arguments in which landscape and people coexist.
Being a regional or remote artist is not an easy road. As a contemporary practitioner I choose not to see these places as cultural backwaters or provincial – but a space of tremendous opportunity that allows practitioners an environment to create in solitude. The internet has also been a game changer and liberator.The handicap of physical distance however forces us to becomelong distance travellers to reach what we believe in.To travel long distances, learn,grow and connect with others outside our regions hasoften been the way whether you are a remote, regional, Queensland or an Australian artist.
To be the recipient of the generous Art for Life award and the recognitionof my painting by people I respect reinforces that my voice as both a regional and remote artist is important no matter where I stand.
I am grateful to the Flying Arts Alliance and the sponsors who continue to offer support to people like myself and also to the other finalists in this travelling exhibitionof Queensland.The generous prize will assist with professional development in the Fine Arts field by completing my Honours Research degree this year and showcasing new works locally and interstate. The prize allows for freedom that was not previously there and for this I thank you.
Reference: Alexander, Rhondda. 2006. Weeds and Problem Plants of the Channel Country. Landcare.
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