On Thursday 24th February, Flying Arts Alliance Inc. (Flying Arts) was delighted to be joined by artists, special delegates, sponsors and guests to launch The Mervyn Moriarty Landscape Award Exhibition at the Judith Wright Arts Centre. The exhibition was open to the public from 20 February until 3 March 2023 and will be on display at the offices of the award sponsor, Consolidated Properties Group, in Brisbane until early 2024.
The Mervyn Moriarty Landscape Award is a category of the Queensland Regional Art Awards, Flying Arts’ annual visual arts awards for artists living in regional, rural and remote Queensland. The prize awards landscape artwork in any medium, in homage to the founder of Flying Arts, Mervyn ‘Merv’ Moriarty OAM, and his extraordinary legacy, and tributes to his penchant for en plein air landscape painting.
The timing of the launch of the exhibition was a fitting way of celebrating Mervyn Moriarty’s recognition in the Order of Australia 2023 Honours List for service to the visual arts. Merv was an inspiring teacher and visual artist with a passion for bringing the arts to regional, rural and remote locations. He learnt to fly an aircraft to achieve this passion, taking over 1,250 journeys from 1971 to 1983.
On the night of the launch, the foyer of the Judith Wright Art Centre came alive with a jubilant celebration that launched the exhibition to the public, generously hosted by Consolidated Properties Group. Attendees were treated to an outstanding selection of artworks, consisting of the award-winning artwork by Jan Strudwick, Sunday Morning – Ukraine (2022) and artworks by award finalists, Aaron Butt, Carmen Beezley-Drake, Coreen Reading, Dolly Loogatha, Helen Dennis, Janet Ambrose, Jo Williams, Kylie Stevens, Rosie Lloyd Giblett, Suzanne Furness and Thomas Gilmore.
Flying Arts Executive Officer, Paul Thompson, was the Master of Ceremonies. The audience was formally welcomed by the Honourable Anthe Philippides SC, Chair of the Flying Arts Board, who warmly thanked all those in attendance and expressed how humbled Flying Arts was to have Aunty Delmae Barton, a descendant of the Bidjara Tribe present, who delivered a moving Acknowledgement of Country performance.
The Chair of Flying Arts also acknowledged Mr. Don O’Rorke, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of Consolidated Properties Group, for the continued generous support and sponsorship of the award. Mr. O’Rorke responded by referencing the importance of their partnership with Flying Arts and congratulated the exhibiting artists including the overall award winner, Jan Strudwick.
Award-winning artist Jan Strudwick gave a heartfelt thank you speech. She shared the enormous benefit the award would mean for her practice, stating:
“Sunday Morning – Ukraine was made on a 41-year-old sewing machine, that was bought with the proceeds of our first harvest after we were married in 1982. This Award has allowed me to do is sew on a new computerised machine, worth more than my car. The Award has opened my eyes to the depth and variety of art practices in Queensland. Many artists work alone (I work in my garage). But this Award has given me the confidence to mentor others. It has fostered true networking and sharing of ideas, and I am so grateful that the late Mervyn Moriarty was so invested in bringing art to regional communities.”
The evening proceedings concluded with Mr. John O’Toole AM, former Chair of Flying Arts Alliance, giving a wonderfully detailed account of the inspirational life of Merv and his tireless dedication as a teacher to generations of Queensland artists. Read John O’Toole’s full speech notes here.
Flying Arts would like to sincerely thank the artists, community members, supporters, special delegates and sponsors who joined us for the launch of The Mervyn Moriarty Landscape Award Exhibition.