It’s an exciting time for art in South-East Queensland. The art scene has come a long way over the past decade with strong governmental support and investment in the creative communities and industries. Today the excitement is palpable and the variety of art created and exhibited locally is on the rise. Visitors come in droves to blockbuster exhibitions at the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art, and local emerging and established artists are receiving support and opportunities from a strengthening network of artist-run spaces, not-for-profit organisations and commercial art galleries.
While it is a time to rejoice in the rise of artistic activity, it is worth keeping in mind the tendency Queensland has to forge ahead without fully appreciating its past. This tendency for cultural oblivion has lead to not only the loss of many historic buildings, but also the peaks and troughs in artistic activity, resulting in a continual need for the arts community to re-build. Just in the last five years, Brisbane’s artist-run scene has undergone a renewal after the demise of artist-run spaces and projects, such as The Farm, Local Art, Soap Box Gallery, The Whitehouse, Machine, Moreton Street Spare Room Project and the defunding and slow retreat of Queensland Artworkers Alliance. After a time of little or no artist-run activity, a new wave of initiatives have emerged and are working hard to re-energise the scene and put Queensland back on the national visual arts map. They include: Boxcopy, No Frills*, Accidentally Annie Street Space, inbetweenspaces, Often Projects, LEVEL, Wandering Room, SPEC, Independent Press and the Stitchery. It is the loss of knowledge from one generation of artists to the next that leads to the perpetual state of ‘founding’, making it hard for the art scene to fully mature.
The inevitable question is what will it take to sustain the current thriving art scene in Queensland and link it further into the national art discussion? It goes without saying that a continued commitment to the arts by the local and state government would help the art scene gain further momentum and secure Queensland’s cultural future; however, documenting and interpreting the current art scene for future generations would secure its longevity. Through critical dialogue and debate, a particular moment in thinking about art is captured and can be shared for years to come. It’s an opportune time for Queensland to move beyond a state of perpetual reinvention and embrace the current critical mass.
Produced for NAVA Quarterly.NAVA Quarterly