By Julia Contrucci
Over the next two years, the USQ (University of Southern Queensland) in Toowoomba will be the custodian of a significant and striking collection of indigenous artworks.
Minnie Pwerle, Barbara Weir and George Hairbrush Tjungurrayi, as well as a portion of artist David Hinchliffe’s private assortment, are among the 150 pieces on loan.
“I believe Australian Indigenous art is the best art being practised in the world today,” he declared about the collection which includes powerful personal and cultural stories, such as Barbara Weir’s Untitled. “It is the perspective of a lost child, now a grown woman who was taken from her mother,” Mr Hinchliffe detailed.
“There is a vibrant array of contemporary and modern work that has stemmed from most ancient cultures still living on the globe and a huge demand for this work in New York, Paris, Munich and London, but I really want Australian audiences to experience and appreciate this art,” Mr Hinchliffe said.
USQ Curator Brodie Taylor explains the importance of the personal contact with art shows: “There is a reason why millions make a pilgrimage to see the Mona Lisa opposed to just looking at the billions of photographs that exist online. Art theorist Walter Benjamin spoke about the ‘aura’ of an artwork, its presence in time and space. A photo won’t show you the raw canvas that’s been stretched over, at times, hand-carved wooden beams, or the dirt on its surface from where it was painted. You can’t see the full story”.
Vice-Chancellor Professor Geraldine Mackenzie highlights the compilation as a watershed moment for the University, providing a significant boost in Indigenous art resources available for viewing and academic study.
“This collection gives the USQ and wider community an opportunity to appreciate the artworks’ histories, importance and relevance. This is especially beneficial to our creative arts students and researchers, to have first-hand access to these treasures and learn from the art’s style and story,” Professor Mackenzie said.