The regional gallery closest to me is around a half hour drive away in the Redlands. The shire is known for the gorgeously fertile, rich, red soils and its strawberry production. It is skirted by Moreton Bay and includes some lightly-inhabited islands, including Stradbroke, Moreton and Russell. In the last 50 years the population of the area has exploded from around 10 000 to close to 150 000, and in 2003 the shire saw the opening of the Redland Artl Gallery (RAG).
As a gallery within a region, part of the intention is for the art shown and collected to enrich a sense of place and cultural heritage. The exhibitions often feature Queensland artists or collections, and frequently artists from the Shire. There are also touring exhibitions which are traveling around the national "regional gallery circuit”. There seems to be a concentration on 2D artwork, and the galleries collection emphasizes both painting and works on paper pretty equally. It is a stated aim to collect more photographic and new media works.
The focus on local talent doesn’t mean the quality suffers, although if it is highly conceptual works by bright young things you seek, then perhaps head for GOMA instead. I was drawn to the gallery a couple of week-ends ago to see Judy Watson’s Heron Island Suite of etchings. Below is a video from youtube about Watson's residency on Heron Island which resulted in these works.
I’ve posted about this artist here before, as I am a big fan, and not just because her name is so similar to my mother’s! This show included some lovely works like the one below from the invitation. If you click on the image you will go to the RAG site where there is more information on Watson and her work.
|Judy Watson: Heron Island 4 (image from invitation)|
Other examples displayed a distinct tension between the watery organic backgrounds and the graphic, scientific details shown in tables and graphs (see them here). Having had the privilege of handling some of Judy’s etchings in the form of an artist’s book at Grahame Galleries, I couldn’t help feeling that these works suffered a little from being behind glass.
Also on show was a 30 year retrospective of now-local artist Carolyn Dodds. A printmaker working largely without the use of colour, these works just didn’t sing to me. The prints were mostly technically-excellent, intricate woodblocks or lino prints. Unfortunately the density of detail simply overwhelmed me, but this is a purely personal preference.
I did enjoy Dodd’s small collection of photogravure prints, which she traveled to the US to produce. These were moody works, where the light in the photograph and the graininess of the technique combined most effectively. There were a couple of artists books included in the show and my favourite was this one, The Heart of the City. The book featured photos of graffiti in a prescribed area of Sydney, which had been photocopied multiple times to achieve a grainy, urban effect.
At the gallery I bought a copy of their recent publication, Redland Art Gallery Collection, 2003-2009, which I have really enjoyed studying. I really wanted to share a few page views from the book with you to give you some idea of the scope of the collection, but I don’t want to infringe any copyright laws. So instead I offer a couple of links to the RAG site here and here, as well as directing to you a couple of upcoming exhibitions of interest here and here. (Can you spot the Book*Art*Object member??)