29 June 2014

Harvest exhibition at GoMA (+ two lovely libraries)

This morning I went to two gallery talks that were part of the opening weekend festivities associated with a new exhibition at GoMA, Harvest.

The first talk was a discussion between one of GOMA's curators and the photographer Joachim Froese, who discussed the history of still life in art and its influence on his contemporary photographic practice. It was fascinating, and Joachim mentioned a book that I am definitely going to track down: Looking at the Overlooked: Four Essays on Still Life Painting (1990), by Norman Bryson. There was a Griffith Uni connection in that Joachim was a former student at Queensland College of Art.

The second talk featured Prof Hugh Possingham, the Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions at UQ. The talk was advertised as "exploring the significance of Tomás Saraceno's Biosphere works" but ended up as a much more wide-ranging discussion that touched on the value of failure as a learning experience, similarities between contemporary art practice and scientific simulation, foodwebs, island ecosystems, the industrialisation of agriculture, the need for multidisciplinary collaborations to make big advances in knowledge, and the lack of funding available for long-term research in Australia that does not solve immediately known problems in utilitarian ways.

The exhibition itself was great. The friend I went with said that it was nice to see the slot usually occupied by a winter blockbuster dedicated instead to a local show curated by GoMA staff that showcases some of the amazing works in their collection, and I totally agree. Some of my favourite pieces included an animated short by a young Taiwanese animator (Chen Li-Hua, Family Reunion, 2011 - you can see a still from this work here), Tracey Moffatt's photographic series First Jobs (see First jobs, pineapple cannery 1978 here), and an etching by Bonita Ely about the Murray River called Life is full of situations (see here). Another piece I really liked was the installation Forking Tongues by Malaysian artist Simrin Gill, which was a mandala created from silverware and dried chillies; the label for this exhibit mentioned the artist's interest in the trade of food across cultures and in colonialism.

On the way back to the city for lunch, I stopped in the middle of the bridge to take photos of the two lovely libraries that sit on opposite sides of the river.

One one side is the State Library of Queensland. The redeveloped SLQ building was opened in 2006. It was designed by Donovan Hill Peddle Thorp and received the RAIA Sir Zelman Cowen Award for Public Architecture in 2007. I just discovered that the photographer mentioned above, Joachim Froese, was commissioned to do a series on the SLQ interiors which you can see here on his website.


On the other side of the river sits the Brisbane Square branch of Brisbane City Libraries (in the photo below, this is the blue box that sits at the bottom of the Brisbane City Council office block). The Brisbane Square tower was designed by Denton Corker Marshall and the Library (I think) was designed by City Design in the Brisbane City Council. You can read more about this library and see photos of its interior and furniture here.

I think both of these libraries are great examples of modern library architecture; if you are in Brisbane you should check them out.

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