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‘I, Object’ - Indigenous Australian Art tours to Toowoomba Regional Art Gallery

Joseph Guenzler -

Art enthusiasts in the Toowoomba Region will soon have the opportunity to experience over 50 contemporary and historical pieces from the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA) Indigenous Australian Art collection.

The exhibition - titled "I, Object" - is set to be showcased at the Toowoomba Regional Art Gallery starting from April 6 until July 21.

I, Object will showcase a diverse array of artistic expressions, including contemporary painting, sculpture, and installation by prominent Queensland artists such as Vernon Ah Kee, Tony Albert, Michael Boiyool Anning, Fiona Foley, Danie Mellor, Christian Thompson, Warraba Weatherall, and more.

Additionally, the exhibition will feature 20 historical shields, boomerangs, and clubs, offering a comprehensive exploration of Indigenous Australian art and culture.

Kullilli and Yuggera woman Katina Davidson, Assistant Curator of Indigenous Australian Art at QAGOMA, highlighted how contemporary shields by Michael Boiyool Anning and Danie Mellor reflect traditional practices while addressing the influence of Western aesthetics and colonial policies on Indigenous communities.

"A group of contemporary shields in the exhibition by artists Michael Boiyool Anning and Danie Mellor speak back to traditional shield-making practices and the mark-making traditions they have preserved," she said.

"In conversation with the historical shields on display, these contemporary works also comment on the impact of Western aesthetics and colonial policies on Indigenous people and society."

Michael Boiyool Anning / Yidinyji people / Australia QLD b.1955 / Rainforest shield (hand-held fish net design) and sword 2000-01 / Shield: natural pigments on softwood. (Image: Supplied)

The exhibition features Tony Albert's 'whiteWASH 2018,' a multimedia installation comprising mid-century Aboriginalia ashtrays, exploring themes of colonial influence.

Vernon Ah Kee's 'Neither pride nor courage 2006' offers poignant reflections on ancestral identity through hand-drawn portraits, echoing the work of anthropologist Norman B Tindale.

Vernon Ah Kee / Kuku Yalanji/Waanyi/Yidinyji/Guugu Yimithirr people / Australia QLD b.1967 / neither pride nor courage 2006 / Charcoal, crayon and synthetic polymer paint on canvas. (Image: SupplieD)

Additionally, carved sculptures by Wik-Kugu artists Craig Koomeeta and Alair Pambegan, along with Fiona Foley's 'DISPERSED 2008,' a text-based sculpture, serve as powerful reminders of the impact of colonialism on Indigenous communities, particularly in Queensland's frontier history.

Craig Koomeeta / Wik-Alkan people / Australia QLD b.1977 / Apelech brothers 2002 / Carved milkwood with natural pigments. (Image: Supplied)

QAGOMA Director Chris Saines said 'I, Object' was an exhibition first developed by Bruce Johnson McLean, former Curator of Indigenous Australian Art, QAGOMA and shown at the Gallery of Modern Art from August 2020 through to August 2021.

"We're really thrilled this iteration of 'I, Object' will now tour to audiences in regional Queensland from 2023-2025 and after its showing in Rockhampton travel on to Caboolture, Toowoomba, Ipswich, Cairns, and Mackay," Mr Saines said.

"I, Object' considers the many complex relationships Indigenous Australian artists continue to have with objects – from the histories informing their creation to the social and cultural consequences of their collection.

"The exhibition demonstrates the great pride and inspiration of inherited cultural practices and historical Indigenous objects, and reveals the difficulties posed by their collection and estrangement."

The 'I, OBJECT' exhibition will be touring various venues, including:

Rockhampton Museum of Art: 5 August – 1 October 2023

Caboolture Regional Art Gallery: 1 November 2023 – 24 February 2024

Toowoomba Regional Art Gallery: 6 April – 21 July 2024

Ipswich Art Gallery: 17 August – 13 October 2024

NorthSite Contemporary Arts (Cairns): 26 October – 24 December 2024

Artspace Mackay: 18 January – 30 March 2025

The exhibition's free Toowoomba Regional Art Gallery opening event is at 5.30pm on Friday, April 5 with Simon Elliott, Deputy Director, Queensland Art Gallery / Gallery of Modern Art.

Everyone is welcome to attend the free event and bookings are required by calling 131 872 or emailing [email protected].

RSVP by Wednesday, April 3.

Residents are invited to a Twilight Tour of 'I, Object' from 5.30pm on Thursday, May 16, 2024.

Everyone is welcome to attend the free event and bookings are required by calling 131 872 or emailing [email protected]

RSVP by Tuesday, May 14, 2024.

Toowoomba Regional Art Gallery at 531 Ruthven Street, Toowoomba, is open Wednesday to Sunday 10.30am – 3.30pm. Entry is free.

For more information, visit Twilight Tour | I, Object.

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