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Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art
HILDER, J.J. / Australia (1881-1916) / Island schooner, Moreton Bay 1910 / Watercolour over pencil on wove paper on cardboard / Purchased 1967 / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery
20 FEBRUARY 2014
The breadth and diversity of Queensland watercolour painting will be celebrated in a major exhibition at the Queensland Art Gallery from March 22 to July 20.

Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA) Director Chris Saines said 'Transparent: Watercolour in Queensland 1850s–1980s' would demonstrate the important role of watercolour in Queensland's art history, from its earliest colonial beginnings up until the 1980s.

'For more than a century and a half, watercolour painting has been an energetic aspect of artistic life in this state. 'Transparent' reveals the considerable talent and achievements of Queensland's watercolour artists including Conrad Martens, Harriet Jane Neville-Rolfe, JJ Hilder, Kenneth Macqueen, WG Grant, Isaac Walter Jenner and many others who occupy a significant place in the history of Australian art,' Mr Saines said.

'Furthermore, works by Indigenous artist Joe Rootsey from the 1950s such as Cape Melville lava rocks 1958 reflect a different, more descriptive approach to watercolour, with imagery that harnesses the artist's powerful connection to the land.

'As the Gallery's most comprehensive exhibition of works in the medium to date, 'Transparent' will include more than 150 images from the Collection, including some works never before exhibited.'

On Saturday March 22, exhibition curator, Michael Hawker, Associate Curator of Australian Art, QAGOMA, will be joined in-conversation by Glenn Cooke, former curator of Queensland Heritage, QAGOMA, in the exhibition space to discuss the key themes and works in the show.

Mr Hawker said 'Transparent' would commence with works from the 1850s including Forest Cunningham's Gap 1856 by Conrad Martens, one of the most significant artists to paint the landscape of colonial Queensland and the first pastoral holdings on the Darling Downs.

'Works by Harriet Jane Neville-Rolfe from the 1880s depict local Aboriginal life, native flora and fauna, and activities on the land such as family picnics and the breaking-in of horses.

'Many of Neville-Rolfe's watercolour sketches, such as Breakfast, Alpha 1884, were never intended for public viewing, yet today they are important social documents - 'snapshots' of life in the colony,' Mr Hawker said.

A selection of images from the early nineteenth century by a group of semi-naive artists record growing civic pride, and capture the developing professionalism of artists and teachers such as Godfrey Rivers and Martyn Roberts.

'Many works capture the rise and rapid dissemination of modernist art and ideas, as seen in the paintings of Queensland expatriate Bessie Gibson, the pensive scenes of Toowoomba-born artist JJ Hilder, and as the century progresses, in works by outstanding modern watercolourists Vida Lahey and Kenneth Macqueen'

Also featured in 'Transparent' are works illustrating the impact of the Second World War by Douglas Annand, Douglas Green and James Wieneke, and images from the late 1940s by senior Queensland artist, WG Grant.

Works from the 1960s reveal the emergence of a local school of Expressionism in Queensland.The freely executed watercolours of Joy Roggenkamp mark her as one of the most important artists working in the medium in the 1960s and 1970s and this expressionist vein continued in the work of Robyn Mountcastle and Tom Pilgrim in the 1980s.

'Transparent: Watercolours in Queensland 1850s–1980s' will be accompanied by a fully illustrated, 180 page publication with essays by Michael Hawker, and Samantha Shellard, Conservator, Works on Paper, QAGOMA, on technical developments in the production of the watercolourists' materials.
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