Indigenous art trove arrives at USQ

by Rhianwen Whitney

Minnie Pwerle, Untitled, Acrylic on Canvas. Image: supplied

Indigenous artworks by Minnie Pwerle, Barbara Weir and George Hairbrush Tjungurrayi are among 150 pieces on loan to the University of Southern Queensland (USQ).

Over the next two years, USQ will be the custodian of a portion of artist David Hinchliffe’s private collection, gathered in appreciation of its cultural heritage.

The significant and striking collection will be unveiled today (January 14) in a seminal exhibition, curated by Hinchliffe himself, in Toowoomba.

“I believe Australian Indigenous art is the best art being practised in the world today,” Mr Hinchliffe said.

“There is a vibrant array of contemporary and modern work that has stemmed from most ancient cultures still living on the globe.

“There is huge demand for this work in New York, Paris, Munich and London, but I really want Australian audiences to experience and appreciate this art.”

The collection 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 said.

“The painting depicts the only memory she has of life with her mother - collecting water dripping inside a cave.

“Alongside important tales such as the Seven Sisters Dreamtime story, these works represent Australia’s cultural heritage and all Australians should embrace this knowledge.”

The loan is a watershed moment for the University, providing a significant boost in Indigenous art resources available for viewing and academic study.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Geraldine Mackenzie said USQ was honoured to join Mr Hinchliffe in his efforts to celebrate and promote the arts.

“This collection gives the USQ and wider community an opportunity to appreciate the artworks’ histories, importance and relevance,” Professor Mackenzie said.

“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.

“We thank Mr Hinchliffe for his generosity in sharing this invaluable collection with the University.”

In person or on the page? USQ Curator Brodie Taylor explains the importance of art exhibitions.

“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.”



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