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Sculpture Commission | Background

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Michael Parekowhai | The World Turns (artist’s impression) | Sculpture Commission | This project has received financial assistance from the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation and the Queensland Government through art+place Queensland Public Art Fund

The Sculpture Commission is a major public art initiative of national and international significance. The Commission commemorates both the fifth anniversary of the opening of the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) and the 20th anniversary of the ‘Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art’.

This Commission reflects the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art and the Queensland Government’s commitment to:

  • enhance Queensland’s profile, nationally and internationally, as a leading place for contemporary art and culture;

  • provide opportunities for the development of ambitious new creative work of international standing;

  • engage diverse audiences in compelling and accessible experiences of the Cultural precinct and all that it has to offer.

Shortlisted artists
Three leading artists from the Asia Pacific region, all internationally recognised for their major works of sculpture and public art, were shortlisted for the Sculpture Commission. They were:

  • Huang Yong Ping (China/France) is one of the most influential Chinese artists working today. He represented France in the 1999 Venice Biennale and has appeared in group exhibitions including Skulptur Projekte, Münster, Germany, and ‘Magiciens de la terre’ at the Centre Pompidou, Paris. His work is held in the collections of the Centre Pompidou and the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

  • Michael Parekowhai (New Zealand Ngati Whakarongo/Pakeha) represented New Zealand at the 2011 Venice Biennale. His work has also been featured in the Sydney Biennale, the Gwangju Biennale and the São Paulo Biennial, and is held in the collections of leading museums including the Queensland Art Gallery. Parekowhai showed in The 5th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, which marked the opening of GoMA in 2006.

  • Rirkrit Tiravanija (Argentina/Thailand) has had major solo exhibitions at leading American and European art museums, and completed public commissions in South Korea and Luxembourg. His work is held in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles and Tate Modern, London.

The artist selected for the Commission, Michael Parekowhai, was announced on 26 November 2011. His sculpture, The World Turns, will be located at GOMA between the Gallery and the river.

The Site
The proposed site for the Sculpture Commission is located on GOMA’s eastern corner, between the Gallery and the river. Its position on one of the Brisbane River’s characteristic bends, places it in dialogue with the city and adjacent bridges. As a large public space, such visual dialogue across the river will encourage a sense of connectedness and continuity.

The overall GOMA site has a rich history of Indigenous occupation and use and is also significant in the social and industrial history of the city.

The sculpture will occupy a prominent position with strong lines of sight from the north-western side of the State Library of Queensland; the entrance to and several spaces within GOMA; the Riverwalk and the Kurilpa Bridge.

Community Consultation
Kurilpa Point is of great historical and cultural significance to the traditional Indigenous custodians of the land. In respect of this importance, community consultation was conducted in the early development phases of the Commission, and in the development of the shortlisted artists’ proposal for the site.

The selected proposal, Michael Parekowhai’s The World Turns, sensitively draws connections between the history of the site and the importance of cultures coming together. His proposal was developed and accepted after meetings with Uncle Des Sandy, traditional elder of the land on which the sculpture will be installed.This consultation was led by the Queensland Art Gallery’s Indigenous Liaison Officer, Aunty Joan Collins with the support of Bruce McLean, Curator, Indigenous Australian Art.

The Selection Committee
The Selection Committee for the Commission included high level representatives of the arts, government, tourism and events. The Committee comprised a respected curatorial leader in the area of Asia Pacific art; a senior government representative with a long history of governance, public safety and public art initiatives; a highly regarded Indigenous curator and specialist in Indigenous protocols; and a well- regarded independent curator. The Selection Committee was:

  • Tony Ellwood, Director, Queensland Art Gallery|Gallery of Modern Art
  • Suhanya Raffel, Deputy Director, Curatorial and Collection Development, Queensland Art Gallery|Gallery of Modern Art
  • Leigh Tabrett, Deputy Director General, Arts Queensland
  • Avril Quaill, Trustee, Queensland Art Gallery  Board of Trustees and Artistic Director, Cairns Indigenous Art Fair
  • John O’Sullivan, Chief Executive Officer, Events Queensland
  • Anthony Hayes, Chief Executive Officer, Tourism Queensland
  • Simon Wright, Director, Queensland College of Art Gallery, Griffith University

This project has received financial assistance from the Queensland Government through the art+place Queensland Public Art Fund ($750 000) and the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation ($250 000).