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Daphne Mayo’s Legacy to this Gallery

The Cypriot

William Dobell | Australia 1899 - 1970 | The Cypriot 1940 | Oil on canvas | Gift of the Godfrey Rivers Trust through Miss Daphne Mayo 1943 | Collection: Queensland Art Gallery

Daphne Mayo: Let There Be Sculpture | 4 November 2011 − 15 January 2012 | QAG | Free admission

Daphne Mayo was not only an outstanding artist, she was also a formidable advocate for the visual arts.

In 1929, together with her friend the painter Vida Lahey, she founded the Queensland Art Fund, its main purpose was to acquire international works of art for public collections in Queensland. In 1932, Mayo also helped to set up the Godfrey Rivers Trust, the Gallery’s first substantial endowment, established in memory of her former art teacher, to acquire both Australian and European works. As a key player and purchaser for both these bodies until the 1960s, Mayo transformed the Gallery’s Collection with many fine examples of contemporary art, some daringly modern for their time. During her involvement, the Fund and the Trust gave a total of 98 works to the Queensland Art Gallery.

Mayo also raised funds for the Gallery. In 1934–35, as the Queensland Art Fund’s honorary secretary, she led a public appeal to secure the Darnell Bequest, suspending her sculptural work for almost a year. In June 1930, John Darnell, a wealthy Brisbane businessman, died leaving
£10 000 to art in Queensland, on the condition it be matched by the public within five years, a seemingly impossible task during the Great Depression. The goal was reached just a day before the deadline, and Queensland gained its richest art bequest, with £15 000 coming to the Gallery.