The Gallery's collection of contemporary Pacific art is the broadest in Australia. With the establishment of the Asia Pacific Triennial (APT) in the early 1990s, the Gallery recognised the importance of actively developing the Pacific collection.
The Pacific collection, with an emphasis on New Zealand, reflects the diversity of the region's contemporary art, as well as innovation in customary practices. Primarily composed of works made after 1970, it includes paintings, prints and drawings, sculpture, photography, installation, textiles, weaving, body adornment, video and film.
Michael Parekowhai, New Zealand b.1968 / The Horn of Africa 2006 / Wood, fibreglass, steel, brass, automotive paint / Purchased 2008 with funds from the Queensland Government's Gallery of Modern Art Acquisitions Fund in recognition of the contribution to the Gallery by Wayne Goss (Chair of Trustees 1999-2008) / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery / © The artist.
Taloi Havini, Artist, Papua New Guinea b.1981 / Stuart Miller, Photographer, Australia b.1983 / Russel and the Panguna Mine (from 'Blood Generation' series) 2009, printed 2014 / Digital print on Cansen Infinity Pantine Fibre Rag 310gsm paper / Purchased 2014. QAGOMA Foundation / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery / © The artists.
Robin White, New Zealand b.1946 / Leba Toki, Artist, Fiji b.1951 / Bale Jione, Artist, Fiji b.1952 / Teitei vou (A new garden) 2009 / Natural dyes on barkcloth, woven pandanus, commercial wool, woven barkcloth, sari fabric mats / Purchased 2009. QAGOMA Foundation Grant / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery / © The artistS.
Lisa Reihana, New Zealand b.1964 / Digital Marae 2001 / Colour cibachrome photographs mounted on aluminium and DVD: 3:30 minutes, colour, sound / Purchased 2002 / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery / © The artist. View full image
Works have been acquired across Melanesia with the earliest examples being a bequest of the vibrant work from Papua New Guinea (PNG) in the early 1970s. This included paintings and prints by senior artists such as Mathias Kauage and Akis. The commission for APT7 of two major architectural structures by artists from the East Sepik province of PNG forms the heart of a collection focus looking at contemporary creative practices in the Sepik region. This includes masks from the Iatmul and Coastal Arapesh, which complement a collection of masks from five cultural groups in New Britain. Together with the commissioned architectural structures, the masks from these two regions convey the strong grasp of customary belief and innovative practice in the art created in these areas of PNG today. A small group of works from the Asmat of Papua celebrate the imaginativeness and ingenuity of art in this part of New Guinea. Vertiginous bisj pole sculptures created as part of feast cycles allow individuals to transcend the boundaries of the physical world whilst smaller story carvings, a soul canoe and jipai masks demonstrate the rich cosmologies that continue to inform Asmat life.
The dynamic art created by women in PNG is represented by woven bilum and bilum-wear pieces, often featuring mesmerising designs, as well as focus collections of barkcloth from the Ömie region and pottery from the East Sepik. These textiles and pots are inextricably linked to the artists' beliefs and social systems, as well as to place and local histories, allowing for dialogue with other works in the Pacific collection.
Spectacular 'Mague ne hiwir', 'Atingting' and 'Temar ne ari' sculptural forms from North Ambrym, Vanuatu attest to the continuing strength of kastom on this island, as well as innovation. Ambrymese artists experiment with a range of commercially available paints to create the vibrant patterns which comprise the copyrighted features on the figures. Also exploring the strength of customary practice is the installation 'Tetei Vou (A new garden)' by Robin White, Leba Toki and Bale Jione. Taking the form of a ceremonial Fijian wedding masi (barkcloth), it addresses the history of the Fijian sugar industry alongside Bahá'i symbols.
Textiles are a major strength in the collection. From the richly symbolic Ngatu tā'uli (black-marked barkcloth) commissioned from a collective of Tongan artists, to vivid bags and baskets woven from recycled plastics, the Gallery has built a focused group of textiles and weavings that acknowledge the ubiquity and importance of these practices for Pacific people. Examples from Fiji, the Cook Islands, Tonga, Samoa, Tahiti and Hawai'i share common themes of nationalism and faith.
Contemporary art from New Zealand is a significant focus – with the Gallery having the largest holdings outside the country – as demonstrated by the 2010 exhibition 'Unnerved: The New Zealand Project'. Emphasis has been given to collecting works by significant Maori and Pacific Islander artists, including Lisa Reihana, Michael Parekowhai, Michel Tuffery, Shane Cotton, Sofia Tekela-Smith, Robin White and John Pule. A generous donation by John Pule of his own work has enabled the Gallery to have the most comprehensive representation of this artist's work outside of New Zealand. Works by Maori and Pacific Islanders born or living in New Zealand address issues of indigeneity in various ways. In turn, this enables a more complex reading of the wider Pacific, its history and current concerns.
Conceptual and post-object art is also an important strand of practice in New Zealand, and the Collection includes works by senior artists such as Phil Dadson and Paul Hartigan, Michael Stevenson and Bill Culbert. A younger generation of artists with a strong interest in ephemeral materiality, including Peter Madden, Simon Denny, Dan Arps and Daniel Malone, are now represented in the Collection.
Another collection strength is contemporary photography and video. Key women artists are well represented, including works by Anne Noble, Lisa Reihana, Fiona Pardington and Yvonne Todd. These are accompanied by major series by Gavin Hipkins and Michael Parekowhai, as well as works by senior photographers such as Peter Peryer, Laurence Aberhart, Boyd Webb and Mark Adams.
Moving image in the collection, encompasses established and emerging video artists such as James Oram, Campbell Patterson, Nathan Pohio, Lisa Reihana, Lonnie Hutchison and Sriwhana Spong, as well as films by Samoan filmmaker Sima Urale.