Gwendolyn Grant The Beach Umbrella

Exhibition celebrates Brisbane’s female artists


The Museum of Brisbane will open its New Woman exhibition on the September 13 to celebrate 100 years of art by Brisbane women.

Gwendolyn Grant The Beach Umbrella
The Museum of Brisbane’s New Woman exhibition presents some of the most important works of the past century by Brisbane women. Photo: Carl Warner


The exhibit, which will run until March 15, 2020, celebrates the development of Brisbane’s female artists.

The work of 80 artists will be on display, including more than 110 pieces of art split into 20-year sections, showcasing the evolution and history of Brisbane art and its future.

The name of the exhibition, New Woman, comes from the term used to describe women who acted against societal norms in the 1920s, including featured artists Daphne Mayo and Vida Lahey, who established the Queensland Art Fund in 1929.

There will be a special opening event on October 15 to celebrate the new exhibition and a century of women’s art.

The event, which features a special morning tea hosted by former Brisbane Lord Mayor Sallyanne Atkinson, will be held at the museum’s Dome Gallery.

The opening event starts at 9am and costs $30 and will include an exclusive tour of the exhibition by New Woman curator Miranda Hine.

Margaret Olley Apples on a Table
Margaret Olley’s 1980 Apples on a Table is one of the 110 pieces by female artists included in the New Woman exhibition at the Museum of Brisbane. Photo: Carl Warner


Ms Hine said she viewed the exhibition as both a history of Brisbane art and as a look towards what the future of art will look like.

“The biggest section in the show is the contemporary section, so we really are looking at right now, but also looking forward as well,” Ms Hine said.

“We are working with nonbinary and transgender artists; we’ve got James Barth and Courtney Coombs in the exhibit,” she said.

“There is the potential that an exhibition like this won’t be relevant in the next 10 years, so we’re really looking at engaging in those conversations around what art in Brisbane looks like going into the future.”

Miranda Hine will run curated tours of the exhibition, with the first taking place on October 18, alongside a series of regular workshops and talks led by artists, academics and historians.

One of these workshops is a banner workshop run by Rachel Haynes.

Rachael Haynes Threads of Resistance
Curator Miranda Hine said the exhibition was a chance to show something that had never been shown before. Photo: David Chatfield


Banners created by visitors to the workshop will be included at the Women of the World Festival, which returns to Brisbane in 2020.

Also included in the exhibition is an original spatial piece created by Emma Coulter, whose art will be included in the Museum of Brisbane’s Dome Gallery.

“I’m actually bringing the studio into the gallery, I’m bringing all my paints and materials into the gallery, and literally making the work by the install team that are installing the exhibition,” Ms Coulter said.

“I think this is my biggest work ever,” she said.

“I rely on having a system, because I can’t physically make that work in the timeframe that it is needed to be made.”

Emma Coulter
Emma Coulter’s installation is the only original piece created especially for the New Woman exhibition. Photo: Courtesy Emma Coulter


Another of the contemporary artists included in the exhibition, Professor Jay Younger, said it was great to be included in an exhibition celebrating a history of women’s art.

“It feels fantastic to see such a great gathering of women’s art all in one place from all generations,” Professor Younger said.

Naomi Blacklock, a soundscape artist who will perform at the exhibition, agreed with Professor Younger that it was good to be part of such an historic exhibition.

“As an emerging artist included in this exhibition, I feel honoured to think that my practice is adding to the rich and significant history of Brisbane Artists,” Ms Blacklock said.

“Women have been historically underrepresented in galleries, and the exhibition New Woman is making a small but notable statement,” she said.

“Celebrating the past 100 years, but making a path for the future, one that sees the representation of women, people of colour, non-binary and queer identities, leave lasting marks in art institutions.”

Entry to the exhibition is free.

For more information visit the Museum of Brisbane’s website.

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