The Rockhampton Museum of Art (RMOA) has reopened to visitors after a comprehensive renovation of its gallery spaces – including expanding its permanent exhibition areas and updating its leisure and community offerings with a new restaurant and cafe – to become Queensland’s largest regional art gallery.
Its site, on Darumbal Country overlooking the Fitzroy River (or Tunuba in Darumbal), is recognized by the gallery in a more prominent way than before. D Harding – a Bidjara, Ghungalu and Garingbal artist – has been commissioned to create a major new artwork for the launch, which is part of RMOA’s ongoing commitment to honoring its location’s past.
Dr Harding, who now lives in Brisbane, was born in Moranbah, a few hours from the gallery. The artist works through multimedia to rely on the techniques used by his ancestors, such as stencil. RMOA commissioned Harding to reflect on their deep family connection to the region in the work titled Wall composition on Darumbal, which uses pigments and an acrylic binder on the gallery wall to subtly evoke the importance of gender roles in nature and within Indigenous society. Harding was also inspired by the Aboriginal rock art of Carnarvon Gorge.
“The reinvented RMOA is above all a meeting place. It will be a site that fosters a fundamental sense of place and community through a celebration of the visual arts, engaging locals and tourists alike in the evolving narrative of Rockhampton and its diverse cultural heart,” the council mayor said. Rockhampton regional Tony Williams in a statement. “We are thrilled to see the enclosure come to life as a new community hallmark.”
The world-class new cultural center for Queensland – nearly six times the size of the old gallery – has been funded by the Australian Government, Queensland Government and Rockhampton Regional Council. Architects Clare Design, Conrad Gargett and Brian Hooper Architect worked on the dynamic new layout of the community spaces. And the huge exhibition spaces will house contemporary Australian art as well as RMOA’s existing collection acquired over the past five decades.
“We’re thrilled to bring great artists and exhibits to Rockhampton, but we’re also thrilled to make these creative shows accessible to the whole community, even people who might not consider themselves art enthusiasts,” said RMOA Director Jonathan McBurnie said in a statement. “It’s a place where everyone is welcome.”
The RMOA plans to welcome school and community groups to its newly revamped galleries, as well as the biennial Gold Prize – Queensland’s largest art prize of $50,000 – as part of its calendar of events.
Rockhampton Art Museum
212 Quay Street, Rockhampton