A trip to Queensland

I’ve been away on a week’s holiday to Queensland, Australia’s most northern state. Queensland is also a state of mind, a place that’s very different to the southern states where I live.

It’s in the tropics, where the sun glares out of the sky day after perfect day on the distinctive Australian mix of the overkempt and the unkempt. Beds of Queen Elizabeth roses next to bleached paddocks, jacaranda tree roots piled up in footpaths, lizards in the art gallery cafe with the ladies who lunch.

I stayed in the capital city of Brisbane for part of the time, in a suburb called New Farm.  Below are photos of some of the houses in the suburb with its fusion of charming, wooden “Queenslander” homes built from the 1840s until today with Art Deco buildings from the 1920s and 1930s.

I also saw some stimulating art, in the gallery and out and about. Below is a sample.

I liked the ghostly columns made from mag tape (work by Zilvinas Kempinas, Lithuania, born 1969); the geometric star form carved into the gallery wall based on decorations in traditional Islamic and Persian architecture (work by Timo Nasseri, Germany, born 1972); and the little boy who stands so sturdily on his feet in the painting of the two women and children (work by George W. Lambert, Australia, 1873-1930). Lambert himself noted the little boy in the painting:

The happiest passage is the sturdy little chap on the left, who stands a faint echo of a little Infanta by Velasquez with his legs firmly planted on the ground, looking straight out of the canvas with something like roguish defiance.

I was disturbed by the painting, Mrs Fraser, by Sidney Nolan (Australia, 1917-1992), showing an anecdote from the story of Scottish woman, Eliza Fraser, who was captured by the Aboriginal people when her ship was wrecked off the Queensland coast in 1836. The story goes that her captors ridiculed her for having to bend down to pick up firewood instead of picking it up with her toes. And also by Bus stop by Ian Fairweather (Scotland/Australia, 1891-1974) showing people boarding the local bus, depicting them “morosely confined, perhaps even caged, behind strong vertical brushstrokes.”

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