The Gold Coast is often misjudged and scorned by out-dated beliefs that it’s just surf, schoolies and theme parks, but we know better here at Blank, and so do the amazing team at HOTA, who have put together a fabulous exhibition that visually explores our identity and sense of place. Featuring works by Lloyd Rees, Fred Williams, Albert Tucker, Vida Lahey, Michael Zarvos, Scott Redford, Chris Bennie, Anna Carey and many more, ‘We Are Gold Coast’ provides visitors with the opportunity to contrast the ‘old’ and ‘new’ Gold Coast and documents the vibrant cultural evolution of the area. We shot a few questions to Diana Warnes, head of Curatorial Projects at the HOTA Gallery.
Can you please tell us a bit about how the ‘We Are Gold Coast’ concept came about?
The Gallery is keen to showcase as much of the collection as possible, and themed exhibitions like ‘We are Gold Coast’ allow us to do that. It follows on from the recent exhibitions ‘Hard & Fast: Abstraction, Pop, and Colour Field’ and ‘Across Country: Indigenous work from the collection’. These have been really well received, and it is great that Gold Coasters are embracing their collection and getting excited to learn about it.
Bit by bit it seems that the tired old stereotypes around the Gold Coast are being broken down. If someone who’d never heard of the Gold Coast before were to hear a very different kind of impression, what would you like it to be?
That the Coast is a place of entrepreneurship, opportunity, and creativity, where there is scope for great ideas to be developed and thrive. ‘We are Gold Coast’ shows that artists on the Coast value the heritage, beaches, and buildings of the region, so there would be a strong impression of pride in the past and optimism for the future.
How does the HOTA Gallery perceive its role in the cultural revolution of the Gold Coast?
This year work will begin on the construction of a purpose-built $60.5 million HOTA Gallery. When completed in early 2021, it will be the largest public Gallery outside a capital city in Australia with the ability and ambition to present exhibitions and projects of national and international scale that focus on art and design, both indoors and out. It’s an exciting time for the Gallery and we are looking forward to presenting Gold Coasters with some wonderful art experiences.
As a public gallery for the people of the Gold Coast, we are excited to collect work that captures the history of the region, but also art that can offer a contemporary commentary on the growing Gold Coast. The Gallery helps to capture our region’s identity and sense of place.
Can you tell me about just three of the pieces in the exhibition that you’re most excited about?
Anna Carey’s 84 Frank Street, Surfers Paradise…now 2015 (PICTURED)
Carey hails from the Gold Coast, but currently lives in Los Angeles, California. She is inspired by the modern architecture that both cities offer, and in these model motels, which she then photographs, Carey contemplates how that architecture has changed over time. The reincarnated Starlight motel featured in these pictures shows the evolution of motel architectural design on the Coast.
Kenneth Macqueen’s Snapper Rocks c. 1930s
This is a recent, exciting acquisition for the Gallery. Macqueen was a farmer, but also a leading modernist watercolourist. He would use broad areas of colour and stylised forms to create his atmospheric landscapes. This scene from Snapper Rocks is quintessentially Gold Coast.
Michael Zavros Homework 2014
Gold Coast artist, but now Brisbane based, this photograph was inspired by a partnership with Rolls Royce Gold Coast who loaned Michael one their luxury cars. ‘Homework’ shows Michael’s daughters Phoebe and Olympia absorbed in their own world, where textas and pencils threaten to mark the plush interior of the Rolls. As the audience, we are challenged to confront our ideas on luxury, beauty, and wealth.
‘We Are Gold Coast’ runs from 12 May to 15 July at the HOTA Gallery.