QAGOMA Foundation 40th Anniversary Dinner
Dame Quentin Bryce; Your Honours; Foundation President, Mr Tim Fairfax and fellow Committee Members; Queensland Art Gallery Board of Trustees Chair, Mr Ian O’Connor and fellow Trustees; Director, Chris Saines; distinguished guests; ladies and gentlemen. It is a great pleasure for Kaye and me to join you in this wonderful space to celebrate the QAGOMA Foundation and its 40th anniversary.
For those whose memories of the Foundation’s first year, 1979, are hazy, it was the year that Wes Walters’ Portrait of Phillip Adams won the Archibald Prize. He painted the official portrait of my predecessor as Chief Justice, John Macrossan. You may be slightly intrigued to know Chief Justices are painted, on State commission, Governors not!
Come 1979, this magnificent building was still three years from completion.
GOMA was probably no more than a gleam in a Gallery Director’s eye.
That is a testament to the founders’ great foresight, as is the Foundation’s outstanding achievement since that time. In excess of $150 million has been raised, more than 8800 artworks acquired – almost half of the Collection – and Foundation membership has passed the 1000 mark.
Government House – what Kaye and I dub the ‘People’s House’ – is among the fortunate and grateful beneficiaries. The wonderful artworks currently on loan from the Gallery include paintings by Rosella Namok and Godfrey Rivers, both acquired through the Foundation, and regularly appreciated and commented upon by our countless stream of visitors. That by the way is not hyperbole. Many people are entranced by the Gallery’s works in the Drawing and Dining Rooms: they are frequently subjects for inquiry and discussion. Talking to our people, Kaye and I emphasise our appreciation for Fernberg’s wonderful relationship with the Gallery.
One of the two Margaret Olleys that graced the Government House Dining Room, Seafood Still Life, was a gift from the Margaret Olley Trust to the Foundation. The other was ‘Lemons and Oranges’.
Both those paintings feature in the rapturously received exhibition, A Generous Life, which finishes tomorrow. I say without the slightest intention of dropping a hint that we would be extremely pleased to welcome them back to the State Dining Room.
These amazing works, so many of them on such generous loan, are seen by many thousands of admiring visitors to Government House every year, including during Brisbane Open House today.
But they represent only a fraction of the marvellous variety and depth of the QAGOMA collections, which have been remarkably enriched by the commitment, dedication and generosity of office-holders and members of the Foundation since 1979.
In its turn, the Foundation has gifted to the people of Queensland a wealth of opportunities to engage with great art, not only through the growth of the collections, but also through support for exhibitions, regional and children’s programs and publishing.
As Governor and Patron of the Foundation, I thank and pay tribute to the pioneers of the Foundation and all those who have followed in their footsteps, with particular mention of the outstanding contribution, as the Foundation’s President since 2008, of Tim Fairfax, with Gina’s support.
It is well-nigh impossible to overstate the importance of the Foundation’s contribution to the strength, vigour and vitality of our State’s cultural life, to the great benefit of the people of Queensland.
That is certainly worthy of an appropriately vigorous and lively celebration, and of our very best wishes for the success of the Foundation in the decades to come.