Official opening of 'Air' at QAGOMA
Premier and Minister for the Olympics; the Honourable Annastacia Palaszczuk MP; Ministers; the 22nd Governor of Queensland, the Honourable Leneen Forde AC; Chair of the Queensland Art Gallery Board of Trustees, Professor Emeritus Ian O’Connor AC and fellow Trustees; Director of QAGOMA, Mr Chris Saines CNZM; Chair of the QAGOMA Indigenous Advisory Panel, Ms Avril Quaill; artists; sponsors and supporters; distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.
Thank you, Avril, for providing an acknowledgment of country. I too, would like to acknowledge the original custodians of the lands around Brisbane, the Turrbal and Jagera people, and extend respectful greetings to Elders, past, present and emerging, including any First Nations people here today.
Graeme and I, as proud Patrons of the Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art Foundation, are excited to be here for the official opening of ‘Air’.
As topics go, air is a pretty all-encompassing one, so I am relieved to have been given guidance that this exhibition narrows it down... to the cultural, ecological and political dimensions of air!
On a more serious note, the quality of our shared atmosphere is of the utmost importance to anyone hoping for a long and happy life.
I am already inspired by the titles and descriptions of artworks that make up this exhibition:
A work that evokes wind, breath and bird call; another titled simply ‘Crossing’; and yet another that asks us to consider ‘A cosmic web of thermodynamic rhythms’.
These are indeed dreamy, ethereal descriptors for works that identify and celebrate what it is to live on Earth, protected and nurtured by an atmosphere whose elements are perfectly balanced to sustain life.
It seems we are being urged to also consider our planet’s fragility.
As a medical doctor, I could not be more on board with any attempt to improve our wellbeing and quality of life, inextricably linked as it is to the air we breathe.
As anyone who has presented to a hospital emergency department with breathing difficulties can attest, ensuring that a fresh supply of oxygen continues to go in and out of a patient is considered the highest priority, closely followed by the need to keep their blood circulating.
Since being sworn in as Governor, I have sought to engage with issues involving people’s interactions with the natural environment, be it through Community Bushwalks held at Government House in partnership with Health and Wellbeing Queensland, by supporting sustainable practices in industry and society, and by accepting patronage of groups that share these concerns and goals.
And I have sought, wherever possible, to support the Arts in Queensland.
It is through a vibrant cultural life that we explore what it is to be human and gain new perspectives on the different environments that surround us.
This exhibition is the perfect example of the role of the Arts in communicating ideas and building community support for contemporary issues. It gives us pause to consider the way we view the world, and the role we wish to play in it.
I would like to congratulate all of the artists, along with those others involved in bringing this exhibition to fruition. I hope you enjoy your evening.