Archive for category Now and Then – Gympie 150

Artist in Residence at The Woodworks Museum

officeG150 artist Meaghan Shelton will be creating an installation within the Mill office at the Gympie Woodworks Museum. Since this Saturday, October 15th  is Open Day at the Museum, with the sawmill operating and many things happening, Meaghan will be taking up residence for the day and beginning work on her installation. She’s interested in hearing stories and chatting with the public while she works, so say hello if you make it to the open day.



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Now and Then



We have a title for the exhibition! And it’s ‘Now and Then’. Thank you to Robin Hines for developing a logo that represents our backwards/forwards view of history.


Robin Hines

Four of the G150 artists met at Gympie Library on October 4th for an update, to decide on the title and visit the local history section of Gympie Library.

Robin reported that he is well underway to producing a series of paintings depicting modern versions of objects from the Gympie Gold Mining and Historical Museum. Robin’s idea is to highlight the past by referring to the present by showing the older objects alongside his paintings of the new. So, an old tin bath and bathing will be alongside his painting of a nude in the shower.

Rhonda is recreating five objects from the Gold Mining and Historical Museum in felt. Her first completed piece highlights aspects of the role of women. Shawn is planning to create a dark space within the gallery for a video installation that is playful and historically interesting, and John is working on an installation that will highlight the various stages of Gympie’s development, as well as some woodcuts depicting mining activity.

Rhonda Rettke, Robin Hines and John Gerritsen
John Gerritsen showing the group some of his printed woodcuts depicting the mining industry.

We then visited the Local History Section of the Gympie Library where there’s a wealth of photos, maps and information. The room is manned on Tuesdays 10-3.00 by Rose Sami and available other times by request. Beth Wilson, is the person who knows most about  the collection, and it’s  best to make an appointment  with her regarding access. There are also a lot of heritage resources available via the Library’s website.

Rhonda rettke
Rhonda Rettke finding inspiration for her next felted work in the local history section.
Shawn Javis and Robin Hines
Shawn Jarvis and Robin Hines sharing some of the vast amount of information contained in the local history section.
Rose Sami keeps the collection open to the public on Tuesdays 10.00 am to 3.00 pm. Rose, a long term resident, has many stories to tell about Gympie’s history.


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Artist Meeting and Museum Visit September 14th

Johng Gerritsen, Rhonda Rettke, Shawn Jarvis, and Robin Hines

Two of the artists selected for G150 are away until mid October, but the remaining four met with curator, Judy Barrass, at Gympie Regional Gallery to discuss the possibilities for artists working with museums, ideas for works and how the project might proceed. It is early in the project and there was as yet no interaction with the museums so ideas have yet to be fully formulated.

The afternoon was spent at Gympie Gold Mining and Historical Museum wandering through the vast collection looking for ideas and marvelling that John had expert knowledge about almost every piece of machinery or tool or display in the museum – even how the ancient dental drill worked!

Rhonda capturing images to take home and ponder
John explains the workings of a dentist drill to Shawn
Robin discovers the raw material for an installation in cupboard after cupboard filled with Gympie Times


Shawn excited to find one the same as he has at home, but in better condition than his


John checks out the make of the engine on a road roller

It did seem like the afternoon was a lot more fun and inspirational than talking and looking at slides of what other artists have done in the morning. After a slow start Robin went away with a sketchbook brimming with ideas, and John is possibly contemplating building a steam roller out of old road signs, or a dental drill out of old school books, or something like that. Rhonda and Shawn have taken home images of things that took their fancy or produced ideas. Who knows what’s going to come of it? Artworks we hope.


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Gympie Woodworks Museum


Carol Bradtke with a slice from a giant kauri pine.

On the opposite end of town to the Gold Mine Museum, Gympie Woodwork Museum tells the story of Australian forests and forestry. A significant collection of woodworking tools, photos, machinery and woods form part of a ‘living’ museum that includes a working steam driven timber mill and a working blacksmith shop, as well as being home to Gympie District Woodworkers Club.  Timber getting and wood work has been a vital part of the development of Gympie and Australia as a whole, including its role in mine supports and the railway as well as the first buildings in the township.

Carole Bradtke made curator, Judy Barrass, welcome and was delighted to be able to support the G150 artists project. Artists will find a wealth of inspirational material here, from the massive wagons used to haul logs to the delicate treadle driven scroll saws. img_0613



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Gympie Gold Mining and Historical Museum

Gympie was once the home of the largest dairy in the Southern hemisphere.

One of the museums taking part in the project is the Gold Mining and Historical Museum  run by the Gympie Historical Society, which sprawls over a large site next to the very pleasant Lake Alford park on the outskirts of Gympie. The no longer operational No 2 South Great Eastern gold mine forms part of the site as well as a number of buildings including two school buildings, a church, a railway station and Andrew Fisher’s cottage. Exhibits from the timber industry, dairy industry, primary production, gems, shells, transport, military and a wide range of social history are part of a huge, eclectic collection that offers a vast trove of inspiration for artists. The extensive site and it’s collection are maintained by volunteers.

Secretary of Gympie Historical Society, Ralph Richardson, and Treasurer Marilyn Soames.

On a preliminary visit to the museum members of the Historical Society committee made curator, Judy Barrass, welcome, showed her around the site and were generally supportive of the idea of artists using the collection as the inspiraton for the G150 exhibition.

A wealth of machinery and tools tell the story of Gympie’s mining past.
The railway has been a huge influence on Gympie’s history from its inception to the present day

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Now and Then – Gympie 150 2016/17

In 2016 six artists were chosen to work with curator Judy Barrass to develop work in response to the collections of Gympie’s local historical museums for  an exhibition  to be held in Gympie Regional Gallery the following year. The exhibition was part of Gympie’s 150th birthday celebrations in 2017. The project was funded by Gympie Regional Council and the Gympie Regional Gallery.

Gympie Region in Southeast Queensland, Australia, is a diverse region stretching from the coastal towns of Tin Can Bay and Rainbow Beach in the East to the rural, farming communities of Kilkivan and Goomeri in the West. The township of Gympie, the economic hub of the region, is located 160 kilometres north of the state capital, Brisbane. The region has a rich heritage and history which is celebrated in various ways. 2017 is the anniversary of the discovery of gold in Gympie and said to be the date the town was founded.

Many of the posts from the original Gympie 150 – Now and Then blog are now reproduced on this site.

Judy Barrass June 22nd 2020

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