The Maryborough Military and Colonial Museum is a surprising gem to find in a regional centre. It was established as a private museum by John and Else Meyers using much of John’s own extensive collection. The museum is now a public trust, and the collection has been added to by generous donation and further collecting.This important collection interprets military campaigns and aspects of Australia’s colonial history. It is housed in a magnificent old warehouse style building near the wharf area in Maryborough, and contains many significant objects.
The museum is staffed by volunteers and is very much a part of the local community.
As part of the Collective Insites project t Peta Duggan will be interpreting the collection in her own inimitable style.
Peta is a local resident of Maryborough who likes to manipulate images of everyday objects and shapes in her work. Her imagination leads her to find hidden meanings and satire of a dark nature reflected in many of her images. She says ” humans can be seen as concepts and intrigue of the imagination, where space, time and thought are one ”
It will be interesting to see what Peta makes of the museum and what the museum makes of her. It is certainly not a conventional mix, and John Meyers from the museum is to be congratulated in his willingness to participate in the project, and to allow an emerging artist working in new technologies full reign in his museum. Peta’s mind is already racing ahead with the possibilities. She says, after her first visit:
“As I walked into the old historical building in Wharf Street Maryborough, in Queensland, my senses were filled with awe…Not only is this building, built in the 1800’s, the military collection is the most highly prized museum in –as to be so bold! in Queensland, and even bolder! Possibly more impressive than the National war museum located in Canberra (1991 visit).”
Peta’s work will be part of the Collective Insites exhibition at Gatakers Artspace in May, and she will be having a solo exhibition at the gallery later in the year.
Sometimes one comes across a collection that sits outside the norm. Mavis Bank in Maryborough is one of those.
It is an eclectic and personal, private collection of bric-a-brac, furniture, vehicles, household appliances, toys and much more from no particular era (except it’s mostly late 19th early 20th Century), housed in a generic, not overly interesting Queenslander style house hidden behind a magnificent overgrown garden. There are no labels and no particular arrangement of the objects other than what suits the fancy and the needs of the owners. Everywhere you turn you see something new and interesting and perhaps disconnected from the last thing you just saw. The house is filled to overflowing with collected ‘stuff’, treasured and displayed in a domestic, ‘cottage’ setting.
Owners Elizabeth McKenzie and partner Patrick live in the building, in the collection amongst the objects which they sit on, play with, tinker with, listen to and use. So for them it is not a museum, it is their home, and a very personal space. Many of the objects have a story directly related to their own personal histories. Elizabeth and Patrick kindly open their home for the public to visit, and once through the doors it’s a journey into domestic nostalgia.
As part of the Collective Insites project artist Christine Turner will be working with the Mavis Bank collection, letting it speak to her, and making her own particular interpretations of the objects and the collection as a whole.
Christine’s practice encompasses assemblage, installation, digital imaging, collage and photography. Her works relate to identity, memory, the body, power and the sacred. An avid collector herself, she uses her own collections in her works, and understands the urge that drives those who fall in love with objects from the past. At Mavis Bank she has found an instant rapport with Elizabeth McKenzie in a shared love of domestic memorabilia and is working to incorporate items from the Mavis Bank collection into her artwork that will form part of the Collective Insites exhibitions at GatakersArtspace later in the year.
Artist Susan Hutton will be working with the Maryborough Historical Society collection as part of the ‘Collective Insites‘ project. Susan’s mediums include painting, drawing, assemblage and artist books. She is also interested in various methods of printing and has recently acquired a kiln to experiment with printing onto ceramic work. Susan describes her work as using images as metaphors to tell stories from the inside.
Maryborough Historical Society is the main repository of Maryborough’s social history. Many objects, photographs and documents in the collection are cared for and put on display by a team of volunteers. The sheer size and diversity of the collection can be overwhelming for the visitor.
The collection occupies a significant heritage building, the Maroborough School of Arts and includes the original School of Arts library which is still in situ on the mezzanine floor.
Susan has made several visits to the collection spending some time there absorbing the feeling of place and space and ambling through the collection to see where it leads her. She intends to explore the books, documents and plans and the objects before deciding on her approach to making artworks about the collection. To get started she is playing with photographs and drawings making digital images that may be used in later works. For her this process is as important as the final work. She lets the collection speak.
The Collective Insitesapproaches the museum as a place of relevance to contemporary culture and . The intention is to stimulate audience engagement and interest in through innovative approaches to interpreting and examining their collections.
Fivewill focus their attention on the historic collections in the regional town of Maryborough in . They will interact with the objects in the collections in creative ways, and to explore and invigorate the interface between the collection and the audience. They will be encouraged to question the assumptions and expectations interwoven into museum practice and the acquisition, ordering and display of objects in the museum context.
The artists were selected to be part of ‘Collective Insites’ are David Hodges, Peta Duggan, Christine Turner, Niels Ellmoos, and Susan Hutton.
In the workshop Fiona Mohr introduced the artists to traditional museum practices and approaches and gave a brief overview of the historical collections that will be part of the project. Curator Judy Barrass gave a presentation on the many ways artists have interacted with, worked with, or commented on museums, collections and collecting, and museum practice. A visit to the local Historical Society collection was used as the starting point for discussion on approaches to dealing with objects versus stories or entire collections, and the difficulties artists might face in being ‘guided’ towards certain interpretations or stories.
Each of the artists was allocated a museum to work with for the duration of the project.
The collections included in the project are Brennan and Geraghty’s store, The Maryborough Military and, MavisBank, Maryborough Historical Society and industrial objects in various collections, including and Foundry moulds.
The artists will now go on to spend several months working with individual museums before the group exhibition in May at Gatakers Artspace in Maryborough.
‘Collective Insites’ is the title of an innovative project being undertaken by Gatakers Artspace in Maryborough. Curated by Judy Barrass, the project will see five artists making works based on the historical museums of Maryborough. The artists will each work closely with one museum or collection and make a number of artworks to be shown in exhibitions at the gallery in May, June and July.
Maryborough is a place steeped in history. It has fifteen museums, more than any other centre in Queensland, and more heritage listed Queenslanders than any other town in Queensland. It provides a wealth of inspirational material for artists who are interested in working with historical collections.
This is the first major project undertaken by this new gallery. It is an important project for the gallery and the Fraser Coast. It will also provide a model for collaboration between artists and local community museums.
The five artists from the region who have been chosen are from diverse backgrounds and work across a broad range of mediums. They met for a workshop in Maryborough last weekend to kickstart the project which will be documented on this blog and the ABC Pool project. A series of Place Stories videos will also be produced as the project unfolds. The first of these can be found HERE.
Collective Insites is supported financially by the local Regional Arts Development Fund, which is funded by Fraser Coast Council and Arts Queensland , with support provided by Queensland Museum.
Creative Histories is a project of Queensland artist Judy Barrass. It seeks to connect artists with museums and collections in a partnership that creates fresh ways of interpreting, commenting on or presenting history.
This blog will be used as a resource base to document various projects and investigate what happens when artists focus their attention on collections, museums and historical places. It is also intended as a resource for museums who may be interested in the processes, who seek information or advice on working with artists to renew or invigorate the interface between history and the general community.
The project has grown out of a long term interest in and connection with historical places and collections and several projects on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland. Judy is currently working on a major project ‘Collective Insites’ which brings together five artists to work with five collections in the historic town of Maryborough. As curator of this project she is keen to develop a long term working partnership between the artists, the historical collections and the local art gallery, Gatakers Artspace.
Judy’s work is informed by her history as an artist whose major focus has been on place. In this Creative Histories project she is also working closely with Fiona Mohr, who is Regional Museum Development Officer with the Queensland Museum. Fiona brings her knowledge and expertise in museums and collections to the project. Her creative background and an interest in fresh approaches to collections fuels her interest and adds to the project.