February 11, 2020

Toowoomba Regional Art Gallery: Q&A With Councillor Joe Ramia

For more than 80 years, Toowoomba Regional Art Gallery has given the city remarkable exhibitions and housed some of the finest works from local artists.

We recently spoke to the Toowoomba Regional Council Library and Cultural Services Portfolio Leader, Councillor Joe Ramia, about the history of the gallery and what it offers the community.

Can you share some of the history of the Toowoomba Regional Art Gallery?

Established in 1937, the Toowoomba Regional Art Gallery was actually the first public art gallery in regional Queensland. In 1994, the gallery relocated from Toowoomba City Hall to its current refurbished facility.

The gallery is conveniently located in the heart of the city with free admission and is surrounded by our attractive inner-city parks and some of Toowoomba’s best cafes. It’s owned and operated by Toowoomba Regional Council and is dedicated to providing opportunities for creative expression, cultural exchange, access to lifelong learning experiences and to commemorate our local heritage. We exhibit and acquire artworks by local and national artists and the gallery also houses three permanent collections.

These collections represent a unique and invaluable legacy not only for the Toowoomba region but also for Australia’s cultural heritage. As well as displaying artworks from its permanent collections, the gallery cooperates with the local community, and state and national bodies to mount an extensive annual exhibition program.

What are some of the other Toowoomba galleries in and around the area?

Rosalie Gallery, located at 89 Mocatta Street in Goombungee, is supported proudly by the many artists of the region and holds a series of exhibitions throughout the year. It delivers a local Goombungee community perspective using features that are unique to Rosalie Gallery as a space for display.

There’s also Crows Nest Regional Art Gallery, which was established in 1996 and supports the strong local artistic community. The gallery provides access to a broad range of high-quality, monthly exhibitions and arts events for visitors and the local community, and also runs a contained annual program reflective of specific fields of interest and endeavour in the Crows Nest locale.

How important is the gallery to Toowoomba and the wider community?

Art galleries are important as they are a place to build a creative community. To truly experience art, it needs to be ‘in person’. Connecting personally with objects and with other humans is an integral part of the gallery experience.

Our galleries tell stories on several levels. They provide an excellent opportunity to tell local stories through exhibitions by local artists, and by collecting works from local artists to share into the future.

What does it offer locals and artists?

Our galleries offer artists and the community a chance to exhibit and the chance to engage. The Toowoomba Regional Art Gallery Exhibition Program has the capacity to stimulate and incorporate a wide spectrum of visual arts activities. At the same time, it reflects the breadth of arts interest and endeavour within the Toowoomba community and the region.

How does the gallery contribute to the local arts not just today, but into the future?

The Gallery Service aims to identify, promote and grow opportunities for arts, cultural expression and the development of creative industries.

We acknowledge our role as custodians, which we undertake respectfully and professionally. We especially value this role in relation to interpretation, preserving cultural objects, stories, knowledge and values, and sustainable practices.

Everything we do is underpinned by teaching and learning. We will engage with demographically diverse audiences, and provide excellence in education and public programming that will relate directly to our core practice in exhibition presentation and collection development, while encouraging lifelong learning.

We also need to embrace the digital landscape, especially in areas of audience engagement, digitising collection items, digital publishing and exhibiting works that result from emerging technologies. There is much work to be done in this area.

Can you share some of the best exhibitions from the past and what’s on at the moment?

Earlier this year, the Toowoomba Regional Art Gallery displayed a three-month exhibition, Bill Bolton’s Vision – 60 Years On, to mark the 60th anniversary of the opening of the Lionel Lindsay Art Gallery and Library.

Council was delighted to honour the Boltons’ efforts to establish a nationally significant collection of Australian artworks and printed materials, which is also known as the Bolton Collection and which has been housed at Toowoomba Regional Art Gallery since 1994.

This unique collection was opened by the then Prime Minister Robert Menzies in 1959. It was originally assembled by Toowoomba resident and friend of Sir Lionel, the late Mr William Bolton MBE, and his late wife Marion, whose dedication has left the city with a remarkable legacy.

Current exhibitions from that collection include Aftermath: The Lindsay Family after the Great War and Race Relations – both on display from 26 October 2019 to 26 January 2020. An exhibition of sculpture from the collection runs until 5 April and Out of the Box: The Lionel Lindsay Library runs until 26 April.

You can see current and upcoming events at the gallery on the events page – including some great events for kids.

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