Gallery director Tracy Cooper-Lavery with Arthur Boyd's
Gallery director Tracy Cooper-Lavery with Arthur Boyd's "Woman in a jinker" 1976 oil on canvas, part of Cream Four Decades of Australian Art. Photo Allan Reinikka / The Morning Bulletin Allan Reinikka

Rockhampton's artistic legacy goes on nationwide tour

THEY may have cost the Rockhampton Art Gallery $500,000 in the mid 1970s, but those pieces are now part of a collection valued at more than $14 million.

And the "cream of the collection" is about to be shown off around Australia in a two-year touring exhibition.

"Cream: Four Decades of Australian Art" features gallery pieces from 1940 to 1980 and will be shown first in Rockhampton from tomorrow until April 27.

Gallery director Tracy Cooper-Lavery said they wanted to raise the profile of the gallery outside the region.

"When you think about a legacy for the city, a really important cultural legacy, there isn't any other regional galleries in Queensland that have a collection as strong as this," she said.

"I think it's really important the local community has a sense of how significant the collection is."

When former mayor Rex Pilbeam launched a fundraising drive to establish the collection in 1967 they raised $500,000 - close to $2.7million in today's terms.

Rex's Art Acquisition Committee snapped up works at a fraction of what they are worth today; an example being Fred Willaim's Burning Tree valued at more than $1m.

Part of the exhibition will include an oversized sculptural chair created by artist Glenn Hughes for children who come to visit.

An interstate artist worked with local artists to create the toys, which are modelled from the art pieces.

Mayor Margaret Strelow said the collection was a remarkable body of work by some of Australia's greatest artists.

"Touring Cream will give other audiences an understanding of just what an exceptional group of works Rockhampton has and will help cement Rockhampton's place in Australia's must-see cultural landscape," she said.



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