Picture Perfect - The Art of Pride
Tim Passmore trots down to West End to discover the people behind The Art of Pride.
This year’s Brisbane Pride Festival will feature an exhibition called The Art of Pride at the Art & Design Precinct. This fledgling gallery was founded by local creatives Michelle Bowden and Grant Hiscock only last year, but already it's managed to generate a vibrant buzz amid the grinds and shunts of its industrial West End locale.
Preparations for the Pride show are looking good. “A few people have submitted already and been accepted,” Hiscock says. “There's some 3D art, some sculpts. Iain Harrison, an artist from Lismore, has submitted some quite large pieces, Chromo Dunny and iDunny – Chromo Dunny won a prize at Mardi Gras in Sydney this year.”
Other confirmed artists include Joe Cutrie and Bret Moody. “Abstract artists will also be submitting, so you're probably not going to see your traditional watercolour landscapes,” Bowden says. “So far, we've always tended to be more contemporary here in this gallery.”
Hiscock grins in agreement: “A bit eclectic as you can see by what we've got on the walls now.”
Sometimes even a single painting is eclectic – like the 'mermaid' hanging behind him. Her waif face, with its pleading anime eyes, sits atop a human skeleton, with octopus tentacles for a tail. It's part of the current exhibition Once Upon a Time: Reinterpreting the Fairytale.
“We pretty much grab a theme and then let the artists choose what that theme means to them,” Hiscock explains. “We came up with the tag line ‘Love, Equality and Diversity’ for The Art of Pride. So it's not just about being our separate little community. It's about love for everybody, everyone is equal, and that diversity across all streams of life.”
The exhibition will focus on celebrating the work of queer artists, rather than on whether or not art itself can be 'queer'.
“I don't see that you could categorise art like that,” is Bowden's view. “I don't think it's fair to the artist, to say that we're going to put you in a box over here with your art. I think it's about being creative no matter who you are. In the art world there is a lot more acceptance of diversity. So it's a good way of showcasing to the world what you're proud of.”
“I've never made the distinction,” Hiscock observes. “I've always felt this is the way I was born. I've always been interested in architecture and design. I can remember telling people how to rearrange their homes when I was six years old!”
Bowden and Hiscock approach art itself with the same freedom from category distinctions. “We've had performance art and live music on event nights,” Hiscock says. “For our Barely There nudes exhibition we had a body painter in.”
The Art of Pride promises to be “a very colourful exhibition” according to Bowden. “A lot of artists are being inspired by the rainbow flag.”
“Very bright,” Hiscock agrees. “It should be a totally uplifting experience.”
IMAGE: Chromo Dunny (detail) by Iain Harrison. Photo: Tim Passmore