Pub­lic works

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Public Works - Bronwyn Wat­son

William Robin­son, The Rain­for­est (1990). Col­lec­tion Gallery at HOTA. Ac­quired through funds from the Gold Coast’s busi­ness and art­lov­ing com­mu­nity, 1991. On dis­play HOTA foyer, Surfers Par­adise, Gold Coast, Queens­land. The dif­fi­cul­ties started just af­ter William Robin­son had won the pres­ti­gious Wynne Prize for land­scape in 1990 with a mon­u­men­tal paint­ing of ver­dant rain­for­est in the moun­tain­ous hin­ter­land of Queens­land’s Gold Coast.

Af­ter Robin­son’s win, Fran Cum­mings, the di­rec­tor of the Gold Coast City Gallery at the time, came up with a bold plan to ac­quire the work. She de­cided the paint­ing would be a worth­while ad­di­tion to the gallery’s col­lec­tion, par­tic­u­larly given its lo­cal sub­ject mat­ter.

The Rain­for­est, at nearly 5m in length and across two pan­els, was val­ued at $80,000. It was a lot of money, but Cum­mings be­lieved she could raise it.

First she went to the lo­cal coun­cil, hop­ing for $30,000. How­ever, there was an in­flu­en­tial dis­sent­ing voice, Gold Coast Bul­letin arthritic John Milling­ton. He wrote sto­ries say­ing coun­cil funds should not be spent on the paint­ing and the gallery was be­ing ripped off. He be­lieved the paint­ing to be worth be­tween $20,000 and $30,000.

The coun­cil de­cided not to put any money to­wards the pur­chase, but Cum­mings de­cided to crowd fund. It took six months and the money was raised en­tirely from lo­cal busi­nesses, in­clud­ing the news­pa­per that em­ployed the art critic, and the com­mu­nity.

The Rain­for­est now hangs in the foyer of the Gallery at HOTA (Home of the Arts), the new name for the Gold Coast City Gallery, at Surfers Par­adise. As gallery di­rec­tor Tracy Cooper-Lav­ery and I stand be­fore the paint­ing, she ex­plains how the paint­ing de­picts a water­way in the Beech­mont rain­for­est as it flows through Botan Creek, into a wa­ter­fall, and then into the Coomera River.

And while The Rain­for­est is not all about the mon­e­tary value, it is worth not­ing it is now val­ued at about $900,000. The paint­ing is so sig­nif­i­cant that Cooper-Lav­ery de­scribes it as the “hero of the col­lec­tion” and says they “love it so much it has lit­er­ally been the start­ing point” for the de­sign of the Gold Coast’s new $60.5 mil­lion gallery, due to open in Jan­uary 2021. ew

Oil on can­vas, 183cm x 488cm

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.