Griffith catalogue celebrates court artworks

Artist Gemma Smith’s Collision and Improvisation (Ceiling) covers the ceiling in the entry foyer of the Queen Elizabeth II Courts of Law in Brisbane.

The Chief Justice of Queensland, The Honourable Paul de Jersey AC, has launched a Queensland College of Art Griffith University publication celebrating the new public art of Brisbane’s Queen Elizabeth II Courts of Law.

A special event took place at the Courts building onOctober 16 and wasattended by Griffith University Chancellor Ms Leneen Forde AC and a large number of the judiciary from Queensland and interstate.

The Art of the QEII Courts of Law, Brisbane, Australia catalogue is edited by Associate Professor Jay Younger from the Queensland College of Art, who curated the artworks, and features contributions by Ms Forde, Deputy Vice Chancellor and Provost Professor Marilyn McMeniman AM, The Honourable Justice Margaret McMurdo AC, the Courts architect Professor John Hockings and Australian Institute of Architecture President Shane Thompson. The catalogue was designed by the QCA’s Liveworm studio.

The three public artworks within the Courts building were officially unveiled in August 2012 and the catalogue features images of their making and installation. Also included are speeches from the 2012 event and an extended curatorial essay on the history of public art in Queensland by Associate Professor Younger.

“As one of the state’s most important expressions of democracy, the QEII Courts of Law seeks to express its public transparency in the built form,” Associate Professor Younger said.

“Like the building itself, the public artworks articulate democratic values in their public expression of different perspectives.

“It is this inherent link between democratic values and artistic expression in the public realm that forms the focus of the curatorial rationale for the new Courts’ artworks.”

Professor McMeniman said three celebrated female artists were commissioned to provide works for the ambitious project.

Workers installing Yayoi Kusama's Eyes Are Singing Out at the Courts of Law
Workers installing Yayoi Kusama’s Eyes Are Singing Out at the Courts of Law

“Yayoi Kusama, of Japan, and Sally Gabori, a Kaiadilt elder of Bentinck Island in the Gulf of Carpentaria, are in their eighties and considered akin to national treasures in their respective countries and internationally. The third artist is Gemma Smith, fifty years their junior and formerly a painter based in Brisbane,” Professor McMeniman said.

Kusama’s Eyes Are Singing Out features 312 steel and enamel eyes installed on the elevated wall outside the building, while Gabori’s Dibirdibi Country is painted directly onto an entire wall of the Banco Court and represents her vision of the landscape of her country.

Smith’s geometric and abstract artwork, Collision and Improvisation (Ceiling), completely covers the entire ceiling in the entry foyer.

“The construction itself is a tour de force and, for the viewer who looks skyward to experience this extraordinary work, there is a sense of wonderment about the superb patterning and palette,” Professor McMeniman said.

Chief Justice de Jersey commended Griffith University on the catalogue and paid tribute to the three artists.

“The art is significant art in its capacity to inspire interest, and I should say, calm,” he said.

“The art obviously has a broader significance, in inspiring our citizenry, both as interesting and compelling art, and in reminding our fellow Queenslanders and Australians of the significance of what is accomplished in the building.”

Copies of the catalogue are available by contacting Carol Marron ([email protected]).