Griffith artists in the spotlight at TRACE

A work by contemporary artist Richard Bell on display at Ralph's Garage in West End as part of the TRACE exhibition.

Queensland College of Art (QCA) alumni and lecturers feature prominently in this year’s TRACE exhibition, which is designed to get art out of galleries and on to the streets.

The biennial exhibition and auction features contemporary art in a host of unlikely locations around Brisbane’s West End, a stone’s throw from the QCA’s South Bank campus.

Alumni showcase

Major works by high-profile QCA alumni including Vernon Ah Kee, Tony Albert, Victoria Reichelt and Madeleine Kelly are hanging in local businesses, from bakeries to barber shops and bookstores.

TRACE artist-in-residence, QCA fine art alumnus Warraba Weatherall, has also been commissioned to create site-specific works for local businesses participating in the exhibition.

The exhibition supports early career artists by pairing major works with an emerging, early, or mid-career artist’s in each venue. This has provided a platform for recent QCA graduates, including Tyza Stewart, Christopher Bassi, Bridie Gillman, Annie O’Rourke, Aaron Perkins, Zoe Porter and Vanghoua Anthony Vue.

The three-week exhibition features an interactive art trail, walking tours and an auction, the proceeds of which sustain the work of local organisation Community Plus+.

Accessible art

TRACE curator Carrie McCarthy

TRACE is curated by Carrie McCarthy, a curator and collections officer at Griffith University Art Museum. Ms McCarthy said TRACE was a chance to make contemporary fine art accessible to a wide audience.

“People who view the art in this exhibition might not regularly go to galleries, but here in the streets of West End, they have access to some of Australia’s most significant works.

“Since the 1960s, artists have explored different ways of exhibiting art outside of the big public galleries and museums.

“TRACE is about encountering art in ordinary and unexpected places.

“It’s a reminder that art is a part of everyday life, and it’s all around us.”

Rising stars

Ms McCarthy said her role at Griffith University allowed her to talent-spot the country’s most exciting emerging artists.

“I curate the graduate show at QCA, which I love – I get a first glimpse at all of these amazing young artists,” she said.

“Our campus is a couple of blocks from West End, an area with the highest number of working artists in Australia.

“It was important to me that this exhibition didn’t just feature established artists, it is about an opportunity for mentorship and an opportunity for audiences to discover new connections between artworks.”

Community engagement

Dr Natalya Hughes

QCA fine art lecturer Dr Natalya Hughes and photography lecturer Amy Carkeek are also exhibiting work at TRACE.

A former resident of West End, Dr Hughes is excited to see the local community engage with contemporary works by Queensland artists.

“This exhibition is about artists staying engaged with their local communities, and giving people access to art where they live,” she said.

“It can sometimes be intimidating to enter a gallery, so it’s nice to be able to share our work with the wider public.”

The exhibition runs at various venues along Boundary and Vulture Streets in West End until 24 August.

Guided walking tours will be held at 9am and 11am on 17 and 24 August with curator Carrie McCarthy, local historians Tim Quinn and Steve Capelin, Murri artists from the BlackLash collective or local architect Paul Hotson.

A selection of the artworks will be auctioned off online, with bids closing at 9pm on Saturday 31 August.