Art attack on campus

Evoking feeling, creating conversations and bringing brightness to The University of Queensland’s walls are the motives behind a new project by the UQ Art Museum.

UQ Art Museum’s Nicholas Ashby is dusting off paintings from UQ’s 3000-piece art collection and hanging them around UQ as part of the On Campus Art Program project.

Meeting room in the UQ College, Seddon West building featuring Mavis Ngallametta End Swamp 2010,
Collection of The University of Queensland. Gift of Mavis Ngallametta through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program, 2015. Reproduced courtesy of the artist and Martin Browne Contemporary, Sydney.

“The idea is to get as much art out to the UQ community as possible,” Nicholas said.

“We’re doing this to share the collection and make it available to staff, students and visitors to the university.”

Installing work in AIBN building featuring Mavis Ngallametta South of Ikolet 2009. Collection of The University of Queensland, purchased 2009. Reproduced courtesy of the artist and Martin Browne Contemporary, Sydney.

Gallery intern Molly Shield said the project let the UQ Art Museum display more of its vast collection.

“Lots of our exhibitions are touring exhibitions or specifically curated – so they aren’t necessarily using all of our collection so it’s good to have the collection on display,” she said.

The On Campus Art Program is about more than just pretty pictures, according to Nicholas and Molly. 

“Sometimes people walk past and say 'I like that' or 'I don’t like that' straight away,” Nicholas said.

But that’s not always a bad thing, Molly said.

“You don’t necessarily have to like it,” she said. 

“Art makes you think about issues and ideas that aren’t normally presented to you.

“The purpose of art is to get a response. If people hate it, it’s probably just as good as if they like it.”

Finding the right home for each painting isn’t just up to the UQ Art Museum - a collaborative process determines where Nicholas hangs each artwork.

“The art is selected in conversation with whoever is using the space,” he said. 

“We send some images through and find something that fits the space.”

The museum team receives feedback on what the building’s occupants would like to see.

“Lately when we’ve sent out selections for larger spaces like meeting rooms, the staff who use that area voted, which engaged them with making the choice of the artwork,” Molly said.

 “It also makes an interest in the process and gives people the chance to get involved, making it more than just an artwork that appears.”

Placing art around campus can transform the mood of a space, and Nicholas said the UQ community was enjoying the colourful change.

“You see the change of mood regularly in meeting rooms, particularly the new ones that have been refurbished,” Nicholas said.

“These rooms have stark white walls but when you hang a piece of art in these, it kind of changes the whole feel of the room.

“That is some of the positive feedback we’ve received.

“Staff have been uncomfortable in the new offices but a piece of art makes the room feel warm.”

The UQ Art Museum is open 10am-4pm every day and admission is free.

Written by Gabrielle Briner, part-time Marketing and Communications Officer and part-time gallery-goer.

Reception in the School of Nursing featuring Mavis Ngallametta Ngak Kunttow Wakan Mo’athan (Fresh running water on the beach) 2011. Collection of The University of Queensland. Gift of Mavis Ngallametta through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program, 2015. Reproduced courtesy of the artist and Martin Browne Contemporary, Sydney.
Last updated:
5 April 2016