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Art connects with the community through philanthropy

UniSQ's new, world-class art gallery is bringing the community together.
Artwork by Shannon Novak at UniSQ
A new world-class space at the University of Southern Queensland’s Toowoomba campus is changing hearts and minds – one artwork at a time.

The Art Gallery opened in March 2022, and proudly sits within B Block. The gallery is a University-first, with the purpose-built facility meeting temperature, humidity, and lighting requirements to safely host valuable artworks and exhibits from around the world.

The project was conceived prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and championed by Vice-Chancellor Professor Geraldine Mackenzie. It complements the original Foyer Gallery, a popular meeting place in A Block for decades.

Art Gallery Curator (Arts and Exhibitions) and UniSQ alumnus Brodie Taylor says the University did not waste any time putting the new space to good use – collaborating with Queensland’s leading art institutions to engage with the wider community.

“Our very first exhibition was a partnership between the University of Southern Queensland and the Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA), as part of their Asia Pacific Triennial,” Mr Taylor says.

The inaugural exhibition was titled It’s Ok To Be Me and featured New Zealand artist Shannon Novak, whose work reflects the diversity and resilience of the LGBTQIA+ community.
Part of the engagement program was a project called Dear Toowoomba, modelled on the popular Dear Queensland initiative run by QAGOMA. In both instances, people were encouraged to write a fictitious letter to the place they call home.

“We had some exceptional contributions – with participants ranging from a 12-year-old boy to a 78-year-old physicist. We had a really lovely response from the community, and it was a fantastic launch to the world,” Mr Taylor says. 

The Art Gallery’s second exhibition was also a hit – thanks to the University’s iconic Japanese Garden. The much-loved space provided an open-air gallery for popular Brisbane artist David Hinchliffe to host an art-making event during the annual Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers.

“We had students from the high schools, we had members of the staff, we had alumni, we had current students, we had professional artists. This was a chance for them all to come together, create, and just enjoy a day together,” Mr Taylor says.

The world’s leading art museums have something in common – the acts of philanthropy which allow new art to be acquired and community engagement programs to blossom. 

The UniSQ Art Gallery is already following in their footsteps, thanks to the generosity of artist Shannon Novak, who donated one of his works to the University following the success of the It’s Ok To Be Me exhibition.

“Our University really has a crowning jewel with this gallery. It takes our engagement with the community to a whole new level,” Mr Taylor says.