Droving enthusiasts on the Western Downs had a first hand opportunity to view and experience part of a major artwork by leading Australian artist Robert MacPherson with the tour of the Queensland Art Gallery’s ‘Gallery of Modern Art’ Boss Drovers exhibition.
The Boss Drovers exhibition was officially opened at the John Mullins Memorial Art Gallery at Dogwood Crossing, Miles, last Friday evening before a crowd of 150 guests.
Guests were treated to a insight of what life on the road is life in the long paddock, with Boss Drover, Bill Little, Roma, the guest speaker.
Mr Little, arguably the best drover of modern times, spoke candidly about his life on the road, including his famous Brinkworth epic droving trip walking 18,000 cattle from Winton to Hay, in southern NSW in 2013.
Queensland Art Gallery of Modern Art director Chris Saines said the Boss Drovers exhibition was an installation of 200 drawings derived from the 2400 that make up a major work created by Robert MacPherson over two decades .
“We are delighted to be touring an extract of the major collection work to audiences throughout the state along with a digital interactive that encourages visitors to make a more thorough investigation of the artwork, Mr Saines said.
“From 2019 through to 2021, Boss Drovers will tour to 12 Queensland venues throughout Queensland, reaching audiences in Mackay, Townsville, Gympie, Bundaberg, Hervey Bay, Mt Isa and beyond.
“Each individual paper-sheet within the installation features a portrait and the name of a boss drover who was responsible for moving livestock and teams of stockmen along the great pastoral stock routes of Australia.”
Robert MacPherson’s collected pages reveal poetic markers of places and people whose identities and life in the country are in danger of fading from view. The droving occupation itself is now almost a relic, as generations of horse-riding ringers are replaced by trucks on our highways, and families move off the land.
The artwork captures several aspects of Robert MacPherson’s multi-layered practice - his playful approach to ‘traditional’ aspects of art, such as landscape, portraiture, and his subversive take on the idea of the artist’s identity and signature.
Robert MacPherson was born in 1937 and is a much-celebrated Australian contemporary artist, renowned for apparently simple works that gently unfold to reveal something more complex.
His practice frequently explores overlooked aspects of his subject matter, allowing viewers to gain a more nuanced understanding of the circumstances surrounding a particular situation.
He made the drawings for Boss Drovers in the guise of his alter ego, Robert Pene, a Year 4 student at St Joseph’s Convent in Nambour, Queensland.
Boss Drovers will tour the following venues
Dogwood Crossing, Miles | 19 January – 2 March 2019
Logan Art Gallery | 9 March – 27 April 2019
Artspace Mackay | 4 May – 7 July 2019
Perc Tucker Regional Gallery, Townsville | 13 July – 1 September 2019
Toowoomba Regional Art Gallery | 19 October – 1 December 2019
Redland Art Gallery | 8 December 2019 – 26 January 2020
Gympie Regional Gallery | 18 March – 24 April 2020
Bundaberg Regional Art Gallery | 2 May – 21 June 2020
Caboolture Regional Art Gallery | 18 July – 5 September 2020
Warwick Art Gallery | 12 September – 24 October 2020
Hervey Bay Regional Gallery | 31 October – 13 December 2020
Mount Isa Regional Art Gallery | 9 January – 7 March 2021
For more information on ‘Boss Drovers’ visit www.qagoma.qld.gov.au