Brisbane's must-see art exhibitions

Brisbane’s art scene is on fire, offering a year-round calendar of big exhibitions at the major galleries, and smaller niche ones at the boutique art spots around town. Whether you’re looking to reflect and browse through the work of an established local artist, or be inspired by some of the cutting-edge international contemporary art, have a read below to find out what’s on right now. 

QAGOMA

Patricia Piccinini

Until 5 August | ticketed

Globally renowned for her adventurous use of sculpture, installation, video and sound to create imaginative hybrid creatures, Piccinini is bringing her recognisable collection from the past 10 years and showing it exclusively at GOMA. The exhibition is the largest ever solo show of an Australian artist, with more than 50 works by Piccinini taking over the entire ground floor.

Tony Albert: Visible

Until 7 October 2018 | free

Don’t miss this exhibition covering one of the most exciting young Indigenous Australian artists working today. Albert uses everything from painting and photography to video and installation to craft a powerful response to the misrepresentation of Australia’s First Peoples. In the Children’s Art Centre, Albert has created the We Can Be Heroes project for kids and families to explore how we can all be empowered by overcoming our fears.

Judith Wright: In The Garden Of Good And Evil

Until 2 Sep 2018 | Free

Brisbane artist Judith Wright presents the latest installation in her ongoing project that constructs the imagined life of a lost child. It continues the artist's meditation on vulnerability, love and loss – a journey which began in 2003.

Young Ones

Until 5 Aug 2018 | Free

Pulling together the work of six artists who are 35 or younger (Uji Handoko Eko Saputro, Tyza Stewart, Abdul Abdullah, Liam O'Brien and Vincent Namatjira), their work draws on contemporary life while remaining grounded in art history, forging a fresh style.

Amata Women’s Paintings

Until 13 Sep 2018 | Free

In 2011, QAGOMA commissioned three generations of Tjala women to paint seven works for the collection. The artists explore dynamic, fresh, stylistic expressions of their culture and ngurra (country). 

Permanent + other exhibitions

Primarily held in QAG, there are a few exhibitions that never close in the major art gallery. While the artworks may be shuffled, expect to find halls filled with the Australian Collection, the Indigenous Australian Collection, and the International and Asian art collection. There are also more smaller changing exhibitions held in pockets of the gallery showing new acquisitions or themed pieces from the owned collection. 

Brisbane Powerhouse 

Brisbane Powerhouse in New Farm

World Press Photo Exhibition

Until 22 July 2018 | Free

The walls of the Powerhouse will be covered with the world’s most compelling, controversial and intimate moments, as captured by award-winning photojournalists from around the globe, for one month only. This annual exhibition profiles work from the world’s top press photographers, photojournalists and documentary photographers, who captured an event or issue of great journalistic importance in the past year, drawing entries from 4548 photographers from 125 countries, submitting 73,044 images.

State Library of Queensland

State Library of Queensland

Bright Bold Boundless: Designing the Queen's Baton

Until 12 August 2018 | Free

What’s the story behind the Queen’s Baton made for the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games? Sift through early sketches, video diaries and interviews to unearth the inspiration behind the Baton’s unique design and technological capabilities, made by Brisbane-based Designworks.

Lifestyle: A Sunshine State of Mind

Until 21 October 2018 | Free

From playing weekend sport, going to the beach with friends or cooking a meal for loved ones – explore how Queenslanders live and play across the state through an exhibition of SLQ’s rare and restricted collection items.

Our Sporting Greats: Murri and Ailan athletes in the spotlight

Until 2 September 2018 | Free

Celebrate some of Queensland’s unsung Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heroes from the sporting world in this inspiring showcase of images, memorabilia and digital stories.

Queensland Museum and Sciencentre

Egyptian Mummies: Exploring Ancient Lives

16 March – 26 August 2018

Featuring more than 200 artefacts from the world-famous Egyptian collections of the British Museum, this exhibition at the Queensland Museum will let you gain insight into the life and death of six individuals who lived in Egypt between 3000 and 1800 years ago.

Museum of Brisbane

Life in Irons: Brisbane's Convict Stories

Until 28 October 2018 | Free

Back in 1824, life was unrelentingly harsh for the 3000 men and women imprisoned as convicts here until the penal colony’s closure in 1839. This also irrevocably changed the life of the Aboriginal peoples on whose country the colony was built. This exhibition offers a rare chance to view some of the few remaining official documents from the Brisbane penal colony.

100% Brisbane

Until 30 June 2019 | Free

We are pulling back the layers of our city, going beneath the surface of high rises and jacaranda trees to discover the very real heart of Brisbane’s story. You. Me. And everyone in between. This landmark exhibition also invites you to have your say and contribute to this incredible self-portrait of the city. 100% Brisbane will not only change the way you think about museums, it will change the way you think about Brisbane.

Coming soon

The Designers' Guide: Easton Pearson Archive

23 November 2018 - 22 April 2019

Australia’s fashion storytellers, Pamela Easton and Lydia Pearson, took a unique approach to fashion, referencing art, travel, film, literature, music and emotions to design and craft a bold aesthetic with daring patterns, innovative materials, meticulous techniques and a sustainable ethos. For the first major exhibition from the Easton Pearson Archive (donated in 2017 by Dr Paul Eliadis, a Brisbane-based philanthropist and arts patron), Museum of Brisbane asked Pam and Lydia to select the designs they felt highlighted the greatest innovations of their design practice and to share the stories behind the evolution of each garment. Expect to see the garments displayed on more than 60 forms along with lookbooks, sketches and more.

Institute of Modern Art

Institute of Modern Art

Karrabing Film Collective: The Mermaids: Mirror Worlds

Until 30 August 2018 | Free
The Karrabing Film Collective is a grassroots initiative bringing together more than 30 people from different Indigenous groups from the Northern Territory and their non-Indigenous colleagues. Its films use inventive artistic language to challenge historical and contemporary structures of settler power.

Haegue Yang: Triple Vita Nestings

Until 30 August 2018 | Free
This exhibition brings together more than a decade of Yang’s practice, displaying contradicting pieces – industrial production versus handmade, and conception art against material-driven. Yang participated in the 8th Asia Pacific Triennial (2015–2016) and the recent 21st Biennale of Sydney. 

The Commute

22 September–22 December 2018
Five Indigenous curators have been invited to collaborate with nine Indigenous artists to create and develop projects asserting complex, expansive contemporary Indigenous experiences including deep ancestral knowledges and global connections.

Artisan

Stitch Cult

4 August – 15 September | Free
Seven craftspeople weave their work in with stunning traditional embroideries. Historical items on loan from The Embroiderers Guild of Queensland will sit alongside innovative works by practitioners who are sewing a name for themselves as part of the new craft movement.

Unleashed: Emerging Craft And Design

21 September – 2 November | Free
Unleashed is back after a seven-year break. The idea is to capture some of the buzz being created by emerging craft practitioners and designers, as each pushes the limit of their field – be it cutting-edge ceramics, fashion or jewellery design.

Lone Star

2 November – 16 February | Free
Free from constraint, Australian artist Mona Ryder has challenged us with a dynamic and explorative body of work looking at relationships, memory and gendered rituals. Every element is of her hand: from the mussel shells preserved from meals shared with friends, to scarlet stockings borne of Mona’s backyard dye pot, to the furniture and objects she fashions, each piece shares a deeply personal story. 

Mitchell Fine Art 

Mitchell Art Gallery

Women Of Utopia

Until 21 July 2018
View significant artworks by some of Australia’s most recognisable female Aboriginal artists from the Utopia region in Central Australia. Utopia is the traditional land of the Alyawarre and Anmatyerre people, located about 230km north-east of Alice Springs in Central Australia. 

For more art exhibitions across Brisbane, use our events calendar to see what else is on.

Museum of Brisbane

Life in Irons: Brisbane's Convict Stories

Until 28 October 2018 | Free

Back in 1824 life was unrelentingly harsh for the 3,000 men and women imprisoned as convicts here until the penal colony’s closure in 1839. This also irrevocably changed the life of the Aboriginal peoples on whose Country the colony was built. This exhibition offers a rare chance to view some of the few remaining official documents from the Brisbane penal colony.

100% Brisbane

Until 30 June 2019 | Free

We are pulling back the layers of our city, going beneath the surface of high rises and the jacaranda trees to discover the very real heart of Brisbane’s story. You. Me. And everyone in between. This landmark exhibition also invites you to have your say and contribute to this incredible self-portrait of the city. 100% Brisbane will not only change the way you think about museums, it will change the way you think about Brisbane.

Coming soon

The Designers' Guide: Easton Pearson Archive

23 November 2018 - 22 April 2019

Australia’s fashion storytellers, Pamela Easton and Lydia Pearson, took a unique approach to fashion, referencing art, travel, film, literature, music and emotions to design and craft a bold aesthetic withdaring patterns, innovative materials, meticulous techniques and a sustainable ethos. For the first major exhibition from the Easton Pearson Archive (donated in 2017 by Dr Paul Eliadis, a Brisbane-based philanthropist and arts patron), Museum of Brisbane asked Pam and Lydia to select the designs they felt highlighted the greatest innovations of their design practice and to share the stories behind the evolution of each garment. Expect to see the garments displayed on more than 60 forms along with lookbooks, sketches and more.

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