Brisbane Airport appoints airport Artist-in-Residence

Robert Brownhall, one of the nation’s most renowned realist painters, has been chosen by Brisbane Airport Corporation (BAC) as its first ‘Artist-in-Residence’.  

The unique collaboration, which is believed to be the first appointment of its kind for an Australian airport, is the latest step by BAC in its support of local performing and visual arts.

Julieanne Alroe BAC CEO and Managing Director said the ‘Artist in Residence’ program is an extension of BAC’s long-term commitment to the arts that would create a legacy of nurturing and supporting local artists.

“BAC invests heavily in Brisbane’s art scene as the city is rapidly becoming known as a cultural capital and we want to play a part in that.  The role of the ‘Artist in Residence’ is to develop a suite of sketches and paintings depicting everyday events, people, architecture and changes at Brisbane Airport (BNE).

“Robert Brownhall is well known for capturing the stories of Brisbane and its people through vivid paintings and sketches and, as the front door to Queensland for 22 million people each year, we thought Brisbane Airport was an ideal place for Robert to chronicle.

“Robert will have an exclusive access-all-areas pass to both the International and Domestic Terminals, allowing him a unique behind-the-scenes view of one of Australia’s busiest airports.“We’re excited to see what moments in time he will capture in his art, providing a beautiful and lasting legacy over his time at Brisbane Airport,” Ms Alroe said.  

Artist Robert Brownhall said he was excited to spend time at Brisbane Airport and to have the opportunity to paint and sketch such a dynamic and ever-changing environment. “Airports are fascinating places. Some areas are bustling with human activity others have exciting and dramatic architecture. I also like the large long windows that feature the landscape and the great skies of South East Queensland.

“It’s an honour to be chosen as Brisbane Airport’s very first ‘Artist in Residence’. It is an incredible opportunity to showcase my work to visitors from all over the world,” Mr Brownhall said.  

Philip Bacon of Brisbane’s Philip Bacon Galleries said, “The BAC's support for the arts in Brisbane is exemplary, and this inaugural ‘Artist in Residence’ program is further proof, if proof was required, of the importance they place on the role of the arts in defining a city, a state, and a nation.

“A visual artist such as Robert Brownhall is in a unique position to record an exciting time for Brisbane Airport, and for Brisbane generally. Unlike, say, a photographer, who often will have no involvement with the thing they are looking at as they shoot away, the artist must involve himself with the personalities, the surroundings, the sub texts, the nuances of the scene, and make a coherent composition, which will tell a much deeper story than a photograph ever could.

“For instance, the most powerful images in the Australian War Memorial are not the photographs of battle scenes, but the more considered and insightful original works of art, recording as they often do, the human, often mundane, stories that are being played out.  A highly skilled and observant artist such as Brownhall will find a myriad of subjects and stories during his time at the airport, and it will be an important record of a time and a place unique in Brisbane's visual history,” Mr Bacon said.  

Brisbane Airport boasts one of the country’s largest collections of public art displayed throughout the terminals and airport precinct

More than 100 pieces valued at over $10 million have been variously commissioned and acquired by the airport over the years, including the recently unveiled 750m long ‘Sensory Hug’ by the late Mrs Sally Gabori in the International Terminal and ‘Woven Wonders of the Reef’ by Brian Robinson at Skygate.  

Other artists with works displayed at Brisbane Airport include Sandra Selig, Belinda Smith, Ben Trupperbaumer, Gemma Smith, Stephen Mok, Ned Kahn, Jeffrey Zachmann, Pamela Mei Leng See, Laurence Daws, Thancoupie Gloria Fletcher James AO and Susan Lincoln.

Mr Brownhall’s artwork will be displayed at an exhibition at the end of the six month tenure, with one piece being chosen as a permanent addition to BAC’s extensive public art collection.