February 13, 2020
Wet weather – or the promise of it – led to a smaller-than-usual turnout for the opening of the Wondai Regional Art Gallery’s first exhibition for 2020 last Friday night.
However, those who braved the storm clouds were rewarded with an unexpectedly diverse trio of shows from artists whose work has never been seen in the region before.
In the front gallery, Lismore-born artist Kerry Herrod’s “Country Scenes” won many friends and the night’s People’s Choice award.
Kerry studied art for four years at Richmond River High School, then attended art classes in North Queensland and two McGregor summer schools in the late 1990s before going on to present two solo exhibitions in Charters Towers.
Kerry told the opening night audience a change in her domestic life around that time led her to move to Caboolture, where she worked as a hairdresser for 20 years.
But now that she’s retired, Kerry has returned to art and her main focus is on painting the country she loves.
The main gallery features a striking collection of contemporary Indigenous art by Anthony “Boy” Turnbull.
Gallery curator Elaine Madill explained Anthony was unable to attend the opening night in person because he’d been called away to Townsville.
But he had sent along his cousin Leah Hunter, a senior police liaison officer who has been working in Cherbourg and Murgon for the past five years, in his place.
Leah performed the official opening, beginning with a Welcome To Country, before explaining that Anthony had a slight connection with the South Burnett.
Although he was born in Roma and first went to school in Alpha, his family moved to Chinchilla during his formative years and his first job was in Toowoomba.
It was that job – painting boomerangs for the tourist trade – that ignited Anthony’s interest in art, and it is something he has carried with him ever since.
In the third gallery, Jan Ferguson’s “Memories Of Black And White” provided another contrast.
Jan – a self-taught artist born in western Queensland – told the audience she has been combining painting and care work for more than 30 years.
Social work, she explained, was emotionally and mentally draining, and she found art provided a release that allowed her to recover quickly from day-to-day cares.
Jan said she was particularly fond of monochrome, and apart from stark black and white landscapes she also paints on old metal objects, re-injecting life into everything from handsaws to tubs.
Elaine told the audience the Gallery would be hosting another travelling exhibition from Brisbane’s Gallery Of Modern Art in June.
The Wondai Regional Art Gallery has an association with GOMA that stretches back many years.
Its annual travelling shows give South Burnett residents the opportunity to see exhibitions they would normally have to travel to Brisbane to view.
Elaine said plans were also well advanced for the Wondai Country Festival, which will be having its fourth annual outing on June 27-28 this year.
The festival – which includes running competitions on both days – will feature 90 to 100 market stalls and live entertainment.
The Gallery also hopes to be able to offer a bicycle hire service soon for locals and visitors using the South Burnett Rail Trail.