A detail from one of Rory O’Chee’s outback photographs, part of his “Unknown Canyon” exhibition on display at the Wondai Regional Art Gallery during June

June 14, 2021

The Wondai Regional Art Gallery’s June exhibition is proof that disabilities are not a barrier to creativity.

This month, the gallery is featuring two separate exhibitions – a collection of stunning outback photographs printed on silk by Rory O’Chee in the front and rear galleries, and a large exhibition of artworks by Fraser Coast printmaker Emma Thorp in the main gallery.

Rory, 23, is the son of former Senator Bill O’Chee and has Down Syndrome which affects his fine motor skills.

Rory developed an interest in photography at a young age and soon found he could bring a unique and uncompromising perspective to landscapes and still lifes.

He now uses photography to tell stories that most people don’t see, finding ways to let the landscape speak for itself – very much as renowned American landscape photographer Ansel Adams did.

The results are breathtaking, and in recent years Rory has won both critical acclaim for his work and a slew of awards.

His Wondai exhibition, “The Unknown Canyon”, features a small collection of photographs Rory shot in central Australia during a recent family trip.

Artist Emma Thorp does not have a disability herself, but is the mother of a child who was born 77 days premature and has since grown up with autism and ADHD.

Emma graduated from LaTrobe University with a degree in Fine Art and a love of printmaking, and moved to Queensland a decade years ago.

But the premature birth of her son Alby in 2010 started a long chain of events that upended her life in many unexpected ways.

Her “Early” exhibition chronicles the first eight years of Alby’s life, ranging from his early delivery at the Mater Mothers’ Hospital to his first days at school, along with reflections about many watershed moments that happened along the way.

The narrative of this story is the central theme of Emma’s 30 works in the main gallery, which exhibit many of the techniques of printmaking.

Emma’s exhibition is also supported by a colour booklet that explains the story behind each of the works.

  • “The Unknown Canyon” and “Early” will remain on display the Wondai Regional Art Gallery in Haly Street, Wondai from 10:00am to 4:00pm daily until late Saturday afternoon, June 26. Admission to view the exhibitions is free.
Photographer Rory O’Chee and Wondai Regional Art Gallery curator Elaine Madill inspect another of Rory’s works, which fills an entire wall of the Rear Gallery (Photo: Wondai Regional Art Gallery)
Cr Danita Potter admired Rory’s exquisitely detailed monochrome photo of “The One Tree” in the Front Gallery
Cr Kathy Duff congratulated Fraser Coast artist Emma Thorp after Emma’s 2018 work ‘Ready For School’ won the People’s Choice award on opening night
Jack Holewa, Gary Rawlings, Helen Holewa, Jenny Lutz and (front) Tom Liesegang and Melissa Whitestyles from the South Burnett Aurism Support Group attended the exhibition’s opening night to support Emma Thorp (centre), whose son Alby has autism and ADHD
Neil Hutton provided musical entertainment at the opening, and showed his guitar – which was decorated by well-known South Burnett artist Nikita Law – to South Burnett Mayor Brett Otto
Art teacher Pat Van Kempen with a display of works by students from the Windera and Cloyna State Schools in Kidz Korner this month

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