Exhibition: Beyond Pacific Art Gallery

Despite the torrential downpour in Brisbane on Saturday afternoon, 180 people turned up for the official opening of the Beyond Pacific Art Gallery

The gallery was opened by the Director General Office of Tourism Arts and Culture, Ms Mari Ellingson who travelled to Brisbane for the opening.  

 “I am deeply honoured to witness an admirable icon and a Papua New Guinean who has dedicated her lifetime in promoting Papua New Guinea’s unique culture to the world with other pacific cultures. This gallery represents a true PNG spirit in a tough market. It is an also a special opportunity to promote our artists and crafts people throughout Australia and beyond. And it is created by a woman who is also a Papua New Guinean, said Ms Ellingson. 

“Ms Leahy is a Papua New Guinean icon and the people of PNG are proud that against all the challenges of setting up in a foreign country to promote her own heritage, Ms Leahy has managed to build her gallery with the help of friends and family in a true Melanesian spirit”, she said. 

Ms Ellingson said Ms Leahy has been recognised internationally in the arts, culture and heritage and her hard-work and her drive to open a gallery shows her dedication to her work which preserves and sustains PNG’s rich culture. Many galleries that carry artwork from PNG and other Pacific countries do not pay artists well and also do not represent each unique culture in the right context.  

However Ms Ellingson said, it is important that specialists such as Ms Leahy continue to work with art curators internationally to promote our similarities and not dwell on differences”. She said we must appreciate cultures for what they are and not why they are there and therefore such specialised galleries such as Beyond Pacific Art with the insights of Ms Leahy’s expertise can truly represent our culture. She also continues to assist many young PNG and Pacific artists realise their dreams at an international level. 

“We want our own people to show and promote our art, and our intangible heritage and we need more opportunities with more of our own people who have passion for our culture, Ms Ellingson said. 

The Beyond Pacific Art Gallery caters for both contemporary and traditional artworks and is built in an extended space of a 50 year old property which sits on 2.5 acres of Bushland in the Western Suburbs of Brisbane city. It is 25 minutes drive from city centre. The Opening was attended by dignitaries, artists, art lovers and ex Papua New Guinea residents living in Queensland. 

Apart from the gallery function, Ms Leahy will also hold art workshops in CLAS – (Creative Learning Art Space), another business arm of the gallery and run artist-in-residency programmes.