The Queensland Floods and Its Effect on the Arts

Suncorp Stadium DelugeThursday, 13 January 2011

The Queensland Floods and Its Effect on the Arts

I’ve been to Brisbane a number of times, and I am certain just like everyone else, I watched in disbelief as familiar sites and spaces were being inundated with water.

The up-to-date broadcasts informed the country and the world about the human drama and devastation brought on by this tragic deluge, and the image of the flooded Suncorp Stadium became a silent symbol of the submerged metropolis.

I could not believe my eyes as the camera on a helicopter panned over East Brisbane’s arts precinct and clearly showed the Queensland Art Gallery and the neighbouring Gallery of Modern Art surrounded by water. It made me suddenly realise that very little has been said or reported on how the floods have affected the arts. There was an ABC report about the Queensland Art Gallery moving artworks to the upper floors; and some Brisbane-based commercial galleries reassured their artists that all artworks in their care were taken to storages at higher grounds.

Outside East Brisbane's Arts PrecinctTV footage provided the first-hand evidence that QAG and GoMA’s ground floors and any subterranean spaces were most likely flooded. However, there were no reports to date how the floods affected regional art centres of Rockhampton, Toowoomba, Ipswich, and other flood-affected areas.

One suspects it will be a long while before the true effect of the Queensland and Northern New South Wales floods on the arts are calculated. It is not only buildings and collections of public and commercial galleries that would be included in these grim calculations, but presumably also private collections that may have been lost or damaged as the result of the deluge; public sculpture and other public works of art; contents of artists’ studios; historical buildings and monuments; libraries and archives.

One could also potentially add such intellectual property that may have been stored on numerous computers perished in floods like digital archives; curatorial and academic research materials; writers and playwright’s drafts and digitised manuscripts, etc.

Although it might be possible to restore some of the artworks and historical buildings affected by the floods; those private and corporate collections that have been adequately insured might even spark a brisk trading on the art market in an attempt to replace destroyed artworks with insurance money. But, inevitably, a number of original, irreplaceable works of art will be lost forever to history and posterity.

[© Eugene Barilo von Reisberg 2011. This article is copyright, but the full or partial use is WELCOME with the full and proper acknowledgement.]


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Eugene Barilo v. Reisberg

January 2011


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