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‘Fairy Tales’ exhibition at GOMA this summer 

‘Fairy Tales’ exhibition at GOMA this summer 


This summer, the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) presents an immersive and heartfelt exhibition honouring timeless folk stories associated with childhood. 

From 2 December until 28 April next year, ‘Fairy Tales’ will be displayed on the entire ground floor of GOMA and feature more than 100 works from contemporary artists, designers and filmmakers. 

Such works encompass the fields of sculpture, installation, painting, photography, filmmaking, animation, video art, augmented reality and many more. 

QAGOMA director Chris Staines says the exhibition aims to hero a beloved genre of  storytelling that is an often unsung and underused communication vessel. 

“‘Fairy Tales’ is an adventure that will delight and remind us how timeworn narratives can be remixed to both surprise and disconcert audiences,” says Staines. 

Queensland’s status as a unique cultural destination 

Minister for the Arts Leeane Enoch predicts ‘Fairy Tales’ will shine as an exhibition that draws in a wide age demographic and solidifies the Queensand government’s commitment to Creative Together – a 10 year roadmap target for the arts, culture and creativity. 

“‘QAGOMA’s exhibitions highlight the power of the arts to bring communities together and reinforces Queensland’s position as a unique cultural tourism destination ahead of the Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games,” says Minister Enoch. 

The exhibition is also set to attract more than 4000 visitors to Queensland and a subsequent $10 million in spending revenue, according to Tourism Minister Stirling Hinchcliffe. 

“The Queensland Government has supported a major exhibition at QAGOMA every year since 2007 which has attracted more than 175,000 visitors to Queensland and generated over $140 million for the local visitor economy,” says Minister Hinchcliffe. 

Enchantment, thresholds and transformation

‘Fairy Tales’ curator Amanda Slack-Smith says the exhibition will examine the themes of enchantment, thresholds and transformation via the iconic archetypes of witches, magical beasts and spirited princesses. 

“The exhibition articulates concerns that have always been inherent in fairy tales, such as power imbalances, injustice, ageing, gender and otherness, and resilience in the face of adversity,” says Slack-Smith. 

‘Into the Woods’

The exhibition’s first chapter, ‘Into the Woods,’ invites patrons to be inspired by Corupira 2023 – a new commission by Brazilian sculptor Henrique Olivier that encloses people in a twisted and winding forest manufactured from tree branches, plywood and salvaged timber. 

First chapter highlights include Gustave Doré’s Little Red Riding Hood 1862, Kiki Smith’s self-portrait Born 2022, Jana Sterbak’s glass coffin Inside 1990, Abdul Abdullah’s photographic series Coming to Terms 2015, and many more. 

‘Through the Looking Glass’

The second chapter – with a title alluding to Lewis Caroll’s Alice in Wonderland series – displays puppets, toys, clocks, mushrooms, flying houses and gardens where mystical creatures roam freely. 

‘Through the Looking Glass’ presents costumes by the Jim Henson Creature Shop for the 2009 film Where the Wild Things Are, glass orbs and a costume donned by David Bowie in the 1986 film Labyrinth, and Enchanted Field 2023, a large-scale installation by Australian artist Patricia Piccinini. 

‘Ever After’

The final chapter in the exhibition encourages patrons to reflect on how love and relationships are represented in fairy tales, particularly the recurring theme of marriage. 

Features include costumes designed by Eiko Ishioka for the 2012 film Mirror Mirror, alongside Henri Matisse’s ballet costume Costume for a mourner and Del Kathryn Barton and Brendan Fletcher’s animation The Nightingale and the Rose 2015.

Featured Image: Henrique Oliveira / Brazil b.1973 / Baitogogo 2013 / Palais de Tokyo, Paris / Plywood and tree branches / 6740 x 1179 x 2076cm / Courtesy SAM Art Projects, Galerie GP&N Vallois, Galeria Millan / © Henrique Oliveira / Photography by André Morin.

Read about how Brisbane is preparing for the Olympic Games from an urban design perspective. 


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