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'Bitterly disappointed': Hinchliffe frustrated by council's rejection of indigenous art offer

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Former deputy mayor and local artist David Hinchliffe says he is mystified by Brisbane City Council’s refusal of his offer to lend much of his $1.5 million indigenous art collection for show at a council-run gallery.

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Hinchliffe said he made the offer to Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner after hearing the council was considering turning the Victoria Park golf course buildings into a gallery for indigenous art.

However, he said the offer was rejected, a move he described as a “bitter disappointment”.

Since he started buying indigenous artworks produced in central and western Australia using the proceeds from selling his own art three years ago, Hinchliffe has built a formidable collection of up to 700 pieces.

Many of the works are spread throughout Queensland universities, the Queensland Performing Arts Centre and other public institutions on a long-term local arrangement.

They include works by the likes of Emily Kngwarreye and Sally Gabori, whose paintings are considered some of the most masterful works of indigenous art in the world.

However, Hinchliffe said the council knocked back his offer to loan up to 150 works from the collection. It gave no reason, he said.

“I was bitterly disappointed at the time but didn’t do anything about except gnash my teeth,” he said.

However, this week he took to Facebook to express his frustration, posting images of several of the works with the comment: “Can anyone please explain why Brisbane City Council would knock back these remarkable large aboriginal paintings? I offered my old workplace as many paintings from my collection as they could find room for on indefinite free loan.”

“I just want people to see how extraordinary Australian Aboriginal art can be.”

“When I sell my own paintings, I buy indigenous art and lend it (probably for my lifetime) for free to public places where people can see it, appreciate it…and love it.”

“I had no idea a simple idea like that would be so hard.”

He said he suspected it might be because comparatively few of the works are from local artists.

“But that is like saying we should get rid of Dickens and Shakespeare from all Brisbane libraries and only stock local authors,” he said.

The Lord Mayor has previously said that the council’s redevelopment of Victoria Park golf course would respect the history of Brisbane’s First Nations people.

The council described Hinchliffe’s offer as generous but insisted that when he made it the council’s Victoria Park vision was in the initial planning stage and the Museum of Brisbane had a 24-month program scheduled which did not have capacity to include a significant display of indigenous art.

“Victoria Park has a rich indigenous history and this is going to be a big part of the new Victoria Park. We will ensure that Indigenous history is acknowledged, recognised and celebrated,” a spokeswoman for Schrinner said.

“Through the master planning process, discussions and consultation will be held with local Aboriginal groups and Traditional Custodians to identify the most appropriate cultural and heritage elements for the park, including the proposed cultural hub and visitor centre.”

 

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