QCP : HARD TIMES
A warehouse in Bulimba … nine years ago, The Queensland Centre for Photography opened in modest circumstances. With a team of dedicated artists at the helm, however, the QCP dream was far from modest. In Oxford Street near the Bulimba Ferry stop on Saturday afternoons many great exhibitions opened that, it could easily be argued, put Queensland on the international map of innovative photographic practice. There are fond memories of these openings as with many a successful arts operation its not simply about the art – its about people. Maurice Ortega and Camilla Birkeland worked their fingers to the bone (getting by with a little help from their friends) mounting exhibitions, publishing artists monographs, entertaining visitors from all over the world, providing educational services, building a collection and promoting the work of Queensland artists to the world. All this on the smell of an oily rag and yet there was much more to come. In 2009 as QCP looked to the Southbank Precinct for a sophisticated gallery space that would continue to develop the creative community that gathered strength as each year passed. A responsible, stable, hard working board of artists managed something unheard of – to create a successful working ARI that has the appearance and reputation of a major international museum.
Eventually … Arts Queensland acknowledged QCP’s efforts with a modest investment on a very safe bet. QCP has been a vital cog in the wheel of what was once an exciting art scene in Brisbane, a scene that punched far beyond its weight and was the envy of other Australian cities. For a while there, Brisbane was the place to be. The fast becoming notorious government of Campbell Newman, however, seems hell bent on the creation of a cultural wasteland in Queensland and the removal of funding from vital organisations like QCP is another great leap backward. As the visionary work of Arts Ministers from both sides of politics, Wayne Goss, Joan Sheldon, Matt Foley and Anna Bligh unravels, Queensland becomes ever poorer. No nation, no state (even Queensland … ) can afford to recklessly squander its talent and the price will be high indeed.
The key national role the QCP plays in photo media as the largest provider of exhibition opportunities in the country, the publications, international engagements, the collection and the Festival of photography have placed photo-media in a state of crises. The loss of photo freo this year and now this, is a compounding blow. QCP is currently weighing up its options … looking at the possibilities for continuing its work with new strategic partners but make no mistake: nine years of hard times just got a hell of a lot harder. Director Maurice Oretga said that QCP will be making an announcement to keep the industry informed later in the week.
Over the years the Social pages has covered a number of exhibitions at QCP and here are a few favourite images that capture a tiny fraction of the great times and excellent work. David Broker