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Arts and culture in Brisbane

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The culture of Brisbane derives from mainstream Australian culture and incorporates a strong history in the performing arts, music and sport.

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  • Brisbane City Hall Art & Architecture Tour
  • Visual Arts and Photography - TAFE Brisbane
  • Art Classes in Brisbane's Atelier


(Former Lord Mayor Campbell Newman): Welcome to Brisbane and welcome to City Hall. Officially opened in 1930, City Hall is the people's place, hosting free concerts, civic events, morning teas and citizenship ceremonies. It's heritage listed and known as one the grandest city halls in Australia. But after many decades, structural and heritage work is now required. From 2010, it will close for up to 3 years. When it reopens, City Hall will be more user-friendly and environmentally sustainable. Brisbane will be able to enjoy it for many more generations. I look forward to welcoming you back to City Hall soon. [Music] (Lyris): Hello. My name is Lyris and I'm a City Hall tour guide with a real passion for art and architecture. It's with great pleasure that I'm taking you on this tour. [French accordion music] Brisbane City Hall was officially opened on the 8th of April, 1930. At the time, the building was recognised as one of the country's most outstanding structures, ranking 2nd only to the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Today, it is the largest city hall in Australia and has more than 200 rooms. It occupies almost 2 acres or 0.9 of a hectare of land and is bounded by Ann and Adelaide Streets and fronted by King George Square. The site was originally a swampy water hole. This made construction quite difficult. Excavations to a depth of 16.2 metres were required on the Adelaide Street side of the site to reach solid bedrock. [French accordion music] The building's exterior cladding was constructed of sandstone from the Helidon district near Ipswich. Queensland maple and silky oak timbers were used extensively inside. Four types of marble were used in the interior finishing. The white marble came from Italy, the black from Belgium, the pink from Chillagoe in Queensland, and the brown from Orange in New South Wales. It took 10 years to construct Brisbane City Hall from 1920 to 1930, and by the time of completion it had cost almost 1 million pounds. Local architectural firm Hall & Prentice were commissioned to plan and oversee City Hall's construction. They looked for inspiration around the world. As we move through City Hall, you'll see that the architectural style is Inter-War Academic Classical, and there are strong Greek and Roman influences. Large-scale fluted columns on either side of the main entrance are of the Ionic order. The main entrance is clearly defined by a grand, monumental portico with fluted columns of the Corinthian order. The carved sandstone pediment is the building's most prominent artwork. Measuring 16.5 metres by 2.7 metres, it took Daphne Mayo and several assistants 14 months to sculpt on site from a 1 third plaster model. The title of this work is 'The Progress of Civilisation'. The central figure in the Classical design is robed to represent the state, while figures to the right portray explorers, industry and the arts. Pioneers, Aboriginal figures and native animals are depicted on the left side in a skillful adaptation of the pediment groupings of ancient Greek buildings. All of the figures are life size. Let's look more closely now at the Clock Tower. [Bells ringing] It is 92 metres high, with the observation platform at 76 metres. For many years, the Clock Tower was the tallest structure in Brisbane. The clock itself has a dial on the 4 tower sides. Each clock face is almost 5 metres in diameter. The minute hands are 3 metres long. [Lift noise] This beautifully restored lift, complete with manual controls and open cage sides, passes the inside of the clock faces as it travels through the Tower. The main foyer opens onto King George Square and it's the most opulent of all City Hall foyers, both in terms of size and finish. It includes sweeping, symmetrical staircases, marble panelling, and chandeliers. The space extends vertically between ground and first floor levels, creating a large void. The Palladian influence is evident in the large arcading, vaulting, balustrading, and ceiling covers. Australian marble is used to form a panel beneath the painted wall finish. Mosaic tiles with a central, geometric patterning and external borders adorn the floor. The border pattern is called a meander, which means 'to wander'. The name was derived from the Meander River of Grecian times. The black and white colours were often used for floor mosaics in the formal buildings of Ancient Greece and Rome. The staircase is crafted from white marble from the same quarry in Carrara, in Italy, where Michelangelo obtained his marble for his statues. [French accordion music] Welcome to the Main Auditorium. It's also known as the Grand Ballroom. This is the largest, single volume space in Brisbane City Hall. Its circular design with fluted pilasters around the perimeter is based on the Pantheon of Rome. The Main Auditorium contains a timber ground floor, stepped upper gallery, large stage with pipe organ, and a shallow, superimposed, coffered ceiling dome, which is now covered with acoustic foam. The large light sitting centrally above the Auditorium is known as the Lantern. It was designed to admit natural light and act as a ventilator to the Auditorium below. [Pipe organ music] The pipe organ stands in a semi-elliptical domed recess of its own. At the rear of the stage are the choir stalls. This organ is considered to be one of the finest examples of its type in the world, largely due to the fact that Sir Henry Willis, a famous English organ builder, built it in 1892. It has 183 stops or registers and 4 747 pipes. The casing, which surrounds the organ, was crafted locally from Queensland maple timber, and even though the organ has significant heritage value, it is still used regularly today. The proscenium frieze above the stage in the Main Auditorium was executed in painted plaster by Daphne Mayo. It consists of 6 medallions, each containing a portrayal of a classical nymph clashing cymbals or blowing a trumpet. This versatile room seats around 1 500 people and is used for many different functions, including citizenship ceremonies, civic ceremonies, trade fairs, concerts, conferences, school formals, eisteddfods and many other community events. Within one month of its official opening, there were complaints about the poor acoustics in the Auditorium. The formal aesthetics of this space were always intended to take precedence over its acoustic quality. However, some steps have been taken to overcome this problem, including spraying the dome ceiling with acoustic foam and adding acoustic panels to the walls. [Organ music] Now I'm in the Balmoral Room. This very elegant room was restored to heritage colours by Lord Mayor Sallyanne Atkinson during the 1980s. The ornate plasterwork and gilding is typical of the Adam style. Like the Main Auditorium, the Balmoral Room has hosted many grand events and visits by VIPs, including Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of the former US president, the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet, and Bishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh have visited here on 6 occasions. A visit to City Hall would not be complete without a visit to the Council Chambers. As you approach, you'll notice some interesting features; for example, this floor that has been crafted from Western Australian Jarrah, one of the hardest woods in the world. There are 3 stained glass windows like this on the first floor. These were designed by William Bustard, a Yorkshire man who trained as an artist in England at Powell Studios. These windows feature the city's original coat of arms and motto. The base portrays the pastoral, agricultural and industrial aspects of Brisbane, and the border features the city's floral emblem, the poinsettia. Let's move on now and go into the Council Chambers. [Piano music and Council discussing matters] The Council Chambers with its anteroom and public gallery is a grand civic space that has remained virtually unchanged since its completion. Its outstanding feature, the bronze and steel coffered ceiling is in an original condition. The clear finish timber benches and seating have been modified slightly to accommodate additional councillors. However, the modifications were carried out by master craftsmen, ensuring the additions were not obvious. The artworks in the Council Chambers are all painted by Queensland artists and are often replaced by works from City Hall's own collection. From its original inception in the 1880s, Brisbane City Hall has been much more than the seat of local government in Brisbane. It is a fine example of a neoclassical building. This heritage listed structure contains many notable technical achievements, ranging from the span of the copper dome roof over the Auditorium, the height of the Clock Tower and the unique foundations that were designed to alleviate the problems of a water hole on the site. Brisbane City Hall is an iconic venue that incorporates the history, art and local government of the city of Brisbane. It has, and will always be, the people's place. We look forward to welcoming you back to Brisbane City Hall after the restoration is complete. [Music]


Queensland Cultural Centre

The Queensland Cultural Centre, located at South Bank, within the suburb of South Brisbane, is the cultural hub of Brisbane. The Queensland Cultural Centre contains the Queensland Museum, the Queensland Art Gallery, the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art, the State Library of Queensland, Queensland Writers Centre, and the Queensland Performing Arts Centre.

Panorama of the Queensland Cultural Centre - with the Queensland Performing Arts Centre (left) and the Queensland Art Gallery (right), and the Cultural Centre Busway Station, located in Melbourne Street between the two buildings
Panorama of the Queensland Cultural Centre - with the Queensland Performing Arts Centre (left) and the Queensland Art Gallery (right), and the Cultural Centre Busway Station, located in Melbourne Street between the two buildings

Visual Arts

In addition to the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art and Queensland Art Gallery, the universities based in Brisbane also contain art galleries. The University of Queensland has a purpose built gallery on its St. Lucia campus. The Queensland College of Art (a part of Griffith University), is based on the former Expo 88 site at South Bank, and the QUT Art Museum (a part of the Queensland University of Technology) is based at the QUT Gardens Point campus. Every year the Rotary Clubs of Stones Corner, Hamilton and Brisbane High-Rise host the Rotary Art Spectacular, one of Queensland’s most prestigious art exhibition. Recently, artist residency spaces House Conspiracy and Outer Space opened in West End.

Brisbane sculptures

City Roo sculpture, George Street, Brisbane
City Roo sculpture, George Street, Brisbane
City Roo sculptures, George Street, Brisbane
City Roo sculptures, George Street, Brisbane

Brisbane has a range of public sculptures ranging from the large impressive statue of Queen Victoria in front of the Old Executive building to a number of others. King George Square in front of the Brisbane City Hall features an impressive statue of King George V and also the Petrie Tableau. There other examples of sculpture featured in Anzac Square. City Roos sculptures made by sculptor Christopher Trotter, during 1999 from scrapmetal from a broad cross-section of industries are not far from the former Law Courts Complex, in George Street.

The Brisbane City council has an online database of public artworks which can be searched for locations, artists and information about individual artworks. The database covers the whole Brisbane Council area.[1]

Performing arts

Performing Arts Education

Queensland University of Technology and the University of Southern Queensland (based in Toowoomba) offer professional acting courses. Some notable professionals who have taught performing arts in Brisbane include Rhoda Felgate, Babette Stephens, Jean Trundell, Joan Whalley, Alan Edwards, Ian Thomson and Harold Collins.


The Queensland Performing Arts Centre is also located at South Bank. It is also part of the Queensland Cultural Centre and contains Brisbane’s main theatres (Lyric Theatre, Concert Hall, Cremorne Theatre, and the Playhouse). The Australian Ballet visits Brisbane every second year and other touring companies also visit Brisbane each year. Large scale visiting musicals make up the majority of offerings at the Lyric Theatre.

The Queensland Conservatorium and Queensland College of Art (both of which are part of Griffith University) were subsequently built within the South Bank Parklands, along with many other buildings, including the Suncorp Piazza.

Other theatres located in Brisbane include the Tribal Theatre, Brisbane Arts Theatre, Twelfth Night Theatre, Roundhouse Theatre, Metro Arts Theatre and the Brisbane Powerhouse. There are also several theatres located at the universities, including the QUT Gardens Theatre & the QUT Creative Industries Precinct (both of which are at the Queensland University of Technology), and Cement Box Theatre & Schonell Theatre (both of which are at the University of Queensland). Newly constructed in an old community building in Spring Hill is the Centre Stage Theatre.

Outdoor venues include the Roma Street Parkland Amphitheatre and Riverstage in the City Botanic Gardens.

Historical Performing Arts Venues

Brisbane has a long history of demolishing performing arts venues and theatres. Festival Hall, a music and entertainment venue was demolished in 2003. Before the Queensland Performing Arts Centre was built, major performing arts theatres included the 2,000 seat Her Majesty's Theatre in Queen Street, which was designed in 1885 by Andreas Stombuco and opened in 1888, was demolished in 1986. It was replaced by the Hilton Hotel without a theatre. Artists such as Laurence Olivier, Vivien Leigh, Robert Helpmann and Dame Nellie Melba performed there. The Suncorp Theatre (originally called the SGIO Theatre), a purpose built drama theatre for the Queensland Theatre Company, was also demolished in 2007. The interior of the 2,000 seat Regent Theatre in Queen Street was demolished and replaced by four multiplex cinemas. After campaigning, led by Veronica Kelly from the University of Queensland English Department (UQ was a major stakeholder as the medical school inherited shares in the building as part of the Mayne estate), the original foyer was retained and remnants from the original 1929 auditorium were used in one of the downstairs multiplex cinemas renamed the "Regent Showcase" cinema. These cinemas have since been demolished in 2012 for a 40 floor high rise office block development. Small, multi purpose conference spaces were proposed for weekend only use as cinemas, however the office tower development has failed and as of 2014, the land still remains vacant.[2]

Performing arts groups

Brisbane has a small number of professional performing arts companies. These include: Queensland Theatre Company, The Queensland Orchestra, Grin and Tonic Theatre Company, Operatif!, LaBoite Theatre Company, Opera Queensland, Queensland Ballet and Expressions Dance Company. The Queensland Pops Orchestra make a positive contribution.

Most cultural organisations in Brisbane run on an amateur or university basis. There are also many community choirs theatres and bands including the Sandgate Theatre Inc, King Street Players, Mousetrap Theatre, Imogen Children's Chorale, Queensland Philharmonic Chorale, the Brisbane Chorale, the Queensland Festival Chorus, Exaudi Australis, the Queensland University Musical Society (QUMS),the Queensland Choir.Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University, Queensland University Musical Society (QUMS), CIP, Queensland Musical Society, Brisbane Philharmonic Orchestra, Queensland Wind and Brass, St Lucia Orchestra, Brisbane Symphonic Band, South East Queensland Symphonic Winds, Brisbane Municipal Concert Band, Brisbane Arts Theatre, Brisbane Apollo Choir, Brisbane Excelsior Brass Band, Queensland Youth Orchestras, Brisbane Regional Youth Orchestra, Queensland Wind Orchestra, Centenary Theatre Group, Villanova Players, Ignatians Musical Society, Queensland Musical Theatre, Savoyards Musical Comedy Society and Springboard Theatre Company. The Brisbane Musical Theatre Competition, which was founded in 1997, showcases and promotes local talent

Legacy of World Expo '88

Brisbane also held World Expo 88 at South Bank, from April to October 1988, on land adjacent to the Queensland Performing Arts Centre. The Expo site was converted into the South Bank Parklands following World Expo 88.

Notable Brisbane people

See also


For the insider's guide to what's on in Brisbane go to

  1. ^ Public Art Database Archived January 4, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ Howson, Spencer (11 May 2009). "Has the state government handed the Regent to a developer?". 612 ABC Brisbane.
This page was last edited on 10 November 2018, at 04:44
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