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Colour and Modernism by Vida Lahey at the Queensland Art Gallery in Brisbane
Vida Lahey, Beach umbrellas 1933. Oil on canvas, 22 x 35cm. Gift of Ann Gruen in memory of her mother, Margaret Darvall 1970. Collection: Queensland Art Gallery.

BRISBANE.- Vibrant floral watercolours and depictions of Brisbane in the first half of the 20th Century are the focus of an exhibition of work by Vida Lahey (1882-1968) showing at the The Queensland Art Gallery from October 16 to February 13, 2011.

Queensland Art Gallery Director Tony Ellwood said ‘Vida Lahey: Colour and Modernism’ featured 44 works painted between 1912 to 1965 by one of Queensland’s best loved artists.

‘Lahey made a major contribution to art in Australia with her deft handling of brilliant colour, particularly in her watercolours of floral still lifes,’ he said.

‘Her early affinity with colour was first inspired by European Impressionism, before the vital hues of Post-Impressionism began to influence her work.

‘Her use of radiant colour was considered exceptional and her paintings were exhibited widely throughout Australia from the 1920s to wide acclaim from critics and contemporaries such as Arthur Streeton.

‘Lahey produced numerous cityscapes of burgeoning Brisbane, including images of the construction of the Grey Street Bridge and Brisbane City Hall.’

Mr Ellwood said that in addition to a selection of landscapes and portraits, paintings featuring the high-rise buildings and intense construction activity of the time comprised a focus of the display, throwing a fascinating light on the evolution of Brisbane’s skyline.

‘Works include Art and Nature 1934, which references the era’s debate about traditional and modern art in Brisbane. It depicts a bas-relief by famous Queensland sculptor Daphne Mayo and a book inscribed with the name Matisse, flanked by a jug of bright orange Mexican sunflowers.’

‘Lahey was also a progressive and passionate advocate for art education, teaching classes at the Queensland Art Gallery and insisting that art education was an essential aspect of a child’s upbringing,’ Mr Ellwood said.

The exhibition, drawn from the Gallery's holdings of work by Vida Lahey and supplemented by works on loan from local public and private collections, will show in the Xstrata Coal Queensland Artists’ Gallery.

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