"Face (with yellow background)" c.1947 by Joy Hester
"Face (with yellow background)" c.1947 by Joy Hester
3 August 2011

An intriguing National Portrait Gallery travelling exhibition will provide a window into the subconscious when it opens at UQ next week.

"Inner Worlds: Portraits & Psychology is the first exhibition to look closely at the links between psychology and portraiture in Australian art, focusing particularly on art from the 1940s to the 1990s," Director of the UQ Art Museum Dr Campbell Gray said.

"The exhibition also shines a light on the valuable work of leading figures associated with psychological research and psychoanalysis in Australia.

"The result is a fascinating exploration of social history, biography and visual art."

National Portrait Gallery Senior Curator Dr Christopher Chapman said Inner Worlds brought together portraits and depictions of faces and figures created in the 1940s by prominent artists Albert Tucker, Sidney Nolan and Joy Hester that reflect psychological trauma - an interest they shared with psychologist Reginald Spencer Ellery.

"The exhibition highlights the achievements of the pioneers of psychology in Australia, and examines the influence of psychology on the work of artists whose experiments with portraiture are strongly informed by their interest in the subconscious mind and intense mental states," Dr Chapman said.

Experimental self-portraits and figure studies by Dale Frank and Mike Parr from the 1980s and 1990s explore highly intense mental states, while a recently commissioned work by Nick Mourtzakis depicts the Australian philosopher of consciousness, David Chalmers.

Portraits of the pioneering men and women of psychology in Australia are on display, as are works created by mental health patients in the 1950s and 1960s that reveal unique experiences of the mind, collected by Dr Eric Cunningham Dax.

A major publication accompanies the exhibition with essays by scholars reflecting on the history of psychology and trauma in Australia, the influence of psychology on artists and art, and the state of psychology in contemporary Australian culture.

The public are invited to a free lecture at 12pm on Saturday, August 13 to hear UQ psychoanalysis and philosophy experts Dr Tony Thwaites and Dr Marguerite La Caze in conversation with the curator, preceded by a guided tour by the curator at 11am.

Inner Worlds continues at the UQ Art Museum until October 23, before travelling to the Ian Potter Museum of Art at the University of Melbourne in April next year.

Media: Michele Helmrich at the UQ Art Museum (07 3346 8759, m.helmrich@uq.edu.au) or Cameron Pegg at UQ Communications (07 3365 2049, c.pegg@uq.edu.au)

Public Programs

Saturday 13 August

11.00 am: Join exhibition curator Dr Christopher Chapman on a guided tour of the exhibition.

12.00 pm: Dr Tony Thwaites (English, Media Studies & Art History, UQ), Dr Marguerite La Caze (History, Philosophy, Religion & Classics, UQ) and Dr Christopher Chapman (Senior Curator, National Portrait Gallery) explore the intersection between portrait making, creativity and psychology in the exhibition. Refreshments will be served.