Queensland travel poster from the exhibition
Queensland travel poster from the exhibition
22 April 2009

What do tea towels, frosted glasses and travel posters have in common?

They have all been used to advertise Queensland over the years, as visitors will discover at a new UQ Art Museum exhibition opening this Friday, April 25.

In 2009, many exhibitions and books are celebrating the 150 years since the British Parliament allowed Queensland to separate from New South Wales.

"What sets Triumph in the Tropics: Selling Queensland apart is that it takes a critical, if not irreverent look at how Queensland has sold itself to the rest of Australia and the world," museum director Nick Mitzevich said.

"Curators Professor Peter Spearritt and Dr Marion Stell, both of The University of Queensland, have combed through the collection of our exhibition partner – the State Library of Queensland – and those of the Fryer Library, the State Library of Victoria and private collections, to bring to light an extraordinary range of materials."

Mr Mitzevich said the exhibition drew much of its imagery from the work of graphic designers and photographers in the form of book and magazine covers, advertising images, travel posters and posters with political bite.

"Queensland has a long history of selling itself to investors, migrants, tourists and even its own citizens,"
Professor Spearritt said.

"Sometimes citizens have been concerned that Queensland was being oversold, as in the slogan 'See Queensland before Joh sells it'."

"For much of the past 120 years, Queensland focused on attracting overseas migrants, but most of its population growth has come from interstate migration, especially from Victoria and New South Wales."

In the early 20th century, the magazine Australia To-Day proclaimed Queensland as "the Land of Golden Promise" that offered "Prosperity, Happiness, Longevity" for the "Homemaker, the Investor and the Tourist".

Dr Stell said many extravagant claims were made at the time which wouldn't stand up to scrutiny today.

In the 1930s the Queensland Intelligence and Tourist Bureau commissioned a range of posters by Eileen Mayo, Percy Trompf and James Northfield to attract holiday makers from the south to the paradise in the north, their posters paying homage to the colours of the Great Barrier Reef and the beauty of its tropical islands.

The exhibition highlights how wholesome images gave way to the Gold Coast images of the 1960s featuring women in bikinis, bronzed sunbathers, surf beaches and glamorous apartment blocks.

Triumph in the Tropics: Selling Queensland is open to the public from April 25 to 12 July 2009. A free illustrated room brochure will accompany the exhibition.

The UQ Art Museum is open from 10.00am to 4.00pm daily, with parking free on weekends.

The exhibition is presented in partnership with the State Library of Queensland and UQ�s Centre for the Government of Queensland.

Media: Nick Mitzevich (0434 361 383, 07 3365 3046, n.mitzevich@uq.edu.au), Professor Spearritt (0421 055 292, p.spearritt@uq.edu.au) or Cameron Pegg at UQ Communications (07 3365 2049, c.pegg@uq.edu.au)

** High resolution images to accompany this release can be downloaded here