On fire
  • Judy Watson, 'spot fires, our country is burning now' (detail), 2020, acrylic, pastel, graphite on canvas, 194 x 181 cm, Courtesy of the artist and Milani Gallery, Brisbane.

  • Jemima Wyman, 'Plume...', hand-cut digital photographs, 106.5 x 66cm (unframed). Courtesy the artist, Sullivan + Strumpf, Sydney, and Milani Gallery, Brisbane.


On fire



On fire examines contemporary Queensland art in an era of dramatic environmental crisis. Famed for its humid, subtropical, even paradisiacal weather, QLD’s identity and culture is frequently foregrounded by its relationship to its climate –particularly reflected in its architectural responses to its sweat-inducing conditions. Challenging notions of this context as benign, temperate, and languid, On fire brings together newly commissioned and recent works from emerging, mid-career and established QLD artists looking critically and urgently at our claim to a livable, sustainable, and creative environmental future.

QLD’s unique environment is home to the Great Barrier Reef, one of the seven natural wonders of the world, as well as the oldest rainforests on Earth. On fire examines our natural world in the context of recent disasters: specifically Australia’s 2019–20 ‘Black Summer’, which was preluded by unprecedented fires within the state’s previously ‘safe’ wet rainforests in the Lamington and Japoon National Parks. As global warming accelerates both broader habitat change and increasingly dramatic weather patterns, this project reflects on historical and ongoing impacts including colonisation, resource extraction, and deprioritisation of Indigenous knowledge. Framed by recent discourses of the anthropocene or capitalocene, On fire speculates on the role of contemporary art in the face of dramatic global warming and considers the capacity of visual culture to support and embolden responses to these significant threats.

Curated By
  • Tim Riley Walsh
Curator Bio

Tim Riley Walsh is a curator, writer, Australia Desk Editor for ArtAsiaPacific, Hong Kong, and a Post-Thesis Fellow within the School of Communication and Arts, University of Queensland. Tim is the Co-Editor of Gordon Bennett: Selected Writings (forthcoming, Power Publications, Sydney, and Griffith University Art Museum, Brisbane) and has written widely for ArtAsiaPacific, Frieze, Art Monthly Australasia, Art + Australia, Eyeline, Apollo, Runway, and Artlink. Tim has previously worked in gallery management, communications, and programming roles at Milani Gallery, Brisbane; Camden Arts Centre, London; and the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane. In 2018, Tim curated the group exhibition Future Proof at Boxcopy, Brisbane.

We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands where the IMA now stands. We pay our respect to Elders past, present, and emerging.