Australian politics, society & culture

Architecture Masterpiece

Lindsay & Kerry Clare - 'Gallery of Modern Art', Queensland, 2006

© Chris Harvey
© Chris Harvey

Haig Beck

Short read200 words
Cover: October 2011
October 2011
A Dining Experience at Hobart’s Garagistes
Robyn Davidson
Sarah Blasko - 'As Day Follows Night', 2009
Robert Forster
Amelia Lester
Christine Kenneally
The Rush to Diagnose ADHD
Gail Bell
James Ledger - 'Chronicles', 2009
Andrew Ford
A Guide to the Murray Darling Basin
Kate Jennings
Ten Part Invention - 'Unidentified Spaces', 2001
John Clare
A Correspondence with Clive James
Paola Totaro
Romance Was Born - ‘The Oracle’, 2011
Clare Press
Neil Armfield - 'Peter Grimes', 2009
Peter McCallum
Julia Gillard, Foreign Policy and the Summit Season
Hugh White

Nowadays ‘masterpiece’ refers to a work of extraordinary artistic merit. But it once described a work by a craftsman made specifically to demonstrate mastery of (his) craft and so gain entry to a guild. This older meaning is appropriate to architecture, a practice lodged somewhere between fine arts and craft. The Gold Medal of the Australian Institute of Architects is a contemporary measure of mastery.

Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art, designed by 2010 Gold Medallists Lindsay and Kerry Clare (with James Jones), is a building readily available to the public. With its large overhanging roof, open verandahs and timber-batten screening, GoMA conveys a typical, familiar and regional expression of subtropical informality at a civic scale. It is a friendly, welcoming building, unexpectedly filled with natural light and with tactile surfaces that successfully deflate conventional expectations of the art gallery as an imposing institution. Here, grandeur and hauteur are exchanged for ideas of accessibility and the ordinary, refined and made beautiful and extraordinary.

—Haig Beck and Jackie Cooper