Art tells Islander history
FRASER Coast artist Kelli McGregor has used a poignant chapter in Queensland's cane history to create her new exhibition, titled Brown Sugar.
The gifted artist's works will be unveiled at Brisbane's White Canvas Gallery on Friday.
Taking up an artist's residency in Palmwoods in 2009, Kelli decided the coast environment was her inspiration, the place she needed to be and she moved on to Eumundi, then Maryborough.
Living and painting on location, Kelli found herself immersed in the towering cane farms of rural communities with intriguing, confronting pasts steeped in their history.
Her series of paintings tell the story of young Pacific Islanders who were forced into coming to Queensland to labour on cane farms.
"They were paid a pittance and were mostly treated as little more than slaves," Ms McGregor said.
"During the developmental stages of this project, I tried many techniques and colours, seeking materials and textures that might express my emotional response to the research I was gathering."
The cane itself was also an inspiration.
"Sugar cane itself has a strong and interesting profile that creates amazing patterns when the sunlight penetrates into the foliage," Ms McGregor said.
"Many hours sketching and photographing the cane at different times during the growing season and at varying times during the day inspired the third part of the series."
McGregor has produced other contemporary works, beyond the series, which will also be on show at the exhibition.