The History of Royal Queensland Art Society, Brisbane Branch Inc.

The Royal Queensland Art Society Inc is a not for profit organisation formally established in 1887,  becoming an incorporated organisation in 2009 and the umbrella organisation for each of the 3 current branches, Brisbane, Gold Coast and Rockhampton.

The RQAS Brisbane Branch, from its modernised and functional new premises on Petrie Terrace, continues to achieve the original objectives of the Art Society to encourage and promote the cultivation and appreciation of the fine arts of painting, sculpture, architecture and the artistic crafts.

The RQAS has extended those objectives to be a broad church for all forms of art, hold exhibitions displaying a wide variety of styles, themes and media , provide networking opportunities and education for artists, support emerging artists, and encourage the appreciation of art.

The RQAS has a long, proud, though at times difficult, history. It was born from the wish of a group of like-minded people to share their love and interest in art and to establish a Queensland National Art Gallery (QNAG).  Informal meetings in 1884 and 1885 brought together the group ultimately responsible for establishing the Queensland Art Society in 1887. This organisation was the forebear of the Royal Queensland Art Society Brisbane Branch.

Over the next 35 years, the Society had a number of homes until it achieved its goal of a purpose-built gallery in Harris Court, George Street. In 1926, It was also successful in receiving royal patronage and thus adding ‘Royal’ to its name to become the Royal Queensland Art Society as it is known today. The Society moved premises several times until a site on the corner of Edward Street and Astor Terrace was purchased in 1950, and the Society opened a gallery on the site in 1971.

By 2009 the Brisbane Branch of the Society was feeling the need for new space, new members and new life. In 2011 it sold the Astor Terrace property and secured its current premises on Petrie Terrace, with facilities to house their library, a kitchen, studio for workshops and multiple gallery spaces.

In its chequered history, the RQAS has played an undeniably important role in the establishment of what is now the Queensland Art Gallery and in the recognition of renowned Queensland artists. Many renowned Queensland artists have been prominent members of the Society such as  Isaac Walter Jenner, Godfrey Rivers, Vida Lahey, Daphne Mayo, Gwendolyn and William Grant, Dorothy Coleman, Irene Amos, Win Robbins and Frank de Silva. Since the move to Petrie Terrace, the Society has undergone renewed growth, attracting many younger members including graduates of the Julian Ashton School of Arts, two of whom are recipients of the prestigious Alice Bale Art Award. The RQAS gallery spaces are well used by the local arts community with high-quality exhibitions being held on a regular basis. With its excellent gallery space, central location, and innovative initiatives, the RQAS will continue to be an important resource for local artists into the future.

Historical references from Thorns & Petals, 100 years of the Queensland Art Society (1988), by Keith Bradbury & Glenn R. Cooke.

For further information and images please visit the following link to ‘Fine Art Exhibitions in Brisbane 1884-1916’ by Julie K Brown and Margaret Maynard.

Our mission is to build upon the RQAS’s 130 year legacy of supporting local artists and the community, becoming the gallery of choice for the next 100 years.

Our Vision is to grow, strengthen and promote the fine arts within our community and provide opportunities for local visual artists to exhibit, learn and network in a professional environment which is inclusive, diverse and supportive; providing the community with a vibrant creative space.

Find out more about becoming a Member of RQAS Brisbane Branch