Of course, Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art has more on show than just the Ron Mueck spectacular. Before we went into the Mueck exhibition, we were given a tour of the gallery’s exhibits by a volunteer named Leanne.

The gallery volunteers undergo weekly training for a year before they can show visitors around. Afterwards, they sit through monthly lectures as well as special talks so they are fully informed about all the exhibits. I was impressed by the passion and knowledge of our volunteer. If you’re interested in having a guided tour, just turn up at the gallery at the appointed time.

One of the aspects of GoMA’s displays that I really appreciated was that the curators provided a written explanation of each artwork “for kids” alongside the title and media details. These little paragraphs meant that I could understand the perspective the artist was coming from and what they were trying to express in their sometimes-bizarre pieces.

At the moment, GoMA has devoted the large ground-floor exhibit halls to Unnerved: The New Zealand Project. This collection “explores a particularly rich dark vein in New Zealand contemporary art and cinema.”

Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane, May 2010
In the giant hallways between the exhibit halls, two enormous rabbits speak of the introduced pest to New Zealand — the rabbit, and also perhaps white colonialists. Normally considered harmless, cute creatures, these representations are blown out of proportion to demonstrate the devastative effects they have had on the nation.

Delaney, 5 months old, + Lauren, May 2010
Delaney, now five months old, was in the sling the whole time.

Many of the other exhibits in the New Zealand exhibition were media-rich — videos, sounds, slideshows. There was a strange video where a man held his breath as long as match burned, then exhaled and inhaled loudly as another was struck. We also saw some exerpts of the Kiwi comedy Flight of the Conchords.

Most of the other exhibits featured Maori artwork, subjects and culture — but in a disturbing, dark way. I came away wondering if New Zealand is such a great place to aspire to move to — I was unnerved — which is probably the whole point of the exhibit!

Outside the Mueck hall, Fiona Hall’s beaten aluminium artwork spelled out a good example of circular reasoning:

The route you take lies parallel to the words along these walls you slide along in search of that which might be said each step assured or bored or trembling to discover finally only that one foot has followed the other.

Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane, May 2010
The letters in the frieze were cut from soft drink cans and cleverly featured naked people in each shape.

Calista, 2yo, + David, May 2010
After two hours in the gallery, Calista started to get bored. By putting her on his shoulders, David gave her a new perspective and prolonged her attention span.

Tucked away in one corner of the gallery was a collection of 40 works by visual-arts high-school students across Queensland. These young artists were given Creative Generation Excellence Awards to recognise their outstanding achievement. I liked browsing through the eclectic mix of artworks, wondering if I was looking at the creations of someone who will one day be as well-known as Ron Mueck.

One of the artist that caught my eye was Carmen Holmes of Toowoomba. She called her photography collection “Silhouettes 2009”.

Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane, May 2010
I really liked this series of pictures. The artist had combined the plastic limbs of toy dolls with everyday packaging containers and then placed them as pedestrians in street scenes.

Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane, May 2010
I found the pictures intriguing and attractive in a strange sense.

Steampunk is the combination of olde-worlde fantasy, romantic features and technology — often mixing brass elements and old-fashioned gauges with the latest technology. For fine examples of steampunk projects, look at The Steampunk Workshop and click through the projects on the right-hand column. This clever mix of old and new was on display at GoMA as part of the students’ exhibit.

Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane, May 2010
Dylan Janssen titled his guitar "The Janssen portable steam-powered rhythmitical audio developing machine".

Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane, May 2010
Rachel Choi's work "Of cloudy climes and starless skies" captured my imagination, giving me pause to consider all the possible meanings of her creation. The integration of the feathers on the umbrella, the saturated colours of the photographs, and the whole idea is very clever.

Our visit to GoMA lasted about two and a half hours, so we didn’t actually get to the Queensland Art Gallery across the way. And the kids had seen enough by then, so we took them for a play!