James Morrison

Re-imagining Papua New Guinea

15 Apr –
19 Jun 2016

This is the first exhibition to bring together a collection of the artist's imaginary landscapes relating to Far North Queensland and Papua New Guinea.

In writing about the exhibition Julia Powles has described his paintings and drawings as showing us “the world constructed as a sequence of impossible histories, one in which fragmentary moments from time coincide in fictionalised landscapes, the like of which can only exist in art.

For Morrison history occurs as a series of overlapping events and time is nonlinear. The assemblage of reference materials collected through Morrison’s own idiosyncratic interests allows for the convergence of different pasts and even possible futures in a single landscape.

The various geographic locations in which Morrison spent his childhood and adolescence, especially the Sepik River region of Papua New Guinea are an enduring location for Morrison, who often uses these sites as the ‘stage’ or setting for his narratives. In such locations we can find figures, significant to Morrison, such as the authors Patrick White and Ray Bradbury and the historical figure Bundaree, famous as the ‘first Australian’ an Aboriginal of the Broken Bay clan in NSW who accompanied Matthew Flinders on an early circumnavigation of Australia. Such figures in Morrison’s work are present as a respectful personal ‘homage’, and as ciphers for decoding a range of possible narrative interpretations”.


The Cairns Art Gallery acknowledges the Gimuy Walubarra Yidinji and Yirrganydji as the Traditional Owners of the area today known as Cairns. We pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this website may contain images, names or voices of deceased persons in photographs, film or text.