In 1988, Pamela Crawford (née Seeman) presented The University of Queensland with a generous donation of artworks from the Miya Studio.
Miya Studio formed in 1945 as a breakaway group from the Royal Queensland Art Society’s Younger Artists’ Group (YAG), with foundation members including Laurence Collinson, Pamela Seeman, Laurence Hope and Cecel Knopke. Works by these artists and others such as Ray Glass II, Joy and Ken Roggenkamp, Frederick Jefferry, Shirley Keene, Louis James, Donald Savage, and Lola and William Sewell, are held in this Collection. The Art Museum also holds copies of Miya Studio exhibition catalogues and Barjai magazine.
Miya Studio existed as a group of artists from late 1945 until 1949, when it became the Artists’ Group of the New Theatre Club. The Studio artists were closely linked to the Brisbane-based Barjai (1943–1947), a magazine of literature and art aimed at a youth audience. Both ‘Miya’ and ‘Barjai were Aboriginal words, ‘Miya’ meaning ‘today’ and ‘Barjai’ meaning ‘meeting place’.
Providing ‘co-operative’ studio space for artists, Miya Studio organised five annual art exhibitions (1945–1949) as well as public lectures and other events. Their defiant stance was first noted in Collinson’s Foreword for the 1945 YAG exhibition, when he stated that ‘Queensland art today is practically sterile’.
A small painting by Sidney Nolan is included in the Collection, dating from the time of Nolan’s visit to Queensland in 1947, when he is known to have used the Miya Studio premises, and to have associated with Barjai editor Barrett Reid and artist Laurence Hope.
In 1988, the University Art Museum (now UQ Art Museum) presented the exhibition Young Turks and Battlelines: Barjai and Miya Studio (curated by Michele Helmrich), the first exhibition to explore this aspect of Brisbane’s cultural history.
Pamela Crawford was Secretary for Miya Studio and kept detailed records of its activities. The papers of Jim and Pamela Crawford are held in the Fryer Library, The University of Queensland. Fryer Library also holds copies of Barjai magazine.
- View The Miya Studio archive on the UQ Art Collection Online here