Dog days for HOTA as it unveils latest exhibition but admits Warhol show delayed

It may have been the hotbed of a cultural resurgence that has transformed the city and its reputation, but the Gold Coast arts scene has now officially gone to the dogs.

Sep 21, 2021, updated Sep 21, 2021
The Lost Dogs Disco work on display at HOTA (Supplied image)

The Lost Dogs Disco work on display at HOTA (Supplied image)

The Gold Coast’s Home of the Arts (HOTA) has unleashed a canine-theme for its spring outdoor program, with larger-than-life artworks, dogs featuring in nightly theatre performances, and audiences even being encouraged to bring their pets to hear live musical vibes on the lawn.

HOTA CEO Criena Gehrke said the new WONDER program, from 29 October to 7 November, was a celebration full of puppy love.

But it comes as the city’s premier arts destination has suffered a string of dog days over its headline art exhibition that was scheduled for November 2021 to February 2022, including a much-anticipated display of Andy Warhols. The exhibition has now been bumped to 2023.

Works by Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Jeff Koons will now make their exclusive Australian appearance at the HOTA Art Gallery’s Contemporary Masters from New York: Art from the Mugrabi Collection exhibition a year later than expected.

The exhibition was able to be confirmed only after HOTA operators had to hold their breath over the past few weeks after City of Gold Coast councillors initially blocked payment of a $1 million cost blowout to ship the art collection.

In a last ditch agreement to ensure the world premiere exhibition of some of the world’s most influential contemporary artists could go ahead at all, the majority of councillors called off the dogs and voted to cover some of the additional freight costs.

But it wasn’t enough to secure the current schedule, and HOTA Chair Professor Ned Pankhurst said a new summer program would be now announced in November.

“As HOTA continues to be nimble in its response to COVID, Contemporary Masters from New York will move to 2023, when we are more confident that interstate and international visitors can experience this world exclusive exhibition of Warhol, Basquiat, Koons and more,” Pankhurst said.

In the meantime, HOTA also today revealed it was extending the gallery’s current exhibition, Lyrical Landscapes: The Art of William Robinson, curated by former Governor-General and close friend of the artist, Dame Quentin Bryce.

The exhibition, will now run until 17 October.

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Next month’s WONDER program will be the second outdoor program since the major revitalisation of the precinct that now includes the HOTA art gallery that opened in May, at a cost of $60.5m.

WONDER is HOTA’s annual program of 10 days of art headlined by a major outdoor art installation and special events taking place around the precinct.

Gehrke said this year’s event was a celebration of the city’s furry friends.

“This year, WONDER at HOTA is back and its bigger and bolder than before, with larger-than-life art in the outdoors and an explosion of colour and sound, with a program fully dedicated to a dog’s life,” she said.

A world exclusive outdoor work by Melbourne-based art studio ENESS called Lost Dogs Disco will be the feature of the new free program of contemporary art and sound.

From the creative team behind the Airship Orchestra installation at the Brisbane Festival 2021, Lost Dogs Disco involves 16 large scale inflatable and interactive dog characters, some up to 4.6 metres tall.

The colourful installation offers a multi-sensory experience where audiences can play among the individual dog characters as they light up with proximity sensors, LED lights and built-in audio, greeting visitors through a disco of electronic music, howls, barks and growls.


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