Renai Grace, director and CEO, Museum of Brisbane

I think we’re seeing more young creatives choosing to stay and make the city their launching pad instead of migrating south. The more opportunities that we create as a city to nurture that creativity the bigger Brissie-ism will get ...

What is Brissie-ism? You might have heard the term being thrown around lately, most as a general descriptor of local cultural and artistic output. But what is Brissie-ism, really? What does it mean? To some, Brissie-ism is a cold XXXX Gold enjoyed watching the Broncos at Suncorp Stadium. To others, it’s catching a band that the stage at one of Brisbane’s storied music halls. It can even be sensed while seeing work from local artists adorning the walls of the city’s galleries. All we know for sure is that Brissie-ism was born over at Museum of Brisbane, where artistic endeavour and history coalesces into stimulating and thought-provoking exhibitions. MoB’s latest exhibition, Making Place: 100 Views of Brisbane, helps give a sense of where Brissie-ism came from and where it’s going, but to help us pinpoint the characteristics that make up Brissie-ism, we chatted to the museum’s director and CEO Renai Grace. Here’s what we found out …

We’d love to start, obviously, with the nature of Brissie-ism. Most locals would have their own interpretation, but how would you describe Brissie-ism culture in broad terms to an out-of-towner?
It’s that combination of humour and creativity that makes Brisbane and its people so special. We’re full of stories, not ourselves.

Museum of Brisbane has long been the epicentre of Brissie-ism artistically. When did the MoB team first identify the cultural undercurrent bubbling away at the core of its endeavours?
Next year MoB will celebrate its 20th anniversary, and from day one our mission has been to tell the stories of the city. The idea of synthesising our mission into a cultural movement was really born out of our observations over the last three years. Our cultural community is more connected and invested in the future of Brisbane than ever before, and we wanted to find a way to really bring that all together into a unified concept.

What do you think are some of the artistic qualities and characteristics that Brissie-ism encompasses and how do they commonly manifest stylistically?
Brissie-ism is less about a single style and more about the complex stories of our past, present and future. Creativity here is as constant as the humidity in summer, and I think our current exhibition Making Place: 100 Views of Brisbane really captures this. We have over 100 works from 1878 right through to 2022 that charts the growing skyline, our fascination with light and heat, and that uniquely Brisbane way that we claim the sun for ourselves. Each work is stylistically diverse, just like the people that make up our city’s narrative.

Are there any artists, musicians or important cultural figures (past or present) that you think have had a profound impact on shaping the nature of Brissie-ism or best reflect its ideals?
That’s like asking us to pick our favourite child!

The Museum of Brisbane is obviously the first place for folks to immerse themselves in Brissie-ism. What are some of the ways visitors to the museum can experience and engage with it?
Whether you’re strolling through our exhibitions, listening to our podcast, catching up on your reading with SUNNIE Magazine or venturing out one of our historical walking tours you are experiencing Brissie-ism in real life!

In what ways do you see Brissie-ism manifesting across the city as a whole?
I think we’re seeing more young creatives choosing to stay and make the city their launching pad instead of migrating south. The more opportunities that we create as a city to nurture that creativity the bigger Brissie-ism will get.

We’d love you to finish this sentence: “You’re not a true Brisbane-ite unless you’ve …”
…been to Museum of Brisbane, of course!

Finally, what do you think the future holds for Brissie-ism as a cultural movement? Do you foresee a global takeover, or is Brissie-ism too humble to extend itself that far?
When you think about it, Brissie-ism has always had global ambitions. We’re the home of The Saints, Trent Dalton, Dead Puppets Society and Bluey (among many, many more). We’re internationally recognised for First Nations artists and have a new generation of visual artists such as Dylan Mooney who are making waves. The time is right to proudly claim our space as a centre for big talent and big ideas.

Get a taste of Brissie-ism at Museum of Brisbane’s latest exhibition, Making Place: 100 Views of Brisbane, which will be open daily until July 2023.


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