'A Tropical State' Touring Exhibtion

One hundred artists have been invited to explore their creative aesthetic as an ornamental object; looking at the pineapple as signifier of our place and time living in a tropical state.

Curated by Ashleigh Campbell & Grace Dewar, 'A Tropical State' launched in April with Sea Walls Australia and toured to First Coat Studios, Toowoomba in May 2018.


‘A Tropical State’ is a group exhibition that celebrates the humble yet iconic pineapple. Almost one hundred Australian artists have contributed responses to a collection of ornamental timber pineapples, gifted by long-time artist and collector Stephen Spurrier.

Native to tropical Brazil and Paraguay in South America, the spiky-crowned fruit of the bromeliad plant often accompanied people on journeys, traversing cultures and continents. The sweet golden fruit was cultivated and shared through centuries of ancient trade, navigation, colonisation and commercial agriculture across the Pacific. Despite an oft vexed history, the pineapple has become a global icon for warmth and welcome.

In Australia during the 1970s when ‘high’ and ‘low’ art levelled, and a revival of kitsch and Australiana exploded, representations of pineapples became prevalent. Decorative pineapples adorned kitchen walls and utilitarian pine-shaped trays graced bars and dining rooms. The hand-crafted wooden pineapple serving bowl became a placeholder of summer adventure, a generic holiday souvenir, accumulated as an archive of experience similar to that of the destination t-shirt.

The artists in this exhibition have used the supplied retro pineapples as a vehicle for the expression of individual and quintessential experiences of Queensland. Painted onto, carved into, deconstructed and protruding from the pine-shaped bowls, the artists convey personal responses that range from explorations of social histories, weather patterns, representations of native plants and animals, draw upon sexual symbology, childhood recollections and share an experience of place. The responses are as diverse as the State of Queensland itself.  

Ashleigh Campbell & Grace Dewar, Co-Curators

Exhibiting artists: Adrienne Kennafake, Alan Valentine, Alice Rigby, AMA, Andrew MacDonald, Anneke Silver, Annette Seeman, Beata Batorowizc, Bridie Gilman, Bronte Naylor, Caroline Mudge, Catherine Parker, Cindy Duncan, Claudio Kirac, Courtenay McCue, Dan Elborne, David Don, David Usher, David Houghton, Declan Delargy, Dion Parker, Elana Mullaly, Elysha Rei, Emily Devers, Emily Donaldson, Emily Young, Erin Smith, Fiona Cockfield, Francoise Lane, Fuzeillear, Hannah Murrary, Harry Bates, Ian McCallum, India Collins, Jan Hynes, Jane Hawkins, Janet McDonald, Jasmin Seale, Jay Jermyn, John Teschendorff, Jonathan McBurnie, Katie Wagner, Katie Whyte, Kyle Jenkins, Kylie Burke, Lauren Carter, Lauren Malone, Laurie Oxenford, Leans, Lily Kamholtz, Lowana Davies, Luke Day, Malachai Aird, Marion Gaemers, Mark Daniel McLaughlin, Mark Misic, Marnie Hutchinson, Melissa Smith, elissa Spratt, Michael Pope, Monica Usher, Olivia Azzopardi, Peta Berghofer, Phil Johns, Rachel Downie, Rhi Liesch, Ricky Beresford, Rob Douma, Roland Nancarrow, Ron McBurnie, Samuel Moffat, Samuel Tupou, Sandy Pottinger, Sarah Rayner, Selene Cochrane, Seri Davis, Sheree Kinlyside, Simone Eisler, Sirmano, Sophia Mary-Mac, Spencer Shakespear, Stephen Spurrier, Sue Lostroh, Sue Loveday, Suzannah Babicci, Sylvia Ditchburn, Tarn McLean, Tessa Bergan, Thom Stuart, Tiffany Shaffran, Ute Bratz, Valentina Awram, Wilma Tobacco, Xana Denruyter, Yuki Horiki & Zoe Porter.

Photography: Kirsty Lee, Darcy Campbell & Jack Birtles.