City in the Sun – a journey into subtropical Brisbane

MOB-City-in-the-Sun-(installation-view)-photo-by-Toby-ScottBrisbane’s subtropical climate and laid-back lifestyle is the focus of Museum of Brisbane’s upcoming major exhibition, City in the Sun, welcoming locals and interstate visitors from Saturday 19 June to look back at how Brisbane saw itself. Have we moved beyond bikini-clad, pineapple loving images to a contemporary and cosmopolitan city?

Brisbane has long defined itself by its climate and as Queensland’s gateway to the tropics. The abundance of sunlight and humidity has allowed tropical plants to thrive and sunseekers to flock to nearby beaches.

From frangipanis to bathing beauties, Brisbane’s subtropical image is firmly planted in the hearts and minds of locals and visitors. Flora and fauna including the Jacaranda tree, poinsettia- Brisbane’s logo, lawn and fruit are all synonymous with the Sunshine State capital and Brisbane artists will unpack this colourful image of the Sunshine State capital with their own takes on Brisbane’s evolving identity.

Showcasing over 30 artworks including 8 significant commissions by local artists alongside historical imagery, City in the Sun will follow how the city’s history of migration, tourism, climate, environment, and geographical location has contributed to the image of a sun-drenched city full of exotic plants and a people who live under the sun’s glare.

Newly commissioned works from artists Kinly Grey, Christopher Bassi, Laura Patterson, Rachael Sarra, Sam Tupou, Sebastian Moody, Holly Anderson and Rachel Burke are coupled with works by Gerwyn Davies, Michael Zavros, Tracey Moffatt, Scott Redford, and Olive Ashworth.

Travel back in time with a film from the National Film and Sound archive from 1954 called Brisbane – City in the Sun featuring landmarks including the Oasis at Sunnybank, Brisbane City Hall and Queenslander architecture.

Marvel at Sunshine Psychology, a large-scale light and text work by leading Brisbane artist Sebastian Moody and experience Kinly Grey’s interactive light work which makes visible the body heat of the visitor.

Plus, for a real City in the Sun experience, join family and friends in our backyard complete with an immersive installation by Rachel Burke including flower beds, a tinsel sky, garden swing, bicycle, and cubby house all adorned in her signature sparkled, hyper colourful style.

In addition, hyper-colourful photographic prints by Tracey Moffatt from her First Jobs series, reflect on the suburban and nostalgic memories of working in Brisbane during the 1970s.

Museum of Brisbane Director Renai Grace said City in the Sun highlights how Brisbane has created images to define itself as a city.

“To understand Brisbane, you need to understand the light and colour that has and continues to shape the landscape, food, fashion and architecture and design ethos,” said Ms Grace. “See your city in a new light through the eyes of artists and question how you see Brisbane in this exhibition.”

City in the Sun explores how artist and image makers, including tourism bodies, have constructed images of Brisbane that rely on our climate to define us. Artists challenging and reclaiming these images and concepts are presenting new images of the city to re-define who we are and what we represent.

City in the Sun
Museum of Brisbane, Level 3 – Brisbane City Hall, King George Square, Brisbane
Exhibition: 19 June 2021 – 27 February 2022
Free entry

For more information, visit: for details.

Image: City in the Sun, installation view at Museum of Brisbane – photo by Toby Scott