Jackie Ryan: We’ll Show the World

Jackie Ryan Expo 88How did one long and expensive party change a city forever? World Expo 88 was the largest, longest, and loudest of Australia’s bicentennial events. A shiny 1980s amalgam of cultural precinct, shopping mall, theme park, travelogue, and rock concert, the Expo 88 behemoth is commonly credited as the catalyst for Brisbane’s ‘coming of age’.

We’ll Show the World lifts the curtain on Expo 88. It explores the shifting social and political environment in which Expo 88 was conceived, planned, and executed – an environment shaped as much by Queensland’s controversial premier Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen as it was by those who reacted against him.

This book considers how an event once mocked as a ‘Joh Show’ became the people’s party, and how something initially greeted with outrage, scepticism, or indifference came to mean so much to so many.

Author Jackie Ryan says that as a teenager, she loved every minute of Expo and was oblivious to the political controversies surrounding it. “As I grew older and my horizons expanded beyond Expo, the Labyrinth movie, and Duran Duran, I began to wonder if I could reconcile my ongoing love of Expo with some of the things I was hearing about its organising government. The short answer is “yes”. The long answer is this book.’

Published to coincide with the celebration of Expo’s 30th birthday, We’ll Show the World is the story of how, to Brisbane, Expo was personal.

Jackie Ryan holds a PhD in history and political science from The University of Queensland, where she was an Honorary Research Fellow. She wrote the didactic text for the Museum of Brisbane’s Light Fantastic exhibition on Expo 88 in 2013, and has devised audiovisual material on Expo for the South Bank Corporation and the Queensland Museum.

Jackie produces the Aurealis Award-winning Burger Force comic series and founded comedy writing collective the Fanciful Fiction Auxiliary; the websites for both of these projects have been archived by the National Library of Australia as sites of cultural significance. Jackie is the programs manager at the Queensland Writers Centre. She still has her Expo season pass.

We’ll Show the World is published by The University Of Queensland Press (UQP) and is available from all good book retailers, and Booktopia.

Image: We’ll Show the World (supplied)