The exhibition, ‘Two Sisters, A Singular Vision’, now showing at QAGOMA, celebrates the immeasurable contribution of Grammar women and sisters, the late Margaret Mittelheuser AM (1947) and Dr Cathryn Mittelheuser AM (1949), to Queensland’s cultural life.
The story of the Mittelheuser sisters and their expansive giving is not limited to QAGOMA. Margaret and Cathyrn have long supported a range of educational and cultural institutions and other causes, including many projects and programs at the School, most recently our new Science building, to ensure the next generation of women could benefit from an excellent education.
Born in Bundaberg, where their parents ran a sugar cane farm, the family moved to Brisbane in 1945 with the intent of Margaret and Cathryn becoming Grammar girls. Perhaps the dream and enthusiasm for the Grammar education was already in their DNA, because a lifelong relationship with the School was set and a love of education and the arts became a guiding light for their extraordinary lives. Both girls loved learning and excelled in their studies and future careers.
From the time the sisters joined the QAGOMA Foundation in 1985, they took an intense interest in contributing to the acquisitions of the Gallery. While they often focussed on female artists, and in particular indigenous artists, their gifts have also extended to significant pieces of furniture, jewellery and European art. The influence of the Mittelheuser sisters was not only in donating art works but was often a driving force in directions of collections. In 2003, Margaret’s support for the acquisition of paintings and pottery from the Hermannsburg Potters was the spark that began the Gallery’s collection from this important central Australian community.
The selection and range of works in the lovingly curated exhibition Two Sisters, One Vision clearly underscores the sensitivity and insight of Margaret and Cathryn Mittelheuser, both to the aesthetics of art and the power of the intent and focus in recognising and promoting the people and stories that live and shine in the artworks.
Ms Lorraine Thornquist
Manager of Collections