Here's just a few precious moments inside the Gallery of Children's Art's inaugural exhibitionStarting Young, a show featuring examples of leading Australian artists' contemporary practice alongside rare artworks from the artists' childhoods.

The direct relationship between childhood and adult art is unmistakable. It is plain evidence of the artist emerging in childhood (long before graduating from art college!), and of the legitimacy of childrens' cultural agency.

Entering the show with Gordon Bennett's Home decor (Preston + De Stijl = citizen) life in the rhythm section, 1996  (on loan from Milani Gallery), and, Small Mirror Head, 2002  (on loan from the Estate of Gordon Bennett).

A closer look at one of Gordon's adult works, Home decor...

And a drawing from when he was 12 years old – Untitled (Men Hate Men), 1968 (on loan from the Estate of Gordon Bennett). Everything's already there.


Here's Vernon Ah Kee's large adult drawing on canvas, Humpty Dumpty 2007 (on loan form Milani Gallery), and a soft toy collaboration with his grandmother when he was a boy (date unknown). Vernon's grandmother would make the toys and he would add on the features.


The few ceramic objects Judy Watson made when she was 17 years old link to her adult work in other mediums, including printmaking and painting. Here, the drawing within the forms of a ceramic shot up kangaroo, – untitled, 1977 – are evident decades later in her head of the jackal, anubis, 2008 (on loan from Milani Gallery).


Ross Manning's childhood work in Starting Young is a recording made when he was 10 years old (in 1988) as a ‘concert’ for his parents. Ross remembers the "excitement in making a new ‘instrument’, opening up and exploring new sound worlds and being in control of ‘music’ that I could call my own. Something that I’ve never really stopped doing and I guess these early experiments set the trajectory of how I still work today."

His recent installation, music for a light bulb, 2018 (on loan from Milani Gallery), includes a small fan that swings an LED light from a cable, hitting assembled common household objects on the floor, composing random music.


The exhibition continues until 18 August at 17 Manning Street South Brisbane, and also includes the work of Patricia Piccinini (and her son Hector Hennessey), Luke Roberts, and Madonna Staunton.

Photos by Carl Warner.