The Observatory Collective 1985-1986 – Newspaper Clippings Archive – Lehan Ramsay, Anna Zsoldos, Robyn Gray

Perhaps one of the most intriguing ways of gleaning some insight into Brisbane’s proliferating artist-run scene is through an engagement with print media clippings, and indeed incomplete or piecemeal fragments of  print media clippings of the time, much like the one above.


Here are a few that have survived to see the light of day once again for The Observatory Collective during it’s brief but vibrant activities from August 1985- April 1986.


The Observatory Collective was a bold and visionary artist-run located in the Little Roma Street precinct before it was demolished in April 1986 and was founded by three women, Lehan Ramsay, Robyn  Gray and Anna Zsoldos in August 1985 after completing their photography studies at the Queensland College of Art earlier that year.


The Observatory Collective located in the old Shirley’s Fertiliser Building at 92-102 Little Roma Street, like many of the artist-run collectives of the day included many artists, writers, filmmakers, dancers, designers, performers and musicians in its exhibitions, publications and events programs. Creatives including Ivan Nunn, Rose Mere, Stephen Mackerras, Marion Drew, Penny Algar, Carmen Aquilina, Linda Rance, John Stafford, Richard Stringer, Joanna Greenwood, Jay Younger, Mark Webb, Lindy Collins, Phyllis Paterson, John Mansfield, Zip, Mark Ross, Despina Macris, Anna Bourke, Sheridan Kennedy, Michelle Andringa, Jeanelle Hurst, Jane Richens, Virginia Barratt, Peter Anderson and many others.


The Observatory is significant to note in the fabric of 1980s Queensland artist-run heritage for it’s inclusive approach to artists exploring postmodern or post-object means rather than realist or vernacular means with photography.


Models and techniques including a guerilla and/ or interdisciplinary approach to photographic history; installation, hand-colouring, printing on fabric and textiles, photo montage, the exploration of post-colonial, feminist and queer theories prevailing at the time, theories of deconstruction, alterity, narrativity, theatricality and folly,  employing and adapting old and new reproduction technologies like toy cameras, Polaroid, photocopying, super eight film, analogue video, altering early analogue cameras and found negatives, artist-books, ephemera, newsletters and zines.