Now that the excitement of the opening is over, we can have a more sedate look around the Phantom Art Show as it appears at the Toowoomba Regional Art Gallery.
Curators Peter Kingston and Dietmar Lederwasch have really put together a marvellous display of all things Phantom, with a clear and obvious focus on two of the first (and many would say, greatest) Phantom artists: Ray Moore and Wilson McCoy.
Visitors to the Gallery are greeted by a pair of life-size Jungle Patrol figures, created by Dietmar himself.
Once you enter the gallery, one of the first thing that jumps out is how imposing and impressive somepieces are, through sheer size as much as anything. Charles Blackman's They say he is over 400 years old, nearly 2m square and one of the first things you see as you enter the room. Dick Frizzell's Grieving Phantom (used for the front cover of the Art Show catalogue and much of the Show's advertising) is about the same size, as is Euan McLeod's Father of the Phantom (below).
But size is not everything, and these pieces are just magnificent representations of our hero. So too is the PNG war shield, owned by a private collector and originating from the Wahgi tribe.
Some pieces, such as Glenn Morgan's The Phantom Kicks Arse Down Under (below) - with Michael Leunig's Your Prime Ministership is Incompetent in the background of the shot - are unashamedly political.
Others are more whimsical, such as Peter Kingston's chess set (left) or the many movable dioramas (below) that are interactive and fun for even the youngest phan - as this father of a 6 year old can attest!
A wide range of media are used in these interpretations. Along with the dioramas there are the paintings and drawings that one would expect in an art exhibition (oils, pastels, inks, pencil, and many more styles than this particular philistine knows about!), but also wooden sculptures and cut-outs, ceramics, tin, lamps, telephones ... everything is here.
Even audio-visuial multi-media is represented, with Peter Kingston's "Phantom" movie Fanta, filmed and produced in the mid-1970's is playing on a loop in a side room. You can watch this yourself in the video below.
There's no doubt that not everyone is going to like everything that is in the Show. Some pieces are confronting and perhaps even a little disturbing for some phans, in a way that suggests this is an exhibition designed for general art lovers as much as it is for devotees of the purple-clad comic strip hero.
However, with over 40 artists represented and wildly varying interpretations of the character, this was always going to be the case. There is little doubt though that for every piece you don't like, there will be dozens you do. Pieces that make you think, pieces that make you laugh, pieces that make you green with envy as you wonder how you could get that home and where you would find the wall space to hang it.
This author would heartily encourage anyone who can to see the Art Show as it tours around Australia. It really is something Phantom you just will not see anywhere else.
You can take a short virtual tour of the Toowoomba version of The Phantom Art Show by watching the video below:
And for those who just can't get to Toowoomba to see the Show, listen below to the X-Band podcast from the Toowoomba Art Show, where Dan walks and talks the Gallery with Gary Horne and Chris Hill, phans who travelled from Brisbane to see it.
For a fuller look at all pieces that appeared at the Sydney show in December 2014, most of which continue to travel around Australia with the Show, please visit the Australian Gallery website.