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Phantom Art Show - Tweed Opening

The Phantom Art Show has arrived in The Tweed, and what an occasion it was!

With the Tweed Regional Gallery launching three exhibitions on the same night, over 200 people attended the opening of The Phantom Art Show on Saturday December 10th. However no matter which exhibition they were there to support, there was little doubt that all in attendance enjoyed The Phantom show immensely.

Staff at the picturesque Gallery did an amazing job of working to the theme of the Ghost Who Walks, with a cosplay Phantom circulating through the crowd, threatening roughnecks and posing for photos. He was ably supported by both a costumed Kit and Heloise serving finger foods, as well as a beautiful and very well behaved "wolf" Devil.

These heroes, as well as a few other masked attendees, helped set a fun and Phantom-y tone.

This was taken to new levels by former Governor-General Dame Quentin Bryce and husband Michael, who each spoke lovingly about their memories of the character and the comic's place in Australian society. While they both drew from the speeches that they'd used at the opening of the Art Show in Toowoomba, it was plain to see that they enjoyed what they were doing and had adapted and developed their presentations.

Dame Quentin Bryce

In the spirit of nostalgia and fun, Michael recounted his own childhood experiences as well as a mysterious encounter with a certain Captain Walker. Meanwhile Dame Quentin's use of comic strip panels to highlight her exposition of Diana were received with great delight from the audience.

Highlights of their performances must certainly have been the look on Dame Quentin's face when presented with the Diana Palmer Cup, and Michael Bryce leading the crowd in a swearing of the Phantom Oath.

Unfortunately Dietmar Lederwasch was unable to attend, but his co-curator Peter Kingston was rapt with the evening: "It was a most extraordinary performance, I mean what a class act."

Following the speeches by the Bryces, the large crowd mingled among the three exhibitions with many of the works in The Phantom Art Show causing great fascination and enjoyment. While the majority of the artwork displayed is inspired by Ray Moore and Wilson McCoy, some of Australia's leading artists have re-imagined and re-interpreted The Phantom with a sense of interest, creativity, and fun. The Show truly is a wonderful homage to the spirit and legacy of our favourite comic strip hero.

Photos courtesy Dan Fraser, Peter Kingston & Frank Borg

Certainly the above photos give some idea what the evening was like. However to really get a sense of the buzz and excitement in the Gallery, please pour yourself a long glass of ice cold milk and watch the video below. You will enjoy Michael and Dame Quentin Bryce's speeches immensely!

Some apologies for the lighting and tracking quality - we really do need a bigger budget for quality staff :)

The following day this author was fortunate enough to return to the Gallery and be part of a panel with Peter Kingston to discuss The Enigma of the Ghost Who Walks. Presenting to an intimate gathering of about 20 art lovers and Phantom phans, Peter and I discussed a wide range of topics and responded to audience questions.

Dan Fraser and Peter Kingston

While some of what we talked about was reminiscent of the conversation we had in ChronicleChamber's X-Band podcast Episode 47, we also covered an array of other areas. Never fear: for those of you who were unable to make it, we did record the session and plan to present it as podcast episode early in the New Year.

Overall it was a wonderful weekend celebrating The Phantom - and I barely even stopped to look at the artwork!

Fortunately there will be plenty of opportunities to return, with the Show remaining in the Tweed Regional Gallery through to February 26, 2017. Phans with young children will want to target the Phantom Fridays for Families on Friday 13th and 20th January 2017 (10:30am - 12pm).

UPDATE: a story on the opening was also published on the ABC news website, and features a recorded interview with Peter Kingston.

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