Metal As Anything: Much-loved printmaker captures the quirky side of life

State Library of Queensland (SLQ) showcases intricate and endearing etchings by leading Australian printmaker, Ron McBurnie, in a 30 year retrospective exhibition.

Misbehaving dogs, ducks in box kites and eccentric toad shooters feature amid a carnival of quirky characters and landscapes in Metal As Anything, curated by Perc Tucker Regional Gallery, Townsville, and on display at SLQ from 22 September to 25 November.

State Librarian Janette Wright said Ron McBurnie’s distinctive style and seductively whimsical storytelling has earned him national recognition as a printmaker and artist.

“McBurnie is an iconic Queensland artist,” Ms Wright said. “State Library holds a number of McBurnie’s prints and artists’ books in our Australian Library of Art collection, and we’re delighted to showcase these pieces alongside the stunning material in Metal As Anything.”

“Drawing inspiration from his daily life, McBurnie’s work captures the weird and wonderful moments that illuminate the everyday suburban existence, and the anecdotes that have inspired each piece are often just as enthralling as the artwork itself.
One piece from 1988 called Toad Shooter is based on a Townsville private detective who, after coming home from busy days of insurance fraud and other such draining cases, would sit in his backyard director’s chair with a torch and his .22 rifle popping the toads off as they congregated around his sprinkler. His wife would later collect the carcasses and incinerate them."

McBurnie said his inspiration comes from his everyday experience of the world.

“Someone might tell me a story and then I meet the people involved and the whole thing morphs into an etching. If I hear an idiotic story about a corrupt politician, or I am playing a piece of music that takes me to an extraordinary place, then that is my inspiration. Sometimes ideas and inspiration come from the weirdest of sources,” he said.

As part of the exhibition program, McBurnie will be in Brisbane running a number of art and printmaking workshops, as well as sharing his insight as an artist at free public talks. For program details visit

Metal As Anything: Ron McBurnie is a travelling exhibition developed by Perc Tucker Regional Gallery and toured by Museum and Gallery Services Queensland. This touring project is supported by the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland and the Visual Arts and Craft Strategy, an initiative of the Australian, State and Territory Governments.

Metal As Anything
22 Sep – 25 Nov, 10am-5pm daily | Free entry
Philip Bacon Heritage Gallery, level 4, State Library of Queensland

Media enquiries
Alexia Saeck, SLQ Communications | 07 3840 7784

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