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Picture of the artist Luke Roberts, 2022
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Luke Roberts on performance art and Pope Alice

A rare opportunity to hear from renowned Australian contemporary artist Luke Roberts; the artist behind Her Divine Holiness Pope Alice/Santa Alicia.

In conversation with curator Nicholas Tsoutas, Luke will share intimate details of the spectacle and grandeur of HDH Pope Alice. What is it that creates such an awe-struck audience, completely absorbed in this live performance?

Luke describes Her Divine Holiness Pope Alice as, 'a manifestation of Extraterrestrial Supra-Consciousness, and an Ambassadress from Infinity; an involuntary interloper to Planet Earth from beyond the Fifth Dimension. She fell from the skies, witnessed both Atlantis and Lemuria and now wanders the Earth in circles to usher in the New Era’.

43 years since the inimitable Pope Alice made her debut at Spring Hill Gallery in Brisbane, she has continued to make show-stopping appearances throughout the contemporary art world. One of her most recent encounters was at Tasmania’s Dark Mofo festival during winter solstice in 2022, with sell-out performances over multiple nights. 

Although there won't be a physical encounter with Pope Alice on the evening, Luke will discuss the artistic process behind this character embodiment and the physical makings of Pope Alice’s costumes with original pieces from the State Library Collection on display. 

Please join us on this auspicious date of the feast day of Saint Alice and the upcoming winter solstice for a revelatory conversation.

Guests attending are encouraged to dress in costume attire.

About the speakers

Luke Roberts has been trying on different personae for size and fit ever since he was a little boy in Alpha, a small town in the centre of Queensland. During his Catholic childhood, he explored what he eventually recognised as his gay identity through putting on costumes and acting out characters ranging from vampires to cowboys. Much later, as an adult artist, he has inhabited images of the famous and infamous, from Alice Jitterbug to Jesus Christ, and from Andy Warhol to Adolph Hitler. And he has often worked alongside Pope Alice, an alternate character and accomplice.   Returning regularly to his hometown over the years to visit family, Roberts now claims an authentic place as a gay Queenslander. In recent years, he has made magnificent colour photographs that explore sites of his childhood memories with renewed curiosity, and with a deep compassion, understanding and respect of Aboriginal relations.

Nicholas Tsoutas is an independent curator and writer. He has had a long interest in the cultural debates surrounding the complex questions of identity and the politics of difference. In addition, he has a strong interest in the curatorial and theoretical frameworks around conceptual installation practices and has initiated many international conferences within his programming. Nicholas has had a distinguished professional career in contemporary art spanning over 40 years, as an academic and curator and director in major institutions, including the Institute of Modern Art in Brisbane. Currently Nicholas is working on a major survey exhibition by Luke Roberts for the Rockhampton Museum of Art, as well as developing a major performance by Pope Alice/Luke Roberts for QPAC.

About the exhibition 

Meet the artists features contemporary works by Vernon Ah Kee, Luke Roberts, Fiona Foley, Judith Wright, Leonard Brown, Anne Wallace, Sandra Selig, and Eugene Carchesio, along with screenings of all 35 James C. Sourris AM Collection of Artist Interviews. The exhibition is curated by Julie Ewington, an authority on contemporary Australian art, showcasing the James C. Sourris AM Collection of Artist Interviews.

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  • When

    Thu 15 Jun · 6–7:15pm

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    Bookings required

  • Location

    Auditorium 2

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Date and time

Thu 15 Jun


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Meet the artists

Free exhibition until 9 July 2023 Open daily 9 am – 5 pm Monday to Friday 10 am – 5 pm Saturday and Sunday slq Gallery, level 2 #slqmeettheartists
Picture of the artist Luke Roberts, 2022