Mr Raymond (Ray) Hughes

30 November 2009

Award of Doctor of the University honoris causa
Mr Ray Hughes


Maverick art dealer Mr Ray Hughes has been a remarkable figure in the Australian art scene for four decades.

He has played a pivotal role in nurturing a number of emerging, contemporary, mostly Queensland artists who have gone on to enjoy successful national careers. Mr Hughes also made a pivotal contribution to the “internationalisation” of Australian art, as well as art in Australia.

Mr Hughes was an early supporter of Queensland artists such as Davida Allen, Joe Furlonger, Helen Fuller, Ian Smith, Roy Churcher, Robert MacPherson, Madonna Staunton and William Robinson.

He says his interest in art was first sparked when he attended a big exhibition at the Queensland Art Gallery featuring the work of luminaries such as Fred Williams, Lloyd Rees, Clifton Pugh and Jon Molvig.

After a brief flirtation with painting himself, he says he realised his calling was looking at pictures, not making them and he opened his first gallery in Brisbane at the age of just 22.

The gallery of Ray Hughes began in Brisbane in 1969 as Gallery 1Eleven in Musgrave Road, Red Hill, later re-locating to Enoggera Terrace. In 1985, a second gallery was opened in Sydney before the principal gallery moved to its present location at 270 Devonshire Street, Surry Hills, in 1988.

In addition to supporting artists, Mr Hughes was also involved with the formation of the Institute of Modern Art (IMA) in Brisbane and served as a member of the IMA Committee from 1974–1976.

Over the past 40 years, he’s introduced Australia to a wealth of diverse artistic talent from countries such as Papua New Guinea, Africa and China as well as producing regular exhibitions at his Surry Hills gallery.

During his career, he has deftly ridden the booms and busts that have seen other commercial galleries come and go. He’s renowned for championing some of Australia’s greatest painters and for going about his life and work very much on his own terms and not pulling his punches.

Mr Hughes explained his love of art in a recent interview for the ABC’s 7.30 Report program: “The artist can say things without sort of whacking you across the head with it. And that's the thing that’s intriguing, the thing that makes me put on a tie in the morning.”

His philosophy for art collection is simple: “It’s not only looking at the things that have been made this month; it’s about looking everywhere.”

Chancellor, in recognition of his contribution to Queensland art and artists, I present to you Mr Ray Hughes for the award of Doctor of the University honoris causa bestowed by the Senate of The University of Queensland.



Doctor of the University honoris causa