From air raid shelter to art gallery

In 1952, the basement of Brisbane Arcade was transformed from WW2 air-raid shelter into a progressive gallery by art lovers and bons vivants, Brian and Marjorie Johnstone. The Johnstone Gallery was to become one of Australia’s leading galleries, and a focal point for Brisbane’s artistic and social world. With an inexpensive modern style (think potted palms and bamboo blinds), the gallery showed work by a roll-call of significant artists including locals Laurence Hope and Margaret Olley and interstate figures including Sidney Nolan, Grace Cossington Smith, Donald Griend, Charles Blackman, and John Passmore, In December 1957, the Brisbane Arcade Gallery closed, victim to both its inadequacy as an exhibition space for large modern paintings and Brian Johnstone’s diagnosis with tuberculosis.