Brisbane Art Design (BAD) is a showcase of contemporary movers and shakers in local art and design. A Museum of Brisbane (MOB) initiative, it brings many Brisbane creative luminaries together for three weekends of workshops, open studios, talks and artsy parties. This time around, BAD will focus on a different area of the city every weekend, hitting the CBD, the north side, and the south side. The program gathers like-minded folk in both city and suburban art spaces at more than 150 exhibitions and cultural events from May 10 to May 28 (although a number of exhibitions will stay open longer).

From live painting sessions to niche pottery markets, BAD has something for everyone. These are our highlights.

Weekend one: the CBD
Botanica: Contemporary Art Outside kicks off the first weekend with an outdoor exhibition at the Botanic Gardens. Over 10 days, Botanica will showcase 10 large-scale installations, featuring everything from sculpture to projections, inspired by themes of sustainability and the natural environment.

Complete our survey for the chance to win a $1000 Broadsheet Gift Card.


Meanwhile, Brisbane City Hall hosts a ceramics exhibition, with pieces by some 300 makers spanning 60 years of creativity. Clay: Collected Ceramics draws from the collections of the MOB and Paper Boat Press founder Kylie Johnson, with works by renowned makers such as Carl McConnell, Milton Moon and Lyndal Moor, as well as contemporary artists like Nicolette Johnson and Bonnie Hislop (whose “trophies for mediocrity” we recently fell in love with). This exhibition will be sticking around until October 22, so you’ve got plenty of time to check it out.

Three of Brisbane’s best-known artists – Jan Jorgensen, Debra Hood and Pamela Gough – have come together to give us Brisbane Three Ways, an exhibition centred on paintings of Brisbane’s homes, skylines and natural landscapes. While the artists differ in style and technique, their portrayals of Brisbane are nostalgic and familiar, a reminder of the importance and beauty of place.

Weekend two: north side
Multidisciplinary art project You’ll Know It When You Feel It was co-created over 15 years by artist Raphaela Rosella, along with several women in her life. Installed at the Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts, the piece is designed to challenge dehumanising representations of female prisoners and women whose lives are otherwise affected by the prison industrial complex.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a free poster-making workshop on May 20 at the Institute of Modern Art, hosted by Brisbane-based artists and activists Boneta-Marie Mabo and Ruby Wharton. The workshop aims to spark conversations about prison abolition and challenge presumptions about women whose lives are affected by the carceral justice system.

Design market Finders Keepers returns to Brisbane with The Finders Keepers x BAD Pop-Up Market. Pick up handmade wares (think pottery, crochet, hand-blown glass and cermaics) from 20-plus talented local makers to take home with you.

On May 19, The Black (a revamped builder’s yard in Albion) will host BAD Food Truck Night. Sit back with a beer and a feed, and enjoy live music from local artist Jeremy Beamish and a live street art battle put together by Scribble Slam.

Weekend three: south side
The final weekend of the festival is all about getting into the studio. Queensland College of Art celebrates its 140th birthday on Saturday May 27. It will be hosting free open-studio events where you can take part in live freestyle painting, learn intricate First Nations weaving techniques, craft “meaningful medallions”, and BYO shirt for a T-shirt printing workshop.

At the festival’s close, dance the night away at a laneway soiree hosted by DJ-run record store Echo & Bounce or head to the BAD Closing Party at Yeerongpilly’s Station Road Creative Precinct on Sunday May 28.