Two installation events on one night. Louise Noble reports on the latest contributions to Brisbane’s developing culture of collaboration and artistic exchange.
Friday, 27 October 2006 was something of a dilemma for the art and design community in Brisbane with so many interesting events scheduled in different parts of the city that choices had to be made. It is a sign of the growing sophistication of cultural life in Brisbane, now reaching a critical mass and offering new opportunities for artistic collaboration. Conversations were buzzing with the news that Doug Hall, long-time Director of the Queensland Art Gallery, had announced his resignation just weeks before the opening of the new gallery and the Asia Pacific Triennial APT5. The changing of the guard in this important institution promises exciting times ahead.
[V3] was a video installation event involving the collaboration of local architects, artists and designers and organised by an enthusiastic group of young RAIA members known as yarch.Q. Events previously organised by this group include Topless (bus) Tours of work nominated for the RAIA Brisbane awards and the oeuvre of James Birrell in addition to studio talks with local practitioners. [V3] was inspired by similar events internationally and follows the success of Art + Arch Infinite in 2005 which involved cross-disciplinary collaborations to produce a number of temporary installations within the city.
The event was staged in the monumental cultural forecourt designed by Robin Gibson which occupies the South Bank promenade between the river and the Queensland Performing Arts Centre. Recent University of Queensland graduates Rachel Barnard, Jane McGarry and YE Ng used the axial qualities of Gibson’s composition of columns and tree-lined Water Mall as a foil to the temporary structure of a screen “room”. The screens were originally designed to be suspended from the Gibson columns however technical and budgetary considerations prevented the realization of the original idea. The event was perfectly timed however for the flowering trees to cover the water axis with golden blossoms reminiscent of a Buddhist ritual. [V3] provided a public forum for the sharing of ideas with the presentation of individual works by artists and architects rather than collaborative pieces as such. Over 200 people attended the event in addition to a constant stream of interested onlookers.
Differences in art practice were revealed with some of the architectural works at odds to create the immediacy of engagement present in the more lyrical work of the visual artists. The use of sound in conjunction with image distinguished a number of works and in particular Maria Smith’s Camera Eye undertaken at the Delft School of Design which visually “strums” the structure of a pedestrian overpass in concert with a harp-like music. Chris Bennie focused in his work on human engagement with the physical world to reveal delight in the unremarkable events of everyday experience without resort to embellishment. Arguably the show-stopper was Genevieve Staine’s Time Space Frames which animates and transforms building windows in the manner of a shutter of an SLR camera interrupted as a finale by a synthesised decay of the monumental Queensland Museum. The image of vigorous young weeds infiltrating the crevices of a major institution provides a powerful symbol of the aspirations of the many creative people working in the State.
Charles Landry (The Creative City 2000) would agree that the concentration of visual and performing arts institutions, universities and public spaces at Brisbane’s South Bank provides a fertile mix of hard infrastructure for the evolving soft infrastructure of an emerging creative milieu to thrive. [V3] is exactly the type of conversation that the city needs, a forum that will build the networks and friendships necessary for future collaborations.
Spark was a fabulous party exhibiting a number of lighting installations by established designers, architects and artists and located in an industrial warehouse adjacent to the rapidly gentrifying riverfront of West End. Visitors were greeted with a two-metre revolving glitter ball held by a crane over the street which set the tone for the event. Spark was a reminder of the inherent theatricality of the nightclub with a mezzanine DJ booth straddling the bubble-wrapped entry and providing suitable accompaniment to the inside and street-side parties. A clever and very humorous fashion parade under black light and balaclavas presented the T-shirt collection of a young Maori designer while glam young things flashed happy snaps on their mobile phones. Participants included local architects Paul Fairweather and Shane Thompson who both reinterpreted found objects to create new light works. Paul Fairweather reemployed orange witches’ hats in a star formation while Shane Thompson’s Droog-like installation used lamps gleaned from suburban garage sales strung together with rough twine.
The atmosphere of both events was characterized by a sense of unselfconscious fun in the sharing of ideas in design and art practice. The willingness to openly contribute to forums such as these augers well for the future and provides the perfect environment for creativity to flourish. Brisbane continues to be delightfully surprising.
Published online: 1 Jan 2007
Words: Louise Noble
Architecture Australia, January 2007