Collage and acrylic paint. 2.2 x 3m. Commissioned by Brisbane Festival forDrawn Togetherexhibition at West End Live
I was approached by Brisbane Festival to create Changing Landscapes for their Drawn Together project to be exhibited at West End… LIVE. In this project, 4 artists were given a digital story of a long term West End resident to respond to. In these interviews, the residents shared anecdotal stories of the changing cultural, economic and physical landscape of West End and the impact this had on their lives.
The project aimed to demonstrate that like physical elements such as architecture and geology, stories and culture inform a sense of place. The project aimed to highlight that West End’s cultural landscape is undergoing radical changes as a result of physical redevelopment. The stories of indigenous elder Aunty Mulinjarli, queer cultural instigator Shane Garvey and redevelopment resister Janet Richards were included.
The artists were given one hour to work with a 2.2m x 3m canvas in public view during the festival, during which the public were given access to headphones so they could listen to the digital story while watching the artist’s response unfold.
I was briefed on the story of Janet Richards to respond to, who is most well known for resisting the acquisition of her family home for the redevelopment of the West End Coles complex and neighbouring apartment block. Originally I wanted to explore the role that local and state government cultural renewal initiatives play in suburban gentrification, such as the redevelopment of the Cultural Centre and Brisbane City Council’s current funding programs for ‘happenings’.
I researched artist responses to arts gentrification, such as There Goes The Neighbourhood and The London Particular. I started planning a visual case study of international examples of cultural renewal initiatives that had neglected issues of social exclusion and the responses of local artists in addressing these problems.
However when I received the digital story, Janet Richards talked very little about her legal battle with the development company over acquiring her home. Instead, she talked about changes in the architectural landscape from the mid 1800s until now over the stretch of land between West End’s Absoe building and King George Square.
I discarded this preparation and switched to collage plans of a camp take on the recent refurbishment of the Stefan Skyneedle, kitsch Tourism Queensland imagery, while using an image of Sophie Lee’s character, Tracy, from The Castle to reference Janet Richard’s legal battle.