Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Reflections on placemaking art and public art in Canberra

My most recent trip to Canberra this week gave me time to reflect on the difference between placemaking public art and public art.  This came to me when Fiona and I were standing at one of the entry points to Reconciliation Place - a place dedicated to reconciliation between Indigenous and non-indigenous Australians.

Barry Smith © Detail - Entry bower Reconciliation Place

Barry Smith © Entry bower Reconciliation Place - Fire and Water - Judy Watson

Barry Smith © Entry to Reconciliation Place- entry to National Library -  both hold the stories
Close by was another place dedicated to science and discovery ( Questacon). All the sculptural works we were looking at were in one of our favourite mediums - rusted steel.

Barry Smith © A place for science and maths sculpture
Barry Smith © Mobius - twisted loop (artist not referenced)
Barry Smith © Szilassi Polyherdron - maths creates beauty  (artist not referenced)
Though the reconciliation and science art works were of the same medium (rusted steel) as Pear, Angel of the North and Virginia 1970 that are sited in various vantage points around the National Gallery, I think there is a significant difference.

Barry Smith © Pear Version 2 - Baldessin
Barry Smith © Virginia 1970 - Meadmore
Fiona Dempster © Angel of the North (front) - Gormley
Barry Smith © Angel of the North (back) Gormley
Reconciliation Place is in  the Parliamentary triangle, the heart of our democracy and foundation as a nation where many of our most important buildings are found. The sculptural artworks here told the story of Indigenous people of the local area; why there was a need for reconciliation; and recognised the actions that had been taken towards reconciliation.

The science related sculptures referenced Questacon and let you know this is a place of science and discovery.

Whereas the art works around the National Gallery recognised certain artists and important pieces of sculptural art. Whilst they are beautiful and interesting in their own right they do not tell a story of the place or people in the locations they are located.

The reconciliation and science art is placemaking art - it tells the story of the people and place where it is. The National Gallery sculptural works are public art - they entertain and inspire but don't tell a story about the people or place in which they are displayed.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Bunya Dreaming 2012

South East Queensland got off to a pretty wet start this year so the Bunya Dreaming gathering at Baroon Pocket Dam was postponed by two weeks - therefore held on 11 Feb. 2012.

"The day generates an understanding of Indigenous culture providing a forum for networking and information sharing and strengthening of community partnership. Activities include Bunya feasting, competitions, bushfoods, bush medicine, challenges, dance, ceremony, fire, yarning, workshops and more." - Barung

Barry Smith © Bunya Dreaming gathering

Beverly Hand, a Gubbi Gubbi elder, is the initiator of and driver behind Bunya Dream; she is also a member if art4place. Over the last few years art4place members have assisted Beverly with the art challenge at Bunya Dreaming. 

Barry Smith © The BD art tent
This year special recognition was paid to Beverly's mother who passed away last year. art4place offered to manage the art challenge; and also offered a special Best Totem prize in recognition of Beverly's mother.  Children and adults registered for the challenge - 3 art prizes for each category were on offer. 

The theme of the day was 'mother' - storm; and the totems included wedge-tail eagle, carpet python, king parrot, sand goanna, turtle, grass tree. All art need to be created from natural materials. art4place collected and provided some materials and string, glue and tape; but people were invited to gather materials especially Bunya Nut cone husks from the site. About 40-50 art pieces were created on the day. 
Barry Smith © 'art materials'
Barry Smith © "art materials' - seed pods supplied by Jenny
Amongst the children's art pieces there were wedge-tailed eagles, goannas, nests with eggs, turtles, grass tree men and dragonflies. The ages of children ranged from about  5 to 14.

Barry Smith © Bird on nest
Barry Smith © Wedge-tail on nest
Barry Smith © Goanna up a tree
Barry Smith © Wedge-tail with spread wings
Barry Smith © Bark and bunya nut turtle
Barry Smith © Wedge-tail  - leaf feathered wings - and nest
Barry Smith © Mini turtle
Barry Smith © A flight of bunya butterflies
Barry Smith © Mother and baby dragonflies
Barry Smith © 'Bunya eggs' on a nest
Barry Smith © Scary face of a 'grass man'
Adults pieces tended to include stories: the beginning of Bunya Dreaming and place; Biril the one legged mythical bird; Biami - birth of the Bunya baby and the Carpet python. Lots of inspired use of the shucked remnants of the Bunya cone.

Barry Smith © Goanna Team - women artists - the birthplace of Bunya Dreaming?
Barry Smith © Women out Front Team - Carpet Python
Barry Smith © The story of the birth of the Bunya baby
Barry Smith © Biril - mythical one legged bird
Barry Smith © Tracy working on woven cane turtle
The art challenge is such a tangible way for participants to learn about Bunya Dreaming; the Indigenous totems; and to celebrate the people and place where the original Aboriginal Bunya feasts and gatherings took place and take place once again. A magnificent ephemeral placemaking art event.  art4place members Christine and Barry 'judged' the works and selected the seven people who were awarded art prizes - not an easy job!!

Thanks to Beverly for inviting art4place to facilitate the art challenge. Thanks to art4place members Noela and Edith-Ann for their background work. Thanks to the following art4place members who facilitated the event on the day: Jenny, Mieke, Christine, Jacinta, Tracy, Kate and Barry.