Last year Queensland was awash with a variety of activities and projects celebrating the 150th anniversary of the official recognition of Queensland as a separate colony.
Many organisations received funding for celebrations to mark the occasion specific to individual communities. One such project was Q:150, Now and Then: 150 years of art making in Queensland. Curated by Ross Searle, for the Umbrella Studio for Contemporary Art, the exhibition’s emphasis was on the history of art making in Townsville over the past 150 years.
After much deliberation fifteen historically significant artworks conveying stories and scenes from Townsville’s past were selected by the curator from a number of permanent collections. The works ranged from a traditional work by Arthur Streeton, to a painting by Judy Watson, and an assemblage by Tom Risley. Once the artworks had been selected, fifteen artists (with me the only ceramic artist) were invited to create a contemporary response to the historical works with each being allocated a specific work.
The work I was allocated was a pastel diptych by Brisbane artist Margaret Wilson. The abstract works, created in 1988, and entitled Blue Entrance1, and Blue Entrance 2, depict Wilson’s interpretation of the entrance to Townsville Harbour as seen from a ferry at dusk as it returns from Magnetic Island. The works, in deep blues, blacks and greys capture the tonal changes of the landscape at twilight with the sharp angles of the break-walls intruding into planes of water.
As a member of an outrigger canoe club who regularly trains at dusk, the Margaret Wilson landscape this work is responding to is a familiar one. At training, when the sea is too rough, we paddle our canoes up the creek, and it is a magical, beautiful landscape… all dark, dark blue breaking to silver and silvery grey where the fading light hits it …..with the dark break-walls and harbour buildings growing ever blacker as the sun disappears…….. the silence of the creek broken only by our laboured breathing and the regular call of the huts as we paddle through the water. I wanted, with my work to capture a little of what if feels like to be a part of , to be within the landscape… the gliding, the shimmer and the smells.