#G20 Cultural – A personal reflection.
The Pillars Art Gallery South Brisbane
Between lines on lines
The painted lines, thoughts arrive
Living for moments
Thoughts fly on fine spray outwards
Linger in our reflective hearts.
Lights dim on pillars
Life stories start begin to stir
Lines twist soundlessly
Silent stories creeping out
Watching people passing by.
Story lines live here,
Live here on these pillars now
But maybe before
Another story line lived
Just down here, under this place.
When we paint we live.
Do you hear our story told?
Painted story lines
Silently beckon, seduce
Those who have ears to hear us.
There is a mystery in graffiti, a poetry of form and content, colour and style. Young aspirants tag bedroom walls, parent’s fences, city walls and trains as they find their way into adulthood and artistic acumen. Their stories are those marks just as all visual art is mark making and just as aboriginal people scratched and mouth-sprayed their marks onto rock walls in this ancient wide brown land. Ancient marks appear across the world in all cultural groupings as calligraphic text and image, symbols of revolution, beauty and the human necessity to make marks.
Someone had the idea to continue this flow of mark making on sacred aboriginal land on the South Side of the Brisbane River as one small part of the G20 Cultural program, an ambitious project that would attempt to move the focus away from power and economics onto what Brisbane had to offer as a community.
The Pillars Street Art Gallery Initiative was a challenge at a number of levels. It could have been done by artists and a few ladders in a few days but the layers of local authorities, approvals, safety and screening of artists made this a large and expensive project*. The final outcome was visually stunning with a range of artists mostly associated with Jugglers Art Space given the opportunity of a lifetime within the heart of Brisbane. Jugglers mission is to “facilitate the health and growth of the core creative human spirit” another ambitious dream that has seen countless young emerging and mid-career artists across a broad range of art genres find doors opening into a satisfying arts practice with cultural impact. This was one of those projects for us at Jugglers that was rather surreal. The bumpy ride through administrating this project is lost in the wonder of the beauty that continues to grab passersby. It has a similar sense for me as when I saw my first aboriginal rock paintings in Western Queensland in 1987.
The reality is that the medium is the message [Marshall McLuhan] and the public is fussy about its medium, having been educated to the perfect image in form and colour for at least two generations of television viewing. Any sign writing company could have produced a similar effect on the pillars at South Brisbane if they had the designs and public would have been “wowed” by it. The alternative which was attempted for this project is a greater challenge: To listen for and to the stories, to engage with the local tribal elders and the artists themselves both before and after the works have evolved into reality. Not that any of that would have necessarily changed the planned images as much as new levels of respect and knowing would have emerged. This always happens when time, commercial interests and egos are left at the door in place of artistic excellent, integrity, skill and listening for understanding. The big challenge for art in this fast paced output consumerist world is how to work with a paradigm that is driven to tick a box, keep the budget and sacrifice community and artistic integrity.
Guido’s research for his work on Pillar 15, Mik Shida’s philosophical response to his work on Pillar 17and Libby’s and Warraba’s aboriginal stories imbedded in their work need to be told and heard. The workshop featuring Black Drum and storytelling around the history of place did not necessarily inform the works but gave us all some context. Another half day work shop could have possibly affected the nature of the works. A follow up workshop would have helped us hear the artist’s stories around their work experience. But time was against us as it always is.
Peter Breen, Chair/Director
*Thanks to Rena Singh, San Marie Esterhuysen, Dan Brock, Sammy Gilliland, Athol Young and Jeremy Welland who administered this project.
Photo Credits:Feral Arts, Peter Breen