Magnetic Island North Queensland
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July 17th 2009
$130,000 public artwork for Bright Point

File photo of the general location for the artwork In April this year the Office of Clean Energy's Public Art Unit put out a call for artists interested in designing and installing a public artwork at Nelly Bay which would commemorate the Townsville Solar Cities project. With an “all costs” budget of $130,000, the project will raise expectations for a very impressive work of art and, now, the two finalists from the selection process (one is a team of two and the other an individual artist) will be visiting Magnetic Island next Wednesday to meet Islanders and gather feedback and ideas towards their final concepts.

The project, which has an “all costs” budget of $130,000 including design, construction, possible fabrication and other sub-contracting costs and an artist's fee, has been funded through Arts+place, the state government's public art fund. It can be single or multiple pieced, and is to be set along the walkway which runs from the Nelly Bay Harbour Terminal towards the end of Bright Point.

The site, which has been selected by the Queensland Department of Mines and Energy in consultation with various relevant authorities, will clearly present some interesting challenges including: periodic cyclonic wind, salty air, extreme UV exposure, vandalism as well as an oft-heard public dissatisfaction with the locality's architectural and aesthetic merits (read here).

In all 52 artists requested the expressions of interest information and, following that, 17 submissions were received from 20 artists. The short-listed finalists, who will both be paid for their eventual concept design for the project, include Margot Douglas and Claudia Williams who are working collaboratively and Sydney-based artist, Graham Chalcroft.

Margot Douglas is a Townsville artist who has combined historical concepts with jewellery making as well as artist's books. Claudia Williams, from Ayr combines ceramics with metal work. Graham Chalcroft is a Sydney-based artist with considerable experience in public art including solar-powered artworks which are also water purifiers and what are titled, “bio-pods”.

Part of a public artwork produced by Graham Chalcroft for
a WWII airforce commemorative project near Sydney.
Photo: courtesy Graham Chalcroft

Like most public art projects, initially two artists or artist's teams are selected to present a concept proposal from which one will be selected for the project. This will follow the artist's visit to familarise themselves with Magnetic Island and meeting with the community.

According to a spokesperson from the Office of Clean Energy, the submissions were selected against a criteria which includes: artistic merit, appropriateness of art practice and experience in management skills. With public art it is very important that the artist/s selected have a strong skills base and an understanding of the safety, liability and maintenance factors involved, as well as an ingenious and innovative artistic sensibility.

The spokesperson said. “The underlying theme that we are asking the artists to respond to is 'Connection – Transformation – Dissemination'. This is an overall concept but easily relates to harnessing sustainable energies and how they can be dispersed. It also reflects the way the Townsville/Magnetic Island community has embraced this initiative. By changing the way that we view and use energy, and gathering valuable data to inform future policies, the Solar Cities project is creating a new energy future for Australia.

“With this project we were hoping that a local artist or artists would match the skill level and aesthetic sensibility required. We expect to see two very exciting proposals in a few weeks and perhaps a very difficult decision of which should proceed through the final stages. We are hoping that the final artwork will have a changeable or transformative quality and truly celebrate how this community has actively responded to the Solar Cities project.

Next Wednesday's meeting will provide an opportunity for the artists to be introduced to the community and, according to the spokesperson, “open a dialogue about the project”.

The meeting is planned to take place at 6pm on Wednesday 22 July at the Solar Cities Smart Lifestyle Centre on Horseshoe Bay Road, Horseshoe Bay. All are welcome.

Story: George Hirst
Photo: Bright Point, George Hirst

To add your comment,
or read those of others, see below

$130,000 public artwork for Bright Point
July 17th 2009
They also have fantastic Island bay photos at the Smart Lifestyle Centre.
Sylvia Hayes
June 15th 2010
Well the art work chosen(sun dial) is currently being installed in the new breakwater area where the whole place is being transformed by landscaping.
It's great to see this area being so beautifully planted with path lighting and of course the Presto memorial at the end.
Congratulations to the Main Roads Dept workers who are doing such a great job (those palm trees are well secured !) as well as the engineers from Sydney who are building the art work which should be complete by the end of the week.
This area will become a real draw card for residents and visitors.

What do you think? Send us your comments.

Readers comments
Syl Hayes In reply to Fair raises $15,000 for school
What a wonderful outcome for the school! I had a great time face-painting with Luke and Sasha, met lots of kids and parents,scored some great books at the Trash n Treasure stall, and even remembered to vote. Everywhere you looked people were enjoying themselves...such a tribute to the organisers. Well done!
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