Jezzine Point Redevelopment
Jezzine Point, at the northern end of the Strand in Townsville, was the site of a $40m redevelopment of a fallow hill and cliff area. I was commissioned to create 3 public art works for specific sites. The two shown are the entrance sculpture 'Circles Connecting' and 'First Contact'.
Circles Connecting Feb 2014
5m high, 8 metres across.
Highly polished stainless steel, wood panels and LED lighting.
The reconstruction of Jezzine Point included a landscaped park with the commissioning of 32 public art works. The historical reference points on the 15-hectare heritage precinct for this military entry sculpture at Jezzine Point, northern end of The Strand in Townsville, include the huts, gun station, military museum and Brigadier's residence for the now dismantled Kennedy Regiment. The Kennedy Regiment, later the 31st Battalion first formed in 1899 and was dismantled only recently in 2009. The entrance sculpture was designated as a symbol of the Kennedy Regiments Military importance and is at the entrance to the park inviting visitors up the slope to the gun turrets and along the path to the military museum.
Site and Background
The commission for this entrance sculpture is based on the Kennedy Regiment and their contribution to Australia's wartime efforts.
I collected data from soldiers and their families to build a picture and understanding. I felt it was important that we hear their thoughts about the various wartime engagements through a search for primary material. Eventually I collected, in consultation with the military advisory group for the project, 14 quotes from various war experiences of their 100-year engagement. These were engraved as plaques made of beech panel and originally placed in the ground radiating out from a circular footing of the semi-circular entrance sculpture.
Unfortunately due to circumstances connected to the process of installing the work, they were not included as an element in the final work, so in a sense the strength of the work was compromised. However I have included some of the quotes here from the 14 plaques along with a diagram of how the work was intended.
This artwork honours the personal wartime experiences of the soldiers of the Kennedy Regiment. The arch (5 fingers of inter-joined steel) invites visitors into the precinct, inviting connection with the soldiers through their shared and recorded experiences of war. The text on the radiating panels, (only 3 of which exist on site) contained excerpts from soldiers journals revealing experiences and emotions from battle.
At night, the sculpture was intended to be lit underneath by a strip of LED lights blending colours of the regiment/ a specified brown and yellow. 2 x angled LED lights from the circle of each end will illuminate the outside of the semi-circular sculptural form at the 2 ends.
The work explores the interconnections of the Kennedy regiment soldiers with global incidents/ their involvement in major military engagements as well as their connection to contemporary viewers through their feelings and observations during the heightened time of their military engagements.
First Contact Feb 2014
4.5m high, 8 metres across
Highly polished stainless steel, wood cladding on galvanised steel LED Venus strip and LED spot lighting.
Jezzine Point, at the northern end of The Strand in Townsville, was the site of a $4omillion redevelopment of a fallow hill and cliff area. This development was implemented through a partnership between the Australian and Queensland Governments and Townsville City Council.
Historical reference points for the 15-hectare heritage precinct include the huts, gun station, military museum and Brigadier's residence for the now dismantled Kennedy Regiment. Earlier history revealed local usage of Jezzine Point by Aboriginal tribal groups, essentially salt-water people, who canoed there to trade. Archaeological evidence points to early settlers living in this location.
The project involved the reconstruction of Jezzine Point as a landscaped park with the commissioning of 32 public art works. Management groups included Jumbana (public art management), UDP engineering group, Scape Shapes Landscaping, Abigroup (overall construction management).
Site and Background
One of my (3) commissions was to explore the initial contact between white settlers and explorers and the local indigenous tribes. Townsville, like many settled coastal towns on the Queensland coast had a natural harbour and naturally evolved as a port for early sailing vessels. Apart from the above-mentioned military significance of Jezzine point the area was an important meeting place for local Bindai and Wulgurukaba tribal groups who traded from canoes (or Wulgurukaba). There are significant aboriginal stories which connect all the surrounding islands as a reflection of their essentially sea based life. There is for instance a significant creation story revolving around Gabul the Carpet Snake who formed the Palm Island and Magnetic Island groups.
Townville's earliest colonial access was by sailing ship and I felt that the use of a canoe shape in dialogue with the jib sails from a European schooner, typical of those that explored the coast in the Townsville area, would create a powerful symbol of that first contact.
The work features the outline of canoe/ Wulgurukaba made from local sustainable timber in dialogue with the stainless-steel linear forms of jib sails.
The canoe shape is stylized from the first bark canoe said to be in the area. Recently it has been revealed that canoes were often found in the downward facing position of the sculpture.
The words, 'Canoe' and 'Wulgurukaba' meaning canoe (also referencing an important local tribal group of the area) are incised into the wood on the outer edges on opposite sides of the canoe lip. Eventually the wood, which originally is a reddish yellow colour, will grey more in line with the colour of the stainless steel.
History is ephemeral, but it is the basis for the underlying sense of a place. I felt that it was important to both create a strong symbol of the first contact between Aboriginal groups and settlers but also to create that sense that history is important for the unfolding of the present. As a result I chose to use outlines of forms rather than solid forms, so that they are almost invisible, encouraging people to see through them as the sky changes from daylight to nightfall. An LED Venus strip lights up the canoe outline at night while the polished stainless steel are highlighted with LED spots. The LED strip is brown so that hatching turtles would not be attracted to it.
The 4.5m canoe shape faces downwards balancing its bow on the earth making 'first contact' with the shore. The sails to the right of the canoe are descending in scale as a typical representation and stylisation of the jib sails at the bow of a European schooner.