As the result of the development of a new suburb in Cairns, 'Trinity Park' in the Northern Beaches, Queensland Project Services constructed a new building for the Marlin Coast Neighbourhood Centre which was previously located in Smithfield. The building, essentially Bessa Block construction, was already completed when I was engaged as the public artist to create an entrance sculpture. The work, which was a comment on the play between art and architecture, also asked questions about the displacement of nature, that results from the ongoing suburban development in the Cairns region. The Neighbourhood centre, while also providing an area for visitors and workers to the centre, needed an other outside area to meet or simply sit and reflect. The Public Art section of Queensland Project Services were the overall managers of the project while my role was to create the work in communication with the key players at the Neighbourhood Centre including the Coordinator of the centre, Colleen Blunt.
Site and Background
The project, which was completed in November 2011, adds six variously sized new concrete posts to the front of the building in a semi-circle as well as 2 leaf-shaped seats, which complete the circle. The backs of the posts are engraved with the shapes of leaves from trees that were in the area.
Initially the viewer sees what appears to be an extension of the building but without a roof/ incomplete. Once entering the space the viewer is enclosed in a sitting and viewing area. The fronts of the posts facing inwards contain glass images of the local waterways and drawn leaves (of all the trees in the vacinity) floating in the water. Sayings collected from the Neighbourhood participants through a series of meetings form part of the work and add to its reflective nature. The sides of the 'posts' are covered in Mirror Stainless panel which reflects the surroundings and make the posts merge with the environment: Art sculpture and architecture becoming indivisible.
As a gathering space and an entrance sculpture, the main focus of the work is to reflect the core role of MCNC as a place where people share their stories and feel supported. The words fun and laughter also insist that it is a place of recreation.
As a new building in a relatively new suburb the work reflects on our relationship to the immediate natural environment with images of local waterways and drawings of trees/leaves. The play between building materials and natural images are reminders of the tenuousness of the relationship between the built and natural environments and the importance of care and sustainability.
From a sculptural perspective, the forms also appear and disappear through the installation of mirror stainless panels. Metaphorically these are meant to again ask questions about how the built environment intercepts the natural environment.
In addition to sayings and information/text gathered from my own research, words were included in the work to reflect the thoughts and aspirations of the Neighbourhood Centre. Patricia Singleton whose people were the original inhabitants of the area also make mention of a significant indigenous group the Irrikandji.