Brisbane, Queensland’s state capital is a cultured delight. Cushioned by picture perfect coastlines, it’s a sun-saturated destination speckled with vibrant laneways, modernist architecture, and public art a plenty.
Numerous policies supporting public art in Brisbane has produced a central business district bursting with fantastic contemporary art in public places. With many significant Queensland and Australian artists contributing to the current plethora, it’s worth a day trip or a prolonged moment en route to the office. While some are common sights located on well-trodden thoroughfares, the best are nestled in spaces you’d be excused for missing.
- The Accidental Primate and Milk 2013 Helen Pynor Lightbox | Eagle Lane
Just off Eagle Street is Eagle Lane; where you can see two photographic series by Helen Pynor and grab a great coffee while you’re at it. In these works Pynor continues to explore ideas of biology and the human body; dominant themes in her art practice. The Accidental Primate 2013 looks at the possible misclassification of megabats (including Australia’s grey-headed flying fox), borrowing a suggestion by an Australian scientist that they relate to primates. Milk 2013 references medicinal plant remedies of the Dwarawal people, drawing on notions of biochemical synergies across living organisms.
- Charlie Cox 2011 Dale Frank Glass tile | 123 Albert Street, Rio Tinto Tower
Known for glossy, varnished, abstraction; Dale Frank is one of Australia’s most prolific and prestigious painters. Frank’s Charlie Cox 2011 is a sweeping mosaic wall of coloured tile. The mass of tiny tile; each glossy and uniform, contrasts with the expansive wall dimensions. As the pedestrian passes along the connecting thoroughfare sheen reveals the tile’s full-bodied colour.
- Across the Ocean their fragrances intermingled… 2007 Pamela Mei-Leng See Stencils on glass | Albert Lane
Of Chinese-Malaysian heritage, Pamela Mei-Leng See specialises in a contemporary form of jianzh; Chinese paper cuts. Her works are characteristically handmade, of small scale, and delicate. Across the Ocean their fragrances intermingled… 2007 allows us to see her work in a new light. The large-scale, robust installation forms a glass ceiling over Albert Lane of Brisbane’s Queen Street Mall. Poppies, Chrysanthemums and clouds feature in the stenciled design, imagery holding symbolic meaning in traditional Chinese culture.
- Tropical Still Life 2015 Jumboist Aerosol on concrete | King George Square Car Park entry/Turbot Street overpass, Roma Street
Tropical Still Life 2015 by Jumboist imagines the interior of a 1970s Queenslander-style home. The painted mural blends modernist cues with quintessentially subtropical icons, featuring ferns, bikinis, pineapples, and crayfish. Jumboist is the alter-ego of a Sydney-based artist. His works reference modernism, low-brow comics, skateboard culture, and many points in-between.
- Eyes are singing out 2012 Yayoi Kusama Steel and enamel | 415 George Street
Yayoi Kusama is acknowledged as one of the most important living artists to come from Japan. Repetition and pattern are key visual tenants to her work; a continuing theme in Eyes are singing out 2012. The large mural banking across an entire city centre block comprises black and white eyes of steel and enamel against concrete. Eyes are singing out 2012 was installed in conjunction with the construction of new, neighbouring Queen Elizabeth II Courts of Law. Surrounding the Courts with watchful eyes, the work acts as a poignant reminder of the power and responsibility of law and justice.
- Collision and Improvisation (Ceiling) 2012 Gemma Smith Acrylic on concrete | Queen Elizabeth II Courts of Law foyer
Nearby, in the foyer of the Queen Elizabeth II Courts of Law, Gemma Smith’s Collision and Improvisation (Ceiling) 2012 can be seen. The painted shapes stretch across the foyer’s 16mtr2 ceiling. Shard-like planes advance and retreat, creating and removing space as they shift between two and three dimensionality. Beginning with abstract painting, Smith’s practice explores the ability of colour to subvert the flat picture plane. The visual is distinctive of the Brisbane-based artist, whose fragmented crystalline formations span both sculpture and painting.
- Infiltration 2009 Kenji Uranishi Porcelain and timber | 400 George Street building frontage and foyer
Infiltration 2009 by Japanese-born, Brisbane based artist Kenji Uranishi incorporates 200 hand-built porcelain blocks irregularly placed within a timber grid. The work extends from the street into the building’s foyer in three sections, gently dividing each space. Infiltration 2009 considers the movement of water in subject and medium. Since ancient times, ceramic pipes have been used in Japan to drain and manage water, a practice referenced by the porcelain pieces projecting through the timber framework.
If you’re interested, pop over to the Museum of Brisbane – Kenji Uranishi has a solo exhibition there until 22 May 2016.
- Once, Again 2009 Lincoln Austin Powder coated aluminium, stainless steel, and nylon | Santos Place Arcade linking Turbot and Tank Streets
Lincoln Austin’s abstract op art sculptures combine repeated form with optical illusion. Once, Again 2009; a large wall relief comprising powder-coated aluminum, stainless steel, and nylon continues this theme of repetition and geometric shapes. Seen in a narrow, light-filled nave in the Santos Place Arcade, it’s an ordered, complex arrangement of line. Natural light gently, and sometimes dramatically, transforms the work, casting fractured shadows and bouncing colour.
- The World Turns 2011-12 Michael Parekowhai Bronze | Gallery of Modern Art Café Bistro Lawn, between the Brisbane River and the Gallery of Modern Art
The World Turns 2011-12 comprises a large-scale bronze elephant and kuril – a native water rat. While the upturned elephant appears to take centre stage, the kuril plays the leading role within the artwork's narrative. The elephant, tipped on its axis indicates a world turned, whilst the kuril continues to live firmly planted on the ground. The work references the blind spots of recorded history, but as the world turns, there are many other stories significant to our understanding of history.
Located on the bank of the Brisbane river and near to the Gallery of Modern Art, it’s the ideal opportunity to visit permanent exhibitions of Indigenous Australian art and see international blockbuster shows.
- Keep the Sunshine 2014 Sebastian Moody Perspex, aluminium and LED lights | Brisbane Airport International Terminal Building Departures area
If you visited Brisbane with a departing international flight you’re in luck- Brisbane artist Sebastian Moody’s text-based work will see you off from the International Terminal. Intended as a farewell travel blessing, Keep the Sunshine 2014 bids travelers goodbye with friendliness, warmth, and kindness. ‘Sunshine’ as a metaphor for a good life, health, and positivity encourages outgoing passengers to reflect upon what might be kept and taken with them.
This article was produced for The Culture Trip; an online travel and leisure site.
Thanks must be extended to The Culture Trip for enabling the opportunity to provide review.