We recently completed a mural for the Brisbane City Councils “Brisbane Canvas” project.
The imagery incorporated the local Aspley areas iconic features as well as drwing inspiration from the the curatorial rationale Exchange developed by the Placemaking Team, Design Brisbane.
The Gympie Road corridor is one of the oldest overland routes for the development of modern Brisbane, and indeed adapted from a former and far older Aboriginal pathway.
Aspley is strategically sited at Brisbane’s northern boundary to provide a way‐point and stop‐over for trade and traffic passing along that route – with the Royal Exchange Hotel operating as a Cobb & Co pick‐up point and watering hole for bullocks.
Aspley was far north enough from the city centre to cater to its own needs and in many ways it can be seen as an epicentre of suburban developments, experiencing the rise of early industry, the waves of post war housing developments, and in‐flux of the big brand commercial shopping centres.
Much of this twentieth century mass manufactured design, aimed at affordability and equity of living standard, resulted in a monocultural sameness.
The post‐Fordist economies of today’s postmodern society have seen the explosion of niche markets, creative industries, communications networks and information-based businesses with a resultant diversification of lifestyles, social formations, and to some extent, built environments – both new and repurposed.
The notion of exchange, as applied within a modernist historical framework, operates as a mechanism of standardisation – commercial exchange through standardised pricing, common currency, product branding and packaging, mass marketing, and so on. However, notions of exchange are today appreciated as being far more complex.
In fact, exchange may be less about equivalence – the swapping of discrete entities – and far more about their interaction, catalytic effects, offshoots and entanglements.
The boundaries between things are not as discrete as once imagined and degrees of inter‐dependence are newly appreciated as profound and intricate. The artist is the bricoleur – finding value and interest in discarded detritus, bringing together the disparate, confounding high and low cultures, making precious the everyday.
Artworks reveal the complexity of exchange, shifting the literal into the symbolic, connecting cultural practices with sensory experience, confounding image, appearance and substance.
An artwork commissioned for this harsh, highly commercialised urban environment, may express an alternative sense of place – a sense of exchange that is beyond equivalence, that may be transformative and even magical.
Drawing upon the site’s marginalised cultural and environmental threads, it may amplify, trace and release intercultural understandings and a humanising sense of attachment. Informed by impulses organic and sensual, the artwork might embody the endless rupture and coalescence of exchange, unknowing and unknowable.