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Art in public spaces is a common sight in Toowoomba. Wandering through the streets and laneways is a great way to fill in an afternoon, learn about our Region and discover talented artists.
Public artworks partially funded by ratepayers and installed from June 2019 are listed below with a description of the artwork.
Hidden within Toowoomba's CBD streets and laneways are over 80 street art murals, painted as part of several First Coat Festivals held in Toowoomba. These murals can be admired year-round as you stroll around the streets.
Founded in 2013, Australian artist and curator team, Ian McCallum and Grace Dewar partnered with us to present a three-day mural festival - the First Coat Festival. Over a four year period, First Coat Festival created over 80 unique and colourful murals throughout the city.
Artists: Kim Walmsley and Braham Stevens
Artwork: Cast aluminium with paint and sandblasted concrete (image of artwork awaiting installation on right)
Baiame was developed through a collaboration between local Indigenous artist, Kim Walmsley, and Far North Queensland-based artist, Braham Stevens. Inspired by stories from the Dreaming, the artwork is an abstract interpretation of the ancestral spirit ‘Baiame’ and the fundamental elements of earth, air, fire, wood, metal and water.
The bands of alternating fluid patterns and hand-drawn markings across the sculpture explore symbolic representations of these natural elements. The smaller figure nestled within the work is the ‘Water Spirit’ who, with the Dragonfly and Water Dragon guardians along the pathway, reference the surrounding swamplands and ideas of growth and resilience. Created in a spirit of artistic collaboration, Baiame is a reflection of the region’s cultural and natural heritage, as well as the diversity of the local community.
Delivery of a public artwork as part of the Cathro Park Railway Parklands Linkage Project was overseen by a public art reference group which was formed in 2017. In August 2018, UAP Australia (Urban Art Projects) won an open tender to develop, design, commission, fabricate and install the public artwork at Cathro Park.
Expressions of interest were called for artists to develop concepts and from the 22 received, three were short listed. This first phase was co-managed by UAP and Creative Move Brisbane. From the shortlisted designs, the public art reference group recommended the concept design from Braham Stevens and Kim Walmsley to proceed to completion and installation.
The concept draws on Kim’s artistic practice where she explores her relationship to place and to her culture through dreamtime stories. She references deities connected to many lands. This story is not specifically of this place of the Jarawair peoples.
As an indigenous artist, Kim hopes to learn of all First nations history, dreaming, song and dance so that she can reconnect with the world’s oldest living culture. She speaks of gaining a better understanding of, and renewed belief in, spirit and ancestors.
Baiame features in the dreaming of several indigenous language groups. Baiame came down from the fifth dimension to this planet and created rivers, mountains, and forests. Kim has tried to embody various spirit figures in this rendition of the Spirit Father.
The surface design features patterns created by both artists. Braham’s elements feature naturally occurring patterns and shapes found in nature and living things. Kim’s are based on plants like Gumbi Gumbi, bunya nut, wood, rain, and energy.
To support the main figure the artists devised patterns for sandblasting onto the pathway leading to and from the sculpture. These are of a dragonfly and a water dragon and they connect with the water concept within the artwork and the creek in Cathro Park.
Kim Walmsley’s art is an expression of her connections with her traditions and cross-cultural experiences and her connectedness to the earth and its elements. Kim explores numerous mediums and design elements and has a distinctive and original style. She creates a balance between shades of light and dark through the softness and vibrancies of her unique interpretation of the land and beauty of Aboriginal spirituality with strong linear qualities.
“It’s not just about painting. My ability to create is connected to my heritage. Being Aboriginal is a gift and being an artist is my purpose. My role is to play one small part in the regeneration of our people’s connection to their spiritual identity.
I was adopted and raised by wonderful people and have lived a life that has taught me to appreciate and respect many cultures and people.
The older we get, the wiser we should be. We can truly flourish and appreciate our purpose and goals to create happiness from within as a part of the cycle of life.
My art is about connecting to the elements, to people and to stories.
Knowing where you come from can make such a difference in developing a sense of belonging and wellbeing.
Kim as a proud Mununjali/ Wiradjuri woman now calls Toowoomba home and acknowledges the Jarowair and Giabul people as the traditional custodians of the land, like many of the other Aboriginal people who have travelled from their country to live in Toowoomba.
The people of the Mununjali were visitors to this land many years ago. Attending ceremonies on the outskirts of Toowoomba and festivals in the Bunya Mountains with many groups from around Queensland and beyond, Mununjali has a clear connection with this land and its past.
Image to right: Baiame and Kim Walmsley during fabrication.
Braham Stevens (born 1969) - an Australian based site-responsive collaborative artist whose captivating sculptures and thought-provoking interventions are dramatic in scale and daring in their form. The artist’s choice of advanced materials, highly contrasting finishes and bespoke surface treatment are as important as the sculpture’s bold fluid aesthetic.
The artist’s contemporary large-scale multi-media practice is geared towards the architectural and public domains - predominately transforming heavy-gauge advanced metals/alloys, oversize random stone and hardwood into bold fluid sculptural form. A focus of enquiry into contours, fractals, regenerating cyclical patterns and natures diverse forms of fluid expression informs the artist’s evocative biomorphic signature-aesthetic, that defines vivid negative space through multi-layered positive reinforcement.
The resulting inherent dichotomy imbues his artwork with an engaging depth, character, tactility and visually striking readable at distance multidimensional detail - executed with a level of artisan craftsmanship and refinement not often seen at that scale. The resolved and integrated outcome, acting as a powerful complementary counterpoint to activate the landscape, architecture and built environment, setting up a potent site specific dialogue, tension and multi-layered connection to place.