FLOCK - Sandgate, Nudgee Beach& Wynnum/Manly Foreshores 2018
Public Art Commission with Claire Tracey, Brisbane City Council - Repurposed plastic bottles, solar lights, steel
Flock, a Brisbane City Council temporary environmental Public Art Commission in the Boondall Wetlands, Moreton Bay, Brisbane, was conceived, designed and created together with fellow DVA candidate Claire Tracey
The impetus behind this project was the celebration of a 20-year Affiliation Agreement between Brisbane and the Narashino Wetlands in Japan, a global partnership dedicated to the protection of these habitats. Our brief was to engage with the local community to raise awareness of how vital the wetlands are for the survival of the migratory birds who visit Australia annually, flying thousands of miles along the East Asian-Australasian Flyway.
The concept of MOOP - Matter Out Of Place - is the idea central to FLOCK. Local MOOP pollutants were identified and used were plastic bottles and weeds in the environment. Human introduced plastic directly impacts the wellbeing of shorebirds and the health of the wetlands, and so through community engagement, more than 1000 plastic bottles were collected from the area and used to create 228 unique birds in flight. Following consultation with the Queensland Waders Study Group and other local groups, the birds were installed in three groups or Flocks across three sites in the Bay. These sites were carefully chosen as it was of vital importance to not negatively impact the shorebirds.
The plastic bottle birds hovered above the water and wetlands atop 3-metre steel rods, swaying and turning with the forces of the wind and tide. Small solar-powered units in each bird lit the flock each night, continuing the visual and kinetic activation of the sites with the public passers-by. Our intention was for the birds to act as place markers for the shorebirds’ territory, and for the public artwork to encourage conversations, questions and connection with this precious environment.
By using locally sourced weeds that Bush Regeneration Volunteers had cleared by hand from the Boondall Wetlands, we incorporated weeds as the second example of MOOP and human affect in the project, gathering and preparing them for papermaking. We found the weed paper to have a wonderful fibrous quality to it, the colour of the wetlands themselves. Workshops were held at local schools and with the Japanese delegates at the official launch of the sculpture and sheets made were interleaved into artist books, mementoes at the end of the project.
A magical transformation occurs when making something by hand. This focus on materiality was of utmost importance to the concept, as the use of locally collected plastic and weeds materially grounded the project to the site and to the community.