Botanica 2021 festival is a temporary contemporary art festival located in the City Botanic Gardens. The festival aims to offer site-specific artworks representing deep connections to the place and providing meaningful cultural interactions and experiences. The project brief called for an expanded approach to public art and site activation with emphasises on temporal, environmental, process-based, performative and interactive works.
By working collaboratively with a team of creatives we devised a work titled Out Of Transit (2021). Out Of Transit is a sculptural installation situated within the Brisbane city botanic gardens on Residence Hill. The work utilises a Brisbane city bus stop, with an incorporated soundscape aspect. The bus stop juxtaposes the garden space, referencing the surrounding cityscape, stripping the bus stop of its perceived purpose. When viewed at night the bus stop is illuminated by a soft white glow from the empty advertisement spaces. The time table will be replaced with imagery of root systems of the gardens emphasizing the connective natural systems within the gardens contrasting the frantic nature of bus routes. The soundscape residing within the bus stop will consist of street recordings from the surrounding city and will periodically pose the viewer with two questions: Where have you been? Where are you going? Overall this work aims to contemplate the connections and disconnections between the city and gardens as well as the temporality of the viewer’s journey.
Botanica provided me with the opportunity to create and plan a public artwork, be reactive to a space outside of the gallery and collaborate with other creatives. I have the opportunity to utilize and improve my current skills as well as obtaining new skills and insights. I was particularly interested in adapting my practice to these new circumstances to see if public art could become a new avenue within my practice. I am also focused on getting as much experience as I can writing proposals, and getting help from experienced practitioners is an invaluable opportunity.
I had various roles within this project, creating the concept and design of the work, fabricating mockups, a maquette, and sonic elements in the work, location scouting, planning materials and problem solving logistical issues. A range skills I had picked up through my practice were particularly useful for this project, being able to critically think, analyse and reflect on the way the work was functioning was fundamental to understanding what was most important to the work. Collaboration was a key part of this project, being able to respect everyone's ideas and make decisions together was a vital component to collaboration. I particularly urged my group to use mind maps to record our ideas in the early phases of the project to assist with connecting our ideas in a physical way as well as a tool to help generate and push ideas.
I often worked with the other artist in our group to create visualisations of the work on photoshop, this was helpful when communicating our concept. We also worked on creating a maquette together to further help visualize the artwork.
I created the sound element of the work by going into the city and taking recordings of street sounds in different locations. The two questions state, Where have you been? Where are you going? Were recorded by me and utilized the voice of Samantha Harding and myself. I created two versions of the sound element, one runs for 30 seconds and has the questions closer together. This was for the presentation to give a gauge of the work in a shorter amount of time. The other version ran for 15 minutes and spaced the questions out even further this was for the proposal. In the final version of the work we would take a longer recording in the city to get a wider variety of sounds as well as space the questions out further.
Overall, being part of this project has been a beneficial and insightful experience. I have attained a better understanding of collaboration, proposal writing and public art. This will assist me in the future as an emerging artist. I also understand that even if I don’t get selected for opportunities that I am learning and improving upon my skills to better apply myself in the next one. This has given me a stronger sense of direction and confidence moving forward as an artist.