There is always something beautiful, something whimsical and something political in Townsville’s biennial sculpture festival, Strand Ephemera, as I said four years ago, so I try to get to it. That’s increasingly difficult because our winters are stuffed so full of big arts events that locals have to give up either work or sleep to get to everything (visitors at least have the advantage of being here on holiday) but that’s a good problem to have, and we do our best.
Here’s a small gallery, similar to the one I posted in 2017, showing some of the works which appealed to me. Once again, clicking on any of the small images will bring up bigger versions in a lightbox with some additional information.
The works which appealed to me the most were generally those which engaged with the location and the idea of ephemerality – or showed a sense of humour or political nous, like Jan Hynes’ Incarcerate. She painted groups of garden gnomes to personify Manus Island detainees, demonised ethnic groups, LGBT people, etc, and displayed them in weldmesh crates.
The Story Fridges, not far from the now-traditional Pink Piano, riffed on the way the Strand is used, and the seahorses made good use of found and recycled materials. Some of the larger works had nothing to say about their (temporary) location; good as they were, most of them would have been far more at home in a gallery courtyard. Wooden Deity, inspired by Balinese art and, I’m told, begun while the artist was living there, was an honourable exception.
As I write, the city council shows all of the works on its Ephemera page.
Update, July 2020: “It probably won’t stay up for long,” I continued, and the works are now only represented in the catalogue. That’s still far better than nothing, of course.