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Did IOU know this place has a pastil
It Is perhaps hard to imagine South Bank Parklands as a once dense hoop pine forest, as the hunting and camping grounds of Indigenous people, as a thriving dockside community or as a derelict light Industry precinct. It's possibly even difficult to remember the site as the venue for Expo 88. These images and stories of the past are not always readily available, or gleaned by a sideways glance. The past can be hidden or displaced, perhaps erased. Certainly, there are traces such as 'heritage' buildings and sites - such as Collins Place, the Ship Inn, The Plough Inn, the Maritime Museum, the South Brisbane Ubrary Building, the South Brisbane Town Hall and the Algas Building - on and nearby the Parklands but these can only provide a limited view of the historical and cultural landscape of the area.
Skimming the Surface has been devised as a means of uncovering and considering the hidden histories of South Brisbane. Each artwork addresses an aspect of the South Bank site's history and the idea that places and landscapes are in a constant state of change and movement. History is assumed to have depth, to be buried below the surface and therefore requires excavation. ~ch of the artists has done a little digging of her or his own to develop an artwork which draws out and reflects on certain .aspects of South Brisbane's cultural, environmental or social history. As contemporary and experimental artists, they are not attempting to recreate or simulate history. but rather, they are working with various ideas and relationships that have emerged from their investigations, as a means of addressing South Bank Parklands as the site for which this art has been made and the context in which it appears. In this respect, these works are as much about the present as they are about the past. They act as both an interpretation and a means of interpretation.

As temporary or ephemeral. these artworks will not disappear into the landscape in the same way as those bronzed fixtures and monuments which are dotted through cities, through familiarity or by becoming part of the outdoor furniture. Rather, as temporary works, they act as more subtle or fragile ways of marking the cityscape: some will be physically removed while others will simply wash away. They belong to this moment and will themselves fold into the flow of history and the lived experience of this city. They are interjections which perhaps transfonn our experience and our awareness of thls space and its past by contrasting a series of fleeting visions. moments of beauty, chance encounters or alternate possibilities. It is difficult to evoke the past without making reference to current landmarks. We can only ever think about the past from our present vantage point: we shape a vision of the past, by somehow looking through and underneath these landmarks; bringing the images which we make through our imaginary time travel into the present and projecting them across those surfaces. This is. in part, how these artworks function, bringing attention to something that has passed or faded and making a connection with the present. The theme of transience and passing resonates within each of the artworks. It Is not only the passing of the artworks, but also of people, eras and ._ cultures, of history itself. This theme remains pertinent today as South Bank Parklands Is a place of constant change and movement. We are all visitors and we are all just passing through. According to early descriptions of the natural environment, the south bank of the river was a place of abundant and diverse growth and wildlife. The reach along the river from Victoria Bridge toward Montague Road was particularly luscious, while the area which South Bank Parklands currently occupies was primarily hoop pine forest which stretched westward. The flat of the current Parklands area was swamp with a flood-prone tidal creek running across it. For Indigenous people, this area provided a rich source of game and fish. with camping, meeting and ceremonial grounds located throughout the South Brisbane, Woolloongabba and West End region. By the time free settlers moved to the south bank of the Brisbane River in the early J 8405, the land had been partially cleared of forest, tracks were carved to the west and a new township was being planned. Subsequently, the markings. occupations and pathways that Indigenous people had made across the swampy terrain and through the hoop pine forest over thousands of years were erased or
-,

concealed, their traditional uses of the area as hunting, fishing and ceremonial grounds were displaced. As people committed to Reconciliation in this country, these artists and the organisers of this event recognise the prior ownership of this area by Indigenous dans and we thank those traditional owners for their generosity as all Australians and international visitors continue to enjoy these surrounds.

1
Located in the Nepalese Pagoda, Ross Barber's audio installation. s/eeper/trace has an ambiguous quality. This minimal soun9 work is quiet yet insistent, everywhere yet nowhere. Despite it's fleeting quality, this work is about marking territory: marking place and the body. These sounds float through and 'mark' space, time and the body which sleeps and speaks. s/eeperirrace begins with the repetition of a question. 'do you speak Englishl' and ends with a recitation of the English alphabet's vowels while ambient sounds of breathing and birdsong fill the space between. The birds mark their territory through their song. You might wonder about the circumstances in which the question is asked and the environments in which the vowels are emphaticaliy sounded and echoed. This echo is an insistent reminder of the learned rules of language which dominate an understanding of a place and the manner in which it is mapped. T' ")ugh our Ian ~e. as the means of naming and mapping, we claim ownership.ln'-6me first cOnCa",../ifindeed those soldiers, convicts or settlers stopped to ask questions. the asking of this question to Indigenous inhabitants while a bird sounds and the land beneath their feet breathes or sleeps. The language one speaks becomes a means of establishing identity. commonality and difference. That is one of many possibilities. Throughout history. this question has been asked to ascertain where people. a! tourists or migrants. are from. whether they are indeed from this place and whether they will fit in. Unfortunately, its sounding can sometimes be threatening and sinister because bigotry has a history too. Barber has been canny locating the work in the Pagoda, one of the few sites in Brisbane dedicated to enduring peace, tolerance and goodwill.

2
In Temporal Region. Paula Payne has redrawn an 1840 map onto the Riverside Green. As a very early colonial survey map. possibly a sketch by the surveyor, Henry Wade in preparation for the first land sales in 1842, it delineates a number of land parcels within the blocks bordered by Stadey Quay (now Stanley Street), Peel Street, Hope Street, Russell Street, Melbourne Street and Grey Street. For Payne, the map is a 're-discovery' of the former City of South Brisbane acting as a moment which augurs change. Despite their seeming objectivity, maps are very loaded ways of understanding, rlefining and layi 'lalrn to land. } artist has drawn attention to other histories and ideas of the land by m:arking 'ker map with other landmarks and images (such as mapping symbols, the water rat and the 'sea monster' allegedly found by explorers on their journey tc AustraUa.). She has evoked the word, Kurilpa, the Jagera word for rat or water rat and the name given to the West End peninsula and identified other moments of transition and passing in the area's history. She affirms that this place has a past, drawing our attention to competing experiences of the land and ideas about history: that there b; always more than one history or that history is as much about discontinuity as it is about continuity. about disjuncture inasmuch as flow. She reminds us that these histories can be recovered and revealed to provide a more intimate understanding of the complexities of a place.

3
As the major port, South Brisbane handled a continual flow of ships. sailors, passengers and cargo to and from Ipswich. coastal parts, Sydney and overseas. The shipping
industry thrived throughout the 1840$ providing the impetus for further commercial growth and settlement. However, this was short-lived when important developments such as Customs House were built on the northern shore. After this the area gradually became a residential suburb in the I850s and 18605. Its cheaper land prices

attracted new low income settlers and resulted in a working class suburb. Only a few businesses and wharves survived or remained, as many relocated across the river. The significance of the shipping industry as formative of the local community is addressed in Victoria Boulter's work. TIeS which speaks of the experiences of women. Sites such as the Maritime Museum and the Ship Inn are vestiges of this past, while old dock pylons can stili be seen in the river. She has woven and plaited mooring ropes using (synthetic) hair, floating them, coiled, in the canal in the Lower Formal Garden. In this work. the artist is addressing the impact of the shipping industry on the lives of those women who were the partners and family of sailors and sea farers and perhaps as well, she is alluding to prostitutes whose livelihoods were also dependent on the fortunes of incoming maritime workers. This work speaks of not only women's lives as entwined in the shipping industry and tied to the absences, homecomings and departures of maritime workers, but also of how women acted as the 'ties' to this place and this community by maintaining a home and family life, providing a place to retum to, often in difficult circumstances.

4
In many respects the history of any place is the accumulated story of people's lives and travels, of joumeys beginning and ending. People form a place through their interactions with and expectations of it. Established around various modes of travel - water, road and bridge and train - South Brisbane is clearly a place of transit, of departures and arrivals. Built as a maritime and supply centre for the more distant settlements of Ipswich and Darling Downs, South Brisbane was host to a more transient and unruly community of shipping and waterside workers and teamsters. Before the construction of a roadway from the north direct to the Darling Downs in the I85Os, it provided the primary point of departure to the west. Shipping brought migrants and new settlers and the nearby railway station was the locus for intercolonial and westem train travel. Jihad Muhammad John Armstrong draws on these untold traveller's tales in his work. He has fixed 'traveller's bundles' to the tops of the pillars in the forecourt and placed origami boats in the waterways throughout South Bank. This forecourt was once part of Stanley Quay. one of the busiest roads in Brisbane. These elements - bundles and boats - are extended into the grounds and lower gallery of the Queensland Art Gallery. The floating of delicate acetate boats in the waterways reminds us of the shipping past of the area and the gradual demise of this mode of travel. They are transparent as they float discreetly in the water, like a fading memory or a figment of one's imagination. In referring to a history of transience - of people/s moving in, lingering, moving on - the artist evokes the multiple, unfathomable 'and lost histories of those who have passed through here over time. How can we possibly know their storiesl Each bundle containing personal items, someone's worldly goods, might reveal something of its owner, the joum...y she or he has undertaken to get this far and perhaps their dreams of a better future.

5
As an artist who is concerned with the human experience of space, Bianca Looney has made marks on various walls and surfaces in the Parklands using clay. She has been particularly careful in the selection of her sites which are either intimate or easily overlooked. For example, the railing by the water, outside Cafe San Marco is designed to be looked th rough, not looked at. The outer wall of the walkway of the now half-demolished bridge to the piazza, is partially concealed by greenery, while the underpass of the bridge is designed for passing through, providing some degree of privacy for the users of the public telephones. The seemingly random nature of her simple marks draws attention to these sites as oversights, as surfaces which do not wholly register in our perception as occupying visual and physical space. Looney's discreet and ambiguous works disturb the logic of these constructed spaces by asking to be found. In this respect, the work is an engagement with the cultural and historical dimensions of architecture, how we understand and move through the changing environments in which we live. Essay by Unda Carroli.

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