Mackay “Off the Tourist Path”

Mackay’s regional council partnering with the artspace proudly presenting one of the most significant public art developments in Australia. With six installations by Fiona Foley along the Bluewater Trail.
1. Crows

Installed above head height at Mackay’s Bluewater Lagoon. On Sunny days there is a shadow that extends high above the ground/water.

1800s, the South Sea Islanders were “black-birded” a colloquial term used to describe the forcible removal of people from their islands to Mackay where they were forced to work as slaves in the sugar industry.

Two metre high text names local aboriginal people and their lands. Letters created to be narrow from the front and depth of field visible from the side. There is a poetry in this akin that gives the aboriginal a reputation  that they have the ability to melt into the bush, to be seen and unseen. The text is foregrounded with a bronze ring inlaid into the ground as a symbol of a sacred land.

Located on the other side of the bridge from YUWI, Fiona Foley’s Fishbones are like wings that are lined up evoking the fish spine. This honours and evokes memories of Mackay’s maritime history and act as a marker to the wharf precinct. – the Yuibera people were noted by early settlers for their fishing prowess. Although bones necessarily evoke death. Fishing is still a big part of the recreational life in Mackay.

This work of historic shield belongs to the Yuibera people that were sourced at the Queensland Museum and brought back to the area, inlaid into the pavement to become part of the permanent structure of this area in Mackay. This installation of stone adds a cultural layer to the Bluewater Quay development zone.

Representing the complexity of history involving the sugar industry. Sugar cubes are stacked like pillars. This industry has been one of Mackay’s most significant successes – while the city is home to Australia’s largest population of South Sea Islanders. Detail; are thumb prints of the south sea Islanders descendants and the names of transporting ships in recognition of the history of their human cargo.

The monumental mangrove cap (some nine metres tall) that Foley designed sits beside the pioneer river in an open grassy landscape. The health of our rivers, fish and environment is nurtured by the quality of our mangrove stocks, and in creating this giant statement, in steel designed to visibly age in the salty environment.

One of the largest public artworks created in Australia.