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Avant Garden 2007

Arts Council Toowoomba’s Carnival of Flowers Project

The most severe drought in over one hundred years has certainly had an effect on Toowoomba’s iconic Carnival of Flowers. The reduced availability of water means many of the city’s public garden beds are empty during Carnival of Flowers. As a response to the water crisis and in keeping with the spirit of the Carnival, Arts Council Toowoomba hatched a plan to fill some of the empty garden beds in prominent Council parks and gardens around the city with ephemeral public artworks designed and constructed by local artists.

The project is appropriately named Avant Garden. A public call for interested participants was held with interested people required to attend a training workshop and submit a proposal of their ideas.

Internationally recognised artist, Jill Kinnear facilitated the workshop and provided guidance to emerging artists. Kinnear is a local designer well qualified to assisting such a project. In 2005 she was awarded the overall Design Excellence Award by the Design Institute of Australia for her memorial public artworks at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane.

The project was made possible by the Australian Government’s regional arts program, the Regional Arts Fund, which gives artists and communities throughout regional, rural and remote Australia better access to opportunities to practice and experience the arts.

Toowoomba City Council has offered great support for the idea, providing assistance with publicity, planning, materials & installation and advice on health & safety issues.

An art trail map has been produced by Arts Council Toowoomba, showing the location of the Avant Garden exhibits and was available at The Visitor Information Centre, Toowoomba Regional Art Gallery and Artshop in Bowen Street.

Concept designs for the artworks were on display at Toowoomba Regional Art Gallery for the duration of the Carnival of Flowers.

For further information on Arts Council Toowoomba or the Avant Garden project, contact Beverley Bloxham on 0402 438 288.


David Akenson – Raincoat – oversized drops of water Digitally printed onto vinyl – wrapped around trees
‘With ‘Raincoat’ my intention is to present the viewer with an unexpected visual juxtaposition: an image of rain on a rain-deprived tree. With the drought in mind the work aims to provoke a double-take from the viewer and provide a source of surprise and pleasure. ‘

Beverley Bloxham – Disappearing Flower Garden – reclaimed & recycled MDF & paint – a sculptural drawing spread out over about 26 metres at the top of the range – entry to Toowoomba.
‘This artwork is a comment on some of Toowoomba’s garden beds devoid of their usual cover of Spring flowers because of the drought. Seen in its entirety from only one aspect, the artwork breaks up and the flower disappears from other view points.’

Peta Chalmers – pteris hominidae – Spring – ceramic sculpture from cast human arms in various poses – like the unfurling of a fern (pteris) frond.
The artist has endeavoured to create a work that captures the essence of Spring. When all of nature bursts forth with fresh new life – plant and animal alike.
The human arm is used to spark recognition and remind us all of our own connectedness to the earth.
Jenny Durack – Rainbow Trees – dead trees recycled as art painted with rainbow colours

Nicola Evans – Strelitzia Shoes – a sculptural Strelitzia bush made from shoes and other recycled materials
‘Vibrant, bold and elegant, Strelitzia Shoes show off the beauty of Spring – a celebration of colour!
Through recycling, we can keep our world beautiful.’

Deb Gilmartin – Rain Gauge – 12 rain gauges showing average rainfall for each month, filled with succulent plants
Helen Hancock – Garden Posie
A posie of flowers, often given as a gift, indicates thoughtfulness and respect of one person for another.
˜Flowers” are prunings from my garden as I prepare for spring; leaves are made from a picket fence, an icon of the home garden.
Garden Posie is a tribute to all gardeners and gardens .

Mary-Kate Khoo – A Bed of Roses – sculpture made from beds and shower roses exchanged by Toowoomba City Council for more water efficient models
‘This “Bed of Roses” installation aims to suggest that we are a resilient people in Toowoomba. That, even with our water woes we still have a sense of humour, albeit dry, and are optimistic about our future. Life is still a bed of roses here – even in drought! ‘

Sally Nicholls – re: Cycle – made from recycled bicycles, each painted a different colour – circling a major intersection

Anne O’Sullivan – Junior Jungle – an installation of recycled poly pipes, painted with spring themes
‘This ‘mural’ combines the work of children who attend art classes at the Toowoomba Art Society on Saturday mornings and Thursday afternoons. The idea was to create a colourful, vibrant garden or jungle and to have fun using paint.’

Maria Richardson – Mother Earth – a carved sculpture of a pregnant woman
‘We have a symbiotic/reciprocal relationship with our planet in which we aren’t meeting our moral obligations’

The Darling Downs Art Quilters – Fantasy Gardens – hanging gardens of colourful fabrics with sound (bells etc) hidden inside them, hanging from trees near a children’s play area in Queen’s Park

George Szerencsi – Until Further Notice – a huge ball shaped ‘flower’ made from buckets joined at base & rim to form a sphere. Refers to waiting for rain.

Kim Walmsley – Nature will always find a way Rocks and found objects telling the story of connectiveness to land from an Indigenous viewpoint

Jennifer Wright – Monument to fences
‘This artwork acknowledges the first people with rocks that lead into Monument to fences. Pickets grow taller and posts spiral round the large Kauri pine. Are they protecting the tree (property) or keeping out wild things (other)? The barbed crown pays tribute to the sacrifice of  ‘others’ during colonisation’