An Artful Innisfail

by John Mongard Landscape Architects

The Innisfail town centre revitalisation project arose out of a community process involving hundreds of local residents in July 1999.

This creative process has established a number of artistic themes focused around Innisfail's unique cultural and landscape patterns and features.

In proposing the addition of public art to the redevelopment of Edith Street, the Johnstone Shire Council has recognised that the inclusion of a cultural component into the design will be a significant factor in its success. It acknowledges that public art has many benefits and has a significant influence on the way in which we view ourselves and the places in which we live.

The concept plan for the revitalisation of Innisfail, proposed by John Mongard Landscape Architects, recognises the need for public art work. The art works are seen to have a range of purposes, including decorating and enhancing proposed design features, celebrating history and sense of place and interpreting the community and the environment in unique, individual and challenging ways. The next stage of streetscape works between Rankin and Owen Streets will also contain artworks, and Johnstone Shire Council is seeking expressions of interest from local artists and crafts people.

The most important aspect of the public art work at Edith Street will be that it should offer the potential to uncover layers of meaning and create an in-depth reflection on the unique place of Innisfail.

The first stage of the revitalisation project has been the construction of the Edith Street Boulevard, which aims to strongly connect the river with the business centre.

An interpretive trail is being built into the Boulevard, including ceramic tile inlays by artist Sam Di Mauro and local craftspersons Broken Head pottery. These inlays tell the story of the lifecycles of the cassowary and the crocodile, two strong symbols of the region as identified by the local community.

Currently, interpretive signs are being prepared which will tell stories about the town's history, culture and significant people. The research for this interpretive signage has been carried out by local cultural planner Sandra Hodgson, and the plaques are to be fixed onto the new town clock, and also along the footpath.

The refurbishment of the Innisfail Courthouse foyer has seen the construction of a mosaic artwork depicting the burning of sugarcane at harvest season. The boulevard 'town square' area features green and blue ceramic inlays which relate to H mong traditional patterns. A fountain is planned to feature in this area in the future, the design is an orchid-like form and interprets the town's unique location at the junction of two rivers.

The town clock is a significant civic monument which has been assisted in its funding by over thirty local residents, whose names will feature on plaques to be installed on the structure.

Successful inclusion of public artwork in the next stage of streetworks between Rankin and Owen Streets will depend upon the artists' ability to respond to the town's unique qualities. The artists and craft workers must be able to interpret the public art opportunities created in the concept design, so that the art works become an integral element in the overall streetscape, logically responding to the general design themes and generating a true sense of place.

The main street lends itself to a series of potential artworks that establish Edith Street's role as the heart of the town and act as colourful gateway markers on street corners. In addition to this, a number of small, intimate artworks could be included along Edith Street, which can be discovered by casual walking.

As the Johnstone Shire has a significant number of quality arts and craft professionals among its population, there is great potential to involve artists in the ongoing remaking of Innisfail.

For Further Information Contact:
John Mongard Landscape Architects
mail@mongard.com.au
Ph: (07) 3844 1932
Fax: (07) 3844 3250