Kim and Lucas are off to Mackay on Wednesday to start setting up our exhibition at Artspace Mackay. It’s been a long time coming!
We have lots of different elements to share – video, drawings, objects, hats, diagrams, hay bales, drone photographs, songs. There’s no way to cram into a gallery all the things that have proliferated from this project, but it’s a good occasion to have a pause and reflect.
We’re really excited to have Jeremy Smith from the Australia Council coming to Mackay to officially launch the show. He’s the head of Community, Emerging and Experimental Arts at the OzCo. Without the Fellowship Lucas received from Jeremy’s department over the last few years, it would have been very difficult to do this complicated project.
Here’s a text written by the wonderful Tracey Heathwood, gallery director of Artspace Mackay, as the foreword to the exhibition catalogue (which also contains a dialogue between Kim Williams, Fiona Vuibeqa and Lucas Ihlein).
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Wollongong artists Kim Williams and Lucas Ihlein have been visiting the Mackay region since 2014 to gain a deeper understanding of the sugarcane industry and to investigate how artists and farmers can work together on large-scale human/ecology problems.
The declining health of the Great Barrier Reef has increased pressure on the sugarcane industry to reduce chemical and sediment run-off and improve its environmental performance and it is this challenge that lies at the heart of their Artspace Mackay exhibition Sugar vs the Reef?
The social and ecological engagement that has occurred over the life of the project, through the artists’ interactions with local farmers, the Mackay Australian South Sea Islander community, Yuibera descendants and Traditional Custodians, politicians and Natural Resource managers, has informed the stories told through this exhibition.
It is also important to acknowledge that Sugar vs the Reef? forms part of a much larger body of work, which has seen Kim and Lucas create large-scale events and installations in the region, including the Sunset Symphony in the Sunflowers event on the Mattsson’s farm in 2017 and the ongoing Watershed Land Art Project at the Mackay Regional Botanic Gardens.
The artists’ passion for working with communities and their desire to develop ethical relationships between humans and land through their collaborative processes are truly inspiring. Sugar vs the Reef? is a fascinating look at what’s possible when artists and farmers come together to envision a new future for agriculture.
-Tracey Heathwood, Gallery Director, Artspace Mackay
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Kim Williams and Lucas Ihlein – Sugar vs the Reef?
Civic Centre Precinct, Gordon St, Mackay
Exhibition dates: 3 Nov til 27 January 2019.
Exhibition opening Friday 2 November 6pm
Exhibition to be officially opened by Jeremy Smith, Director Community, Emerging and Experimental Arts, Australia Council for the Arts.
Artist Floor Talk Friday 2 November 5pm (free, Auslan interpreted)
Artist Site Talk Saturday 3 November 930am at The Beacon, Mackay Regional Botanic Gardens.
Exhibition catalogue available with text by Fiona Vuibeqa, Kim Williams, Lucas Ihlein, Tracey Heathwood