Fish Lane Steams Ahead
  • James and Eleanor Avery, Steam Machine, 2017. Photo: AJ Moller
  • Lix North, East of the Mountains, West of the Sea, 2017. Photo: Mick Richards
  • Jodie Connolly, A Lifelong Promise, 2017. Photo: CREATIVEMOVE
  • Fintan Magee, Head in the Clouds 2, 2017, Photo by Mick Richards

CREATIVEMOVE and Aria Property Group have collaborated in the revitalisation of the Fish Lane Precinct by commissioning four new artworks that form a strong contemporary connection to the lanes history and heritage. Water and electricity were important combined elements historically in Fish (formerly Soda) Lane, harnessed to drive industry in creating steam to clean clothes and to carbonate water to create soft
drink. These elements rely on ‘flow’, ‘current’ and ‘activation’ for vitality and productivity. They also connect both working culture with the fashionable/entertaining culture of attending theatre events and dining out that the precinct has always been home to.

James and Eleanor Avery’s Steam Machine on the corner of Hope Street is inspired by the industrial and architectural heritage of the Fish Lane precinct. Two abstracted jets of ‘steam’ make direct reference to the former Brisbane Steam Laundry and the Eodone Aerated Water Company that were sited nearby. The stepped abstraction and paired aspect of the sculptural forms are informed by the gabled fronts and Art Deco style of the local heritage. Their metallic blue colour references the blue glass of water bottles and the perceived colour of water and a ‘Pop Art’ sensibility communicates the pulsating energy of the area today. Steam Machine is fabricated from painted, rolled, and facetted sheet aluminium to create a dynamic light play throughout day and night, celebrating the vibrant cultural precinct and the changing conditions as day segues into night.

Head in the Clouds 2 by internationally acclaimed 2D artist and former Brisbane local, Fintan Magee, is derived from one of his previous graffiti artworks that was once visible from the train line in the area. The work features a woman whose face is covered by a cloud-like formation of fabric. The fabrics featured in this large-scale painting are based on discarded cloths found in the Rocklea Spinning Mills, an abandoned factory in Brisbane. The fabrics swirl around the girl’s head as a dream or distant memory. The work pays homage to the disappearing factories and warehouses of South Brisbane and South-East Queensland and comments of the ephemeral nature of art, the de-industrialisation of the local area, and the ever-changing face of Brisbane.

Lix North’s East of the Mountains and West of the Sea juxtaposes the past and future with the unique ethos of the West End/South Brisbane area. Lix suggests that “it was important that each work sat organically in situ as if each piece had grown in place, a product of its location, rather than something imposed upon it”. George Fish (1851–1925), entrepreneur, champion of South Brisbane, and purveyor of steam, is the namesake of Fish Lane. The hero of West of the Sea, he is nestled fashionably in his fish bowl atop a fascinating system of pressurised mechanica, where water and energy combine with a pinch of magic. In East of the Mountains, his future counterpart (the artist herself) appears as if born of that very steam, like a genie from a bottle. West and East face each other, both looking out through their extraordinary eyewear as if seeking one another out—as the past might seek the future and the present might look to the past.

Jodie Connolly’s A Life Long Promise, is a work that encapsulates the value and integrity of Legacy House, its history, and its service to the community. The promise to care for and support the families of those who served their country and did not make it home or were incapacitated came from the legendary commitment from one ‘digger’ to another in a foxhole in World War I at the Battle of Pozières, France (1916). In Brisbane, this promise has been honoured and maintained by dedicated people in our community for nearly a century. Legacy House provides essential services and support to a vast number of Australian families of our servicewomen and men. This mural pays tribute to those who have served, supported, and committed themselves to the original promise made all those years ago.

Through the curatorial motivation of alternating current, all four works help to generate a ‘flow’ that energises the entire Lane with engaging experiences throughout the day and night. The collection of works affirms local pride and identity and celebrates the environmental values that reinforce sustainability through art and design elements that intensify and explore the larger ideas inherent in the ARIA residential developments. This latest instalment of Fish Lane’s Art Program helps to demonstrate a rare and endangered aspect of the city’s cultural heritage.