The old Medical Centre on the corner of Stokes and Sturt Streets has been closed for a while now. The space is large, and has the potential for so much, but has been sitting unused.
Until this week.
I walked into the building this afternoon to a hive of activity and colour; artists brushed by with armfuls of work while others staked claim to wallspace outside their respective exhibiting rooms. Installation for the Pop-Up North Queensland (PUNQ) Festival has well and truly begun.
The Festival, curated by Umbrella Studio contemporary arts, launches this Friday night and seeks to activate empty spaces in the CBD while reflecting the shift in North Queensland’s cultural landscape. Pop-ups on offer include exhibitions, workshops, cafes, artist talks, classic film screenings, and a number of creative stores.
One of the first artists to install, Townsville’s Sonia Ward, said the Festival is an incredible opportunity not just for local artists, but the city itself.
“I love the idea of utilising spaces that are unused and turning them into fun areas, and also have been looking at ways of getting my own name and artwork out there, so the Pop-Up Festival has come as the perfect opportunity,” Sonia said.
“I think the Festival is very important at the moment, especially with so many businesses going broke – people need a bit of a lift. I especially think the café at the front should stay there, it’s already been getting a lot of attention with people looking in the window curious.”
Sonia’s exhibition features a collection of cardboard sculptures and collages, with horses a recurring theme throughout the room.
“The idea for this Pop-Up came from the concept that children would rather play with a cardboard box than with toys. I’m not actually sure why I chose horses in particular, I was just drawn to them!
“I guess rocking horses play a role in the childhood aspect, and the Trojan Horse has the idea of an invasion of toys – which is why I’ve got that out there in the entrance with toys on it.
“I’ll continue working next week, along the tops of the walls and blank areas to build it out. I’m not doing workshops in here, mainly just working on my own, but the Trojan Horse out the front has the colouring-in books on it for people to colour in – or even draw on the wall if they want. I’ve got lots of textas there.”
The former Medical Centre will play host to 10 artists, filling its consultation rooms and entry foyer, with a café out the front – and is just one of many locations involved in the Festival.
Other major hubs of activity include Northtown (280 Flinders Street), with 10 artists residing there for the week; the former Chemist Warehouse (beside the Medical Centre) on Stokes Street, playing host to international artist Piyali Ghosh and local creative store Renegade Handmade among others; 76 Denham Street, with life drawing sessions from 5-7pm each evening; and Alexandra House (261 Flinders Street), showcasing work of the Brush & Press printmakers, our July/ August Artist-in-Focus Toby Cedar, and more.
Join in the Pop-Up North Queensland Festival, with exhibitions, workshops, artist talks, classic film screenings and pop-up shops from 28 July – 6 August. Click here for a full program of events.