Art at New Heights

Cr Jenny Hill, Cr Les Walker, Street Artists Vix and Shane Troubles, Cr Kurt Rehbein and Cr Ann-Maree Greaney at the in-progress Uncontained site, Strand Park.

The local hype ahead of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games is ramping up, with parts of the city already transforming in preparation for the Games.

As well as qualifying basketball matches being played at the Entertainment and Convention Centre, Townsville will be one of five staging cities for Festival 2018 – the arts and culture program run in conjunction with the Games. One of the most prominent face-lifts occurring in preparation for the Festival is the installation of Uncontained at Strand Park – a number of shipping containers stacked around the park, showcasing artwork produced by local, national and international artists.

Commonwealth Games Working Group Chair Cr Kurt Rehbein said Uncontained would play host to many of Townsville’s Festival 2018 events.

Uncontained is an iconic part of Festival 2018 run as part of the Commonwealth Games here in Townsville. We’ve got a number of artists – local, national and international – performing their style of freehand street art over these containers, with a stage and big screen as well. [Australian hip-hop group] Thundamentals will be opening Uncontained on 5 April with a free event for the community and that’s what Festival 2018 is all about; our community coming together to enjoy the Games and being a part of it,” Cr Rehbein said.

“I admire the skill these street artists have doing this – I can’t draw a stick figure so I love what they’re doing, it takes a lot of skill and dedication throughout their lives to get to this point in their career and it’s good to see it brought to Townsville.

Local artist and member of the Run Collective, Shane Troubles, said it was great for artists to have their skills recognised locally alongside visiting artists.

“I’ve been painting in Townsville for about 15 years, so getting the call to be involved in this was great. It’s always good to get a bit of respect for something you’ve been doing for so long,” Shane said.

“This is the biggest project we’ve been a part of for sure. One of the best parts of doing events like this is we get to work with artists from all around Australia and overseas. We really enjoy that and it helps people understand North Queensland’s street art culture which is surprising to a lot of artists.”

A close-up of artwork by Run Collective in ‘Uncontained’, part of Townsville’s Festival 2018 program.

“I’m working with my mates Vix and Jon Electros painting the stage for the festival. It will include Irukandji, octopus and reef fish and it’s a kind of mystical, psychedelic world. We’ve got other murals in Townsville and a certain style we like to work in so we’re trying to keep that consistent but then bring in elements of North Queensland – so it’s kind of like space and North Queensland themes mixed together.”

Mayor Jenny Hill said elements of Festival 2018 such as Uncontained wouldn’t have been possible without State Government support.

“This concept started when the State Government told us funding would be made available for Festival 2018, so we put local arts groups together to determine what they could help us with in terms of creating this community festival, and that’s really where Uncontained came from: it’s a grassroots production from the Townsville community,” Cr Hill said.

“We’ve been thinking about whether there could be an opportunity to place these containers around the city [after Festival 2018] – I think what the festival is showing us already is that we could possibly have a biennial festival similar to this in our community. We’ve already seen great feedback in terms of ticket bookings and public response to the concerts, so let’s see how this goes.”

Catch the launch of Uncontained as part of Festival 2018 from 5 April – for a program of Festival events and ticketing information, click here

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  • Following on from my comments last week, I have an idea. I am still cranky about the huge expense for this 10 day event. I see Mayor Hill is thinking about moving the containers around town after the event. This is just more expense especially if foundations are needed. Why not just leave the containers in place for the rest of the year or longer. They have far more impact as a complete display, the WOW factor I mentioned. It would give more people a chance to see them and get value for their rates and tax money. It may also make interesting tourist attraction.

    The only objection could be that the park is booked for other events. I see that events are planned in the park throughout the festival so obviously it could cope with “normal” events. It would probably increase patronage for other events. Why not re-paint the containers to match a particular event; theme the event. If the container park wasn’t suitable then I am sure another park could be found, Jezzine is hardly used.. There are lots of good parks in this city.

    So let’s make more of the huge expense setting up this display and leave it there for a while and WOW a lot more people.

    • Hi Robin,

      Thanks so much for your input on this and the broader Festival 2018 post last week – you’ve raised some incredibly insightful points! I must admit I was a bit unsure when I first saw the containers being installed – they did look like a bit of an industrial eyesore and a waste of the city’s Festival 2018 budget – but then walked past last night and they have transformed so much, and definitely deserve to be showcased for longer than the Festival! I don’t think anyone will realise how versatile the park is until thousands of people cram in there to watch the Thundamentals on opening night – so for now, I guess it’s a waiting game. Thanks again for your comments, I can’t wait to hear your thoughts as the Festival gets underway.


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