Artists reimagine Gold Coast maps: Enter The Map at The Walls

The Walls Libby Harward at Tallebudgera estuary 2017, Photo credit Keelan O'Hehir

Enter The Map is a new exhibition at The Walls which runs 4 – 18 March with a focus on three new maps of the city by local artists.

Those artists were charged with interpreting the meaning of place in terms of their own life and experience. They’re not the usual type of people who make maps and their final products will challenge what maps are for, who uses them and how.

Carlotta is one of Kings Cross’ most famous daughters: a drag queen of the golden era, crossing gender divides and challenging perceptions about living as a transgender person. She’s also one of the artists featured in Enter The Map. As is Scott Redford. Recently announced as one of five artists being considered to design the new gateways to the city, and an acclaimed international contemporary artist with life-long ties to the Gold Coast, Scott is regularly credited with actually putting this city on the artistic map. Quite fitting that he’s now reimagining that map.

Libby Harward is the third artist included in the exhibition. A woman of Ngugi and Quandamooka heritage, she shares First Nation’s cultural ways of knowing and moving through Country.

In 2015 Libby undertook a residency at The Walls, and her work for Enter The Map follows from that experience of investigating place as well as her exploration of Traditional language at the Indigenous Artists Camp at South Stradbroke Island.

Libby’s work has developed from working with English words like ‘before’, ‘trodden’, ‘denied’ and exploring words in Traditional language like ‘yabruma’, which means ‘always / still [here]’.

In this project, Libby is working with the Yugambeh word ‘kunga’ which means to both call out and to listen. Libby’s map involves the spectator exploring sightlines from points along Tallebudgera Creek to Wollumbin (Mt Warning) and Jellurgal (Burleigh Headland).

Each of the three artist uses a standard Google map marked with symbols and an explainer on the back about what each point means to them and their experience of ‘their’ Gold Coast.

Danni Zuvela, the curator of the exhibition and Deputy Director of The Walls Art Space says that the exhibition is about using contemporary art as a jumping-off point for thinking about the ever-changing map of the Gold Coast.

“Whether you’re a visitor or a local, whether your maps are on paper or on your phone or in your head, having a new map is a chance for new discoveries,” she said. “What we really hope happens is for people to use these maps as an opportunity to use someone else’s guidance to look at and listen to place differently”.

With the project’s deep dive into local history, the relationship with Traditional Owners continues to be important, and the project continues with their permission and involvement.

“The artists worked with me to develop their stories for the maps which include cultural knowledge and research, earliest childhood memories and sites of creative encounters, holidays and performances,” Danni said adding that her research background helped to extend concepts with additional oral history and archival research delving into why Gold Coast’s maps have looked the way they do.

“The artists’ maps themselves are hopefully interesting documents aesthetically, but like all maps, they come to life when they are actually used to orient people in a space,” she said.

Enter The Map takes place with the support of City of Gold Coast’s Regional Arts Development Fund and runs 4 – 18 March at The Walls, Miami. Scott Redford will feature in an artist talk on 4 March and Libby Harward will feature on 5 March. More at thewalls.org.au.

IMAGE: The Walls’ Libby Harward at Tallebudgera estuary 2017 (c) Keelan O’Hehir

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