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Lines in the Sand 2014 – Hot Island

Welcome to linesstradbroke.com! I am the writer in residence for the festival for the second year and am once again blogging to capture and document this amazing meeting of peoples, cultures, arts and nature.

Lines in the Sand is a staging ground for the future. How else to create models for right living, caring for country, cross-cultural sharing, creativity through connection with nature and just plain fun, then to set the groundwork (many thanks to the artists, organisers, Straddie community and volunteers), gather up the people over a beautiful winter weekend — and go for it?

Below you’ll find a good summary of the background of Lines in the Sand. Last year’s posts are also included here in the Archive. Enjoy! And don’t forget to “Follow” and “Comment”.

Carol Schwarzman



Here’s my review of LINES 2012 written for Australia Art Monthly below. It’s a good piece also for understanding the background of the festival.

Lines in the Sand 2012

On 4 July 2011, the Australian High Court issued a landmark decision and recognized the Quandamooka People as Traditional Owners of North Stradbroke Island (Minjerribah), Peel and Goat Islands and surrounding waters, just off the coast of Brisbane.

The inaugural Lines in the Sand happened at this time, and was a platform for local artists to speak about the significance of this event. LINES is organized by both aboriginal and non-aboriginal island residents. As a site for the meeting of cultures, environmental activism, art making and traditional crafts – and for the exchange of ideas – it has grown to attract thousands of people. Taking the ferry from the mainland to visit “Straddie” always leads to immersion in a unique ecology of tea tree lakes, fresh water creeks, wide-open beaches and rocky headlands. Scheduling LINES at the end of June during the annual migration of humpback whales makes land-based whale watching a phenomenal daily treat, along with dolphin, tortoise and manta ray sighting.

The island’s critical environmental issues centre on sand mining, tourism and  its national parklands. LINES schedules artist residencies, ephemeral arts installations, nature-based workshops and new media works, along with forums and discussion groups that celebrate the meeting of nature and art within the context of wisely developing Stradbroke’s culture and economy.

Jo Kaspari, lead organizer of LINES, explained to this writer that, “As part of our Arts and Environment Forum, Fiona Foley presented a type of arts practice that is activist in nature. In particular her work explores Queensland’s hidden aboriginal histories. Her presentation moved LINES and local artists to talk more about our own hidden histories. As compared to a later facilitated discussion, ‘How Do Artists Talk About the Environment?’ Fiona’s work presented a very direct, confrontational approach.”

Paralleling this drive for activism, a festival mainstay is the transformation of Point Lookout into an outdoor studio and art walk. In the days leading up to visitors’ arrival, LINES’ artists in residence installed their works along the South Gorge lookout walk and other locations.

A resident of neighbouring Russell Island, Sharon Jewell’s approach to found natural materials is minimalist and poetic, and mimics the way leaves, grasses and sticks coalesce within the landscape to form occasions of structure shaped over time. Her gentle, sculptural incursions into the forested landscape set up systems of organization attributable to human activity. Pathways formed from decaying brown cottonwood leaves pinned with brittle stems were not to be walked upon. Instead, their haptic rhythm lead the eye through texture and colour, and played with notions of gathering, bordering and temporality.

Craig Tapp, an artist of Noonuccal, and Ngugi descent, is a Stradbroke resident. His large-scale sand paintings drawn on headland beaches with red and yellow ochres would be washed away with high tide, yet they acted as invitations to inhabit the landscape, to feel the wind and salt water on the body and to contemplate the spirit of living within the parameters of custodial law. A storyteller in his own right, Tapp also lead festival workshops for children to create their own narratives in the sand.

Flotsam, a video installation by Lucy Trippett – also a Straddie resident – was projected at twilight from the Point Lookout Surf Club onto the wall of South Gorge. Viewers could either watch from the gorge’s sliver of sandy beach or view from inside the Surf Club’s community room as shifting images of underwater life hovered on the gorge’s rocky cliffs. This particular Friday evening brought a break from a week of severe weather – and so sitting outside or in, surrounded by stars and crashing waves – placed everyone within a wondrous theatre of clear skies and renewed energy.

At the invitation of Quandamooka women, Anaheke Metua joined the LINES festival this year, and together, a cross-fertilisation between mainland and island aboriginal women reestablished the practice of weaving for Quandamooka culture. As an outgrowth of conversations at a yarning circle held during an earlier Quandamooka Culture Sharing Circle (QCSC), a pre-contact basket from Stradbroke was sited at the Queensland Museum.

The basket became a rosetta stone, inspiring mainland weavers to back engineer its construction and regain the grass harvesting and weaving methods particular to Stradbroke. Residents Mandy Blivett, who attended the QCSC, and Auntie Evelyn Parkin, as well as Okka Wikka from far north Queensland are credited with sitting down together and creating the organic ecology of memory and vision to rebirth a practice steeped in history and meaning. This kind of cultural transaction is exactly what LINES is dedicated to fostering into the future.

As part of the festival’s evening activities, Brisbane’s Luke Kidd installed Proposal for Placemaking: North Stradbroke Island on a lawn within Point Lookout’s small business center. Proposal mixed earnestness with irony in an investigation of how non-aboriginal people create a sense of place. The artist’s drawings of local native flora and fauna were projected from within a large tent, and two other projection screens (one of which was built from real estate ‘For Sale’ signs), introduced questions about the vulnerability of wildlife, the ubiquitous introduction of capitalism, road building and empirical observation as means of ‘owning’ the land.

An early Saturday morning presentation by local Quandamooka Tribal and Traditional Owners – in partnership with Redland Bay Shire officials – was introduced by Auntie Joan Hendriks, a descendant of the Ngugi people of Moreton Island, Moorgumpin in Moreton Bay (Quandamooka). In a beautiful talk celebrating traditional ownership and cultural connection, she welcomed to country a crowd of over two hundred people. The Yulu Burri Ba Dancers (Quandamooka) performed, and Mathew Burns, a Quandamooka ‘culture man’, spoke about and demonstrated local aboriginal artifacts.

Jo Kaspari concluded that, “our wrap-up meeting at Queensland University’s Moreton Bay Research Station in October fleshed out the many ways in which the ecological arts are working in our community as tools for activism, environmental advocacy, education, bringing people together and enhancing their experience of our ecology.”

With the island’s controversial sand mining industry closing as early as 2025, the loss of income and jobs to Stradbroke’s residents – both aboriginal and non-aboriginal – could push forward the island’s nature based tourist industry as key in strengthening local economies. Accessible only by ferry, Straddie maintains its pristine beauty through its isolation. And so, festivals such as Lines in the Sand must be carefully nurtured.  As experimental models for transitioning communities based on mutual cooperation, festivals can grow environmentally sensitive, arts-related economies, and can be trail blazers in creating more sustainable outcomes for everyone.


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