Harbinger Consultants

Culture + Complexity + Change

PROJECTS | Making places pop!

Work on some of our projects has now concluded with excellent results from our Placemaking workshop with members of the Lord Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council and the Ernest Street Tunnel project involving artist Mandy Ridley.



The participants in the Placemaking workshop all selected a site that they felt needed some improvement to enhance young people’s sense of place and belonging. The workshop gave participants an opportunity to advocate for young people’s needs in the city and suburbs. They developed a diverse range of ideas including improvements for local parks and community facilities that made young people feel more welcome and made better use of space; recognition of the ways in which young people are already using public spaces and providing facilities for them; and some innovative thinking about integrating public transport and social media. Since the workshop, presentations have been prepared so that the participants can speak with their local elected representatives to discuss better ways of engaging young people in public space and placemaking, as well as making Brisbane a vibrant and creative city. Our thanks to Visible Ink and Brisbane City Council for supporting this initiative.


Photo 21-04-13 4 08 30 PM

The Ernest Street Tunnel public art project has also now been completed with much positive feedback about Mandy Ridley’s richly patterned murals lining the walls of the rail overpass. Our curatorial brief worked with the theme of fabric, which refers to the integrity and composition of a thing or entity and gives us pause to consider how those things are made or constructed. It is the weave and interplay of the soft and the hard, the tacit and overt, the material and immaterial to create something else, something encapsulating and inclusive. In urban design and planning, ‘urban fabric’ refers to “the physical aspect of urbanism, emphasising building types, thoroughfares, open space, frontages, and streetscapes but excluding environmental, functional, economic and socio-cultural aspects”. This focus on materiality and form can sometimes mean the social and cultural dimensions of site and place require other kinds of analysis and attention.

An existing artwork on Melbourne Street under the train overpass does much to contribute to the public realm and this project is also intended to enhance pedestrian experience and the walkability of the local area. As necessary infrastructure, the railway’s physical form creates an edge; sites where the fabric seems frayed and disjointed. The railway line and overpass is itself structural, engineered and architectural, enmeshed in narratives of industrial progress as well as a vital element of urban transit and connectivity. The tunnels near Southbank are sites of tension and uncertainty. Enhancing these important pathways connecting Southbank and the surrounding area will result in pedestrian movement and flow in a dynamic tourism, cultural and recreation precinct.

In addressing the notion of fabric, the artist was invited to explore multiple aspects of fabric, particularly the exchange between relational, historic, experiential and social dimensions and the physical form the city. The Ernest Street project endeavours to restitch the urban fabric by recognising the context of the tunnel and revelling in the patterns of community and place to restore continuity and integrity.

Artist Mandy Ridley responded to the curatorial brief with a proposal titled Flourish!, which drew on the richly patterned, aesthetic culture and decorative elements of rail uniforms. She said the work sources “decorative trim found on the uniforms of railway employees … The motifs [were] interpreted in a pattern-like fashion to surface the walls with care, calling to mind an interior environment, a welcoming home-like space”. We would like to thank the installation team: Natalie, Peter, Britta, Lisa and David.

Photo 24-03-13 3 30 16 PM

Photo 21-04-13 4 09 34 PM

Please use the comments section of this blog to let us know what you think of this project. Some of the feedback heard by the installation team while on site included:

  • It’s become a happy place!
  • The space now feels safer
  • The patterns suggest other cultures

What do you think?

1 Comment»

  pipskyJude Pippen wrote @

the comments are a reminder that we tend to analyze these projects in terms of aesthetics but forget the power of psychology- we change the spirit of the space as well as provide visual impact

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