Hinchinbrook gets PUNQd by alien display in the cane… and other fabulous festival art

Artist David Rowe stands with one of his wilder sculptural paintings.

Local artists from the Hinchinbrook region and beyond are dazzling visitors from all across the State and perhaps country (subject to travel restrictions), with the upcoming annual PUNQ Festival, which runs from this Friday, July 30 to Sunday, August 8.

One of the key features of the festival is the outdoor installation Site #272, created by local, multi-award-winning artist, David Rowe, who has exhibited extensively throughout North Queensland and been accepted into prestigious art colleges.

With a thematic cross-over with the Cardwell UFO Fest, being held on August 6-8, Site #272 features alien looking, genre bending, sculptural painted artworks nestled in crop circles and surrounded by broken television sets. 

“I’d love aliens to initiate contact, to let us know they’re aware of what we’re doing. Maybe touch the TVs and make them come alive with static and give people a bit of a scare on the way through,” David said, grinning with a wink. 

Featuring some of David’s largest ever sculptures poking out through the cane, the installation is designed to provoke an alien feeling of ‘foreignness’, as the monolithic sculptures stand, stark and tall against the waving natural backdrop, as if they were discarded remnants from the last UFO landing.

The region has experienced an above average number of UFO sightings and some residents enjoy engaging with the supernatural, which has led to a great alien and unexplained phenomenon fan-base spawning the UFO Fest and creating local alien folklore, to which this display pays homage.

David has enjoyed a successful 43-year art practice based out of Ingham, which started in 1978, with works primarily in oils and pencil drawings. He specialises in domestic and religious abstracts, portraits of landscapes and seascapes, surreal fantasies, and conceptual nature studies, and has had many commissions for large murals. His signature creations, however, are the uniquely sculpted canvas works, with each facet morphing into new narratives, such as those on display at the PUNQ Festival.

But David is not the only Hinchinbrook art world star featured at the festival. Other local luminaries include:

Ann Vardanega

Ann Vardenega is the star of the IMAGEnation exhibition, featuring experimental infrared photographic works, which show what the eye cannot see alone. She is also running several workshops, in which you can participate over the week, in her pop-up gallery workshop and making space. These include a Cyanotype Workshop, Introduction to Photography, Environmental Portraiture, Window Light Portraiture, and an Introduction to Adobe Photoshop Workshop.

Louise Plint

Local artist Louise Plint is opening her artist studio to drop-ins, to admire and purchase her multi-disciplinary works, and speak to the artist.

Joanne Cassady

Joanne recently launched her exclusively locally made and owned Aboriginal art store, Balgarra Designs, in Ingham. This is a featured stop in the PUNQ festival, as is the “Taste and Create” workshop being run, where guests can learn about Indigenous art and enjoy some light refreshments.

Gai Copeman, Carole Howlett, Michael Pope, Gerald Soworka, and Julie Woodlock

These artists have created one of the festivals most engaging artworks, the ‘Street View’ exhibition. This is an interactive artistic treasure hunt where on visiting a PUNQ destination and scanning the Street View QR code, visitors can see an artistic impression of the very location in which they are standing. The best bit is – the artworks can be downloaded in digital form and kept for free!

Tony Albert

Tony Albert is the local representative in the billboard exhibition ‘Both Ways’, which explores First Nations’ perspectives of ‘place’ in North Queensland. Passionate about sharing his heart on Indigenous issues, Albert is an award-winning, multidisciplinary, Aboriginal Artist on a mission to make visible the concerns of his people.

Kristina Fontana

Kristina’s signature event, ‘Painting in the Paddock’, is being brought to greater Queensland and Australia. ‘Painting in the Paddock’ is a wonderful outing where guests travel to a local rural location and paint the beautiful vistas before them in the fresh countryside air. All art materials and tools will be provided, along with a grazing table from local foodie favourite, JK’s Deli, together with non-alcoholic beverages.

Other local contributions include the Hinchinbrook Art, Food and Wine tour by Raven Tours, the Threads Marketplace, which is a textile-based collaboration between local art collectives Mission Arts and Ingham Art Action, and The Mudslingers Market by Ingham Art Action.
More information can be found, and online bookings made at https://www.umbrella.org.au/program-by-country/. The Site #272 installation can be found off Orient Road, Blackrock. Please note: The installation is on natural cane fields, on which it can be hazardous to walk, and is only suitable for able-bodied visitors. Long pants, closed-in shoes, and sun protection are recommended.

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