Final Call - a marriage of art, science, environment and technology
  • Friday 24 September 2021
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Image: Final Call creative work by Caitlin Franzmann

Six leading Queensland artists present a creative response to the impacts of climate change in the provocative new Final Call exhibition, presented by Sunshine Coast Council’s Horizon Festival, on now until October 17.

Sunshine Coast Community Portfolio Councillor Rick Baberowski said that with the cancellation of the full 2021 Horizon Festival Program due to the uncertainty of COVID restrictions put in place in August, Final Call was re-imagined.

“Festival organisers took the original exhibition concept and strengthened the digital component to ensure this stunning and thought-provoking exhibition could continue no matter the COVID situation,” Cr Baberowski said.

“As fortune would have it, the exhibition is presented as it should be, albeit on different dates, with the botanic garden forming the perfect backdrop for the interwoven themes of art and climate change—definitely one to experience. “

Set among the stunning natural environment of Maroochy Regional Bushland Botanic Garden in Tanawha on Kabi Kabi Country, Final Call features five new creative works collaboratively conceptualised and developed by Judy Watson, Robert Andrew, Courtney Coombs, Caitlin Franzmann, Itamar Freed and Courtney Scheu.

Final Call responds to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) warning that this is the global community’s last chance to make meaningful change to counter the catastrophic impact of rising temperatures.

Final Call is curated by the University of the Sunshine Coast (USC) Art Gallery Manager Megan Williams who said it was impossible to look at the beauty of the exhibition’s location without simultaneously considering climate change.

“The physical impacts are impossible to ignore,” Ms Williams said.

“Climbing temperatures, extended droughts, severe storms, rising sea levels, ocean acidification and bushfires are just some of the symptoms of a changing environment.

“My intent was to bring together a group of artists who work in open-ended ways to respond to these ideas.

“What was important is that their practices were sympathetic to the environment.” 

The artists came together at the botanic gardens in early 2021 to connect with Kabi Kabi Traditional Custodians and learn more about Country.

They also worked with climate change scientists and thought leaders to translate the science into meaningful conceptual art.

Ms Williams said this grounded and artistic process was elemental to informing the works and the underlying messages, resulting in an immersive audience experience that integrated art, science and technology into the surrounding natural environment.

Final Call offers a moment of hopeful reflection in the face of an impending environmental crisis and encourages visitors to slow down and appreciate the beauty, wonder and history of the natural environment. 

“The exhibition begins with a gesture from Courtney Coombs, inviting us to move past climate change helplessness by focussing on the little things within our control,” Megan explained.

“Caitlin Franzmann brings our attention and conversation to other small things – the magic and wonder of the world at our feet.

“Judy Watson, Aunty Helena Gulash and Tor MacLean’s collaborative work makes us look up, through and into the environment and advocates for the place of Australian Aboriginal knowledge systems in responding to climate change.

“Itamar Freed and Courtney Scheu contemplate what is at stake if we don’t look closely at the impacts of human intervention in the landscape.

“The exhibition concludes as gently as it begins with a delicate and ephemeral work by Robert Andrew that draws our attention to the interconnectedness of all living things.”  

Final Call is also available as a digital experience, giving the exhibition longevity beyond its physical installation.

Audiences can take a digital wander through the Gardens and dive deep into the artists’ creative processes, their works and what climate change means to them through interviews and 360-degree video.

Experience Final Call in-person at Maroochy Regional Bushland Botanic Garden, Tanawha (Kabi Kabi Country) until Sunday October 17, 2021 from 9am-5pm daily or take the digital experience at horizonfestival.com.au/finalcall.

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This program is supported by the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland. Presented in partnership with The Saturday Paper, University of the Sunshine Coast and Sunshine Coast Council.