Tania McMurtry Art Installations at Q Station, Manly
These two works by Tania McMurtry, recent Master of Fine Arts graduate from the National Art School in Sydney, are “inspired by growing up during the Troubles in a 1970’s Belfast. It is about unity and division, beauty and fear; it is about landscape and architecture, trauma and resilience.”
McMurtry’s works convey themes of belonging and division, representing the artists journey emigrating from Belfast, “a city reeling from a decade of conflict”, to Australia as a 17 year old. These themes are congruent with the story told by the heritage listed site at Q Station, where the experiences from generations of migrants past are preserved.
As Australia’s longest continuously operating quarantine station, now known as Q Station, the site has a rich history and massive significance to migration and settlement. Unofficially starting in 1828, opened by 1833 and closed in 1984, “at least 580 vessels and more than 13,000 people had been quarantined at the Station, and an estimated 572 unfortunate people never got to leave”
“A Terrible Beauty” is a large immersive sculpture which allows the viewer to journey through its passage. The charred blackness of the burnt wood shows beauty and fear, relating to McMurtry growing up in a beautiful place surrounded by conflict. These natural elements are offset by the solid bolted steel, reminiscent of burnt out busses and architectural remains commonly seen by McMurtry as a child. This large installation will be placed at the mouth of the Q Station Wharf on Quarantine Beach, representing the passage taken by thousands of migrants throughout the Quarantine Station’s history.
The Fragility of Peace is a smaller sculpture showing the fragile nature of peace alongside the complex layers inherent in a divided land. “This sculpture not only reflects the fragility of peace, it also speaks to the internal conflict of having left ones family and homeland”. This fragile aspect of peace plus the physical and mental complexities of emigration are shared experiences of those who were once quarantined at the Manly Quarantine Station.
Q Station’s current Artist in Residence, Jo Neville, is excited by this extension of Q Station’s commitment to display works of art by local artist, stating “so many Q Station visitors will be inspired by Tania’s sculpture and her experience of turmoil before she found peace through migration to Australia in the 1980’s”.
Tania McMurtry’s two sculpture installations, “A Terrible Beauty” and “The Fragility of Peace”, will be displayed free of charge and open to the public for viewing at Q Station’s Wharf Precinct from mid December 2019.
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