Artists have increasingly attempted to escape the restrictions of the white-cube environment of the modernist gallery space and find alternative spaces to exhibit their work. Part of this movement has been the realization that artists can act as agents to activate historical or socially significant sites. This project was an experiment in having artists create works out of the safety of the gallery and most importantly having them respond to a very potent historical site and artifact — a warship from the second World War.
Australia’s last River Class frigate, the HMAS Diamantina, was the site for the exhibition that included twenty-nine artists from the Queensland College of Art. The project was a collaboration with the Queensland Maritime Museum a close neighbour of QCA on the SouthBank cultural precinct in Brisbane. Many of the artists worked with ex-service staff, some of who served on the ship, and are now volunteers at the Museum. This contributed to establishing an exemplary relational aesthetic project.
The project increased the attendance at the Museum and created renewed interest in the possibilities for artists working in historically significant sites. Specifically, the Museum has since developed a close relationship with QCA staff and postgraduate artists, establishing an onsite workplace for a group of QCA artists interested in developing further public projects.
Queensland Maritime Museum (HMAS Diamantina), South Bank, Brisbane, 2007.