Bluewater Trail Public Art: Donna Marcus


When Donna Marcus was approached to develop concepts for public art outside a new shopping centre in Mackay, she was aware of Mackay’s significant investment and interest in culture, particularly the program delivered by Artspace Mackay since the new gallery was built in 2003, and the public artwork developed by Fiona Foley for the Bluewater Trail along the Pioneer River.

Having lived in regional centres as a child, she knew the part that investment in cultural facilities may play in the civic life of the community. She was also drawn to the commission by the ambitious plan for Canelands Central. As a result she approached it with an innate appreciation of the potential of the new shopping centre for Mackay residents, “a space designed for people to use and to be”.

In this context, Marcus has created visually commanding sculpture that is also sympathetic to the “beautiful, simple void” of the interior architecture of the shopping centre. The design of the building, by Lend Lease architect Darren Kindrachuk, was influenced by the rural and industrial structures that have been so important to Mackay and this resonates strongly with Marcus’s sculptures. Constructed to her specifications from marine buoys, they are utilitarian in materials yet anchored to both the community’s vibrant economy and its ties to the sea. The layers of ideas float as far and wide as universal consumption and the ethics of modernism.

The siting of these colourful beacons also creates a visual link between the populated shopping centre and the Pioneer River that takes Mackay to an international market. They speak both to the history of the city and, aesthetically, to the contemporary concerns in Foley’s large-scale public art works along the Bluewater Trail.