Fleurtations + Fleurniture – Artist-Run Brisbane in the 80s
By Fleur MacDonald
Brisbane in the 80’s was a lure for any young aspiring artist leaving rural towns as I did as my home town had no future for a creative spirit. My first year 1982 in Brisbane was taken up as being enrolled at Queensland College of Art but I only lasted one year as I had previously been trained privately and was itching to get out and meet other artist’s and show my work.
Moved to a share house in New Farm and across the hall were two members of the O’Flate performance art troupe, Janelle Hirst and Zelico Maric who introduced me to the Belltower Studio’s. The building was a grand old warehouse on Bruinswick St, between Fortitude valley and New Farm Brisbane, it had a Bell Tower on the top floor that was quite large and housed the Bell Tower Design Team. There I had my first studio and finished off work to be part of my first show which was incorporated into the ‘O’Flate Studio Plunge’ the opening was on the 1st August 1985, Thursday at 7.30pm and went for 2 weeks.
The work I produced for the show was a collection of painted found furniture and the other artist’s involved were, well the ones I can remember, designer Maria Cleary, Belltower Design Studio ‘Lindy Stokes and Chrissy Feld’, O’Flate members, Adam Boyd, Jeanelle Hurst, Russell Lake, Zeliko Maric and Michelle Andringa and that’s all I can remember.
This show being my first introduction to the Brisbane ARI scene and not the last, as the next one I was involved in was at That Space, run by Paul Andrew, it was called ‘THAT BIRTHDAY SHOW’in 1986. It’s all a little sketchy with the facts about this show, but I do remember I had 2 works, ‘Small wooden corner Table’ which sadly has since been destroyed and ‘Wooden foot stool’ which now belongs to my father.
Curated by Paul Andrew, also at That Space, 4th August – 15th August 1987
Artist’s included – Scott Clifford, Sharyn Woods, Thomas Burless, Katie White, Anna Zsoldos, Malcolm Enright, Fleur MacDonald, Peter Dwyer, Michael Eather, Donald Holt and Vittorio Valentino. I had 4 pieces of painted furniture, ‘Plantaloop’, coffee table, ‘Zedachess’, cane table, ‘A’, pot stand and ‘Zenith’, book shelf all of which were painted with gouache and enamel on wood.
Crocadillo, 1988 solo at the newly renovated Princess Theatre in East Brisbane which I volunteered to work on during the renovations. There was a number of works I had in this show, 6 small gouache paintings on paper, a camera box, wall cupboard which was a commission, Big Cane Chair, a wooden pot stand and a wooden foot stool. Andrew Campbell was also having a solo with a series of photographs.
Third Solo, second for 1988 Fleurniture – Young Artist’s Gallery, M.O.C.A., Brisbane. Fleurniture Chair, man’s dressing table, wooden pot stand, Big wooden port and 5 small wooden ports.
The Young Artist’s Gallery was a room behind a café attached to the Museum of Contemporary Art, M.O.C.A. The YAG was a place for artist’s to rent as an Artist run space and bookings were made through the museum.
Anything That Moves 1988, Young Artist Gallery, a number of Artist’s involved but sadly I can’t remember who they were, I had two pieces in this show. ‘Birthday Chair’ and ‘Wooden Foot Stool’, both gouache on wood.
La Banana e Buono, solo, Young Artist’s Gallery, 1989. A wild and wonderful ride with Rhana Devenport who had numerous works on paper which lined the walls and my pieces were hung from the ceiling and placed on plinths on the floor of the gallery. Fleurtation Chair, Fleurescher Chair, small cane table and 2 small ports.
Glamourpussy Studio Show, Dunstan House in the city, 1989. Just for a short intermission I was known as Fleur de La Bono just for a bit of fun. Fleurtation Chair and Fleurescher Chair appeared. Artist’s included: Thomas Burless, Michael Eather, Malcolm Enright, Phil Gordon,Tim Gruchy, Barbara Heath, Sheridan Kennedy, Lehan Ramsay, Luke Roberts, Linden Seale and Kenn Bushby & Chris Feld.
I remember the 80’s in Brisbane as being a place for us to envisage our dreams, to wear beautiful hand made local designer threads, to flaunt gorgeous hand made jewellery and express ourselves with our art. In 1990 I left Brisbane for Sydney to continue my art career.