Amanda Bennetts

A Collective of Congregating Creatives

Image source: Photographer Jennifer Dean

Gallery Director, Noosa Regional Gallery and Artistic Director of Floating Land Michael Brennan dives into a magically metaphorical world where art and environment collide at the edge of ideas.

I’ve heard there was a time not that long ago when wedges of black swans could be commonly spotted soaring over the waters of Lake Cootharaba at Boreen Point (wedge – that’s the collective noun when the swans are in flight). 

The 2021 staging of Floating Land – the 11th iteration of the biennale in its 21-year history – will see a bevy of the majestic birds (that’s a term for them when they’re on the ground) return to the lake, albeit in a somewhat more static configuration.

Earlier in the year, Fabrizio Biviano was an artist in residence at the Butter Factory Arts Centre in Cooroy, using the time to carve 24 of swans from discarded car tyres. The ballet of tyre swans (strictly speaking, ballet is another collective noun for swans, but not tyre swans specifically) will grace the lake, escaping the suburban Australian yard where these kitsch garden ornaments are more commonly found. The title of Biviano’s project, Black Swan Theory, is also a metaphor that describes an event that both comes as a surprise and has a substantial effect, yet is typically and inappropriately rationalised afterwards, with the benefit of hindsight. 

It might be seen to apply to our inaction on climate change and the human impact on the environments we rely on to survive. Embracing a dark sense of irony, car tyres also account for the second largest source of micro-plastics polluting the world’s oceans.

Floating Land has always championed a robust environmental conscience amongst its artists and their audience. 

When art works appear amongst stunning natural environments like those on offer in Noosa, themes around environment and climate invariably emerge as core concerns for both individual artists and the biennale as a whole. As catastrophic fires seem to endlessly circumnavigate the globe, interspersed with record temperatures and devastating floods, the need to keep these concerns front and centre has never been more imperative.

Just a little further along the shore of Lake Cootharaba, a Fever of Stingrays (the title of the bronze sculptural work by Natalie Ryan, as well as the collective noun) can be spotted just below the surface. Static in the environment, how long will it be before these beautiful creatures are also displaced?

Along the Park Road Boardwalk between Noosa Main Beach and Noosa National Park, a dissimulation of birds (or at least their song) emanates from several clutches of nests. Sadly, the habitats of these birds are being rapidly lost via deforestation around the world.

A little further along the picturesque walk, visitors encounter a rising reef of coral – or are they bouquets of flowers? Rising sea temperatures have seemingly turned  them into a hybrid; a smack of jellyfish, and even a tickle of oversized feathers from endangered ground parrots.

The artists of Floating Land again seem to be more aware and engaged in the urgency of our climate crisis than many of our politicians (murder is the collective noun for crows, but it might equally be applied to this group of people). If only more in positions of power were as compelled to put energy into solving these problems, we might just find a way to take the edge of this clusterf@#k of climate disasters that are now more common than ever.

Floating Land: at the edge of ideas will take place at sites across Noosa from 9 to 24 October.

For full program details on this free event visit and read on for more insight.

About the Author /

Director of Noosa Regional Gallery and described as an ‘accidental curator’ this prize-winning painter and sculptor has moved from creating works to curating them. It all began when he opened The Trocadero Art Space in Footscray in an effort to build an arts community in the area and 14 years later it is still standing we are lucky to have him taking the arts to a whole new level in our region.

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