Northern Busway Alliance – Busway Heritage Interpretation Project.
Bowen Bridge Road, Herston, Queensland, 2009.

Many individuals, who worked across a variety of disciplines – each with its own language and tradition – all contributed their expertise to the history of this site. The Bowen Bridge Porphyry Wall stands as testament to their endeavours.

The highly formalised and decorative text is referenced from the Donor boards of the Royal Brisbane Women's Hospital (RBWH) and lists some of those who had made a significant financial contribution to the establishment of the early Brisbane Hospital. The Donor boards symbolise the heart of the hospital and map the social structures and relationships of the times.

The artwork articulates some significant layers of history intrinsic to the surrounding area. A place where formalised knowledge systems intersected: health, medicine, agriculture/commercial, stonemasonry, research, mapmaking to name but a few. These were overlayed over the particular geographic characteristics of the area, Breakfast Creek and Bowen Bridge Road, which has shaped the formation of contemporary Brisbane.

The formalised way that the names are stacked to create the overall fabric of the design explicitly references the stone construction technique used in the Porphyry wall. The qualities of colour, repetition and pattern are employed to create a dynamic and rhythmic movement along the site. The artwork almost quivers with the vast array of historical meaning it carries. The highly formalised and decorative text which forms the underpinning mesh invites you to consider individual letter forms that charm; each with their own idiosyncratic style, yet merge together to create a strong interlocked whole.

The vibrant strong colour selected is linked to the historical architecture of the precinct and was informed by the colours found within the stonework of the porphyry wall. These included warm golds, rosy pinks, rust and deeper reds. The final selection of a ‘burnt’ orange seemed best to encapsulate the vibrancy of the site history. The decision to incorporate an anodized treatment for the surface of the artwork allows for a sensitive integration with the weathered surface of the porphyry stonework.

The artwork was achieved with the tremendous support and commitment shown by the key members of the design team.

Research for this artwork was greatly assisted by Brisbane City Council Archives,
Cecilia Brazil – Curator, Nursing Museum RBWH, Queensland Museum and the State Library of Queensland.

In 2010 the project was awarded a Regional Commendation – Brisbane – Art and Architecture by the Australian Institute of Architects.

Media & documentation

UAP project overview (PDF).

UAP online project profile.

'Fleeting Focal Point' online article for Indesignlive.

Completed project: Bowen Bridge Road view and panel detail

Site photography by Rod Buchholz.

Process: fabrication & installation

Fabrication & installation photography by Mandy Ridley, except for bottom left Donor Board image by Rod Buchholz.

Process: case study slideshow

For the art+place workshop, Warwick Art Gallery, Queensland, Nov 15, 2010.