Artist brings QAL’s basic elements to life in exhibition

MARGARET Worthington has brought Queensland Alumina Limited (QAL) to life.

Her exhibition, which includes magnificent aerial photos by Allan Andrew and extraordinary fabrication work by Clive Rouse, is on display at the Gladstone Art Gallery until Saturday, February 16.

The detailed pieces of carefully-researched artwork are inspired by QAL - the fifth largest alumina refinery in the world.

Ms Worthington said the project took two years to achieve.

"My project is very timely as at present Gladstone is involved in a huge industrial boom," she said.

"Many workers turn up for their shifts and later return home with little thought of the power, technology, skills and environmental interaction at play within their work place.

"I aim to create a discourse where the workers and the audience who view my sculptures are able to respond to the site within a different context."

The exhibition, titled Industry sited within the Environment, is a collection of QAL's fundamental elements and Ms Worthington's aim for the project succeeds on many levels.

"I've had a lot of guys' feedback," she said.

"They see it and find it very interesting.

"They know the technical side to it."

The colour on the art pieces was also technical and Ms Worthington said the acrylic paint on the artefacts was combined in one process, consisting of priming the pieces, colouring them and edging them.

Wandering around the exhibition, it is easy to feel a connection with Gladstone and the industrial sphere it stands for.

Gallery visitor Mariah Rasmussen said she really liked the exhibition.

"I got the pieces. I thought they were beautiful, fascinating."

Gladstone visitor Bruce Rasmussen, who works in the Air Force, also appreciated the works.

"What interested me is the way nature has formed the picture," he said, in relation to one of Allan Andrew's photos.

"You could spend a lifetime trying to emulate it but nothing beats the real thing.

"It's very interesting that it ended up being printed on aluminium."

Trained as a graphic artist, Ms Worthington originally worked for a newspaper before launching into her true calling as an artist.

"Now Clive (my partner) and I work as professionals," she said.

"We have a house and studio at Calliope."

Ms Worthington said it was a pleasure to tour QAL with environmental specialist Alison Green.

"She explained everything," Ms Worthington said.

The story behind the industrial art project began in February 2011 when Ms Worthington was accepted by the School of Visual and Performing Arts, Launceston, University of Tasmania.

Enrolled in the 18-month Master of Contemporary Art (MCA) course, Ms Worthington chose QAL as her subject as she felt it would be fascinating and challenging.

"I remembered the landscape viewed from an airplane," she said.

"I contacted Allan Andrew and explained my thoughts and asked him to take some aerial photos of the area.

"When I viewed his images they were so interesting I said I would mentor him and his photos would become part of my exhibition, inspired by my MCA project."

The brainstorming was in motion but the challenges continued to arise.

"There was so much to look at," Ms Worthington said, in relation to her induction around QAL.

"Trying to refine it into a subject was challenging."

The amount of work that went into the exhibition was enormous and Ms Worthington said she could not have overcome the size complexities  if it were not for her partner, Clive Rouse.

"He's got the technical skills."

Ms Worthington's hope is to stimulate viewers to examine their own understanding of industry sited within the environment.



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