Emily Floyd’s Mangrove Poem (2018) is a text based, public installation located along the Mangrove Walk at Queen’s Wharf, Brisbane. The work is inspired by the poem Five Senses by Judith Wright (1915 – 2000), a renowned Australian poet and environmentalist, and continues Floyd’s long-term practice of transforming literary forms into spaces of discovery and enquiry. Floyd’s project conceives of the Mangrove Walk as a place of civic optimism and shelter, where ideas and ecology are illuminated.
Wright (1915 – 2000) lived on Mt Tamborine from the late 1940s until the early 1970s, and frequently visited Cooloola on the Sunshine Coast. Out of her close observation of and love for the natural environment of Southeast Queensland, she came to see the human role ‘as a new obligation for the continued existence of the earth and its doings and beings’. For Wright, the value of the landscape is no longer merely aesthetic, recreational or restorative (Mackay, 2005). In 1980, Wright edited the Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland publication ‘Reef, Rainforest, Mangroves, Man’ and in keeping with this project her ecological vision encompassed the Asia Pacific region.
In Mangrove Poem, Floyd abstracted the words ALL SHAPE to create a colourful and bold graphic landscape that can be enjoyed by everyone who walks along the Mangrove Walk. Floyd selected Wright’s words for their deep connection to the Australian environment. Visitors to the Mangrove Walkway are greeted with a Sacred Kingfisher (2018), perched on colourful abstracted letter seating element. The Kingfisher, whose habitat includes the mangroves and forests of South East Queensland encourages further exploration along the walkway. The Five Senses poem transcribes themes of ecology and vibrant matter; a different kind of civic monument, relevant to the challenges of our time.
Emily Floyd acknowledges and pays respect to the Traditional Owners and Elders, past, present, and emerging of the lands and waters on which Mangrove Walkway stands, acknowledging Aboriginal connection to material and creative practice on these lands for more than 60,000 years, and their enduring presence and knowledge.
Five Senses, from Judith Wright’s Collected Poems, has been reproduced with the permission of HarperCollins Australia and the Estate of Judith Wright. Mangrove Poem is curated by Natasha Smith and produced by UAP.