Make Welcome

Accessibility | Participation
Approx. four months of on-site engagement
Children and families, regional communities, LGBTQI+ communities
Background: To coincide with ‘The 10th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art’ (APT10), the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art’s (QAGOMA) Children’s Art Centre worked with selected exhibiting artists to develop new projects specifically for children and families as part of APT10 Kids. Across the seven APT10 Kids projects are themes that celebrate love, inclusion, diversity, and the importance of collaboration and community. The Children’s Art Centre aims to engage children with contemporary cultures so they can experience the many ways artists approach their work. QAGOMA has an ongoing commitment to presenting innovative exhibitions, projects and publications for children and families. The Gallery is also dedicated to making meaningful connections with communities throughout regional and remote Queensland by delivering free activities and materials as part of the annual Kids on Tour program. This enables children and families unable to travel to the Gallery to engage with contemporary art. QAGOMA is excited that more than 120 venues around Queensland — including Dirranbandi, Stonehenge, Mount Isa, Aurukun, Redlands and more — have chosen to be part of the 2022 program. Acknowledging the potential for interstate and overseas visitors to be impacted by ongoing COVID-19 travel restrictions, the Children’s Art Centre planned from the outset to develop online content for each project to allow the broadest possible access.
Shannon Novak Make Visible: All Welcome 2021
Aotearoa New Zealand artist Shannon Novak is ‘driven to create work that helps create positive social change, particularly for the LGBTQI+ community (worldwide)’1. His work manifests as a socially engaged and collaborative painting, photography, installation, sculpture and curatorial practice that extends beyond traditional exhibition spaces. Central to Novak’s collaborative process is an attitude of respect and care. He ultimately seeks to grow hope for a better world where members of the LGBTQI+ community can live without fear. Since 2019, Novak has been working with LGBTQI+ communities in Brisbane and wider Queensland to identify challenges they face and recognise their triumphs. As the founder of the Safe Space Alliance — a global, LGBTQI+ led, non-profit organisation that helps people identify, navigate and create safe spaces for the LGBTQI+ community — Novak has encouraged QAGOMA to engage with LGBTQI+
networks and communities to ensure they can find recognisably safe spaces within the Gallery. For APT10 Kids, Novak worked in collaboration with the Children’s Art Centre team to develop Make Visible: All Welcome 2021, a multifaceted project that aims to acknowledge, celebrate and support diversity. Diversity includes but is not limited to gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, physical appearance, age, ability, race, ethnicity and religion. The project includes a large-scale artwork installation, a collaborative video work, a multimedia activity and a ‘disco corridor’ installation. Novak wanted Make Visible: All Welcome 2021 to feel as immersive as possible, ‘to create a sense of leaving the world outside behind for a moment to be part of a world that accepts you for you’2. To emphasise this sentiment, the ‘void’ (an area in the Children’s Art Centre Park Level gallery inside the Gallery of Modern Art, included in Novak’s project) has been enclosed by a wall with multiple entry points, with the word ‘WELCOME’ in large acrylic letters above the main entrance. The space also features a brightly coloured artwork installation that covers its double-height windows, as well as the walls and carpeted flooring. Novak enjoys creating works that inject a wide and bold colour spectrum into the world. He believes that ‘children often exist in a bright and diversely coloured world, then this world is sapped of colour over time’3. Novak hopes that ‘children and adults alike will walk away [from Make Visible: All Welcome 2021] with a drive to maintain, amplify, and/or inject colour in their lives’4. Novak’s immersive artwork installation is complimented and contextualised by a video work, in which local primary students from Junction Park State School share their thoughts on diversity, love and the importance of feeling safe. Due to travel restrictions, Novak was unable to be present for the filming, but provided four questions that he wanted to pose to the children:
How would it feel living in a world where everything was the same colour? What is diversity and why is it something to be celebrated? What makes you feel loved, safe and accepted? How would you design a space so it was safe and welcoming?
Novak has said he thinks the video ‘helps build connection to the project for those watching it — it makes it real, relatable, and gets people thinking. It helps people feel they are not alone, and that others are experiencing similar things they are. It helps build a sense of community’5. Novak’s project includes a multimedia interactive that invites children to create a flag representing them and what makes them happy. The artist chose the flag as a means of expression after recalling an experience of positivity and acceptance during a similar activity in his own primary school years. For APT10 Kids, he ‘wanted to somehow replicate this treasure of a memory/experience and share it with others’. Completing the project, children exit the space through a ‘disco corridor’, featuring special lighting and a colourful acrylic mirror, to a soundtrack of upbeat anthems that celebrate diversity and being proud of who you are. The multimedia interactive and the video work are also accessible online and are included in APT10 Kids on Tour, which is travelling to regional and remote communities throughout Queensland (December 2021 – April 2022). If a venue has
limited internet connectivity, they can request an offline version of the multimedia interactive (a drawing activity).