2009. Briggs’ Lanterns
December 22, 2009
Briggs’ Lanterns is a sculptural lighting installation consisting of nine lighting elements for temporary exhibition in the entrance to Briggs Lane, resulting from a three-month Mentorship Residency with Urban Art Projects (UAP), facilitated by Artisan and featuring as part of the Brisbane City Council’s Vibrant Laneways and Small Spaces ‘Inhabit’ Program. Its role is to animate the site through light and a sense of ‘lightness’ while still connecting to the previous tenants of the site, in particular J Briggs and Sons.
From the late 1800s, the Tank Street precinct was a bustling hub of small business enterprise and boarding/guest houses. J Briggs & Sons were drapers (fabric salesmen) and had a store at 428 George Street from c1917 until at least 1951, which backed onto what is now known as Briggs Lane.
Briggs’ Lanterns poetically references the back of a Victorian era dining chair, familiar to households in the late 1880s/early 1900s. In each lantern, the chair silhouette folds from one side to the other, referring to the passage of time from the Victorian era to the present day resulting in the creation of a new and unique form.
Used typically in the home or within the workplace, the chair contains rich and diverse symbolism. In this installation, the Victorian chair makes association with the predecessors of our river city as we imagine what life was like in a bygone era.
Wrapped in fabric, these works refer to J Briggs and Sons drapery business. As a sign of respect for the past, the fabric protects the forms’ sense of fragile antiquity, while creating a vessel in which to contain these memories. The fabric is printed with the same silhouette of the Victorian chair used to create the lantern forms. In repeat, this motif transforms into a contemporary pattern, which speaks about the present as much as it does about the past.
Lit from within, the lanterns create a sense of nostalgia associated with venturing back into the past, as if discovering hidden family treasures in a dark and dusty attic.
Exhibition Title: Briggs’ Lanterns
Location: Briggs Lane, Brisbane
Photography: Troy Hansen