Artspace’s most complex exhibition ever takes root

Published: 13 Jun 2019

MORE than 1000 Mackay residents, young and old, contributed to the soaring cardboard city that has taken root in Artspace Mackay.

Spanning the length of the FIELD Engineers Gallery, the cardboard installation, Take Root (Colony), is the latest work by Alfredo and Isabel Aquilizan, an artist couple known for elaborate carboard constructions.

Take Root may be the biggest, most elaborate, exhibition ever to sit inside the walls of Artspace Mackay.

Mayor Greg Williamson, who will open the exhibition to the public this Friday night (June 14), said the creation of this large-scale installation at Artspace had been a mammoth undertaking for both the artists and Artspace staff.

“Each and every cardboard element was conscientiously selected and methodically put together by the Aquilizans to form this giant assemblage,” Cr Williamson said.

“Each piece has been glued by hand and the whole structure has taken three weeks to construct,” he said.

“It’s an amazing effort that has produced something so intricate that you are constantly noticing new elements as you view it.”

Cr Fran Mann said Alfredo and Isabel spent a week in Mackay in March this year facilitating community art workshops with local primary and high school students, adult migrants and the public.

“The brief the artists gave community members was really simple,” Cr Mann said.  “They were just tasked with making a house or building – and they could include whatever they wanted.

“The resulting structures are all unique and when presented together they are reflective of a community – in many ways, our community.”

Residents and children had the opportunity to build structures at Mackay Central State School, Mackay West State School, St Patrick’s Secondary College, George Street Neighbourhood Centre, Dudley Denny City Library and at Artspace during Easter school holidays.

Visitors to Artspace will have another opportunity to actively participate in this wonderful project by making a house in the dedicated art-making station and leaving it for display.

This activity will be ongoing throughout the exhibition and is timed to coincide with the winter school holidays and the Mackay Festival of Arts.

This community art project and installation is an initiative of Artspace and council and was supported by Glencore’s Hail Creek Mine Community Development Fund and the Artspace Mackay Foundation.

Exhibition opening

Take Root (Colony) will officially open at 6pm Friday, June 14.

All are welcome.

RSVP: (07) 4961 9722 or

Floor talk opportunity

Join gallery director Tracey Heathwood and Alfredo and Isabel Aquilizan for a free exhibition floor talk about Take Root (Colony) on Saturday, June 15, at 10.30am.

Background: About the artists  

Collaboration and collection, community and family, relocation and temporary homes, memory and identity are all concepts explored through the work of husband and wife team, Alfredo and Isabel Aquilizan.  Originally from the Philippines, they moved to Brisbane in 2006 with their children. As they literally live the issues they deal with in their artwork, the Aquilizans are particularly focused on conveying the complexity of emotions associated with social dislocation. Take Root (Colony) is the latest iteration in a larger project that has seen Alfredo and Isabel work with diverse communities all over the world. Project Another Country is the exploration of what is specific to a particular place and the inter-connection of experiences between peoples and communities around the world.