Chocolate Industry

Neighborhood redevelopment sets precedent for community consultation

Logan’s Living Museum, one of the final components of Kingston’s Butter Factory Cultural District redevelopment, was officially opened with a community day on Saturday, August 20, 2023.

The museum has three exhibition areas on the ground floor of the building, including a space dedicated to First Nations and air-conditioned display cases throughout. Exhibits designed to both educate visitors about the region and provide a forum for locals will change every three to four months.

The first round of exhibits was greeted with resounding applause from local residents, whose favorite ‘foodies’ were recognized in one of the exhibits, as well as visiting members of the Southeast museum and gallery sector from Queensland.

Forgoing a collection in favor of creating a safe space for community dialogue using contemporary artifacts, this reimagined “seat of the muses” upends exhibition conventions that date back to their creation in Alexandria during the 3rd century before our era.

The innovative approach resulted from consultation with an advisory council of First Nations, including Yugambeh elders whose ancestors also used the site for meetings. Their perceptions of museums as a concept were inseparable from the grim pattern of ethnographic collecting that emerged during the 19e century.

The inhabitants celebrated and highlighted

Clearly post-colonial, Logan’s Living Museum serves to empower all residents – from First Peoples to more recent arrivals – as content producers and subjects.

The happiness brought to Logan from Lebanon by “foodie” Malake Breis through her business, Soo Sweet Cafe, is shared through Portraits (2021) in the Food: Culinary Stories Connecting Peoples, Cultures and Countries exposure.

Along with photographs of six subjects by Jacqueline Bawtree, their journeys are candidly captured through interview excerpts and everyday artifacts. The Breis family lent an exquisite brass stand, the kind that typically features trays of sweets for consumption during religious calendar celebrations such as Ramadan and Eid. Although contemporary, the techniques of repoussé and chasing used to embellish the object date back to the 3rd century before our era.

Showing relatively accomplished skills, a triangular-shaped “sieve” was made by another subject, Savia Rumeous Aziku. The ingenuity and stubborn resilience of this accidental gardener, survivor of war-torn Sudan and owner of the Global Food Market store, is evident in this modest object. In her creation, she applied the traditional weaving of palm leaves to contemporary materials such as pallet straps.

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In First Nations space, the materiality of Erub Island artist Sylvia Nakachi’s woven circular forms is symbolic. His ancestor’s home in Torres Strait was the first in Australia to receive Christianity, with the arrival of the London Missionary Society in 1871, an event celebrated annually by the Nakachi community with The Coming of the Light.

In his work, fashioned from wool and banana fibers, colors representing the First Nations peoples of Australia radiate from the center of the work in a call for respect and reconciliation. While wool has clear connotations of British colonialism, the engagement of introduced flora is a more subtle sign of change. It also has a personal reference to the plantation belonging to the artist’s late father.

Nakachi differentiates her weaving by saying, “I see them as works of art… Auntie Paula is a traditional weaver, but mine is an adaptation”.

Although his people traditionally weave coconut leaves, Bring the story, show respect through recognition (2019) Nakachi used “a huge needle and various strings, fabrics and [other] materials” to “give meaning” to its history. In the case of banana trees, she harvests both the leaves and the trunks.

Under the Canopy, designed and painted by Sam Tupou at the Kingston Butter Factory Cultural Precinct. The artwork will likely strike a chord with local residents, 7.1% of whom share the artist’s New Zealand birthplace. Photo: Pamela See.

Under the canopy (2021), a vibrant and playful mural designed and painted by Logan artist of Tongan and New Zealand descent, Sam Tupou, depicts bananas. This reflects his impression of the Kingston Butter Factory as “a canopy for all these arts organizations”. Hearing about the project, Tupou, “had a flashback of visiting an uncle’s plantation in Yirrkala…we used to play hide and seek under the banana trees”. Tupou remembers the trees providing both food and shelter from the intense Northern Territory heat.

Banana trees are abundant in Logan’s townscape, and the fruit and leaves are widely used in Pacific Island cuisine.

Nostalgia for Tupou will be widely appreciated in the Logan community, with 7.1% of the population listing New Zealand as their birthplace in the 2021 Australian Population and Housing Census. Waitangi Day, an event celebrating a treaty between British settlers and Maori tribal leaders, draws more than 3,000 people to the Kingston Butter Factory site each year, while Pacific Islanders are among 217 cultural groups represented in the wider population of Logan.

From sugar cane to the performing arts

The radical approach to curatorship seen at the Living Museum of Logan suits a city that is young, culturally diverse and known for its innovative approach to industry.

Logan’s attendance is for the 19e century the cultivation of sugar. With the worldwide drop in sugar prices at the end of the 19e century a pivot to the dairy industry led to the formation of the Southern Queensland Co-operative Dairy Company and the subsequent construction of the Butter Factory for £3,600 in 1907.

In the 1930s, when bricks were added to the facade, the Kingston Butter Factory received milk from as far west as Maclean and as far south as Tallebudgera. As well as producing up to 50 tonnes of butter a week, Queensland’s largest butter factory of its time also supported an adjacent piggery and glue factory.

The Kingston Butter Factory Cultural Precinct. Picture provided.

After going out of business in 1983, it was acquired by the Logan City Council and later turned into the Kingston Butter Factory Community Arts Center. The project has received over $200,000 in Commonwealth Bicentennial funding from the state and through the Commonwealth Community Employment Program, with the Logan Council also contributing $100,000. It opened in February 1988, with the Beverley Parker Academy of Dance, Butterbox Theater and Logan City History Museum among its longtime occupants.

This 21st The century-old iteration of the Butter Factory once again hosts the last two pillars of the cultural landscape.

Black box style, the renovated homes for the performing arts in Logan are intimate yet versatile. The rows of tiered padded seats, which can accommodate an audience of 156 people, are retractable. The latest in LED lighting is discreetly accessible during performances through a catwalk.

The state-of-the-art audio system is complemented by a “silence room” to accommodate viewers with sensory issues. The original stonework has been restored and can be left exposed to add ambiance. The ground level stage below is sprung Masonite to accommodate physical theater and the circus.

$22.5 million in renovations

The Kingston Butter Factory Cultural Precinct’s most recent renovations, which reflect a $22.5 million investment – ​​including $6.57 million from the state government’s COVID Works for Queensland program – include a cavernous outdoor stage and a green space with a capacity of 5,000, a converted gatehouse cafe, and a heritage house.

The latter was purpose-built to relocate the Logan City History Museum, which was beyond the scope of the Butter Factory. For three decades, his society of dedicated volunteers has promoted the region’s European history. Artifacts showing the evolution of the site, the events attributed to it and the people who occupied it, have been carefully preserved. Dating back to 1826, they include a range of tools used to build the Beenleigh railway line in the 1880s, a plow used by cattle ranchers in the 1900s and an industrial cream separator from the 1950s.

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Public works of art can sometimes seem separate and superfluous rather than integrated into the infrastructure. Conversely, the monumental Milky Way by Lincoln Austin (top photo) epitomizes the heavenly brilliance and precision with which the community consultation for this redevelopment was conducted.

Adopting the motif as a means of cross-cultural engagement, a “proto-geometric” star radiates from the scene. It “flows and melts” poetically along the paths that connect the other exterior elements of the enclosure.

A taste of history at the Kingston Butter Factory Cultural Precinct. Picture provided.

Austin said: “The colors came from two things. These are the colors of various milk products – milk, cream, butter, caramel, milk chocolate and dark chocolate… and I am also talking about the diversity of cultures and skin tones that exist in this place”. He guessed at his intentions, saying, “I just want to talk about this idea of ​​community and diversity, and the location that was a butter factory.”

The work takes its name from the street leading to the site.

The power to reinvent

The eye-opening reinvention of Kingston’s butter factory infrastructure and the modus operandi with which cultural centers are run is a testament to the late Robyn Daw. The creative industries visionary, who fostered education and community engagement at several institutions including the National Gallery of Australia, Queensland Art Gallery and Arts Queensland, sadly passed away just months before the project was completed.

The new cultural district embodies its dedication to ensuring equitable access and representation for all demographic groups. On display are delicate dichotomies between tradition and innovation, craftsmanship and manufacturing, and indigenous and diaspora. The postcolonial, interdisciplinary and consultative approach elevates the role of artists and fosters a sense of belonging among the diverse communities living nearby. This prepares a canvas, a canvas built on rustically renovated but versatile places.

With the potential to encompass a variety of elements from the performing arts to the culinary arts, Kingston’s Butter Factory Cultural District is sure to be favored by event planners of all sizes, from corporate functions at cultural festivals. The community is now equipped to host dynamic events and exhibitions for decades to come.

Learn more about the Kingston Butter Factory Cultural District.