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Multimedia arts pavilion to launch in Lake Macquarie

Multimedia arts pavilion to launch in Lake Macquarie
July 22, 2021

Australia’s first permanent regional multimedia arts pavilion - The Multi-Arts Pavilion, mima (dubbed MAP mima) located in Lake Macquarie, New South Wales - is set to open to the public in spring, with a series of free public events and 10 new commissions by Australian artists including Hiromi Tango, PluginHUMAN, Lottie Consalvo and musician Andy Firth.

Each new commission explores the unique history, culture and landscape of the region, and celebrates Lake Macquarie as a cultural hub for contemporary art and performance.

Designed as a flexible, high-tech multi-arts platform, the MAP mima will host a year-round dedicated program of cultural events including national and international contemporary art installations, digital art screenings, live performances and music. Situated an hour’s drive north from Sydney on the shore of Lake Macquarie in Speers Point Park, the architectural pavilion compliments the award-winning Museum of Art and Culture Lake Macquarie and forms part of the Lake Arts Precinct.

MAP mima has an architectural language of bold, imposing shapes and is based on the winning concept design by architecture student Samantha Bailey and has been built in collaboration with the University of Newcastle School of Architecture and Built Environment. The pavilion takes its name from the Awabakal word mima (pronounced me’ma) meaning ‘cause to stay’. The naming of MAP mima is an active invitation for visitors to engage with the Awabakal country on which they stand, and to recognise the thousands of years of knowledge passed down by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in Lake Macquarie and around the country.

Overseen by Jacqui Hemsley, Lake Macquarie City Council’s Manager Arts, Culture and Tourism, MAP mima is designed to encourage cultural participation in contemporary art outside of traditional venues. 

Hemsley advises “MAP mima is an ideal stepping-stone for emerging artists and a platform to present alternative productions to new audiences. Our aim is to present engaging, experimental works and public programs which create a connection between location, art and audience that visitors won’t find anywhere else.”

At the core of the hyper-faceted design of the MAP mima is The Cube, a central multimedia gallery enabling a full-wall multimedia experience. A large hydraulic awning opens The Cube to create a roofed stage area for live performance which leads onto a paved courtyard and into the park. Another design feature of the pavilion is The Node, a trapezoidal structure jutting out of the brick facade towards the lake, carrying a vast indoor-to-outdoor projection screen viewable in the park. A state-of-the-art soundscape created by speakers strategically positioned around the building, provides a platform for a rotating program of artists’ works. 

The new artist commissions set to be unveiled at MAP mima include:

  • A new commission by renowned Japanese-Australian artist Hiromi Tango, titled Mima: Beautiful Space, responds to both the Awabakal name for the pavilion and the homophonous Japanese reading of MI and MA meaning ‘beautiful space’. Presented within MAP mima, the illuminated artwork by Tango gently glows on the walls of the building, creating a beacon to welcome visitors to the pavilion and to herald its arrival.
  • A series of painted tiles by acclaimed Australian artist Noel McKenna which pay homage to man’s best friend and celebrates the venue as a dog friendly space.
  • A large-scale work by local artists Kira Jovanovski and Claire Lavis commissioned for the building’s exterior. The artwork depicts, in Morse code upon the façade’s brickwork, Lake Macquarie City Council’s statement of Commitment to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community in Awabakal language.
  • Two new works presented in the pavilion, titled Dawn and Awa, have been created in collaboration with local Awabakal knowledge holders. Dawn is a 360-degree immersive experience created by Worimi artist Luke Russell  together with artist Donna Gayford McLaren and projection art heavy weights illuminart. The immersive projection explores language, the natural beauty of Lake Macquarie’s coastline and the sun as it rises over Awabakal country. A second work, created in collaboration with local Awabakal knowledge holders, is titled Awa and brings together stories from salt water and fresh water – much like the shores of Lake Macquarie. In this work Aboriginal artists Donna Gayford McLaren and Saretta Fielding explore how traditional Awabakal people lived by the lake, and how contemporary Indigenous experiences interact with stories from theirancestors. Awa, meaning flat plain or surface, draws its name from Awaba, Lake Macquarie’s traditional name.
  • More than 80 metres of illuminated catenary will perform for audiences as they enter the new arts precinct. This public artwork, celebrating the building’s experimental nature, is a collaboration between Lake Macquarie City Council and the Design Lab at The University of Sydney. Led by Dr Luke Hespanhol, students undertaking studies in digital placemaking have developed a public art response along the Speers Point Promenade that experiments with interactive, digital approaches to art making and placemaking.

The main commissioned exhibition is a 360-degree immersive video installation titled Emerge by PluginHUMAN.  The vast wrap-around imagery was created through the growing biopolymer sculptures from local materials.  Accompanying the projection experience are the tiny original sculptures in a series of discovery ports in the foyer.

To celebrate this new space, Newcastle composer and musician Andy Firth was commissioned to write the Lake Macquarie Fanfare. The music augments a big band with didgeridoo and synthesiser and speaks to the architecture, stature and importance of the cultural initiative delivered by Lake Macquarie City Council. Andy Firth and the big band will perform on the MAP mima stage to mark the public opening of the pavilion at a date to be confirmed this spring.

The project is funded by the NSW Government through the Regional Cultural Fund in association with Lake Macquarie City Council.

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