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'An Intimate Glimpse of the Art Deco Buildings of Mackay'

ARTSPACE MACKAY - Orientation Gallery

Friday 3rd October - Sunday 7th December 2003

Solo Exhibition by photographer Ann Fitzgerald

This photographic exhibition was made possible by a Regional Arts Development Fund Grant [RADF]

Mackay has an outstanding collection of Art Deco buildings constructed early in the twentieth century. This exhibition promotes the Mackay City and its exceptional collection of Art Deco Buildings. Mackay's architecture is unusual when compared with that of other cities in Queensland. This exhibition supports and complements the release of the Mackay City Council Heritage Advisory Committee's Art Deco Brochure.

The Art Deco style was popular throughout the world from the 1920's until the 1940's and was derived from the 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs Industriels et Modernes, held in Paris as a celebration of the modern world. The style influenced the form and detail of buildings, furniture, jewellery and household goods.

Mackay's architecture is unusual when compared with that of other cities in Queensland. Although it was settled in the 1860's, the majority of buildings in the centre of the city were designed and constructed within the first three decades of the twentieth century. It as the best collection of buildings from this period in Queensland if not all of Australia.

The construction boom was due to a series of unrelated events, which combined to transform the appearance of the city. These included:
1) A devastating cyclone in 1918 which destroyed 80% of the city's buildings.
2) Population explosion that made Mackay the 2nd fastest growing city in Queensland for more than a decade.
3) Fires in 1915 and 1916 that destroyed many city heart shop in Victoria Street.
4) The city's economy was made buoyant by steady sugar prices and co-operatively owned sugar mills, which led to money being retained within the local community.

The Art Deco style was not limited to a particular type of building in Mackay. It was used for picture theatres, shops and hotels.

Decorative elements commonly used included shells, sunburst and fountains which represented the dawn of a new age; symbols of speed, power and flight representing the exciting new developments in transport and communications.

Builder William Guthrie and architect Harold Vivian Marsh Brown designed & constructed a large number of the commercial and residential buildings in the Mackay area.

It is important to document these building for future generations, as they are a rare example of the Art Deco building style from the early twentieth century.


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