BRISBANE’S first permanent LGBTI artwork was unveiled last weekend in New Farm to a crowd of about 120 people that included community leaders, local politicians and advocates.

Kept under the wraps of a giant rainbow pride flag, the new work from Lismore artist Karl de Waal — who worked in conjunction with the community to create the new piece — was revealed to the assembled crowd at its home outside the New Farm Neighbourhood Centre (NFNC).

The artwork stands three metres tall and is made of ceramic tiles assembled into a rainbow that appears to be emerging out of a closet. One of the closet doors features a backlit panel with words relevant to the LGBTI community.

De Waal’s piece not only honours the local community but also hopes to enhance visibility and social inclusion within Brisbane.

He said he hoped “the resulting sculpture encapsulates and celebrates the spirit and diversity of the LGBTIQ community”.

The project team — which comprised of local rights advocate Phil Browne, NFNC coordinator Fiona Hunt and previous NFNC Community Engagement Officer Clare Lindop, along with de Waal — spent the last 15 months developing and delivering the artwork.

The artwork was funded by a Community Development project grant courtesy of Brisbane City Council and had letters of support from 10 community organisations, with eight businesses contributing materials and further support.

Brisbane Pride Festival president Peter Black said that the unveiling — which was an official event of the current festival — was an important representation of an inclusive city.

“Permanent works of art like this are important to the LGBTIQ community. They not only give us an opportunity to symbolically showcase our diverse and vibrant culture, they are also a representation of public acceptance,” he said.

Councillor Vicki Howard said art was a powerful statement for inclusion.

“Public art reflects and reveals our society, adds meaning to our cities and uniqueness to our communities,” she said.

“Karl de Waal’s piece is truly a unique; it adds meaning because it reinforces the place of the LGBTIQ community in the centre of Central Ward and it elegantly reflects our administration’s wish that Brisbane continues to grow as an inclusive place.”

The crowd was treated to a performance from the Hotmale choir, a viewing of display panels from the 2010 Prejudice and Pride exhibition at the Museum of Brisbane, and a chalk rainbow was drawn outside the centre.

A public night viewing of the artwork has been scheduled for Saturday, October 4 from 5.30pm followed by a community barbecue in neighbouring New Farm Park.

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(Image credit: Tony Robertson)

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