Eerie take on beloved Queenslander homes at Botanica
Artist Phoebe Paradise had close encounters with three or four eels while setting up her latest work.
She spent several days wading waist deep in the lagoon at Brisbane's city botanic gardens, to install her miniaturised Queenslanders for Botanica: Contemporary Art Outside.
The lilies were in bloom on the lagoon and the moorhens were curious - but then there was the water itself.
"It's beautiful and glass-like but the moment you get in and the gases are released from under the water - man, that's something else," Paradise told AAP.
Her installation, titled Foundation, is a collection of shrunk-down Queenslander homes on impossibly high stilts - the elements of the well-known architectural style extended to extremes.
"They represent safety and security, but also the changes necessary to deal with a volatile climate," the artist said.
At night the buildings are lit from inside, and Paradise imagines they could be isolated by floods - part of the city's recent past, and perhaps its future too.
Yet the people inside are still engaged in mundane activities, even as the climate reaches unimaginable extremes.
"You'll have these little islands of houses where people are just watching TV on the inside - just another day at the office," she said.
Seen at night against the pink-lit trees of the gardens, Foundation is at once whimsical and eerie, with the installation surrounded by lily pads and reflected in the water.
Paradise modelled her tiny Queenslanders by computer, and they were fabricated in laser-cut aluminium before being welded together and mounted on stilts, a process that took three months.
The 31-year-old has already established a reputation for her fashion and design work, but Foundation is a departure from her usual style.
"This is a really ambitious work for her and it's so exciting what she's achieved ... it's a love letter to the Queenslander, the homes that we all know and love," curator Lucy Quinn told AAP.
Nearby there's an installation inspired by Blue Tiger butterflies, which are regular visitors to the city in summer.
But clinging to the garden's historic trees, Lyn Haddon's glowing butterflies with cut-aluminium wings can sense people approaching (or their mobile phones at least) using bluetooth, and flutter their wings in response.
Haddon has only just finished a public art course at university, and pitching for a spot in Botanica was part of her final subject.
"I'm really lucky, it's a dream to finish uni and within the same 12 months to be doing this," the artist told AAP.
She began working on the project in November 2022, with her husband helping with robotics, and children assisting with programming and photography.
It's now installed near the playground of the gardens, and Haddon has been delighted to see children stop to watch the butterflies in action.
There are 10 art installations in the gardens as part of Botanica, and the 2023 selection also features the exhibition's first international artist, Noa Haim.
Botanica is on at Brisbane's City Botanic Gardens from Friday to May 21.
AAP travelled with the assistance of the Brisbane Art and Design Festival.