Have you taken the TRACE walk along Boundary and Vultures Street to discover artworks in unlikely and unexpected places? You can find art when you’re getting your car serviced, when buying shoes, books, or records, and when filling your prescription.

TRACE project manager Marilyn Trad with Indi and Dan from Griffith University Art Museum, install sponsors of TRACE. Image by Cristian Galvis.
Project manager Marilyn Trad with Indi and Dan from Griffith University Art Museum, install sponsors of TRACE. Image by Cristian Galvis.


The concept for the bi-annual event started in 2015 when Community Centres lost funding under the Campbell Newman government.

The idea of using everyday venues such as local shops and cafes arose from Jason’s experience in Slovenia, where he visited a public school that also exhibited important national paintings and sculptures. When he asked about it, he was told that, “the art is shared with the community to be easily accessible, where children, teachers, parents can enjoy them, and learn more about them and be connected to those stories,” Marilyn said.

Installing works for Trace
Installing works for Trace, image by Cristian Galvis

So back in Brisbane, the team approached gallery owner Josh Milani. “He was really supportive, very excited by the idea.”

Marilyn said they recognised that artists often struggle and are underfunded, so they are paid for their art. However, the gallery operators are also generously supporting the project and the work Community Plus+ does with vulnerable and marginalised community members.

“It is important to emphasise that none of it will happen without the galleries,” Jason said.

“The project connects the arts community to the broader community.” “It brings some of Australia’s most important artists together with audiences who don’t typically encounter their art, in a distinctive and unprecedented way.”

Jason said it has been an experiment that has resulted in Community Plus+ forging stronger connections to local businesses and the community.

He said art galleries try to create neutral spaces for art, but Trace is the opposite of that.

“When you go to a gallery, for example, as critical as these formal institutions are, you’ve already had the experience framed for you. And you bring all your preconceptions with you – a lot of which have to do with class, and privilege.”

“But when you see art in a chemist or a bookstore or clothing boutique or watchmaker, in incidental places you can encounter by chance as you go about your day, you’re perhaps seeing it in a different way. And you’re not only seeing the artwork in a different way, I think, you’re potentially seeing your community in a different way as well. It’s giving you a different perspective on the art but it can also give you a different perspective on your own neighbourhood.”

Simon Degroot’s Transfer Echo Contact Sheet 4, 2021, Image by Jan Bowman


Local businesses say they love being part of the project. They include Terry White Chemist, Halls Jewellers, Ralph’s Garage, Posto, Hope on Boundary, Jet Black Cat Music, Leon’s Tech, Farine Bakery and many more.

Moira at Shay Shoes said they are participating for the first time and will be sad to see the artwork go when the exhibition ends.

“People are coming in and asking about it.” “I’ll be doing it again, definitely. I really thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s been fun.”

Fiona Stager says Avid Reader has participated in the project from the beginning.

“I was an early adopter and supporter of Trace; I thought it was inspirational. It’s unique. Having art in unexpected places is such a brilliant concept. Our customers love it. I love the fact that people come in looking for the pieces of art. And I love telling people, “Here’s a map of the shops in West End, go and see art in unexpected places.”

Ryan Presley's Theme song (Many rivers to cross), 2016, at Trace
Ryan Presley’s Theme song (Many rivers to cross), 2016, image by Cristian Galvis

Peter Hudson's Feathers and Scales 2021 ready for installation
Peter Hudson’s Feathers and Scales 2021 ready for installation, image by Cristian Galvis


All the artworks are amazing, but among the standouts, Marilyn says make sure to see Elisa Jane Carmichael’s pieces Before the Gardens 2 and Before the Gardens 3 on display at don’t tell Boutique in Boundary Street.

She says the timber and ochre sculptures by Michael Boiyool Anning at Shay Shoes “looks so beautiful and fit in really well, almost like they bought them to be in the shop.”

Marilyn says Hall’s Jewellery Shop has two smaller works in the front window, by Ryan Presley and Ross Manning [https://traceart.com.au/artworks/reflection-study-by-ross-manning], that in their street front display are jewels themselves.

**See the Trace website for a complete list of artists and venues.**

Vernon Ah Kee's Hang Ten
Vernon Ah Kee’s Hang Ten, image by Jan Bowman


Before the artworks are taken down on 26 October, if you haven’t already, go to the Trace Tracker app on your phone and take a self-guided walk. The tracker is a geolocation app you can use using the QR codes located next to each artwork.

You can download the app, find out about the artwork, and place a bid in the online auction.


The TRACE Biennial is not just an art exhibition; it’s a unique and community-driven experience that connects art with everyday life. It has become a significant part of West End’s cultural landscape, bringing together local businesses, artists, and the broader community. The success of TRACE is a testament to the power of art in unexpected places and its ability to bridge gaps, challenge preconceptions, and foster a sense of togetherness within a neighbourhood.

As the TRACE Biennial exhibition continues to evolve and grow, the organisers are open to support and assistance from those who share their passion for this project. With your participation, whether as a visitor, art lover, or volunteer, you can contribute to the continued success of TRACE and help keep art in unexpected places a vibrant part of West End’s identity. They are particularly keen to hear from anyone who could fund a project management position or anyone with project management skills and the capacity to volunteer their time.

So, take a stroll, explore the art, and perhaps bid on a piece that speaks to your heart before the exhibition ends on October 26th. Your involvement can make a meaningful difference in sustaining this remarkable community engagement initiative for years to come.

Cover image, Carl Warner’s tessellated trees, 2022 at Ralph’s Garage, image by Jan Bowman