The Mercer Lane Mosaic
In the small country town of Ingham, with a population of around ten thousand people, one of Australia's largest community art projects to date is a hidden gem.
Through the beauty of mosaic tiles, the story of the Herbert River's sugar industry & the Cane Cutters history is portrayed along the 52 metre wall of Mercer Lane and is truly a magnificent sight.
Located next to JK's Deli in the heart of Ingham's CBD, discover the cultural heritage and be taken in by Mercer Lane's Mosaic Artwork, sharing the story of the Cane Cutter's and their influence on modern day Ingham.
The medium of mosaic was used because it is an artistic form that can be quickly learned, and also because it is associated with the artwork of ancient Italy and Italians who to this day, make up a significant percentage of the local population.
Ingham is most well-known for its sugar cane industry, where in 1864 many Italian migrants came to work. It is also home to one of the largest sugar mills in Australia, Victoria Mill, as well as Macknade Mill, which can both be found on the mosaic.
The mosaic was envisioned by local business owner Karen Venables who was on a family holiday to Tasmania in 2012, visiting the town of Sheffield. The town was small, but their attractions were mind-blowing & inspired Karen to create a vision for her hometown that would attract tourists, as well as allow locals to fully appreciate the background of their town through story-telling. Once home, Karen attended an economic development workshop run by the Hnichinbrook Chamber of Commerce by president at the time, Mary Brown, led by Simon Millcock from economic development Queensland. The presentation showed small regional country towns that relied on their bigger industries, which needed to be changed in order for them to continue & improve.
With Ingham being the little family town it is, they had to embrace what they had, and what better way than to showcase their heritage and background. So Karen met with local artist Kate Carr, and the Mercer Lane Mosaic planning had begun.
Once Karen & Kate had the project planned, they applied for a grant of $14,250 with Artslink Queensland, which got approved in June 2014. One month later the huge operation of the mosaic began.
Many people, locals & tourists visited the project to help place the tiles & to have their marks on the wall. Different school grades from around the district, out-of-town tour groups, elderly homes, business groups & artists all travelled to contribute to the mosaic & still to this day visit it to see the tiles they laid.
With such a big project comes funding. Local businesses & families were invited to sponsor the mosaic project & could purchase a tile to place on the wall, showcasing their names, family & history. Over 50 tiles were purchased and the history of many businesses & local families can also be viewed down the laneway when visiting.
Just some of the amazing artwork down the wall that represents the history of the Cane Cutter's are; the loco trains that collect the sugar cane from the farm and transport it to the sugar mills, the burning of the cane farms, hall outs & harvesters which are used to cut and transport the cane to the loco's bins, the cane fields and how they're planted, as well as the amount of fertiliser they grow in & the Mac Truck used by a local transport business which carries the harvesters to the different cane paddocks so they can continue cutting in the different areas.
Nowadays, the Mercer Lane Mosaic attracts many locals, tourists & a large number of tour groups from all over, in which Karen presents some history on our town while they view the laneway. It truely is a remarkable piece of artwork, sharing Ingham's history & what can happen when a community has the opportunity to come together & make something their own.
Location: 75 Lannercost Street, Ingham QLD 4850.