Art Spark / Call of the Running Tide Exhibition 2021

Call of the Running Tide is a biennial environmental sculpture and multimedia festival imagined for the Douglas Shire. The festival is held at various locations, and is scheduled for September this year.

Leanne Emmitt ‘Metamorphosis’ 2.4 x 1.2m (Origami insects on typed paper)

THE inaugural Call of the Running Tide (CRT) festival was held in September 2019, with an encouraging response from both local and Interstate visitors.

Earlier this year, DouglasNews.Network spoke with Jill Chism, curator of the exhibition to see what is in store for the festival next month.

Introduction to the concept of Call of the Running Tide

Jill came up with the idea for a local art festival based on the amazing ecosystems that are still here in the Far North. The concept also has its roots in the Douglas Shire’s history of environmental activism. Jill also recognised the issue of a ‘lack of a cultural presence in the Douglas Shire’ as outlined in the Douglas Shire Council’s current Art Strategy.
Jill had also recently completed a large private commission based on John Masefield’s poem ‘Sea-Fever’.

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

Sea-Fever by John Masefield
jill chism douglas shire artist
Jill Chism ‘The Gift’ 1.1m x 1.1m x 2.7m (Fallen Sticks) with attached poem

The call in the poem is a heart-felt desire by a nineteenth century sailor to ‘go to sea’.
Jill’s use of the phrase as the title for the Douglas exhibition reminds us of the vitality of our connection to nature. It is a ‘call to change’ the ways we continue to destroy the ecosystems that are crucial to our survival on the planet.

About the Call of the Running Tide Curator, Jill Chism

Jill Chism has an extensive CV, working fluidly between various art forms. These include environmental art, installation, sculpture, digital art and public art. Her work spans diverse materials and processes, from photography to sculptural processes.
She has completed 22 public art commissions and appeared in over 30 exhibitions.

Her work is deeply spiritual. It provokes us to ask who we are, how we interact with each other, and the nature of our relationship to the natural environment.

Jill has a professional arts education background. She instrumented the Diploma of Visual Arts at Cairns Tafe in 1997. This was at a time when there was no other secondary qualification in the Arts in the Far North. She then spent several years teaching the Bachelor of Creative Industry at James Cook University.
Since completing a major public artwork for the city of Darwin, Jill has spent her time as curator. She is developing the CRT concept along with coordinator Rosey Cummings and other team members in the Douglas Shire.  

douglas shire arts community
Barbara Dover ‘Adrift’ 1.4m x 1.4m Lighters (all marine debris)

Please tell us more about your plans for Call of the Running Tide 2021?

We have 28 artists on board who have created concepts for one or two major sculpture or multimedia works. Another artist will lead a children’s installation in the Mossman Shire Hall. Port Douglas State School has also expressed their enthusiasm to get involved in the children’s section of the Festival.

Expect more sculptures and multimedia works this year in more outdoor locations. These include the Port Douglas Community Hall and grounds, the Mossman Shire Hall, Rex Smeal Park, Flagstaff Hill Walk, the northern end of Four Mile Beach and Macrossan Street.

There will also be displays at night, a sound installation, and a performance piece.

What is the theme for this year’s exhibition?

The theme for 2021 is “Immersion”.

Artists’ works encourage connection, preservation and the regeneration of our existing natural environments.
The Exhibition also seeks to encourage us to ‘look more deeply’ at what we often don’t see when we are out in nature.

call of the running tide exhibtion
Andrea Collisson ‘Limpets’ 2.4 x 1.1 m from melted lids (marine debris)

How can the community get involved?

Call of the Running Tide is currently seeking volunteers who will help with setting up and de mounting artworks, offering information about artworks and assisting the public to experience Call of the Running Tide in Rex Smeal Park and the Port Douglas Community Hall. 

You will also be asked to collect data about the number of visitors and record visitor’s comments.  

Each shift is 3.5 hours (either 10am to 1.30pm or 1.30pm to 5 pm).

There will always be at least two volunteers for each shift and you will be supported during your volunteering time by Call of the Running Tide team members. 

Volunteers are also required from 13/9/2021 to 18/9/2021 and from 28/9/2021 – 33/9/2021 for installation and demount of artworks. 

All volunteers will receive a Call of the Running Tide T shirt!

If you are interested in being a volunteer or want to know more, please visit our website Call of the Running Tide and contact Jill Chism at or Rosey Cummings at

call of the running tide
Victoria Park ‘Alien Landscape’ 1m x 30cm x 20cm beach rope and net. (Maquette for a larger work on the Port Douglas rock foreshore)

Further Information /

W: and for Jill’s personal work visit and




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