Strand Ephemera began in 2001, becoming a much-loved biennial exhibition from that time. The event has grown over the years to be celebrated not only locally, but to be an outdoor sculpture exhibition of state and national significance.

The initial drive for Strand Ephemera was twofold. Firstly, the exhibition was to provide Townsville City Council, developers, and the broader Townsville public with possibilities in the public art arena. The second motivation was to provide opportunities for regionally-based artists. The Queensland Government had announced a 2% for public art program creating massive funding opportunities, with regionally-based artists expressing interest in improving their competitiveness. Strand Ephemera provided the opportunity for these artists to hone their skills and compare and contrast their work within a national context at a local venue. The focus on works being ‘ephemeral’ for the short-lived exhibition of around 10 days encouraged artists to use inexpensive materials.

Throughout its lifetime Strand Ephemera has grown significantly. In 2013 over 60,000 participants embraced the event with unprecedented enthusiasm; taking part in the Photographic Competition, voting in the wilson/ ryan/grose Lawyers People’s Choice Award, joining in tours and workshops, and of course admiring the 31 artworks on display. The exhibition had an increased focus on the appearance of works after dark as well as night programs, while also cross-promoting a series of Fringe Events at external arts and cultural venues within the region for the first time. The exhibition offered a major $10,000 Award for Artistic Excellence.

In its most recent display in 2017, Strand Ephemera reached new heights. Attracting over 155,704 visitors during the 10 day display period. The exhibition was supported by a multitude of engaging public programs, and featured a selection of curated works alongside those competing for the major $10,000 prize.

Strand Ephemera has garnered significant support from the private and corporate sector within Townsville, gains considerable media coverage, and attracts many local, national and overseas visitors. Strand Ephemera is organised by Gallery Services, Townsville City Council, and programs are assisted by a volunteer task force.