Thursday, 31 May 2012

fifteen at Next Wave

Here's a video I took of the performance fifteen by Liesel Zink at Flagstaff Station, Melbourne. Apologies there's no sound...

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Monday, 28 May 2012

Next Wave: Day Four

My last day in Melbourne started with a Text Camp catch up session at the Emerging Writers' Festival at Town Hall. We ended up at a lane way cafe having breakfast and discussing Next Wave- how very Melbourne! It was great to meet up with other Text Campers to swap stories and experiences.

While today was the last day of the Next Wave Festival I decided to spend time at the Emerging Writers' Festival which started over the weekend. I went to three sessions- Digital Writing, Building an Audience and Women Writers. It was great to hear from those who know more than me and have more experience. In particular the Women Writers In Conversation was equal parts inspiring and disheartening. Interesting debates ensued about the percentage of female writers who receive literary awards and why publishers expect women write about domestic issues and men about adventure (generally).

After, I headed to what has become my haven during my time at the festival, 1000 pound blend, to grab food and do some blogging before my flight at 9pm.

It's been a crazy four days but incredibly worth it. Of everything I saw I have to admit that the performances were of a really high standard and by far my favourite aspect of the Festival. Now I just have to decide what to write on for my Art Guide piece... where to start!?

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Sunday, 27 May 2012

Next Wave: Day Three

Abdul Abdullah, Casey Ayres  Nathan Beard, The Greater Asian Co- Prosperity Sphere
 Started out Day Three with some blogging and breakfast at what has fast become my favourite cafe in Melbourne, 1000 pound blend (sorry the pound symbol key on my netbook is hiding from me). After, I met up with fellow Text Camper & Adelaide Theatre writer, Jane for a general catch up and to discuss what we'd seen, what was great & what was not so great. Then she was off to another performance & I decided to visit the Bone Library for the second time. I was amazed at how far the artist had progressed since I'd been there on Thursday. Sarah- Jane Norman had delicately engraved at least twice as many bones as when I'd last been there. The work still had the power to move me. Amazing.

Next stop was NGV Studio and The Greater Asian Co- Properity Sphere where I met up with my Text Camp mentor Dylan, Editor of Art Guide Australia. The work focused on 'mixed race' identity with the three artists having created The Greater Co- Prosperity Sphere to lead these people to greatness. The most entertaining part of the work was the video that showed celebrities, their voices dubed, endorsing the Sphere. In particualr Keanu Reeves was given a lot of attention. The real charm of this work lay in the details- the elaborate gold suits- made in Thailand and, judging by the photographs on show, worn over there too, the head wear, the beautifully orchestrated paintings of the three 'leaders'- each element combined to make this a well rounded and highly entertaining work.
Abdul Abdullah, Casey Ayres  Nathan Beard, The Greater Asian Co- Prosperity Sphere

Abdul Abdullah, Casey Ayres  Nathan Beard, The Greater Asian Co- Prosperity Sphere

Abdul Abdullah, Casey Ayres  Nathan Beard, The Greater Asian Co- Prosperity Sphere

Abdul Abdullah, Casey Ayres  Nathan Beard, The Greater Asian Co- Prosperity Sphere
I have to admit to being a little disappointed with Creo Nova, installation: Pataphysical Hippocrate- but this had nothing to do with the work itself and everything to do with the fact that when I read it was housed in 'Fracture Gallery' I assumed it would be an actual gallery- with doors and stuff- not a glassed off section of Federation Square. Being from Sydney I was simply just not aware. I would have loved to get a closer look at the work which appeared to be incredibly well crafted- from what I could see behind the glass and metal bars. There were several other Creo Nova installs and a performance which I didn't make it to so perhaps the work is best viewed as a whole collective than in isolation. 

I also went back to the Bone Library- for the third time (!)- and again completely amazed and how far it had progressed in a mere few hours. 

The rest of the afternoon was spent going to (gasp) non- Next Wave shows at TCB Art Inc, Neon Parc & Anna Schwartz and I discovered that in Melbourne laneways aren't necessarily just the place you get mugged (paranoid Sydney mentality).

We also headed over to Westspace and had a look around and I had considered heading back over at 5pm to see a talk but hunger and my need to blog got the better of me and I opted for a quiet night instead.

So Day Three- a much more relaxed day than Friday and I think I needed it. I'm such a light- weight.
Alex Cuffe & Ben Kolaitis, Creo Nova, installation: Pataphysical Hippocrates

Alex Cuffe & Ben Kolaitis, Creo Nova, installation: Pataphysical Hippocrates

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Saturday, 26 May 2012

Next Wave: Day Two

Michelle Sakaris, The Warmth of the Curve
 Today I embarked on a Next Wave Day Pass- these more structured days ensure you see as much as possible in a short amount of time. With so much work on show a little structure is welcome and I purchased a Day Pass 7: It's Just a Made Up Language But You Understand It.

Every Day Pass begins at Breakfast Club where you gather with other festival- goers to listen to speakers and eat scones. On the morning I was there the topic was The Docklands- how can they be improved upon and can artists and developers ever really be friends. As a Sydney girl, born & raised, I found it difficult to comment. I've ever only been to The Docklands once and yeah- it wasn't my favourite place in Melbourne. While some interesting points were raised I felt one main point was missing from the discussions at my table. Surely the foundation of any type of regeneration project would be to think of what draws you to an area. There's your starting point. P.S the scones were awesome.

First stop on the day pass was The Warmth of the Curve at Bus Projects. I must admit that my first thought when I entered the space was underwhelming. The first room has objects spaced out on the floor, the second room contains a video where the artist is seen to circle objects. Relating to the religious rituals in which believers circle their sacred objects to gain a heightened spiritual awareness, Michelle Sakaris invites people to circle the objects in the first room. Exploring this whole idea of what makes a sacred object, I circled a watermelon. See, it's only now after seeing the video that the initial installation makes sense. The artist is relying quite a bit here on the audiences ability to delve deeper and head into the second room. Personally I would have swapped the rooms around. 

Michelle Sakaris, The Warmth of the Curve

Michelle Sakaris, The Warmth of the Curve
Laura Delaney, Hull

Second stop is Hull at the Mission to Seafarers and it seems quite appropriate given the truly hideous weather Melbourne heaped on us this day. Just as seamen of generations before had sought refuge here, so did we. Hull consists of six separate installations by Laura Delaney and Danae Valenzia. The video work below the stage was beautifully set up and screened footage that the artist had discovered in the buildings archives- apparently even they were unaware of its existence. The salt piece in the storeroom off the Dome was beautiful. The lights shinning through and the sound of the rain drops landing on the salt was poetic. We were lucky enough to meet the artist and hear her discuss the process of uncovering the archives and meeting the people that worked there which gave a new dimension to the already evocative work. 

It's difficult to discuss New Babylon as I haven't seen all the sight specific pieces that make it up. I managed to get to Craft Victoria to see Kay Abude's elaborate costumes which the staff had agreed to wear for the duration of the festival. I must admit that when we asked the staff why they weren't wearing the collar they insisted that it weighed a kilo and was too heavy. While I love the idea of designing wearable art perhaps something that was actually more wearable would have had more longevity. However, there is currently an amazing show (non Next Wave) at Craft Victoria which I will write about in a separate post.    
Laura Delaney, Hull

Laura Delaney, Hull

Danae Valenzia, Hull
Laura Delaney, Hull

At five I had to make a mad dash off the Day Pass and down to Flagstaff Station as I has a ticket to fifteen. The best way I can think to describe the work is as a flash mob but with only four people and while a flash mobs sole purpose is to entertain, fifteen's work carried a potent message about how we relate to one another or don't relate as the case may be. A mix of contemporary dance and shadowing commuters, fifteen was moving and at times highly amusing. While it was interesting to observe commuters reactions to the four, it was equally fascinating to observe their reaction to us. Seated on a mezzanine level wearing big headphones- we were a sight to behold, one particularly curious commuter even snapped a photo. As the observers we inadvertently became an artwork. fifteen was a beautiful performance and I am very glad I took time out from the Day Pass to see it.

Six at night saw me arrive at Art House in North Melbourne for Shamanic Organic Contemporary Cuisine by Robin Hungerford. This was side- splitting hilarious. A complete piss- take on the organic food craze and the notion of the celebrity chef, the audience is asked to breathe deeply and reeeelllaaaxxx. There is a taste testing portion of the segment where you are asked to sample the chocolate that was on your chair and think of a memory. Incredibly clever, I could have watched this performance again and still been entertained. I'd love to see more of this from Hungerford- perhaps an hour prime time gig- maybe a Shamanic Organic cookbook....



Robin Hungerford, Shamanic Organic Contemporary Cuisine

Robin Hungerford, Shamanic Organic Contemporary Cuisine

Robin Hungerford, Shamanic Organic Contemporary Cuisine
So last work of what has been a manic day is The Exchange Program 2 with performances by Dewey Dell and Justin Shoulder. Italian group Dewey Dell performed Grave- an incredibly haunting contemporary dance piece that had me engaged from the start. The costumes were simple but the hair and makeup was outstanding. The music and expert lighting really enhanced this other- worldly, intensely creepy atmosphere. It was like a horror film come to life. It was intense but nothing the audience can't handle. In a word: amazing.

I am familiar with Justin Shoulder's work having reviewed a show he had in Sydney a while back that screened a video of the character he was to play in his performance.  I found this character- Pinky- disturbing the first time I saw him and I realised five minutes in that nothing had change. This is why the piece works for me. The elaborate costumes, the simple yet effective set design- this would all be meaningless decoration without the carefully orchestrated movements of Shoulder. It was a great way to end what had been a massive day.  
Kay Abude, New Babylon
Renee Cosgrave, New Babylon
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Next Wave: Bingo Unit

Interrogartion Scene, BINGO Unit
Day One ended for me with a visit to the BINGO Unit Back- lot Tour by Team Mess. Adopting every cliche in the book, BINGO Unit fights crime and always gets the bad guy in an hillariously entertaining way. Having filmed scenes from the "show" at various locations in Melbourne, Team Mess invited the public to participate in this cop drama. Members of the public were given the opportunity to chase down the suspect, interrogate a witness and appear in the jury. As part of the Back- lot Tour you were given the opportunity to see some of these scenes filmed live and get caught up in the movie magic.    
The Line Up, BINGO Unit
 A nice addition was the free donuts and coffee which seemed to be never ending- I especially loved that when I was in the car watching the stake- out scene I was offered a donut while I waited. One aspect of BINGO Unit which I really liked was the participatory layer. You were invited to dust for finger prints, being able to then take your print home on a piece of card, and kick in a door with a plastic gun to capture the suspect. I've never seen people more animated about an artwork as they were about kicking in that door. Apparently the moment was all about the catch phrase. "Freeze Mother-Fu*ker" was a popular one.
Coroners Report, BINGO Unit
 Having John Wood of Blue Heelers fame on board as the Judge was a great surprise and it added this strange degree of celebrity. Having said that, there was a weird moment, after I had watched a few of the pre-taped scenes, where I saw the members of Team Mess- Dara Gill, Frank Mainoo, Natalie Randall, Malcolm Whittaker & Sime Knezevic- just walking around the back- lot and I had this moment of recognition, as if I'd just seen someone famous.  This relates somewhat to the works exploration of how sometimes the act of story- telling is more important than the story itself. Has television become more about celebrity and less about acting as a craft and conveying a message?
The Courtroom Scene, BINGO Unit
 If my over-zealous tweets were anything to go by, I loved this work. It's been a while since I saw a work that managed to hold my interest for two and a half hours- but this did. BINGO Unit is clever, witty & relevant.
The Stake-out, BINGO Unit

Dusting for finger prints, BINGO Unit

Interrogation Scene, BINGO Unit
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Thursday, 24 May 2012

Next Wave: Day One

Sarah- Jane Norman, Bone Library, 2012
Ok so not technically the first day of the Next Wave Festival but it is the first day for me, arriving fresh off the plane from Sydney this morning. My plan had been to head straight to City Square to see Tiffany Singh's installation, Drums Between the Bells but unfortunately this work is no longer showing- this is what you get for being six days late. Not to be too deterred I headed to Westspace to check it out but when I showed up around 12.30 it seemed as if much wasn't happening- I get the impression stuff kicked off around 2pm so once again my timing was really off.

So I jumped on a train out to Footscray and the Community Arts Centre to see Food For Thought by LEVEL. Unfortunately I won't be able to fit one of the talks into my already crammed schedule- which is a real shame because the representation of women in the arts is a topic close to me heart. I did however love the space and the brightly coloured banners portraying feminist inspired slogans was quietly empowering. I spent some time in the reading area and even though I was the only person there I felt the voices of women all around me and it was oddly comforting.
Sarah- Jane Norman, Bone Library, 2012

Sarah- Jane Norman, Bone Library, 2012
 Next stop was the City Library and Sarah- Jane Norman's performative installation Bone Library. Creating a public memorial to the "dead" Indigenous languages, the artist engraves a dictionary of Indigenous Australian languages which have been classified as "extinct" onto bones. The room is dark and musty and as Norman engraves there is a very distinct and pungent smell. Bone Library is incredibly moving and I intend on heading back over on Saturday to see how far it has progressed. This has been a definite highlight so far- but as I said- it's my first day!

Tonight I'm off to Team Mess Bingo Unit Back Lot Tour and then a massive day tomorrow on Day Pass 7 so I will check back in on Saturday. Until then you can keep checks on where I'm  at via Twitter at @near_elsewhere and @Artguideaust

Foof For Thought, LEVEL, 2012

Foof For Thought, LEVEL, 2012

Foof For Thought, LEVEL, 2012

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Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Next Wave Text Camp: my blurb...

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Gearing up for Next Wave...

Tomorrow I'll be heading down to Melbourne to check out the Next Wave Festival. It seems like a while since I was last in Melbourne for the launch and now it's time to see the much anticipated works everyone's been talking about. 

I have a pretty hectic line- up for my four days in Melbourne which include tickets to Team Mess Bingo Unit Studio Back Lot Tour,Fifteen Performance at Flagstaff Station and Day Pass 7: It's Just a Made Up Language But You Understand It. I also want to see the Food for Thought Exhibition and Drums between the bells in City Square.

Saturday and Sunday is the Emerging Writers Conference, part of the Emerging Writers Festival. Aside from the Text Camp session on Sunday I'm really looking forward to the Digital Writing and Building an Audience discussions.

And that's just what I have so far.

During the four days I will have access to the Art Guide Australia Twitter account where I will be 'guest tweeting' and documenting my experiences as they happen. You can follow Art Guide Australia at @Artguideaust

I will also try to get some blog posts out during my time in Melbs- fingers crossed- and upload some images to the Facebook Page.

Now, time to pack...

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Published on Art Guide Australia

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Sunday, 20 May 2012

Dubbleyou Design turns One: exclusive interview with founder Sara Spence


Dubbleyou designer & founder Sara Spence at home in her studio/ study

Artwork: Sara Spence, 2007. Table and chairs: 2nd hand furniture store in Charring Cross, Sydney. Jug: Ikea

Sara Spence, the brains behind design sensation Dubbleyou, is making me lunch. As I look around her Sydney city apartment, evidence of her creative tastes are everywhere. Taking a seat at her kitchen table we get down to the business of Dubbleyou's first birthday on Sunday, May 20th.

Spence was working on self- initiated projects which focused more on objects rather than graphic design when she was offered the chance to submit work to &company for the Finders Keepers markets. The designer had been working on a series of tea towel designs that incorporated music lyrics and when she showed them to &company's Director Anna Lise De Lorenzo "she thought they would fit well with the brand." At the conclusion of Finders Keepers Spence was inundated with requests for her product and she comments that it "really spiralled from there and gave me my first avenue to sell things online." Hence Dubbleyou was born.

The name Dubbleyou steams primarily from the designers childhood when she was at school and prior to approaching any project they would ask the 'W' questions- who, what, where, why and when. This is how Spence approaches all her projects, commenting, "I always make sure my designs are considered, not just created for nothing and even though I can't always say what I make is helpful, I try to make it as purposeful as possible." But also fun, the 24 year old designer knew her work would lean towards the playful side and wanted a name that reflected that aspect as well.   
Candle holders: Reverse garbage, spray painted gold, candles from Top3 By Design, Sydney

Sculpture: Ghost Piano, Sara Spence, 2011 (keys salvaged from a piano that had been abandoned)
Given that her tea towels were the first product produced by Dubbleyou for retail it seems only fitting that these would also be her most popular item. When I ask which one specifically the designer bursts out laughing, "Drop It Like It's Hot. Without a doubt," informing me that it accounts for approximately 40% of Dubbleyou's sales. Seems Snoop Dog makes a good gift. When asked what her personal favourite product is Spence is quick to respond , "Probably the letter box," elaborating on the hardships of manufacturing on a limited budget without going off- shore, Spence emphasises this was her first obstacle. However, the discovery of laser cutting appeared to be the answer to her problems and she comments, "The letter box was a really nice project for me because it was almost a problem solving project. Going from having the idea in my head to the drawing stage, then sending the drawings to the laser cutter and receiving the flat product which I then bolted together was a really satisfying process."

Speaking with Spence it becomes clear that the process is just as important as the finished product, if not more so. As lunch progresses we get into the numbers side of the business as she confesses that at the end of her first year she is still coming to grips with the highs and lows of production, "Some weeks are creepily quiet and others will be terrifyingly busy. Generally though I'll produce anywhere between ten- twenty orders in a week." These orders come about primarily through Dubbleyou's presence on nine online stores- six in Australia and three in New Zealand. Listing Hunting for George and Swoon in Melbourne amongst her stockists, Dubbleyou also has a strong online presence through a website, blog, Facebook page and Twitter account, although initially most of Dubbleyou's fans where Spence's close friends and family, a fact which makes her laugh and she is quick to reassure me that now, a year on, this is not still the case.  
Bedside Table: Found on the side of the road. Candle Holders: Ikea. Shot Glass Planters: Old shot glasses dipped in gold paint with miniature cacti. Lamp: Office Works. Custom Snow Globe: P2 in Surry Hills, Sydney

Cushions Covers: Better World Arts one by Mulykuya Ken the other by Piltati Tjukurpa. Print: Ken Done
As lunch begins to wrap up Spence shows me where the magic happens- the design magic that is- as we head down to check out her garage which acts as her self proclaimed "messy space" where she does all her spraying and cutting. Upstairs in the apartment is the study or "not so messy" space where the designer packages her products, sends orders and does all the paperwork. However in terms of actual designing, she insists, "most of it goes on in my head." This leads me to ask where her ideas come from and while she realises it sounds horribly cliche, she says "I really am inspired by everything around me." Conversations with friends, watching a mundane activity or simply checking out design blogs, Spence derives inspiration from every aspect of her life.

Listing an old Goldfinger album and the Chemical Brothers as tunes that get her "pumped", Spence tells me that the highlight of Dubbleyou's first year is "Probably the fact that I've lasted a year and that I haven't spent all my money and started living on the street!" Laughing she continues, "There have been little moments where I do a tiny jump for joy and hope nobody sees it."

Artwork, Sue Dawes, 2010 ( Cushions: Ikea. Door Names: Scrabble parts bought on Ebay

Table: 2nd hand furniture shop in Newtown, Sydney. Bulb Vase: Ikea. Artwork: Sara Spence, 2011. Wall-hanging: Driftwood Designs, Wanganui New Zelaland
With her first year behind her Spence is looking forward to the next step which for her is actively getting her products into more stores and participating in more markets such as Finders Keepers and The Rocks Markets. It's this interaction with the public that steams from doing market stalls that Spence really loves, explaining, "I did have this grand idea that I would buy a caravan and drive down to the beach every weekend and sell my stuff but my dad quickly explained that it might not work given I didn't have a caravan or anywhere to keep it!" Currently working on what she describes as a "bird feeder- fruit bowl- planter- hanging basket type thing", Spence is quick to point out how lucky she is to be able to do what she loves and still find the time for a full time job to fund Dubbleyou until the business can begin to fund itself.

With a side- line business that deals with brand identity called Buff & Fuzz, Spence is also interested in taking small, independent businesses like her own and giving them a face and a look and feel to their company. So as our interview comes to a close I ask the young design entrepreneur the million dollar question- what's the dream?

"Basically the dream is to have my own store that would have a studio out the back for Buff & Fuzz and a showroom/ ice- cream/ coffee shop out the front. The shop front window would have Dubbleyou products in it and would refer people back to the online store when the shop was closed. I could have it open maybe on weekends or evenings- not entirely sure how it would work. I have always wanted to own my own store because even though it would be a huge amount of work I love the interaction with people. And then I'd probably live upstairs.... not that I've thought about it that much!"

Grass Door Mat: Own design available at

Tea Towels: Own design available at . Masher: Dreamfarm. Stainless Steel Jug: Garage Sale find

Dubbleyou stockists can be found here.

Check out Dubbleyou of
Facebook, Twitter & the Blog.


All images taken by Sara Spence.

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