Art for Justice

Street Art

Public Art Artist & Photographer unknown

Art for change, justice, non-commercial art etc. What gets my heart racing is Public art/Street art of a subversive nature. Gotta love that councils are approving street art & Artists are getting paid, however I love seeing a fresh stencil, graph piece, paste-up or drawing pop up. Invurt are very cool & a good place to check out whats happening artwise on the streets of OZ & NZ.

Public Artworks The Butcher’s Shop is a great webpage for Perth Street Artists. The site has an Artist directory with an art google map so you can put your artwork up on google for people to find. It is great to see the Perth City Farm’s public art on the map.

Below are some wonderful pics I took of the community mural & artworks at Cabramatta train station (Sydney area) created by Kuttung Suverans & Artists Peta & Arthur & their daughter Lowanna with local people in the Cabramatta community. The artworks are inspired by the diverse cultural heritage of the locals, as you can see in the mural. I believe these artworks have been there at the train station for almost 20 years now.

Community Mural at Cabramatta train station

Detail of Community Mosaque at Cabramatta train station

Political Art – Subverting society through the arts. MmmHmm this is what the arts is all about – in case there was any confusion amongst the artists out there – this is your role in society in my opinion.

Wiradjuri man Kevin Gilbert (10 July 1933 – 1 April 1993) is famous for his artworks, writing, poems & working for justice & freedom for his people. Kevin said that visual art could not be misinterpreted, the image could not be twisted around in the way that words (both written & spoken – especially English) can be.

Artwork by Kevin Gilbert

Here are a few of my political bits & pieces, enjoy! get out there & decorate the streets.

Burger Democracy, collage 2008 by Fern & Tia

Genocide, multimedia print, 2008

Enjoy Climate Change, Paste-ups Cottesloe, WA 2007

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Artworks from Bundabah Studio

The first heat of summer sizzled me as I walked through Whickam from my new art studio & I’m thinking of Bundabah Art Studio, with the view over the Bay to the hills of Fame Cove. The amazing sunsets, the birds – so many birds! Pelicans & black swans on the water, parrots, sea eagles & kookaburras always around.

I managed to get in last minute painting & drawing as we packed up to head back to the big smoke. I got the spray cans out for our last sunset at Bundabah. I do wish I had made more time for art creating but I did a fair bit & I have to be so very thankful for the two years spent at that fabulous house with the amazing Tia & jet dog & for having such an inspiring location for a home based art studio. Here are some of the pieces from the Bundabah Art Studio.

‘Ghosts’ by Henrick Ibsen (1828-1906)


Directed by Debra Hely & Performed by the Newcastle Theatre Company
Season Wednesday October 12th to Saturday October 22nd.
Call 4952 4958 for bookings. Office hours: 3.00 p.m. to 6.00 p.m.
Ghosts (the original Norwegian title for the play was Gengangere which literally translated means “again walkers”) was first staged in 1882. The play was considered indecent back in the day. Some of the commentary of the time included the following reviews:
Ibsen’s positively abominable play entitled Ghosts….An open drain: a loathsome sore unbandaged; a dirty act done publicly….Gross, almost putrid indecorum….Literary carrion…. Crapulous stuff” – Daily Telegraph
Revoltingly suggestive and blasphemous ….Characters either contradictory in themselves, uninteresting or abhorrent.” – Daily Chronicle
Ghosts examines the thin veneer of propriety maintained by society, especially by the upper classes. Too often this veneer does not hide the corrupt reality.
Ghosts is centred around the character Mrs Alving, who is about to establish an orphanage in the memory of her late husband. Mrs Alving has kept up appearances putting up with the womanising behaviour of her late husband for years. Pastor Manders is Mrs Alving’s confidante and a pillar of local society. The Pastor has a job on his hands maintaining good god faring living within the local community. Mrs Alving finally breaks the silence about her late husband to Pastor Manders.
During the play Mrs Alving discovers that her son Oswald, whom she sent away to spare him the corrupting influence of his father, is suffering from inherited syphilis and even more alarmingly has fallen in love with Mrs Alving’s maid Regina. Regina is revealed to be the illegitimate daughter of Captain Alving and therefore Oswald’s half-sister. The play ends with Oswald pleading his with his mother to help him end his agony by taking his own life, as a rear cloudless sunrise pierces light across the cold, wintery landscape.
Ghosts is a study of women’s place under the thumb of men, the church’s role in covering up the often rotten, festering realities of society and how this denial creates an environment in which social rot thrives. I enjoyed this production directed by Debra Hely very much. All of the Actors did a great job bringing the characters to life, or in the case of Pastor Manders bringing the character’s grim presence boldly to the stage.
The set design, costumes and score were all well done. The modern set design with a surreal window structure in the background created a disturbed, wintery, cold and desolate setting, further enhanced by the period costumes and prim drawing room set. Good on Ibsen for challenging the Status Quo and making meaningful theatre and for the Newcastle Theatre Company to continue in this great tradition!

Independant Media

I have been involved in the local Newcastle art, film/doco and media scene for four years now, starting out studying Multimedia at the Newcastle Art School in 2008.

That year I wagged classes to document a road trip – with 40 people on an old school bus – from Newcastle to the Uluru town of Mutitjulu, to visit Elder Uncle Bob Randell. We had been invited by community leaders in remote towns to come see and hear for ourselves how the Northern Territory Emergency Response (NTER) “The Intervention” and quarenteening of Centerlink payments has effected those living with these heavily imposed restrictions and policies. It was an eye-opening experience. I’m still trying to cut the 20 odd hours of footage! I guess the doco will happen in its own time.

I worked on local short film productions ‘Borrowed’ Directed by Dwuan LaTrobe in 2010 and ‘New Profession’ Directed by Deb Waters this year. In the last few months, I have started working with Video Artist Tara Jones, on her feature documentary ‘Hemp: the Ashford trial’.

Dwuan, Tara and I are all involved with the local Community Arts and Media organisation The Octapod this year. We are working to get the Community Media Center at The ‘Pod vibrant and cranking with resources for locals to get excited about. I have been looking at innovative community media around the country for inspiration. Here are three amazing organisations I’m inspired by:

ICE – Last week I visited the Information and Cultural Exchange (ICE) in Parramatta. ICE is a mouth-watering space – recording and editing studios, gallery, artist in residence hub, teaching and filming space + more. ICE facilities and programs are an asset for the community locally and an inspiration for anyone interested in media, film, art and music for social and cultural expression, justice, communication and cohesion.

Warlpiri Media / PAW Media – During the bus road trip In 2008, we had the opportunity to visit the remote town Yuendumu, in the Tanami Desert. Warlpiri Media was setup by community members, is has always been 100% run by the community. Warlpiri Media produced the unique series Bush Mechanics, as well as radio broadcasting, short and feature film productions, television and multimedia producing (in local language) music production, support for live concerts and technical support.

Engage Media – EngageMedia is a non-profit media, technology and culture organisation, promoting the use of video, the internet and free software technologies to create social and environmental change. I have been an Engage Media member, sharing videos for a number of years now.

Engage Media say; “Independent media and free and open technologies are fundamental to building the movements needed to challenge social injustice and environmental damage, as well as to provide and present solutions.”

Giggle away the blues

Comedy and laughs are a necessary coping mechanism in life. I have been remembering this and indulging in some much needed laughs. This is a great way to spend cold, winter nights; the pot belly fire warming things up, a block of chocolate and lots of belly laughs.

For me, comedians have to SAY something of substance. Otherwise, they are kinda-funny kinda-boring. Stand-up has got to be one of the best ways to get people’s minds going, thinking and laughing – YES! Three of my favorite comedians this winter have been:

George Carlin (May 12, 1937 – June 22, 2008) was a Grammy-winning American stand-up comedian, actor, and author. There are recordings of his work over the decades, but I particularly love his later work, when he was a fabulously grumpy old man. He cuts religion and “humanity’s bullshit” to shreds, insults everyone scathingly and remains totally lovable. Saving the Planet and Religion is Bullshit are gold.

Margaret Cho is a Korean American stand-up, actor, recording artist and woman of many talents. She speaks out about race and sexuality, society’s warped view of beauty and eating disorders, LGBT advocacy (Cho is bi-sexual) and is generally hilariously critical of society, politicians and the famous. She has toured with the likes of Cyndi Lauper, Debbie Harry and The Dresden Dolls. I can’t get enough of Margaret Cho and luckily there is much of her to be watched on U-Tube. I would start with some of her 2009 show Beautiful.

Aamer Rahman and Nazeem-Hussain do the show Fear of a Brown Planet. Aamer and Nazeem are recipients of the Best Newcomer Award at the 2008 Melbourne International Comedy Festival. They speak out about racism, “growing up brown in white Australia,” challenging racial and cultural stereotypes and talk out about Islam and ‘the war on terror.’ Here is ‘White People’ from Fear of a Brown Planet. Brilliant!

Cirque Du Soleil: Saltimbanco – A Two Act Circus curently performing at the Newcastle Entertainment Center

“Saltimbanco represents the challenge we have in today’s world: respecting each other, living and working together, despite our differences. We have to believe in a better world, and believe that we can play a role in it.” Guy Laliberte, Cirque du Soleil founder. Saltimbanco’s Creative Director is Gilles Ste-Croix and the show’s Director is Franco Dragone.

I went to see Saltimbanco as a teenager in 1999 with my Aunt who was a performer for many years. I remember the anticipation of going to see “the world’s best circus.” Saltimbanco has been revamped, but retains the original charm.

Cirque du Soleil is an entertainment empire franchise to be reckoned with. The founders of Cirque du Soleil went from working the street crowds of Quebec for a living as a street performers in the 1980s to employing 5000 people worldwide and running 22 resident and touring circus shows in 2011.

Saltimbanco is an unashamedly joyous, celebration of life in technicolour. The show’s band is reminiscent of David Bowie and performance routines demonstrate the human ability to do absolutely amazing things. Saltimbanco is influenced by Steampunk, Commedia dell’ Arte, Baroque and international circus techniques and gymnastics – from the Chinese poles, Russian Swing, Bungee and beyond. The show is a fusion of cultures, eras and styles, well balanced with personal interactions between the characters and audience. Fabulous sequences showcase the talent of the highly skilled performers.

The opening sequence of cheeky characters stealing front row seats and sampling random audience member’s beverages is a crack-up. In the first Act, the Chinese Poles are sweat inducing as the performers free fall; head first at break neck speed – literally. Ivan Do-Doc made his clowning Artistic Bicycle antics look easy and Ariunsanaa Bataa’s contortion routine was red hot.

The second Act has a darker edge. Twin sisters Julia and Ele Janke where awesomely sweat inducing during the Trapeze Duo. Martin Pons clowning with mime and voice/sound mimicry was a highlight adding an intimate touch to the show. Darren Bersuk and Etienne Deneault’s Hand-to-Hand sequence was beautiful and a little bit queer. The Bungee performance was perfectly timed. I was worried that the performers would bounce off the ceiling, they were flying through the air so fast and high.

There were definitely a number of bottom-on-edge-of-seat moments during this totally Deadly performance. I’m happy to say I support this super successful modern circus in their expansion throughout the entertainment world. Cirque du Soleil bring high quality performance, with a positive message of tolerance and to celebrate diversity, to audiences the world over.

Interview with Maxime Charbonneau about La Cirque du Soleil

Cirque Du Soleil is coming to Newcastle for the first time next week, performing ‘Saltimbanco’. I can’t wait to go along to opening night on the 20th of July at the Newcastle Entertainment Center. In the lead up to the circus coming to town, I had a chat with Maxime Charbonneau, the show’s Publicist. Saltimbanco runs from July 20th to 24th.

Cirque Soleil Website

Fern: La Cirque Du Soleil’s (Circus of the Sun) signature and longest running show ‘Saltimbanco’ is currently in Australia for a five month national tour, with three shows a little off the beaten track in Hobart, Newcastle and Wollongong. I’m looking forward to seeing the show in Newcastle. How has the tour been so far?

Maxime: We are all very excited and have just got back from a two-week break, so we are all energised. So far the tour has been amazing! The Brisbane shows played to sold out crowds with a great response. The show sold out in Tasmania. This is the first time we have done the regional shows, so the first time we have performed for the audience in Tasmania, with a great response! Everywhere the response has been amazing.

Fern: Cirque Du Soleil has come from humble beginnings in the early 1980s, when a group of talented street performers in Quebec, Canada impressed local audiences and organised international gatherings of street performers from all over the world. Cirque Du Soleil was then created and has gone from strength to strength. Is Cirque Du Soleil still connected to the international street performing scenes?

Maxime: We try never to forget where we come from. Originally, it was a little group of street performers who dreamed of something different, of putting ahead the human performance and showcasing what the human body is capable of.

We now have 22 shows playing around the world. We connect in with local circuses and circus schools in the cities where we perform. We employ people from all over the world. The casting department travels all over the world to find performers, to find talent. If you dream of joining Cirque Du Soleil, go onto the casting section of our webpage and create yourself a profile on the website. One of our Australian performers, Kieran Bourke from Melbourne, was from the ‘Flying Fruit Fly Circus’. He created a demo video and sent it in to us. He has now been with the show for over the year. He was inspired to pursue his circus career by going to see Cirque Soleil in 1999.

Fern: There are many elements to the eclectic experience that is Cirque Du Soleil. The performers are some of the world’s best, the costume, makeup and sets are incredible and the music is central to the whole experience. There are over 2500 costumes pieces for the show! I love that this show goes all out to create a sensory feast. In what way do you hope this show will touch the audience?

Maxime: In many ways! People of all ages have been coming to see Cirque Du Soleil for decades. They are touched by the characters who invite audience members to come and play on stage. By the acrobatics, by what people are capable of doing 12m up in the air. What people are able to do, pushing the limits. The whole mix, people will be touched in different ways. We have received so many messages, thankyous from the experience for the show. We are very proud of the way this show touches audiences around the world.

Fern: Saltimbanco is inspired by the Urban Metropolis, by a city’s colourful inhabitants. Diversity is a reason for hope. The show’s cast are truly international, coming from more than 50 countries. Can you tell me more about the central theme of celebrating diversity?

Maxime: The theme behind Saltimbanco is the evolution of the different characters. These stories create the unique show that is Saltimbanco. The characters develop their identities and learn to be expressive and unique, to express themselves. This is the message. If we are unique and different, we can create a world all together. This is the message of the circus, even if you are far away, we can all work together. Everybody understands the circus language, the language of the human body. This show is appreciated by audiences the world over. The circus world is accessible by everybody.

Borrowed Teaser

Borrowed is a short film by Duwan LaTrobe, starring Bree Desborough. I’m the Production Designer for Borrowed.

The Borrowed webpage is Here and the Teaser for the film is Here.

Synopsis – What if you find your self in someone else’s book? Borrowed is about an outsider looking into the world and not belonging.

Burying yourself in a book and holding the pages like blankets over your head.

Alice finds herself trapped in a world of onions and books, knowing the end is coming, but it’s not what she expected. Choosing to change all that, Alice steps off into the unknown.