Steel City Collective

Where is ERYNWITHAWHY by Eryn Withawhy

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10153711_10152410642364434_7472090751837426532_nIt's official. I no longer live in Steel City. Don't let that fool you though - you can take the girl out of the town, but you can't take the town out of the girl. You're not getting rid of me that easily. ERYNWe hear it constantly and I've said it myself often enough that creatives always leave Newcastle. When I started Steel City Collective over a year ago, I was on a mission to prove to myself that I could stay. I promised myself that I would freelance, I'd commute and make a living for myself in the town where I grew up. I knew it would be difficult and I knew I'd struggle. What I didn't know is that I would achieve so much. In the past 18 months as a freelance designer and illustrator I have been contracted by a variety of businesses and organisations to handle everything from logos, branding, copywriting and artwork to large scale murals, promotion, advertising and arts events. I've been lucky to work with some amazing organisations including the IBAA, Surfest, The Festivalists, Totem Brand, headspace Newcastle, TiNA and Seasoned Music. I was commissioned to install several public murals, oversaw Newcastle council youth workshops, established and ran a contemporary gallery space and studio in the CBD and choreographed and executed a large-scale art performance as part of the Special Olympic Games Opening Ceremony. Steel City Collective were resident artists for two seasons of the hugely popular Jurassic Lounge at the Australian Museum. We painted walls, bodies, canvases and everything in between. That's just the tip of the iceberg. I could have never imagined what I was capable of. ERYN_2 But it was hard. At times desperately so. Much of my work came with huge costs; financial, emotional and physical. There were weeks when I didn't sleep. There were bills that didn't get paid. There were hundreds of emails, phone calls, and more paperwork than paper works. There were dazzling highs and dizzying lows. "Start a creative arts business", they said. "It will be fun," they said. It was. I met some amazing people and experienced great things, but it took it's toll. I hadn't made art for art's sake in a long time. At times I felt as though I had nothing left to give and had little to show for it. The people around me found it difficult to understand. My plans were idealistic and my dreams were grand and naive, but I said at the time (and stand by it) that they had to be.ERYN_2 When I met Chet and Matt from Work-Shop, as well as Xander from The Chrown I found connections with people who were on similar paths. Not only did they share similar goals, community spirit and genuine desire for others to achieve, they were already moving forward, growing and changing the art scene in Sydney where there was a larger audience. They were hard working, business minded artists that thrived on collaboration and creativity. I found myself spending more time in Sydney and wanting to become more involved with their projects.

When Matt and Chet offered me a position with Work-Shop, and an apartment in North Sydney presented itself at the perfect time, I couldn't pass up the opportunity. I am working in the Work-Shop Makery (www.facebook.com/WorkshopMakery) - a gallery and retail space so like Shop Steel City that I could be forgiven for thinking I was back on Hunter Street. Representing incredibly talented artists, crafters and makers daily, as well as contributing to the innovations within Work-Shop, I love going to work in the morning. I haven't gone far and I don't feel the need to say how much I'll miss my friends and family in Newcastle because I don't intend to. I'll see most of you just as much and I look forward to being surprised again every time I come back. You won't have a chance to miss me either. I've been writing for the Mirage for the past year and I'll continue to cover the various and sundry events that will always keep me coming back to Steel City.

Petcha Kutcha in Newcastle by Eryn Withawhy

The premise is simple enough; speakers present 20 slides on a given topic. For each image, they have 20 seconds worth of captive audience. At Pecha Kucha Night Newcastle’s second instalment that audience filled the ample warehouse space of The Edwards’ east wing and settled in for an evening destined to be a veritable tasting plate of ideas. The theme for the event was ‘Food and Music’, and who better to talk about food and music than a panel of lawyers, architects and therapists? That’s the exciting thing about Pecha Kucha, and about Newcastle - everyone is a closet creative.Roderick Smith is a legal practitioner, musician and visual artist as well as co-founder of “Firekites”. His latest solo project “North Arm” was the focus of his presentation, work driven by nostalgia for his childhood home. His very specific memories and journey hinted at the universal connection between longing for what was, what could be and the experience of music. It was natural to think of feelings of nostalgia evoked not only by music, but also by food as he talked romantically about BBQs with family. Smith left us with a sample of ‘Quietly Lightly’ from his EP ‘Thought Lines’ before he was silenced by the unforgiving 20 second mark - a taste that had me wanting more and rushing to iTunes. His ethereal, heartbreaking vocals sink and swim beneath a flowing, living body of intermingling melodies. With the introduction of what I can only guess is a tambourine, the track conjures images of running through sun-drenched scrub, laughing and playing by fast moving water. There’s an edge to the arrangement though; an imprint of something lost, something tainted. Smith’s presentation gave insight into his EP, forming a framework for response to his music that encourages feelings of bittersweet nostalgia. Consider me a fan. Revered well beyond Newcastle, Smith was among many extremely talented musicians on the bill for PK Newcastle including ukelele-wielding Lymerick Kaye, Holly Clayton (of Holly Who fame), Mark Newlands and the beautiful Catherine Britt. Britt, a self-confessed tomboy and reviler of makeup, provided the first of many live musical performances for the night. A vision of understated country charm, Britt in her patchwork dress delighted with a rendition of ‘Charlestown Road’. ‘Do we ever stop missing our childhood home?’ she sang, echoing sentiments expressed by Smith and cementing ‘nostalgia’ firmly in my mind as a secondary theme of the event. Outlining an upbringing enriched with musical experience, Jason Elsley explained his unique approach to design. His dynamic mural developed for the University of Newcastle grew from a complex algorithm shifting a musical sequence into the visual spectrum, resulting in abstract shapes and colours recollecting the original light shafts of the basement room. Mark Tisdell, landscape architect at Urban Exotic, and Lachlan Storrie spoke about building communities through building gardens. As a driving force behind the new Darby Street Community Garden, Tisdell is fast leaving his creative mark on the popular cafe and retail strip. His previous lane way project bordering Goldberg’s is just one of the developments in his broader vision for the street. Already, the day of activity lead by Jo Dyer painting a mural for the garden has forged strong community connections and made lasting memories for the young people involved. Storrie and Tisdell are hoping that the garden will be a place for locals and local businesses to grow produce to use in cooking healthful, honest food. Bec Death and Mark Hinchey had their own ideas to share about food, one a travelling foodie and whole food lover, the other a nutritionist interested in fostering a conscious relationship with the food we consume. An anecdotal account of Masaru Emoto’s study on the power of intent on water left the audience giggling and expressing love into their draining glasses. Wishing mine was full, I was captivated by Tina Irving’s passion as she described the hand-etched designs on each bottle of Solitaire, the deep red wine that she “is not meant to call champagne” but does. Something about the humility and soft-spoken confidence with which Phil Byrnes spoke was immediately engaging. Having spent 20 years living, working and raising a family in Tokyo, Byrnes’ return to Australia included a change in location, culture and career. With qualifications and experience in catering not recognised in his home country, Byrnes retrained as a remedial massage therapist. His passion however has never shifted, and he brings flavours and techniques learned overseas to catering private events when he is not working at Excel Massage. Last to speak was Mark Newlands, who delivered an address that had me reminiscing about all ages gigs from when the Cambridge Hotel still had comfy lounges in the glass house. His casual recount of exploits with Bloody Fist Records reminded me of hours spent spiking up my tri-coloured mohawk and heading along to dirty punk shows put on by the likes of UnemplOi!able and other punningly named bands. Though BFR was winding up just as my naive, angsty rebellion was burgeoning, Newland pioneered the Newcastle scene that would become my place of belonging as a young teen. Nostalgia is a powerful emotion. As Newlands discussed the production of a noise track, sequenced from myriad samples of BHP sounds I recalled my own experiences creating ‘music’ and trying to eke out an artistic existence in a steel city. Kudos to Donna Burrell, Tanya Fogarty, Ana Saiao, Arna Sleishman and Jodie Duddington for organising a truly memorable night.

STart Talking by Eryn Withawhy

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It was a sunny afternoon, i’m not sure of the date. Craig bounded ahead of me through the bush. We leapt and laughed as we played like children in the scrub near his house; a couple of carefree 19 year olds covered in mud and yelling excitedly when we found patches of glistening moss in the damp creek beds.ISSUE_9_STart TALKThere are still days when I wonder if I could have done more. I worry that I didn’t say the right thing. I wish with all I have that I could go back in time knowing what I know now. Those days are becoming less frequent, but they still linger. Memories take me by surprise or I hear a Matchbox Twenty song on the radio and I’m right back in the grief of losing Craig to suicide. I have no patent on grief. Suicide is the biggest killer of Australian males aged between 15 and 44. There are thousands of stories not dissimilar to mine and millions of people touched daily by depression and mental illness. Kathie Bowtell wants to talk about it. She wants me to talk about it. She wants you, your friends, your family, your neighbour and your workplace to talk about it. She wants everyone to talk about it and she’s created an arts programme to get the ball rolling - stART talking . Kathie is one of the most inspiring, selfless and amazing people I have had the privilege to meet.

Interview from ERYN WITHAWHY

Kathie, let me congratulate and thank you for everything you’ve done. The work you are doing is astounding. For those who haven’t heard of it, what is stART talking? stART talking is a community project which aims to initiate safe discussion around suicide. We aim to remove the stigma attached to anyone seeking help, and support the families left behind post-suicide. If we cannot discuss suicide we cannot make an impact on reducing the numbers of people; men, women and children, that we lose to suicide every day. Families in the Newcastle Hunter region who have lost a loved one to suicide were invited to take place in an arts programme where an artist would create a portrait of their loved one to give to them after an exhibition in May 2014. The exhibition seeks to put a face to the statistic so we can see that suicide respects no one and can take everyday normal people completely by surprise. It gives the families an opportunity to speak of their experience in an effort to educate others about the warning signs (or lack of) and encourage others that there is help and support available so no one else feels like there is no other option. We encourage people to become involved in the project so we can make a difference together. We will also be attempting to raise funds to donate to Lifeline so that they can train as many people as possible to become phone counsellors to ensure every call to Lifeline gets answered. It’s a huge commitment. What are your motivations for taking on such a large project? It has been a huge commitment from me and my family in both time and money but that is nothing compared to the cost of losing a loved one to suicide. I have lost a grandparent and a brother to suicide. I won’t sit back and let suicide rob me or anyone again, not without a fight. It’s not a popular battle but is incredibly important to me. It must be very rewarding, seeing the smiles on faces after you’ve heard so much about a family’s loss. I love the cover photo on your page. Sam’s parents look so pleased with your work. What was that moment like? Think for a minute about someone you have lost, not just to suicide… Imagine how you would feel if you could have them back just for a second or a minute. One of the biggest rewards of this project is to share that moment with the families when they get to see their portrait for the very first time. There is almost always tears, tears of love and I often hear ‘It’s just like he/she is here’. When Sam’s parents saw his portrait for the first time his mum Virginia said ‘You have captured him so well I feel like I could just reach into the canvas and hug him’. I tear up just writing that. Imagine helping a mum or dad who’s child has died feeling even for just a fleeting moment like they could hug their child again. That feeling is greater and more precious than any prize or any amount of money anyone could ever offer me for a painting. You are very skilled. How long have you been painting portraits? Thank you, I always see my faults and how much better I would like to be at portrait painting. I guess a lot of artists feel the same. I’ve drawn since I was a young child. You know when you first start drawing and you draw your family as stick figures or scribbled blurs? Well I couldn’t draw my family because they didn’t really exist. My dad died when I was 3 and due to family circumstances my 3 brothers and I were separated. There are no family photos of me and my dad or me with my brothers, none in existence, so as a result as I got older I would imagine what they would look like and I created them. I guess that’s how I became obsessed with capturing and drawing people. I then developed a reputation for posthumous portraits and ‘bringing people back to life’ so to speak in paintings. What can our readers do to contribute to this project? I would LOVE to have more people involved. Other artists willing to donate their time to attempt a portrait would be wonderful. Donations of art supplies or anything we could raffle. Goods and services or funds for Lifeline to help support grieving families and friends left behind after a suicide would be awesome. Anything over $2 is tax deductible. If people could like and share our Facebook and Twitter pages (facebook.com/lifelinenewcastlestarttalking, @stARTtalking) would really help us spread the word and reach more people. Put Lifeline’s number into your phone - 13 11 14. It’s free from all mobiles and if you or a friend ever needs it you know exactly who to call and what to do. Finally, hug the people you love and never be afraid of asking ‘Are u ok?’ Never be afraid of saying ‘No, I need your help to get through this’. Suicide thrives on dividing us, isolating us and it thrives on silence. It’s like the bully of the mental health universe and I’m sick of bullies. I won’t be a bystander, I care about people and we aren’t always strong enough to fight for ourselves. I want us to join together and kick the shit out of suicide. When one of us is down then we can join forces and smack that bully down. Don’t isolate anyone who feels down, don’t be afraid to ask the questions and make sure you know exactly who to call when you need to. So my question to you is, are you brave enough to stART talking?

At the time of publishing, there is as yet no location or date set for the exhibition of works. If you or an arts organisation you are involved with are able to offer organisational assistance, please contact Kathie through the stART talking Facebook page 

60 seconds with - ERYN WITHAWHY by Kian West

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  Eryn graciously featured on 1/2 limited edition covers for the January issue of NM and we were so incredibly stoked to catch up with her and take a moment to highlight someone that is such an inspiration to so many others and a personal favorite of us here at Mirage. If you don't already know Eryn Withawhy, this article will be a special treat. It is people like Eryn that make our amazing city the incredible place it is. YOU MIGHT KNOW ERYN AS THE ENERGETIC FACE OF THE STEEL CITY COLLECTIVE, BUT ERYN IS SO MUCH MORE THAN THE DIRECTOR OF AN ART COLLECTIVE AND GALLERY OWNER. SHE IS A HIGHLY CREATIVE INDIVIDUAL, EXTREMELY MOTIVATED TO DO GREAT FOR THE COMMUNITY SHE LIVES IN AND LEAVE AN IMPACT ON THE SOULS SHE CONNECTS WITH. IT IS BECAUSE OF THIS WE FELT IT NECESSARY TO INTERVIEW ONE OF THE ORIGINAL CONTRIBUTORS OF NEWCASTLE MIRAGE.ISSUE_8_COV1

 

So Eryn, thanks for taking time out of your crazy schedule to speak, Tell us a little bit about yourself? Any time, Kian! To be honest, it’s weird to be on the other side of an interview. Well…according to my shiny new website (www.withawhy.com.au), I’m the girl who asks questions. I think that sums me up pretty perfectly. I’m constantly evolving, constantly learning and constantly pushing myself to know more and be more. I’m a freelance designer, illustrator, artist and creative events manager. Sometimes I write copy.

You have recently been working with the Special Olympics when they were in Newcastle, care to tell us a little about this experience? Newcastle is so lucky to have hosted such an amazing event! The people involved; the athletes, families, support staff, volunteers and event co-ordinators, were such positive, inspiring people! I was asked to orchestrate a large scale art performance as part of the Opening Ceremony. With only two weeks lead time, my plans of creating a 200-canvas strong illustrative mosaic were a little ambitious, but the resulting display was something I’m very proud of. In the end I painted approximately 70 1m x 1.5m canvases over three days. The individual pieces matched up to reveal a portrait of Jessica, a dancer who was chosen to be showcased as a hero in the ceremony. The first time I saw the whole piece was at the dress rehearsal - it was pretty surreal. They had a helicopter fly over to film it. Footage of the event unfolding and us spray painting in front of a stadium of people was streamed live on national TV. I’m so grateful to all the people who volunteered last minute to help at the rehearsal and the performance. I couldn’t have picked a better team to work with. Everyone who came along was positive, flexible, supportive, enthusiastic and just great. I owe them a great deal. Many thanks to Jane, Claudia, Lauren (and her lovely mother!), Bryan, Grant, Josh, Glenn, Nathan, Andy, Dane, Dru, Gale and Ethan as well as the fantastic staff and students from Swansea High School and Newcastle Waldorf School!! Special thanks to my wonderful mother who had no idea that she’d be called upon to assist when I was lacking volunteers! Thanks lady! ISSUE_8_ERYN 2What are some of the current projects you are working on? Where do I start? I’ve just finished the poster for an event I’m involved with on the 16th of January at South Newcastle Beach - it’s an all ages festival brought to Newcastle by a variety of community organisations including Headspace, Samaritans, Salvation Army Oasis Youth Network Hunter, Newcastle Community Youth Development Project, Newcastle Skate, Steel City Collective, Multicultural Neighbourhood Centre Inc and Medicare Local Hunter. There’s going to be live music, DJs, live art, games, skate clinics, prizes, giveaways and a free lunch! I’m also working on branding and promotional material for a huge night of entertainment in Sydney mid next year as well as some ongoing events in Melbourne kicking off in a few months. There’s also the various public art installations and walls I’m working on with Steel City Collective - including a series of murals in Hunter high schools, a backlog of commissioned artworks and a few other smaller boutique designs for local businesses and individuals. After the success of TravJamJar’s solo show at Shop Steel City, I’m looking forward to curating a group show as well as putting on a few more solo shows for some very talented local artists. I’m sure that I’ve forgotten about a bunch of things…

Where do you see yourself in five years? I don’t know where I see myself next week.

If you could work with any person, who would it be? There’s a few on my list. I’d love the chance to work for agencies BMF and DraftFCB, responsible for the Aldi - Prices You’ll Love Talking About and Honda Civic - Symphony In Motion campaigns respectively. They were two of my favourite multi-platform campaigns in 2013. Locally, I’m actually really excited about a collaboration with Alien Art tattoo artist Dan Arnold (@ridingwithdeath on instagram). He’s a good friend of mine and a brilliant artist. I cannot wait to work with him on the large scale works we have planned!

When you aren’t creating, what else do you enjoy doing with any spare time? Hahahahahahahahahahaha. You’re funny, Kian.ISSUE_8_ERYN 1

Because We Can by Eryn Withawhy

BECAUSE WE CAN

from Eryn WithAWhy

Based in Newcastle, NSW, the BWC Team started as a group of avid surfers, snowboarders, and skaters looking to help raise the profile of board sports and kick-start the thousands of talented young riders out there pursuing careers in the industry.

What has developed during our journey is a collaborative project of amazing surf/snow/skate media, people and ideas, networks and friendships.

Through our BWC Launchpad Program we aim to seek out the talented youth of Australia who are passionate about their chosen sport and launch them into a career doing what they love most. Our sponsorship package will give the riders the added confidence and exposure needed to get noticed in the industry. The riders will become an integral part of the BWC Team where their latest footage, photos, competition results, and personal profiles will be updated and promoted extensively through our website and various social media platforms.

Keen entrants for the LaunchPad competition are encouraged to prepare up to 2 minutes of footage which best showcases their talents in their chosen sport. The videos should include varying skills, different terrain/conditions, and also try to show the personality of the rider. Music overlay and video editing are not essential, but recommended, as this 2 minute footage reel will be the riders opportunity to capture the audience and increase their votes.

Success in this competition will rely on how many votes riders can generate for their video. The winner of the BWC LaunchPad competition will win an exclusive sponsorship package from BWC: This includes a full BWC clothing pack and professional photo and video shoots. The riders will also receive reimbursement of up to $250 for competition entry fees in the first year!

Another large part of the BWC mission is a strong commitment to protecting and conserving the amazing natural environment that provides the platform for most of our passion, and also to support the countless organizations out there who give so much to get others in the water, on the slopes, or rolling around on four wheels.

A big chunk of all profit earned from the sales of our merchandise goes straight to supporting our young riders and the charities that support, promote, and encourage others into the sports we love.

For more information about BWC, Launchpad entry and details, or for a full list of the charities we support, visit the website - becausewecan.com.au

 

ERYN WITH A WHY CAN'T CHRISTMAS BE CHEAPER by Eryn Withawhy

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ERYN WITH A WHY CAN'T CHRISTMAS BE CHEAPER, MORE SUSTAINABLE AND ECONOMICALLY RESPONSIBLE?

WITH ERYN WITH A WHY

Snappy title, huh? Good news humans of Greater Novocastria! It can be! I’ve compiled the following list of 10 ideas for Christmas that will get you thinking about ways to minimise your environmental and economical impact this Christmas whilst maximising the benefits of shopping locally for gifts and produce! Some of the items on the list include presents for loved ones, low impact (and cheap!) activities for the silly season, and fun food ideas for

fantas tic (and frivolousless) feasts!

1. Cards. Everyone should have a hand-made Christmas card this season! You can make your own or purchase a locally designed and printed greeting from a number of small businesses including The Olive Tree Markets, Blue Star Elements, Blackbird Corner, or Shop Steel City. Shop Steel City also offers an on-the-spot custom card creation service for something 100% one of a kind and unique!

2. Team Sports. Cricket, Soccer, Footy, Netball, and Basketball are fun and involve the whole family (and any strays you gather over the holidays)! Family and friends who play together, stay together!

3. Music. Instead of giving your brother another JB Hi-Fi Gift Card, treat him to a stash of local music! There are hundreds of local artists with EPs and full album releases in Newcastle, including Riley & Donna, De’May, Kaye, Prem Bedlam, Rubix Cuba, and more! Stalk local bands via Facey or check out White’s Records on Hunter Street! For a cute and quirky idea, make your own “Local Gig Giftcard” loaded eftpos card for the recipient to use on live music in the Hunter!

4. Sangria icecubes. You heard me. Step one: Make Sangria, Step two: Freeze Sangria in icecube trays. You’re welcome. (While you’re at it, freeze some grapes! Om nom!)

5. Furry Friends. We all know the rules about giving pets for Christmas (they’re forever, not just December)! If you

ARE ready to welcome a furry friend into your home this holiday season, why not consider adopting a critter from a refuge or fostering an animal? There are many overflowing animal care centres in Newcastle who would love to introduce you to someone special.

6. Board Sports. There’s no better place for enjoying the H2O or pavement than Newcastle. With amazing beaches and pristine Lake Macquarie, why not take advantage of the many stockists of bodyboards and surfboards in our Steel City? Solid Bodyboard Shop in Charlestown, K-Stars in Adamstown, Sanbar in the Junction, and Newcastle Skate Shop are just a few of the locally owned and operated places to pick up your new ride!

7. Threads. You’re not anyone in this town unless you’re making tees! Get some serious Steel City swag from local designers at The Lair, Nookstore, Guanabana, Scout, and many more in The Mall and on Darby Street.

8. Explore your City! Do you have visitors coming from out of town? Have them give you a guided tour of Newcastle complete with “historical” (hysterical?) narration. You’ll be amazed at what you find looking at your local through the lens of a tourist!

9. Park Sledding. Let’s be honest. Your niece is going to enjoy the box that the doll came in just as much, if not more than the doll itself. Cut to the chase and just give her the cardboard! Then take her to King Edward park to slide down the hills! Best aunty / uncle award goes to you, sunshine!

10. Love. Just love. Write a letter, sing a song, cuddle, kiss... Cheesy, but so true - the real gift is presence, not presents. Have an honest conversation with your family, tell your friends how much they mean to you, pass your number to the cute barista at Suspension Cafe. It’s the little things that matter at Christmas.

Tune in on our Facebook page Steel City Collective from the 1st of December as we bombard you with more fun Christmas ideas every day in the lead up to the 25th or drop in to the shop to chat!

Merry Christmas,

Eryn With a Why! xx

On the Outside Looking In by Eryn Withawhy

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Eryn With a Why on Look Hear's Hit The Bricks

“His work is different. It actually says something about who he is. He means it...”

I was talking to Lindsey as we sat in the Shop Friday afternoon. My intention was to work late into the night on a large scale project with a looming deadline. The overhead projector was on, the door was open and there were tins, canvases, and mdf boards scattered haphazardly in the front room. I was justifying why I would take a break from working to check out some of Look Hear’s Hit The Bricks over the weekend. “So what brings you to Newcastle, are you artists yourselves?” Is a standard greeting in the Shop, the majority of our customers being artists from Sydney or international backpackers seeking aesthetic stimulation while they wait for a connecting flight. I was not expecting to meet Shida, who Lindsey was quick to announce I had just stopped talking about. For the majority of us, streetart and graffiti is something that occurs under cover of darkness. It’s anonymous, unexpected, daring, exciting, and transient. For others it’s a nuisance, a crime, or at worst; uninteresting or unnoticed. For the likes of Shida, Askew, Adnate, Bafcat, Jumbo, Numskull, Mike Watt, Grizzle, Fintan, Umpel, Mike Maka, Beastman, and Phibs however, their passion for painting is a pastime, a profession, and a plane ticket.

Image from APM Photography (https://www.facebook.com/pages/APM-Photography/141183872583150)

Hit The Bricks, Newcastle offered us the paradoxical experience of being at once within this other world, while still remaining very much on the outside looking in. Innocently enough, I made my disappointment at the lack of female representation known with a question posed to the panel on Friday night at Newcastle Art Gallery. Though organiser Carl Morgan later satisfied me with an explanation of the lengths gone to in trying to arrange more female artists for the event, I was surprised and pleased by the responses I received from other members of the community. The demand for higher visibility of the achievements of women in street art and graffiti is certainly alive in Newcastle. Serendipitously, I was alerted to the all-girl crew from all over Australia painting in Broadmeadow. Even more serendipitously, I had access to an empty wall in the CBD. An invitation was extended and the result was a beautiful, fast, authentic, highly visible mark left by women including Joske and Sear (Coordinators of Ladie Killers, Melbourne), Dsent, Ivey, and Daisy in the city centre. Though no comparison to their wall replete with a top to bottom portrait in Broadmeadow, the Union Lane project was a fitting way to christen the Steel City Collective wall - one we hope to refresh in the coming weeks with vibrant and conceptual work by some of our crew as well as planned guests including HTB secret artist Marguerite Tierney.

As his latest Ironlak video Limitless went viral, Sofles humbly and masterfully made the streets of Newcastle his canvas. His effortless control and technique drew a crowd to his Hunter Street wall on Sunday where one of his “trademark female characters came to life in no time at all.” Local artist Bloks was quick to praise Sofles work adding that he “managed to snag a quick one” for his own book from the talented writer. Simone Sheridan, director of Street Art Walking, described the man as “just genuine” and was on hand to keep him in supply of Banana Paddle-pops. Her role in the execution of the event was well appreciated by the artists involved - she has a car boot full of Laks to show for it. Closer to home, Mike Watt is a Sydney based commercial illustrator and artist who shares this down to earth humility. Not one to boast of his talents, the creator of Super Ugly heaped thanks on organisers Carl, Sally, and Michael as well as saying, “I’m really stoked I was part of Hit The Bricks, it was such a great event!”. He described Askew’s colourful and expressive work as incredible; gushing, “I still haven’t seen his finished piece but it was looking amazing when I last saw it,” which is a statement that could equally be applied to any of Mike’s works. His unique, dynamic and quirky style brought a flavour to Hit The Bricks that Newcastle was certainly lacking. 

Photo from Simone Sheridan

Streetart and graffiti is not immune to the subjectivity of it’s finer counterparts and so it is with an emphasis on my own personal taste that I divulge that what draws me to both Askew’s and Mike Watt’s art is the sense of urgency that is communicated through their expressive strokes. It’s the same intensity and movement that I see in Shida’s art - it’s almost as though some essence of the action is embedded within the artefact, much more so than with other styles. I’m reminded of the action painting of Jackson Pollock or the grand violence of Willem De Kooning, and I’m affronted by Shida’s disclosure that he has never been anything other than an artist. Though in jest and fueled by exhaustion and alcohol, a comparison was made to Picasso. And though it was laughed off by the group, including Mike Maka and Shida himself, it got me thinking. Revered as a young and successful trailblazer by his peers as well as broader audiences, could Shida stand the test of time and leave his mark not only on every lamppost in Newcastle, but art history?

 

 

For more images head to LOOK HEAR

Joel Alston by Eryn Withawhy

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JOEL ALSTON HAS QUICKLY SOLIDIFIED HIS POSITION IN THE NEWCASTLE SURF PHOTOGRAPHY SCENE, ADDING HIS UNIQUE STYLE TO THE COMMUNITY SINCE BEGINNING HIS FORAY INTO THE PRACTICE ONLY A YEAR AGO. NOT ONE TO BOAST OF HIS TALENTS, WHEN ASKED FOR THIS INTERVIEW THE SHY CREATIVE GUSHED ABOUT OTHER LOCAL PHOTOGRAPHERS AND THEIR STRENGTHS. IT IS FOR THIS REASON THAT HE GAINED THE ATTENTION OF STEEL CITY COLLECTIVE WHEN SHOOTING THEIR WORK AT NEWCASTLE’S BOOGIEFEST. HIS HUMILITY, EAGERNESS TO LEARN, KIND SPIRIT AND DETERMINA- TION, COMBINED WITH A KEEN EYE FOR COMPOSITION AND A DESIRE TO PUSH HIS WORK TO NEW LEVELS MAKES HIM AN AMAZING ASSET TO ANY INDIVIDUAL, BUSINESS, ORGANISATION OR EVENT.

ERYN WITH A WHY OF STEEL CITY COLLECTIVE MET WITH ALSTON AT HIS HOME TO TALK ABOUT PICTURES, PASSION, PEOPLE AND THE PURSUIT OF PUBLICATION.

 

EWA?: Excuse the pun, but there’s a sea of surf photographers in Newcastle... What makes you different?

 

JA: I don’t just shoot surf. A lot of other surf photographers DO shoot other stuff, but I’m starting to move into film photography and push myself into areas that no-one else shoots...

 

EWA?: That’s a bit naïve, isn’t it?

 

joel_1JA: Mmm, I ‘spose... I meant more that I’m branching into a more conceptual art form of photography, coming up with different ideas, taking photos of things that shouldn’t be, that you wouldn’t see every day.

 

EWA?: More surreal shots?

 

JA: Yes.

 

EWA?: Why photography?

 

JA: I never initially ever thought it would be photography... It was kind of an accident how I fell into it. Dad got a 550D for work and I took it out one big June / July swell and got two really good photos of the breakwall which were both run by NBN news and then Dan from Totem Brand hit me up to get those photos on his website and then I thought, I could actually do this...

 

EWA?: So your shots ended up on NBN? I know that there’s a lot of interesting things in the world of publishing. If you get a really good frame, what do you do with it? I notice you don’t just put stuff straight up on Facebook. How do you go about getting your images out there?

 

JA: Well, if it’s landscape stuff I usually send it in to NBN, because everyone watches the news and that gets my name out there. If it’s a good bodyboarding photo I usually send it in to fluidzone... They’ve got a readership of over 140,000, so that gets people coming across to my facebook as well... But, if I get a REALLY good shot of a pro bodyboarder then I send it to the mags, I’d hopefully get a cover spread and get paid good money for that.

 

EWA?: Where have you been published? You mentioned Fluidzone, NBN...

 

JA: Fluidzone facebook page, NBN, Riptide have done an online gallery of one of my shots...Newcastle Mirage, I guess! Some of my photos have been used in promotional and advertising material for the Inter- national Bodyboarding Association Australasia and also for Central Coast Beach Fest.

 

EWA?: Who are your influences? Mainly locals? Have you studied much?

 

JA: I’m self taught but a lot of the other surf photographers in Newcastle – Matt Mollison, Blake Parker, Elliot Swift – those three helped me out the most, Matt Mollison helped me out heaps when I first started... and then I’ve always looked up to Nathan Henshaw’s photography and Charlie Hardy, they are both amazing and they’re really good at shooting everything and anything and they’re both doing really good, so to have those photographers around Newcastle and seeing the work that they do pushes me to go harder as well.

 

EWA?: What are some of the failings of the surf photography community as you see in Newcastle?

 

joel_2JA: I guess it’s a lot to do with your name, and it’s hard to establish a name especially when you’re starting out. Even if you’ve got all the gear. If no-one knows who you are and you get a good shot of someone and you send it to everyone, the chances of it getting run are very, very low... because no-one knows who you are, which is silly. But then you’ve got guys like Josh from Port Macquarie, Nathan Henshaw, Blake Parker, all these other guys that have got shots run by Fluidzone, Riptide, Movement, Cloth & Dagger – they’ve got all these shots run because they are well established and are friends with professional bodyboard- ers... It doesn’t mean they are not taking good photos, they are taking great photos, fucking amazing photos, but that helps. It’s hard to break through. I’ve only just started to get a relationship with fluidzone so I’m starting to get more shots run by them but it took me ages to get that relationship developed. Photographers know that the community is a competitive environment; I don’t think many photographers would say so, but I will. In the end, bodyboarders all go out and surfers all go out together and they all want to be the best and get the best wave, but surf photographers can’t do the same, they can’t just go out and shoot happily with each other...It’s about “oh, I got a better shot than you” even if it’s not going to get published anywhere, even if it’s just shooting a shorey, there always seems to be a competitive fire between it and I don’t like it. I just want to be able to go out and just friendly shoot – friendly fire! And just have fun shooting with other photographers. If we all love surf and like shooting surf... why can’t we all go out and shoot? It’s so intense when you’re out there shooting with other photographers. You don’t really talk much, you just sit in the channel or you sit in the break and it’s just very quiet and you’re fighting each other, swimming around for the right spot, and you might get in another person’s shot. I just hate the competitiveness in Newcastle – all the photographers I know are such great dudes, and they all have so much talent, it just always seems like a competition. That’s what I feel anyway. I feel intimidated, I guess. It could be all me, I’m not sure. That’s just how I feel.

 

EWA?: You’ve got an exhibition coming up at Shop Steel City. Tell us what to expect.

 

JA: I think the majority of it is going to be surf photos. Just because it does sell in Newcastle but if it was up to me I’d do hardly any surf stuff and just a lot of landscape and portrait... not necessarily photos of anything special...a lot of bokeh shots. I love shallow depth of field photos. Even if it’s a photo of a flower or a doorhandle, or anything, it makes everything look good. That’s what I love doing. Pushing images to abstraction. I like taking photos where you try to fool the person looking at it – they don’t know what it iswhen they first look at it and then they’ve got to think about it. If it was up to me I’d just do a whole exhibi- tion on that...but it will be mostly surf, local landscapes, some of my urban art and decay work, maybe, and all the other photos in my portfolio will be available as posters or prints as well.

 

EWA?: Having your exhibition in what is essentially an art gallery, will you cater to a more artistic crowd that may not be familiar with your work – including your more abstract or con- ceptual images?

 

JA: That’s a good point. Yeah. That’s a good question. If I can try to capture something that they respond to, that would be good. I’m just going to put up what I think is interesting and that’s what the exhibition is for. I’m going to put up what I like and hopefully the audience does too.

 

EWA?: What’s next for you as a photographer?

 

JA: Hopefully get accepted into CATC, go travelling – I’m going to Sumatra next May for a surf trip, Cairns next week, more commercial work, I’ve thought about food photography... I want to do more modelling shoots – fashion and portraits, just really natural images. The best photos are taken when people aren’t expecting them. It’s a really powerful thing to do with a camera.

 

Like the Steel City Collective facebook page for exhibition dates or check out Joel Alston Photography for more of Joel’s work. Prints and posters are also available from Shop Steel City.

 

facebook.com/steelcitycollective

facebook.com/joelalstonphotography

JOEL ALSTON HAS QUICKLY SOLIDIFIED HIS POSITION IN THE NEWCASTLE SURF PHOTOGRAPHY SCENE, ADDING HIS UNIQUE STYLE TO THE COMMUNITY SINCE BEGINNING HIS FORAY INTO THE PRACTICE ONLY A YEAR AGO. NOT ONE TO BOAST OF HIS TALENTS, WHEN ASKED FOR THIS INTERVIEW THE SHY CREATIVE GUSHED ABOUT OTHER LOCAL PHOTOGRAPHERS AND THEIR STRENGTHS. IT IS FOR THIS REASON THAT HE GAINED THE ATTENTION OF STEEL CITY COLLECTIVE WHEN SHOOTING THEIR WORK AT NEWCASTLE’S BOOGIEFEST. HIS HUMILITY, EAGERNESS TO LEARN, KIND SPIRIT AND DETERMINA- TION, COMBINED WITH A KEEN EYE FOR COMPOSITION AND A DESIRE TO PUSH HIS WORK TO NEW LEVELS MAKES HIM AN AMAZING ASSET TO ANY INDIVIDUAL, BUSINESS, ORGANISATION OR EVENT. ERYN WITH A WHY OF STEEL CITY COLLECTIVE MET WITH ALSTON AT HIS HOME TO TALK ABOUT PICTURES, PASSION, PEOPLE AND THE PURSUIT OF PUBLICATION. EWA?: Excuse the pun, but there’s a sea of surf photographers in Newcastle... What makes you different? JA: I don’t just shoot surf. A lot of other surf photographers DO shoot other stuff, but I’m starting to move into film photography and push myself into areas that no-one else shoots... EWA?: That’s a bit naïve, isn’t it? JA: Mmm, I ‘spose... I meant more that I’m branching into a more conceptual art form of photography, coming up with different ideas, taking photos of things that shouldn’t be, that you wouldn’t see every day. EWA?: More surreal shots? JA: Yes. EWA?: Why photography? JA: I never initially ever thought it would be photography... It was kind of an accident how I fell into it. Dad got a 550D for work and I took it out one big June / July swell and got two really good photos of the breakwall which were both run by NBN news and then Dan from Totem Brand hit me up to get those photos on his website and then I thought, I could actually do this... EWA?: So your shots ended up on NBN? I know that there’s a lot of interesting things in the world of publishing. If you get a really good frame, what do you do with it? I notice you don’t just put stuff straight up on Facebook. How do you go about getting your images out there? JA: Well, if it’s landscape stuff I usually send it in to NBN, because everyone watches the news and that gets my name out there. If it’s a good bodyboarding photo I usually send it in to fluidzone... They’ve got a readership of over 140,000, so that gets people coming across to my facebook as well... But, if I get a REALLY good shot of a pro bodyboarder then I send it to the mags, I’d hopefully get a cover spread and get paid good money for that. EWA?: Where have you been published? You mentioned Fluidzone, NBN... JA: Fluidzone facebook page, NBN, Riptide have done an online gallery of one of my shots...Newcastle Mirage, I guess! Some of my photos have been used in promotional and advertising material for the Inter- national Bodyboarding Association Australasia and also for Central Coast Beach Fest.

EWA?: Who are your influences? Mainly locals? Have you studied much? JA: I’m self taught but a lot of the other surf photographers in Newcastle – Matt Mollison, Blake Parker, Elliot Swift – those three helped me out the most, Matt Mollison helped me out heaps when I first started... and then I’ve always looked up to Nathan Henshaw’s photography and Charlie Hardy, they are both amazing and they’re really good at shooting everything and anything and they’re both doing really good, so to have those photographers around Newcastle and seeing the work that they do pushes me to go harder as well. EWA?: What are some of the failings of the surf photography community as you see in Newcastle? JA: I guess it’s a lot to do with your name, and it’s hard to establish a name especially when you’re starting out. Even if you’ve got all the gear. If no-one knows who you are and you get a good shot of someone and you send it to everyone, the chances of it getting run are very, very low... because no-one knows who you are, which is silly. But then you’ve got guys like Josh from Port Macquarie, Nathan Henshaw, Blake Parker, all these other guys that have got shots run by Fluidzone, Riptide, Movement, Cloth & Dagger – they’ve got all these shots run because they are well established and are friends with professional bodyboard- ers... It doesn’t mean they are not taking good photos, they are taking great photos, fucking amazing photos, but that helps. It’s hard to break through. I’ve only just started to get a relationship with fluidzone so I’m starting to get more shots run by them but it took me ages to get that relationship developed. Photographers know that the community is a competitive environment; I don’t think many photographers would say so, but I will. In the end, bodyboarders all go out and surfers all go out together and they all want to be the best and get the best wave, but surf photographers can’t do the same, they can’t just go out and shoot happily with each other...It’s about “oh, I got a better shot than you” even if it’s not going to get published anywhere, even if it’s just shooting a shorey, there always seems to be a competitive fire between it and I don’t like it. I just want to be able to go out and just friendly shoot – friendly fire! And just have fun shooting with other photographers. If we all love surf and like shooting surf... why can’t we all go out and shoot? It’s so intense when you’re out there shooting with other photographers. You don’t really talk much, you just sit in the channel or you sit in the break and it’s just very quiet and you’re fighting each other, swimming around for the right spot, and you might get in another person’s shot. I just hate the competitiveness in Newcastle – all the photographers I know are such great dudes, and they all have so much talent, it just always seems like a competition. That’s what I feel anyway. I feel intimidated, I guess. It could be all me, I’m not sure. That’s just how I feel. EWA?: You’ve got an exhibition coming up at Shop Steel City. Tell us what to expect. JA: I think the majority of it is going to be surf photos. Just because it does sell in Newcastle but if it was up to me I’d do hardly any surf stuff and just a lot of landscape and portrait... not necessarily photos of anything special...a lot of bokeh shots. I love shallow depth of field photos. Even if it’s a photo of a flower or a doorhandle, or anything, it makes everything look good. That’s what I love doing. Pushing images to abstraction. I like taking photos where you try to fool the person looking at it – they don’t know what it iswhen they first look at it and then they’ve got to think about it. If it was up to me I’d just do a whole exhibi- tion on that...but it will be mostly surf, local landscapes, some of my urban art and decay work, maybe, and all the other photos in my portfolio will be available as posters or prints as well. EWA?: Having your exhibition in what is essentially an art gallery, will you cater to a more artistic crowd that may not be familiar with your work – including your more abstract or con- ceptual images? JA: That’s a good point. Yeah. That’s a good question. If I can try to capture something that they respond to, that would be good. I’m just going to put up what I think is interesting and that’s what the exhibition is for. I’m going to put up what I like and hopefully the audience does too. EWA?: What’s next for you as a photographer? JA: Hopefully get accepted into CATC, go travelling – I’m going to Sumatra next May for a surf trip, Cairns next week, more commercial work, I’ve thought about food photography... I want to do more modelling shoots – fashion and portraits, just really natural images. The best photos are taken when people aren’t expecting them. It’s a really powerful thing to do with a camera. Like the Steel City Collective facebook page for exhibition dates or check out Joel Alston Photography for more of Joel’s work. Prints and posters are also available from Shop Steel City. facebook.com/steelcitycollective    facebook.com/joelalstonphotography

Matt & Chet - Gabriel Coffee Warehouse by Eryn Withawhy

*Originally posted on November 21, 2013 from the November issue of Mirage - Now updated to include video January 6, 2014 Something that I really admire about the Sydney creatives I have met and worked withthis year is the ease with whichthey welcome new and emerging talent, collaborate enthusiastically and seek to encourage and support their peers. In an industry where there is often a lot of competition and rivalry, I gravitate towards other like-minded groups who see the value in skill-sharing -strengthening the core of the profession, building greater expertise and supporting networks of contacts to be drawn upon creatively. It was through Steel City Collective’s involvement with The Festivalists that I was introduced to Chester Garcia and Matthew Branagan, the co-founders of Work-Shop. A creative space where short courses are delivered by local authorities on a variety of interests ranging from healthy living, spoken word and rap to illustration and street art, Work-Shop is an inclusive organisation fostering growth of the local creative community. With back and forth mutual social media crushing, it was inevitable that we’d make the treck to Sydney town to paint with the guys. So when Matt and Chet sent an invitation our way to throw some paint on the walls of the huge Gabriel Coffee Warehouse with some of Sydney’s finest, we were not about to decline.If you haven’t picked up the latest copy of Mirage or had it delivered to your door, then you are yet to see some of the amazing displays of skill we encountered at the event. Boxes and boxes of MTN 94’s and a few blank walls were transformed over a day of comraderie, good food, better coffee and a whole lot of fun. I hit the boys up for a chat about the day and to give them a chance to explain what they’re up to down there.

1382112_10151983916744434_101352872_n

 

http://vimeo.com/79753341

Eryn With a Why: Hey guys!

Chet Garcia: Hey Withawhy!

Hope you're well and enjoying the sun.

Eryn With a Why: Thanks, Chet!

First off, tell us about Work-shop!! Give us the elevator pitch!

Chet Garcia: Work-Shop offers a fun and quirky range of creative short courses in arts, crafts and life skills. We encourage people to get back in touch with their inner artist and experience the joy of making things with their hands, hearts and minds.

Eryn With a Why: Thanks for having us at the Work-shop x Gabriel Coffee paint day, we had a blast! How did the collaboration with Gabriel Coffee come about?

Chet Garcia: Sam, the owner of Gabriel coffee, is a contact of Matt's from Preshafruit.

Matt Branagan: Sam is a friend who loves street art and we came up with a day to provide some walls to paint and get some artists paid! And have a fun collaboration day in the process.

Eryn With a Why: There were some top names involved! Sid Tapia, Morbid, Nico, Mr French and SMC3 to name a few! How did you get them on board?

Chet Garcia: Lots of the inner city street artists have been involved with Work-Shop since our launch. Ears and SMC3 did murals for the shop and Sid Tapia teaches the street art course here. We have a big wall out the back where we hang out and paint whenever we get the chance. We have a big community of street artists that regularly come along and it's great to see the older guys share knowledge with the up and comers.

Eryn With a Why: So what made you ask us Novocastrians along?

Chet Garcia: We've been following SCC through social media and love what you're doing up there. We share similar values. I recently painted a warehouse with Keo in Marrickville and Matt has been in contact with you. We thought it would be a great opportunity to collaborate creatively and get to know each other. We had an awesome time so thanks for coming down!

Eryn With a Why: It was a great event! What's next for Work-shop.

Chet Garcia: We have so many rad ideas for the future of Work-Shop. We're looking at adding a maker's space as part of our offering. We'll be investing in tools and machines that people can hire on an hourly basis. We've also got our hearts set on opening another Work-Shop in Melbourne.

To see more from the groups and individuals involved in the event, clicky clicky:

www.work-shop.com.au

www.steelcitycollective.com

www.sidneytapia.com

www.smc3.net

www.blackbookink.com.au

www.keomatch.com

www.samshennan.com

www.theud3.com

www.mrfrench.com.au

www.artofnico.com