60 seconds with.. Peter Bleus by Kian West


60 seconds with Peter Bleus

 by Kian West


1. So Peter, you aren’t originally a Novocastrian, what drew you in to stay in our fine city?

I came to Newcastle to complete my Masters of Architecture and decided to stay. It's a beautiful place and there's not many places where you can sit and have a beer whilst watching dolphins play in the surf.

 2. Architecturally, is there anything unique about Newcastle structures or stand out buildings? 

One of the things that struck me when I came to Newcastle is that it's really rich in older buildings and interesting spaces within the CBD. I think this texture really makes Newcastle unique and I hope that we can keep this feeling as it evolves and renews.

3. Why did you study Architecture? Is there a history behind this passion?

Like just about everyone who studies architecture, I loved playing with Lego and somehow I got it into my head that this is what it would be all about. Wasn't I surprised when it was nothing like it. As I studied I realised that Architecture has a long history of social responsibility and that's what really drew me in. A lot of the modernist architects were investigating ideas of how architecture could provide high quality, safe and beautiful housing at low cost to the poor. The idea that Architecture can change the world for the better. This idea continues to be explored by a number of practices around the world and its something that I'm really interested in and exploring in my own work.

4. Tell us something else about yourself, what do you like doing, hobbies, etc? 

I've just started playing football again after two years, where I didn't have the time because of uni and have started to reach the Danny Glover moment when I realise that I'm too old for this shit.

5. Where is your favourite Newcastle Hang?

Well I've pretty much mapped the city by walking distance to my favourite coffee places, Glee on Darby, The Tufty Hidey Hole on Parry St, The Press and The Social on Hunter St. But when friends come up from Sydney it's usually the Surfhouse or Beach Hotel.

6. What is next on the horizon? 

Fatherhood. We have a child due in November and we're unbelievably excited about it.






BGC_WEBHow would you describe the art that you make? I work in a few different mediums including clay, but I've always drawn. Love to draw, love to draw humans..... Charcoal is such a lovely sensual primitive substance. What are you working on at the moment? Currently I'm drawing large, mostly charcoal portraits of people who elect to sit in my large green leather armchair when they encounter it (and me ) in the street. The portraits are free to the sitters, but I keep them to show and then sitters can collect them at the exhibition. What's coming up next? It's pretty hard to top collaging the actual portraits all over Newcastle's most beautiful Heritage building; the old Post Office at the top end of Hunter st, like we did last Saturday, celebrating 250 life size portraits of Novacastrians! I'm going lo-fi now - small residencies that interest me, showing in small venues related to the sitters... all still free as a gifting practice, and also skill-honing for a while longer. When are you most creative? Love to be able to say "at such and such a time" but it's completely random for me. But I will say, I'm most creative when I turn up for work! Just ain't gonna happen if I don't show up. It's good for me to obligate myself to something... building up the charcoal miles. Who is your biggest influence/s? I can't really answer this one even tho I've got a Fine Art Degree and focussed a lot on art history... I am basically an expressive realist and drawers like Kathe Kollowitz, Durer, and William Kentridge are my heroes. If you could work anywhere where would it be? Newcastle's been fantastic to me. The encouragement and support I've found here has been amazing. Not sure I could've launched Green Chair anywhere else... Having said that, Green chair is headed for some travels and I think the place I'll love most is always where I am in the next moment of art making. The encounters and settling into an environment just get me going amazingly.... FACEBOOK: BIG GREEN CHAIR NEWCASTLE

60 seconds with MATT MELER by Kian West


60 Seconds with MATT MELER

Interview by KIAN WEST

MM_WEBMatt, We caught up with you 12 months ago, would you say there have been any major changes in the music you are creating? For those that didn’t catch the last article, How would you describe the music that you make?     A bit of stuff has changed  after travelling to the States and Europe last year. All good changes though that just make me strive towards my musical goals. The music I make has stemmed from so many influences, and I'm still very wet behind the ears when it comes to production and writing. It's usually House driven with hints of Disco in there, but I find it can really vary though, like there are a bunch of things I'm doing at the moment that are very deep and dance-floor driven that you'd expect to hear after 3am in a club, I just go with what comes out.

What are you working on at the moment?   Fair-bit going on, got some cool collabs finishing up that I can't wait to be out. I've learnt a lot by working with other producers, musicians & vocalists, by the varied approach they take to writing and how they develop a record. It helps you break your usual patterns and makes you think out of your box. There are also a bunch of originals in the pipeline; one of which should be out by the time this goes to print ….. I hope. I'm super excited about it.

Where can people catch you playing in Newcastle?      On a weekly basis I'll usually be at Merewether Surfhouse, The Landing or The Delany, which are all pretty different musically which is always fun and keeps me on my toes. I'm also at 'District' a couple of times a month getting rude playing burners on a big sound-system … Haha … Which has been awesome.

When is the next release?     This is the one I'm excited about, It's on a UK Label called 'Guess Recordings', home to 'Spiritchaser' (Check them out). The record is 'I Can't Believe It' Featuring an amazing vocalist from Sydney 'Erin Marshall'. It's on the deeper and more moody edge, pretty stripped back with a stunning vocal by Erin. There is a great remix package with it too and film-clip to match. Should see it out mid-year, perhaps a touch earlier.

We asked you previously who your biggest influence is, but is there anyone new to the scene that is currently inspiring you? Does this affect your music? I've been diggin' heaps of new stuff actually, big fan of Chela, Motez & James Blake at the moment. Also, Tensnake who is not new but does have a new album out 'Glow' is dope too. It definitely affects my music, possibly because I listen to so much stuff, like today I listened to a Crazy P record when I woke up, some Steely Dan at lunch and when I was in the car I had the ABC on playing Classical, so random sometimes, but it's what I was in the mood for at the time. I think it helps me get out of one mindset and draw influence from various genres.

1965649_516004721838725_3665806445957577309_oWho do you really want to work with?    Hmmm, there's a few. One of them is totally cliché: Nile Rodgers. The guy is a total genius. Vocally I'd love to work with Danielle Moore from Crazy P or MNEK. Lastly MK (Marc Kinchen).

This wasn’t a question you asked me but I'd like to mention a small tribute to one, of if not my biggest influences that got me into dj'ing and House music; Frankie Knuckles 'The Godfather Of House', who passed away on the 31st March. Rest In Peace.

60 seconds with - ERYN WITHAWHY by Kian West


  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 (, 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

Jesse Brand - Australian Poetry Slam Champion by Kian West


(title) Australian Poetry Slam 2013 Champion, Jesse Brand. From October 11th-13th, the nation’s finest spoken word poets in the Word Travels Festival overran Sydney Harbour. Poets performed in hotel rooms, tunnels near Circular Quay, The Rocks, and The Opera House. The main event: the finals of the Australian Poetry Slam saw two Newcastle representatives Gillian Swain and Jesse Brand battle it out against a variety of performers. Jesse proceeded to the national final and then in a blaze of glory took out the entire competition scoring a chance of a lifetime - a spoken word tour of Asia.

I caught up with Jesse for a night of drunken shenanigans and an interview. Just kidding. We did this through email.

Hey Jesse, for those of us not at the Australian Poetry Slam festival, what happened that fateful weekend?

On Friday night I competed in State, I was picked out of the hat last and performed a poem about my brother. When the scores were tallied it turned out I’d tied with a poet named Zhohab Khan and so we flipped a coin where I started the tiebreaker with a poem called ‘Dear Mrs Miller’. I ended up winning by one tenth of a point, which meant I could go to nationals at the Sydney Opera House that Sunday with Thomas Hill, an awesome poet that placed first in state. At nationals I met a lot of amazing poets who all had a lot to say about the poetry scenes in their own hometowns. That morning I had a huge anxiety attack and almost couldn’t leave the house. But talking to my sister, Naomi, and a supportive member of Word Travels called Lorin, I managed to force myself to go. I did ‘Dear Mrs Miller’ first and progressed to the final round (with the rest of the top 5), and then I did the poem about my brother, ‘Joshua’, and I told myself no matter what happens I’ll be happy as long as I say this poem. ‘Joshua’ scored the only 10s I’d seen in the competition. After announcing a highly commended for Abe Nouk, and second place award for Martin Ingle, Miles Merrill, founder of Word Travels, announced that I was the 2013 Australian National Slam champion. I managed to assemble what parts of my mind weren’t completely blown away by this point for my encore performance, ‘Oblivion’, which I’d first placed in Newcastle with. When I first performed ‘Oblivion’ at regionals, I’d forgotten half the poem and jumped around lines, occasionally staring in terror at the audience and luckily everybody had thought that I was pausing for dramatic effect, so it felt good to tie off the entire competition with ‘Oblivion’.

That’s intense! What a lifetime experience. So that means you’re gonna be taking a tour of Asia, do you know exactly what that will entail?

Well, I’ll be working on hour-long sets for The Bookworm International Literary Festival in Beijing, Chengdu, and Suzhou, and again performing in the Ubud Readers and Writers Festival in Bali. So it will probably involve a lot of poorly recited Mandarin for “please I go to worm festival you make book taxi happen a thousand thanks” and a lot of very confused and annoyed Chinese people.

Had you done much performance poetry before you entered the slam in Newcastle?

I’d never performed poetry in my life. I’d read a poem to my friend before we went, but it wasn’t exactly a ‘performance’. I’d done a lot of musical performances and a tiny bit of drama, but that’s about it.

So what’s your connection with Novacastria? 

When I was born in Monavale Hospital on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, my parents were like, “nah, man, not ghetto enough. Where be the thugs at?” and took my sister and I to Lake Macquarie, where my brother was born a few years later. I’d lived in the Newcastle area up until I did my HSC and got into UNSW in Sydney, so I moved back. I still visit a lot because my parents still live there.

What do you think is the main difference between spoken word poetry and poetry that gets put into books?

The same thing that’s different between a novel and a film – you experience them differently. Performance poetry allows you to experiment in different ways. Instead of Ergodic typography, I do things like vocal effects. The rhythm, flow and musicality (sforzando, silenzio, crescendo, accelerando) of the piece are also more apparent than the rhythm and metre in most written poetry.

The Australian Poetry Slam is an annual competition. To find out more visit their website:

If you’re interested in spoken word events in Newcastle check out Word Hurl Anti-Slam on Facebook or contact

Written by David Graham