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CITY WITHOUT MEMORIES by Kian West

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CITY WITHOUT MEMORIES

MYFANWY

 

Screen Shot 2014-01-14 at 5.03.31 pmA lone, old, stressed fig tree stands proud on the corner of Hunter and Worth, seemingly taller than all other trees. Its trunk, shooting up about 30 feet, is dotted with the scars of lost branches. The life of this beautiful tree is possibly the oldest remnant of the street. With nearly half of its canopy gone, unevenly hacked to make room for drooping power lines, it still stands, however imperfect.

The old buildings that once hugged this beautiful tree have not been so fortunate, having made way for glistening and soulless apartments. They cry and demand our attention, flirting with our consciousness with seemingly a better life in the offering. Further on, I find myself taking a shortcut through the Honeysuckle Square to get to the water’s edge. The large apartments cast a shadow over me, and the desolate square is empty, cold and characterless. I breathe a sign of relief as the working dock comes into view and I see others enjoying the water’s edge.

Despite their inherent shortcomings, all is not lost. Newcastle has a rich and diverse array of buildings, all with their own stories and histories to reveal. As the second oldest city in Australia, one could experience this heritage and the multitude of architectural styles within a twenty-four hour period. Imagine waking up to a beautiful sunrise in a Victorian house, dropping the children off in an ‘Arts & Crafts’ school, and meeting  old friends for breakfast in a rustic Regency Style coffee house. Breakfast turns to lunch, which turns to drinks, which turns to a night in a Neo-Classical bar. A brawl breaks out and the rush from the Brutalist police station relaxes the scene. You call it a night after watching a local band in an Art Deco Hotel and finally, fall gently to sleep in a Modernist white box whilst peering through your bedroom window at an elegantly lit ‘Gothic’ Cathedral.

One of the reasons old buildings are deemed attractive to us, might simply be that they’re old and irreplaceable. Old things are commonly nurtured in Newcastle, hence the many antiques shops. The historical buildings are no exception. These buildings speak to us of another time, of particular events, of old crafts, of quality, and even of particular historical characters. Perhaps they’re the product of a nostalgia for an idealised past. It has been said that a city without old buildings is like a person without memory. It might be said then, that a city that doesn’t appreciate its old buildings is like someone whose memories are disconnected from the story of their lives.

Therefore, we must not lose this inherent stubbornness as Novocastrians. We demand our own identity, and it’s a trait we pride ourselves on. Why lose it? Must we become a slave to a ‘throw away’ culture? To have a city skyline that reeks of the new and latest trends, or should we take what we already have, and make it better – “Less but Better”?

Few people realise buildings are in fact works of art. They help to create a sense of place, an underlining quality that shapes a city. People give soul to the city, but buildings present the stage in which these souls can perform. Let’s not forget these buildings.

Myfanwy.

THE MONTHLY NICK - JANUARY - NICK McCOSKER by Ben Mitchell

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NEWCASTLE IS A CITY FILLED WITH MEN OF MANY NAMES – PLENTY OF MATTS, SEANS, LUKES AND BENS – BUT AFTER YEARS OF STEEL CITY MINGLING, THIS REPORTER HAS FOUND THAT THE REAL PIONEERS, THE NOVOCASTRIAN GLUE HOLDING THE CULTURAL SCENE TOGETHER, ALL SHARE A NAME WITH THE HUMBLE SAINT NICHOLAS. OUR CITY IS BURSTING AT THE SEAMS WITH NICKS, EACH DOING THEIR PART TO MAKE IT A BETTER PLACE. AFTER NOTICING THE COMMON BOND OF PASSION AND AMBITION ATTACHED TO THE NAME, IT WAS ONLY A MATTER OF TIME BEFORE THE MONTHLY NICK CAME INTO FRUITION, AS THERE ARE LIKELY SEVERAL NICKS NEAR YOU, KEEPING THE DREAM ALIVE IN THEIR OWN WAY, REGARDLESS OF RECOGNITION OR CELEBRATION. THESE ARE THEIR STORIES.ISSUE_8_COV2 V2

I had to think very hard to remember when it was I first met the ex-Novacastrian star of screen and typography, Nick McCosker, but what was immediately evident was that it hadn’t happened early enough. His recent relocation to Redfern has somewhat stunted our bromantic adventures through Newcastle’s creative scene, and I can tell my bearded kindred spirit is beginning to miss them as much as I. This month’s Nick has completed a bachelor’s degree in Design at the University of Newcastle, developed many famous digital fonts for the Lost Type Co-Op, become a TV heart throb overnight and landed a job at Medusa Design, Sydney city’s branding agency to the stars. And I’ve witnessed it every step of the way.

I only knew Nick briefly through his University days, mainly as the host of every design-related event the faculty held, before later passing that mantle onto me. Working as a photographer for these events eventually lead to us crossing paths, hitting it off and later working together at shared studio in town. Nick’s work as a freelance designer played a huge part in crafting the identity of local business chain Superstrike Bowling, which is owned and managed by McCosker’s father in law. Throughout the years, Nick has transformed what could be a very cheesy establishment into the classiest looking bowling bar in the Hunter Region, with his signature focus on illustrated patterns and stylised typography shining strong. Perhaps his most important contribution to the Superstrike kingdom is their advertising mascot, Strike Dudley, who has captured the heart of a nation and upset multiple old people in the space of a year.

Dudley, an obnoxious, over-enthusiastic ‘pro-bowler’, began as a costume sketch by Nick, originally intended to be worn by a trained actor. As deadlines grew closer for a run of television advertisements and Youtube webisodes, Nick ended up donning the Dudley jumpsuit himself. The videos – thanks to the twisted sense of humour of GMRX Media – got more and more absurd as Strike Dudley’s popularity grew, and lead to several huge television advertising campaigns, billboards, musical radio advertisements, teenagers putting together D.I.Y Dudley costumes and even a few troubled phonecalls regarding the company’s choice to use such a seedy individual for their campaigns. Nick has since distanced himself from the character personally, assuring anyone who comments on seeing him on television that they were actually seeing Strike Dudley, a different person all together.

Despite the abundance of seedy moustaches and denim vests plastering the walls of each Superstrike alley in the Hunter region, you’ll find a close attention to the typography in each design as a result of Nick’s handiwork. His main passion as a designer has always been typography; be it his hand-painted signage in the Little Nel Café and Newcastle Mall’s Emporium, claiming presidency in his very own Type Club in Newcastle or developing digital fonts for himself, one letterform at a time. Over the past few years the type foundry website Lost Type Co-Op has skyrocketed in popularity with all types of graphic designers, partly owed to the work McCosker put into the font families Carton and Quaver.  The latter, developed as a university project between Nick and two mates, has seen a steady success over the past few years and lead to the construction of Carton, a slab serif typeface, and the soon-to-be-released Elkwood, an even slabbier serif typeface. Nick has been planning for the past few months to open a type foundry of his own to distribute fonts made by himself and friends – but not until he’s come up with a good enough name.

Nick’s typographic celebrity status was bound to get him attention, and it was only a matter of time before he was snatched up by branding and identity specialists Medusa Design earlier this year. The Sydney-based agency has seen him work for bands, businesses and restaurants all over the country, and Nick has never been busier since trading his quirky little house in Cook’s Hill for a swanky Redfern apartment with his smoking-hot designer wife. Having originated in Nelson Bay, moved to Newcastle to study, travelled the world on his Lost Type earnings and finally settling in Sydney, Nick has seen creative communities of all shapes and sizes ¬– but to him, Newcastle will always feel like home. “Because Newy is a smaller city, I get the feeling it’s a more connected scene,” Nick explained, “Because of its small town attitude, I feel like people [from NewISSUE_8_COV2 V1castle] are less intimidated to have a go at something new, and are more likely to communicate with one another.”

Despite his current location, Nick often gets involved with art events in Newcastle (he even recently appeared in the BADDIES collaboration piece in July’s Super show at Curve Gallery) and will continue to do so in the future.  His moustachioed alter ego is currently featuring on television screens region-wide during peak advertising hours, and can be heard meekly attempting a Mexican accent in NXFM radio spots every once in a blue moon. You can find a selection of his graphic design work on his portfolio website – nickmacdesign.com – and his new type foundry will certainly be one to look out for… As soon as it has a freaking name!

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