Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Kicking Off The White Shoes

I live on the east coast of Australia, the southeast corner of the state of Queensland, just an hour south of Queensland's capital city, Brisbane.

I live in another city; a young vibrant, evolving city; the 6th largest city in Australia.

Beachside Carols Coolangatta

I live in a city of diversity, contrasts, stereotypes and alternative lifestyles.

Flowering Frangipanis on Broadbeach Promenade

I live in a city that often contradicts itself as it slowly uncovers just who it is.

I live in a city with festivals nearly every weekend, where art and culture are accessible to everyone;

Bleach Festival - celebrates all art forms inspired by the ocean

where you can stand dripping wet on the sand in your beach towel and move your hand over a  sculpture, wondering at its beauty and the sunlight on its curves, discussing its merits with your fellow passersby;

where you can dance on the grass at the top of a mountain to the reverberation of a didgeridoo and the vocals of an Australian legend while the sun sets below the cliff and the gum trees play percussion;
Springbrook overlooking the Tallebudgera and Currumbin Valleys

where you can pile your hair up high, your heels even higher and practice the catwalk strut you perfected as a teen as you attend the opening of a show;

where you can join a circle of hay bales and sit cross-legged in your gumboots as you chew on a piece of straw, singing old favourites around an open fire while the thrum of crickets fills the valley floor;

where you can dive into the very same wave that a world pro surfer just rode.

Burleigh Heads

And then, strangely, I have been asked, "Why do you live in this city?"

Is it for the fabulous weather?
Is it for the fabulous beaches?
Is it for the fabulous shopping?
Is it for the fabulous theme parks?

"Then why do you live in this city?"

It's for the smell of wet eucalyptus on a summer morning.
It's for the taste of salt on my lips after a winter swim.
It's for the sound of laughter and music when friends gather.
It's for the sight of brilliant blues and greens outside my study window.
It's for the feel of warmth, the soul-strengthening warmth of home.

Why would I want to live anywhere else, when I can live here in Gold Coast city?

I don't have to look further to discover a wealth of creative people working right here.

Recently I attended the film premiere at the Gold Coast Film Festival of the documentary 'Kicking Off the White Shoes' by Gold Coast filmmaker, Jeff Licence of Tigermonkey Productions. Jeff happens to be my brother-in-law.

Here's a promo (there are more here on Youtube).

Promo clip for 'Kicking Off the White Shoes'

'Kicking Off The White Shoes' uncovers the diverse underground cultural scene of the Gold Coast and features interviews and stories from the Gold Coast's creative community.

Arts Centre Cultural Development Networking (myself speaking)

But this doco film does much more than that.

It also tells a story; the story of a young Gold Coast city that inadvertently developed a name for itself in the middle of last century as a fun-for-all holiday/tourist destination and the unfortunate nickname of 'The Glitter Strip'.

For Australians from the southern states, the Gold Coast merely became a beachside version of Las Vegas. They came to the Gold Coast for the sun, the surf and the pokies. We were seen as a vacuous back water of suntanned beach babes and lifesavers.

And this stereotype has lingered. Our media continues to feed it with cliched images and storylines that show a Gold Coast few locals recognise.

In the film 'Kicking Off the White Shoes', filmmaker Jeff Licence shares the true story and images of a Gold Coast vibrant and alive with creative innovation and collaboration; a Gold Coast city so charged with inspiring people, supported by their community and their city that you cannot watch this film and not feel moved to contribute yourself in some small way to making your own city a better place to live.

In Jeff's words,

"There are many cultural, art and community groups and events that operate on the Gold Coast that often go under the radar. We have at least 15 multicultural festivals across the city, celebrating the diversity of the region. There are a plentitude of art and craft groups, drama societies, music venues, dance academies and community arts organisations who mobilise an army of creative workers, volunteers and audiences."

'Kicking Off the White Shoes' will be screening at 7.30pm on the 24th May at Rabbit and Cocoon, Gold Coast.

The white shoes of the Glitter Strip have well and truly been 'kicked off'.

I'm proud to be contributing to the culture of the Gold Coast.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Literati - Gold Coast

I'm thrilled to be one of the guest authors invited to present workshops at Literati this year. Literati is a literary festival presented by the Gold Coast Libraries and Gold Coast City Council.

Each year Literati brings together readers and writers on the Gold Coast with 24 authors from across Australia. It is a feast of stories, talks, workshops and master classes with a Literary dinner on the Friday night.

I'll be giving a master class on 'Writing and Illustrating Children's Books' on Friday 25th May.

Look forward to seeing some of you there!

All events except the dinner are FREE for Gold Coast residents.  Download the program.