TURNING OVER A NEW LEAF
So, this is my head projected on a tree as part of this year’s Bleach Festival, part of the Luminaries project by digital artist Craig Walsh. There are obviously tons of pun opportunities here – good to see me branching into new mediums, I’m barking up the wrong tree, feeling rooted in my environment, etc, etc. But, seriously, I harboured odd mixed feelings about all this. As a kid my older brothers teased me that I had a large head. “Fathead”they dubbed me, with that special sensitivity only siblings seem capable of. When I posted this pic on Facebook my big brother Pete commented, “How did they find a tree big enough?” Old habits die hard, right. But to be honest it felt kind of nice that my city thought me worthy of being “celebrated” in this way. I love Bleach. For me, it’s revitalised the Gold Coast art scene and provided me with creative opportunities I could once have only dreamed of.
We were driving around Australia, traversing the remote north-west of the country in 2011, when a woman named Louise Bezzina managed to get a hold of me at a point we happened to have mobile reception and introduced herself as the director of a new arts festival on the Gold Coast. She’d seen the book The Surfer and the Mermaid that photographer Ted Grambeau and I had published a few years earlier and wanted to know if I’d be interested in adapting it for theatre. When we returned to the Gold Coast after our eight-month family road trip I sensed the Gold Coast was a subtly difference place, with a fresh energy and new opportunities in the air. Maybe it’s because I’ve been a beneficiary of some of those opportunities, but I think Bleach has had a profoundly positive impact on the city, overturning old notions of a shallow, cultural wasteland. Bleach offered me the chance to be a playwright, collaborate with a director, actors, set designers, musicians, and expanded my own sense of what I might be capable of. After the solitary existence of the freelance writer, these creative collaborations with wildly talented people on exciting artistic endeavours was like a breath of fresh air. Each year Bleach offered me a new opportunity to stretch my wings – curate a surf history exhibition, write and present a guided coastal walk from Snapper to Kirra expounding the local folklore, stage a live surfing and music event to show case wave riding as a performing art. For reasons I won’t go into here, I had to decline a role in a really exciting project for this year’s Bleach Festival and it felt odd not being actively engaged in the program, so I was especially chuffed when Louise asked me if I’d be a part of the Luminaries project.
Anyway, enough of all that. This was really all just a way of rebooting the whole blogging thing after a long absence. So, here’s where I plan on getting a few things off my chest from time to time and sharing information or ideas that may be of interest. I’ll leave you with the image above to ponder and compose puns about.