In Conversation: New Wave Audio Theatre (series two)

After New Wave’s successful first series last year, the team has come back together to formulate a second series. Before New Wave’s initial series, Tulpa Magazine sat down with the creatives behind it. This year’s series has begun and Tulpa once again caught up with New Wave’s Anita Sanders to discuss what’s changed, what’s stayed the same, and what went in to a second series.

 

How did you find the experience of the first series?
The first season was an excellent experience; over the creation process there was a strong sense of focussed energy and hope. Often scripts that are made for performance will go through a dramaturgical and workshop process to make them performance-ready. However, that script will then often miss being performed for a long time or at all. The first season and the second have had a clear journey to becoming a tangible experience for audiences from the start. I think it’s really brought out the best in our creatives.

How did the experiences of the first series shape how you approached the second?
A moment in season one that defined the second season was when I was sitting in the recording sessions and realised how strong our actors were. They demonstrated such skill in transforming and layering the characters they played. It made me think about how they would all thrive with a monologue because they’d have more time and material to showcase their skills within. That realisation set New Wave: Audio Theatre’s second season on the path to monologues instead of short plays.

What has changed in your approach, and in the result?
Since we, Connor (our director) and I decided to create a season of monologues, we wanted to ensure that the monologues that our writers created would align with our actors. We shifted the start of the creation process from a writers exclusive space to one that welcomed the actor and writers to connect with each other. This generated room for the writers to share story ideas and then have an actor add on their thoughts. I feel starting the process this way led to scripts that were theatrically rich and supported the actors’ methods.

Where do you see the series going from here?
We’re yet to start putting our minds to the next steps. Our focus will always be on generating opportunities for creatives to engage with each other and make great art.

You have some new personnel working on the second series – how much has this influenced the results?
In the first season we were a fairly small team that included three writers, six actors and a director. For the second season, the team has been expanded to twenty creatives: nine writers, nine actors, an audio engineer and a director. This means that there is one actor and one writer to every monologue in the season. It’s made more time for the writers and actors to explore what they are creating and thus develop work that pushes the boundaries of storytelling and the radio form. Having an audio engineer, Leah McKeown, has been a gift to the season. She’s given the audio a polished edge that we weren’t able to achieve before, which enhances the clarity of the performances.

What do you want the audience to get out of this? (and has the intended experience changed since last series)
Firstly, to just enjoy the experience and be entertained! And I hope the cream is that audiences discover a little slice of radio magic whilst being challenged by up-and-coming South Australian talent.

Why did you choose the stories you have chosen?
Unlike the traditional radio play production process, we don’t wait for scripts to be submitted to us. The whole process from writing the story to recording all happens in-house. So we haven’t really chosen the stories, we made a space for new stories to grow.
The most fascinating thing is through this process we have accidentally uncovered a kind of collective consciousness. Over the season, many stories return to similar ideas on mental health, women’s place in society and old decisions coming back to haunt you. So the season reflects some concerns and interests that are top of the mind, whilst offering a new window to see them through.

 


New Wave Audio Theatre can be found on Facebook here.

In Conversation with: Quart Shorts Collective

Recently, Tulpa Magazine had the chance to put a few to Janet, Ben, and Patrick, three members of the Quart Shorts collective.

Where did the idea for Quart Short come from?

Ben: The demise of the Spineless Wonders reading nights, something of an Adelaide institution that ran at the Wheatsheaf Hotel. I only ever attended one Spineless Wonders event, which I seem to remember was their last. I was impressed by the quality of the writing, and intrigued by the use of professional actors – something that immediately set them apart from other reading nights, more usually built around writers reading their own work, and not always very well! I was sad to see Spineless Wonders end, and initiated a conversation with founder Caroline Reid about whether it might be continued under a different team, perhaps even a different name. It seemed too good a concept to allow to disappear. For understandable reasons, though, Caroline was not interested, so the idea fell away again until one night, over a few too many glasses of red no doubt, Janet and I decided to bite the bullet and start our own reading night, borrowing the Spineless Wonders format – poetry and prose read by actors, and interspersed with live music – but giving it our own unique twist. We also felt that we had a chance to fill a niche in the Adelaide arts and cultural scene, which in 2016 seemed to have a paucity of live reading nights. How wrong we were! It’s extraordinary how vibrant the spoken word scene has become in Adelaide in the last few years. It was a beautiful surprise to suddenly find ourselves rubbing shoulders with the likes of The Hearth, Soul Lounge, Draw Your (S)words, and others, and even more amazing to find it wasn’t the same thirty people rocking up to each one – there seemed to be a genuine diversity of audiences hungry for live readings.

 

Janet: We are enormously indebted to Spineless Wonders and their initial concept, but we added the innovation of working as a collective and seeking original submissions from writers across Australia.

 

Patrick: We evolved from the readings staged by Spineless Wonders at the Wheatsheaf Hotel about 5 or 6 years ago. I was cast to read a few stories and sharing the experience with the other actors involved, I realised it was a rewarding experience for both actors and writers. We’re very grateful to Caroline Reid for her many hours volunteering to make these nights happen.

 

 

What makes Quart Short stand out from other spoken word/literary nights?

Ben: Our use of actors. Our focus on short stories rather than poems. Our use of live music, not just as background but as an integral part of the audience experience. I also think our openness and inclusivity – unlike some other reading nights, we don’t cater solely to young audiences or strongly appeal to those with academic backgrounds. In this regard, I think we’ve always been a little bit uncool next to some of our (friendly!) rivals, and perhaps a little old-fashioned in respect of our preference for solid, well-crafted pieces rather than innovation for its own sake. There is a confessional flavour to a lot of spoken word, which I think we’ve always tried to steer clear of, not because it’s not important  but because we feel it is just not for us.

 

Janet: The actors. Our ‘mission statement’ if you like is ‘good stories well told’. Patrick Frost has been a professional actor for over 40 years He also knows and has worked with actors with many years of experience. After Ben, Lisandra and I have selected the stories to be read on the night Patrick reads each story, decides which actor would suit the story, including the narrative voice, and then contacts that actor. He sends them a copy of the story, discusses the story with the actor, and what we might be looking for on the night and then, several days before the event the actors rehearse the story. Each actor is encouraged to bring their sense of what the story is trying to achieve, and say, to their reading. This intense collaboration makes for good literature and good ‘theatre’. Many of our writers are astonished when they hear the invariably nuanced, sensitive and professional readings of their stories.

 

Patrick: As Janet points out, we badged ourselves with ‘good stories, well told’ – so, our big point of difference is the actors’ voices, reading as narrators with character, nuance and sometimes, emotion to bring the stories to life. I’ve often described it as storytime for grown-ups!

 

 

What is the process for selecting stories?

Janet: I look for well-conceived, thoughtful, interesting narratives, a strong narrative voice and, because I am fussy about editing, material that’s free of grammatical and spelling errors.

 

Ben: The collective – Janet, Lisandra, and myself – each read the stories, and make comments and recommendations. I think there is a Quart Shorts-style piece (as our website has it: ‘we are looking for stories that surprise, delight, and challenge; themes, characters, and plots that make the mind whirl or the heart jump; and stories that will sound great when read aloud’) although personal preference – taste, dare I say it – can’t help but come into it. We robustly discuss our selections, and try to reach agreement. Sometimes this process is a joy, when our curatorial stars align, and sometimes it is painful, when, for example, we just don’t seem to be able to convince the others that we’ve found the next Raymond Carver or Alice Munro! I think curation is the right word here. It is not simply about the pieces in isolation, it is about crafting something like a journey for the audience to go on, and about getting the balance between different forms, styles, and themes, and between light and dark, funny and sad, and so on.

 

Patrick: I can leave the selection to Janet, Ben and Lisandra as they look for strong narratives or sometimes other aspects of story that will work well on the audience when read aloud. Sometimes they’ll ask me to read a story to see if I agree it will have resonance, be thought provoking, funny or perhaps controversial.

 

 

How do you feel Quart Short has grown over its lifetime?


Janet:
It’s hard, from my perspective inside the collective, to answer this. If it has grown it is because of the hard work of the four organisers.

 

Ben: We have been fortunate to have had big audiences from the beginning, and still average around fifty per night, and sometimes more, which amounts to a very full-feeling space when the venue’s capacity is only one hundred. Our brand recognition has increased hugely, and it’s been nice to have been recognised by, for example, the Salisbury Writers Festival, which had us on a panel on Adelaide’s spoken word scene last year alongside members of The Hearth and Soul Lounge. To be honest, though, we have never been great at promoting ourselves. I think if Quart Shorts had a personality type it would be an introvert, the shy eccentric in the corner who looks interesting to talk to. Most of our growth and recognition has come, I think, from word-of-mouth, which is very powerful in a city as small as Adelaide. Over time, I think we have come to feel increasingly valued within Adelaide’s arts scene, particularly by the actors who seem to relish getting up in front of large groups of strangers and potentially making fools of themselves – how strange!

 

Patrick: I think principally, our growth has been with audiences. People seem to want to share the experience with their friends as if there is some comfort in being read to. There’s always a long list of people tagging their friends below our posts announcing the next reading night. One thing I would like to do is survey our audiences to ascertain the frequency of their attendance, their interests, their connections to writing or performance.

Most of our growth has been organic, I think. Social media has helped us connect at low cost, the music we stage each night creates more following, the writers whose work is chosen often bring friends and family, too.

 

 

Why are the events organised around the seasons?

Janet: Personally, I cannot remember, but it might have been for convenience and to give the collective, who all have busy lives, a breather between readings. I think we decided four readings a year was a good number and the concept of seasonal readings, quarterly readings, led to the name ‘Quart Shorts’, i.e. short stories read every quarter!

 

Ben: I don’t think this was planned. My memory is that the name Quart Shorts came first and, with that in place, it seemed to logically follow that we would hold the event four times a year. It does seem to have caused some confusion, though, with people thinking our events are themed around the seasons.

 

Patrick:  The ‘salon’ idea seemed to lend itself to a seasonal approach, and hence, the name Quart Shorts to indicate short stories read quarterly.

 

 

 

Why Bibliotheca as a venue?

Ben: As well as being beautiful, intimate, and centrally located, the bar doubles as a book exchange so it made sense for lots of reasons. The owners, Marina and Roman, have always made us feel welcome, particularly I think because we drink a lot of whisky.

 

Janet: Bibliotheca has been outstandingly supportive and have never charged us for the venue. The proprietors have been marvellous and they seem to enjoy the readings as much as the public. It’s been a mutually satisfying and very productive relationship.

 

Patrick: As well as being a very cool little bar, Bibliotheca is a book exchange! It also creates a warm (or cool) atmosphere for each of our seasons. On a summer’s night the passing street traffic can even interact through the open window.

 

 

As an individual, what attracted you to Quart Short and what do you bring to the team? 

Janet: The idea, exemplified by Spineless Wonders, of having professional actors read short stories is what made me want to continue what Spineless started.

In addition, I have attended many ‘readings’ of both poetry and short stories over the years; some writers do a great job of reading their own work but, to be brutally honest, many do not. When I saw what an actor could do with a short story (or poem), the varied, nuanced, sensitive and thoughtfully paced readings that honoured both the author and the text, I was moved to try and keep alive what Spineless Wonders started in Adelaide.

I think I bring to the team is the idea choosing only polished, professional, carefully edited writing of a high standard – possibly too high! As a writer I understand the struggle to produce professional, high quality work. I can’t spell to save myself and I need to check and recheck the basic rules of grammar when I’m editing my own work. Editing and polishing is hard work but doing that work is what makes a writer a professional story teller and communicator.

I usually sit in on rehearsals – they are often held in my house – and I have learned that actors also have a ‘grammar’, not quite like the rules of written or spoken English, but a way of approaching a text, whether it be a play, poem or story, that involves certain conventions around how to use one’s body, one’s voice and ‘spirit’. Quart Shorts, ultimately, is about communication. If you are a writer or an actor and you want to communicate clearly, if you want to be understood, there are rules to help maximise communication and it’s best to learn and use them. So, yes, I am the ‘grammar Nazi’, but that’s only because I make so many mistakes myself!

 

Ben: Primarily, my love of the short story form. I have never understood the average reader’s aversion to it or its status as a sort of minor, bastard brother to the novel.   It’s great to see relatively new initiatives like the Short Story Festival celebrating the form but I still feel we have a way to go to recover and redeem the short story, and I hope in some small way Quart Shorts has been a part of that. In addition to my striking good looks and mordant wit , I bring to Quart Shorts a sharp, editor’s eye for good writing, a love of genre not necessarily shared by my colleagues, and an attentiveness to the relationship between form and content.

 

Patrick: I love reading out loud – it’s an ability every actor should be constantly refining. So, when Spineless Wonders was closed, I was very keen to join Ben, Janet and (initially) Annie Waters to make our version of a reading salon really come to life. Then, I discovered the casting of stories was a wonderful opportunity to share my love with other actors and give them an opportunity to shine!

 

What are your plans for the future of Quart Short?

Janet: At the moment things are up in the air, so watch this space.
Patrick: We’ll be taking some time out after Spring Shorts at the end of October to assess our ability to continue and, most likely stage at least one other specially focused salon in 2019.

 

Ben: A minor scoop for you: sadly, Quart Shorts will not be continuing as a quarterly reading salon after our final event for this year, Spring Shorts. While we hope to bring you one or two events per year in the future, we have found it increasingly hard to commit as much time as we would like to Quart Shorts and would prefer to gracefully bow out than to produce events of a lesser quality. We make this decision with a heavy heart but feel it is best for all concerned. We are incredibly grateful to all of the writers, readers, and musicians who have contributed so much during the last three years. For now, though, we are looking forward to a bumper Spring Shorts – and a well-earned rest after that!

 


Thanks to Ben Brooker, Janet Thomas, and Patrick Frost.

Submissions for Spring Shorts close on October 8th. Spring Shorts will be at the Bibliotheca Bar and Book Exchange on October 30.

You can find out more about Quart Shorts at their website or their Facebook page.

 

 

 

 

Macbeth – The Raw Shakespeare Project

On the chilly night of the 1st of September, I journeyed to see the RAW Shakespeare Project’s production of Macbeth. It was everything you want in a play; passionate, intense, and transporting. The basic materials and the minimalist set made the actors the prime focus of the play. With the small room, close-set seats and nothing between the audience and the performers, it felt like you were right there in 9th century Scotland.

Despite the word ‘raw’ in the name, I didn’t expect the small and intimate set. However, I was pleasantly surprised at the effects that could be produced by good acting, a few set pieces and a couple of lights. The set consisted of a few benches and a centrepiece that looked like a fountain on one side and a garden wall on the other. The show was directed around this minimalist set, creating an atmosphere of no distractions between the audience and the actors.

The acting in the show was superb. The actors had an incredible aptitude for conveying the darkness and the emotional turmoil of the tragic play. There were a few points where the characters broke down and cried whilst addressing the audience: moments such as when Macduff’s wife finds out she is going to die, when Macduff finds out his wife has been murdered by Macbeth, and Macbeth’s slow descent into madness. The eye contact and the mascara running down bare cheeks charged the performance in a breathtaking way. The acting was so exquisite that these bare, emotional parts of the performance had the hairs standing up on the backs of my arms.

One fact that I was particularly interested by was that, besides Macbeth himself, the cast was entirely women. This cast a layer of feminism and female empowerment over the play. This appealed to me, especially in these times where female empowerment is such a political and social forefront of our society. The original lines were changed slightly so that the women were still female characters. For example, Macduff is a strong female warrior with a beautiful wife and the previously ‘King Duncan’ character was matriarch Queen Duncan. In this sense, the show had been adapted to reflect the modern, open-mindedness of our age, which was very uplifting both to myself, and to members of the LGBTQA+ identification.

The 17th century words of Shakespeare remained unchanged from the mouths of 21st century actors. Although a bit hard to follow because of Shakespeare’s overtly floral language and the dialect of Old English, the acting brought a slice of that time into that small room.

In conclusion, this was a great show that was intimate, emotional and capture the spirit of Shakespeare’s Macbeth perfectly. It was raw. It was Shakespeare. Why would you go and see anything else?

 


Words by Sarah Ingham.

Photo from The Raw Shakespeare Project website.

Keep up to date with the Raw Shakespeare Project via their Facebook page. Their next event is the Shakespeare’s Lovers Spring Fling Festival.

In Conversation: Anthony Christou

 

During AVCon 2018, I had the pleasure of meeting fantasy artist, Anthony Christou. He had a wide variety of work on sale: all his original art, as well as his comic series, Luminous Ages, and card games in addition to the series. Recently, I was able to catch up with Christou to talk about his work and extensive successes as a working artist and illustrator.

Christou is a very driven person with a vibrant creative spark. He started off with a Bachelor of Visual Art before going on to do a Masters in Illustration at Uni SA. Christou soon after decided to follow his passion in game art and illustration. Christou began freelance work in the games industry and in 2012 decided to fully devote himself to this career. Christou worked with mentors such as Rob C. Richardson and Simon Scales, who encouraged him to further develop his work. Through exhibiting with Adelaide Illustrators, Christou secured enough freelance work to support himself.

In 2013, Christou worked on a New Zealand Kickstarter game called Path of Exile. It was here that he learned more about the games industry. For Path of Exile Christou worked on a number of aspects including illustration, 3D modelling, concept art, assets, and in-game artwork.  It was during this year that Christou began his convention work, attended Adelaide Supernova for the first time, and achieved insane sales for his original fantasy art. Christou now attends up to eighteen conventions a year, earning a profit large enough to make a comfortable living. Since then he has given talks at both Supanova and Comic-Con. The best part about conventions, he says, is that you get to leave the house and make new friends.

While much of his work is digital, Christou still works with traditional mediums as well. His piece ‘Dangerous Seas’ became the cover art for The Path Less Travelled’s album ‘Cast Out the Crowds’. Christou spoke about being approached by a lady who told him that every time she feels sad she looks at ‘Dangerous Seas’ and it reminds her she can make it through the storm. He was surprised to find that his work could have such an impact on people.

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Anthony Christou, ‘Dangerous Seas’

In 2014, Christou decided to explore his interest in making a comic series. Luminous Ages is now four issues in and remains the second highest funded comic Kickstarter in Australia with only 180 backers and a pledge of around $17,000. Thanks to this funding, Christou is able to hire freelance artists and editors to help bring his project to life. Rob C Richardson, Anthony Earl, Elena Lukina, and Christy Butt worked closely with Christou on this project.

Luminous Ages itself is a series set in a surreal world where dreams can become reality. Thirteen dragon gods are fighting for control of both the dream and real world plane. It is up to the main character, Thrakos, and a cast of dream mages to keep them at bay. The series blends cultures and mythologies together to create a multi-cultural fantasy which addresses environmental issues.

A mixture of cultures and mythologies, Luminous Ages presents a story which heralds both multiculturalism and environmentalism. The series gives Christou not only the opportunity to explore his interests but his artistic potential. Contrary to the American style comics which we are most familiar with, Christou works in a style which is very similar to French or Italian, providing richly detailed illustrations in a comic format.

As well as game design and illustration, Christou has also worked with a number of film companies including Disney, Two-tone Studios, and Wolf Creek Productions.

Christou recommends exploring your artistic freedom and not to work for free too much. He says, ‘creativity can be blocked when you work with the wrong people.’ He notes that there are lots of opportunities within Australia, plenty more than when he started out. He also stresses the importance of taking a break, saying he usually gives himself one day off a week and a couple of weeks each year. Without breaks you can’t generate new ideas.

Being an artist is an endurance race. You need to spend a lot of time developing your work and looking after yourself. And it needs to be sustainable.

He reminds us that artists and writers are a business, and you need to understand creative business. You can’t have everything for nothing and you can’t expect it to be easy. We don’t live in an age like DaVinci and Michaelangelo whose artistic development was sponsored by the church and the military respectively.

When asked about the most difficult aspects of being a working artist, Christou said it was the financial side, business, and the sacrifices you have to make for your passion. His favourite things about working full time as an artist are, of course, sleeping and travelling, but also creating images from his mind, he loves being able to “bring his imagination to life.”

Christou’s next major project is a Kickstarer for theme decks of his card game Dragon Dreams. The Kickstarter is due to launch at 5:30pm Adelaide time today. That’s in just a few hours! You can find it here: https://www.kickstarter.com/profile/luminousages/

Christou is also on Youtube and Patreon.

Check out his website here!

 


Words by Kayla Gaskell

Images property of Anthony Christou

In Coversation with: Anna Thomas of ‘How to Drink Wine Like a Wanker’

This past Fringe Festival saw the debut of Anna Thomas’s one-woman play, How to Drink Wine Like a Wanker. Met with praise and glowing reviews, this play returned for a limited run this July. The Treasury 1860 bar is once again the setting for one of 2018’s stand-out shows.

Arriving outside of the Fringe period, the show stood by itself for a time before Anna takes it to the biggest Fringe Festival on Earth, the Edinburgh Fringe, in August. With the show’s return and an exciting future beckoning, Tulpa sat down with Anna to discuss where the play came from, how it went, and where it will now go.

The story of how the show came to be is long and winding one. Anna explains that she always loved the arts and studied for a time at university before necessity taking her towards a more corporate path. Following her corporate life, Anna took up a role doing wine tours, although she fully admits to not having a huge amount of wine knowledge. She says it was her theatre skills that came to the fore in pretending she was so capable in her new job. It was also during this time that she met some of the “wine wankers” that would help inform her play. ‘I found myself, in the first six months, telling stories of the ridiculous wine wankers that I would meet’, she explains.

The play continued to change as she worked on it. ‘Initially, the idea was going to be more comedic and silly but as I started writing it, it felt a little shallow and this far more serious narrative took over,’ says Anna of the performance’s tone. This play is a mixture of tones, with the blend of personal experience and absurdity of wine wankers. Anna acknowledges her concern the title could have appeared too whimsical or satirical – ‘fortunately lots of people took a chance and didn’t have that predisposed idea of what it was.’

Once the play was out in the wider world of the Adelaide Fringe, Anna says she found the response to be ‘really wonderful and really shocking’. She says that she had only truly performed the play a few days before the first show, even to her husband. At the third show, she got a standing ovation which  took her by surprise. Not long after, a review got out from The Advertiser, and within four days she had a sold out show. Suddenly, it ‘had this ridiculous momentum about it’. The response was not universal though; Anna recalls that a ‘couple of gentlemen didn’t like the show – they thought it was too feministic. Someone wrote a review saying there was too much discussion about the glass ceiling. But I quite enjoyed that too because it meant it pressed buttons for everyone’.

Across the play’s run at the Fringe, she explains that there was a bit of change. The content remained relatively unchanged, but the delivery was altered. One of the key changes she describes is that her initial intent for the play was to be more traditional,but gradually the fourth wall came down bit by bit. She says she ‘found that the intimacy grew over time, and by the end, what was really lovely was that I felt like I could throw away a few lines when I needed to lighten the mood and I felt so connected with the audience and by the end there was this really lovely experience where I almost knew how it was going to fall and I knew how the audience was going to react.’

Another change to the play came in the approach to the more emotional content, which Anna says she initially approached with more caution. ‘Because of that caution,’ she says, ‘it caught people off guard too much’. With a few performances complete, she let that ease in a bit more so ‘people felt more comfortable with their emotions’.

Several months after the initial, very successful, run of How to Drink Wine Like a Wanker, the show returned for July’s limited run. How does this change the situation? ‘I [was] a little more scared. I was running off the back of the Fringe [last time]. Everyone’s very willing to take risks at Fringe time.’ Anna explains that the more risk-accepting crowd of the Fringe is gone now and a show in July requires its audience to have a more determined intent to go to a show. ‘It’s a more conscious choice’, she says, rather than the audience simply picking from the Fringe’s offerings.

This run in July served a few purposes for Anna as a performer. With the Edinburgh Fringe approaching, this allowed her to test the play on an audience in quite a different environment. It also helped in fundraising for the costs inherent in taking the show’s co-stars, the wines, over to Scotland.

Anna is adamant to acknowledge the aid of Arts SA and the Made in Adelaide grant she was awarded. ‘That has definitely afforded me this opportunity,’ she says. She was one of a select few to receive this support, and their involvement has been instrumental in getting the show to Edinburgh.

At the Edinburgh Fringe, Anna will be performing at ZOO Venues, in their cabaret bar which she says she has been to, ‘many Fringes ago’. She says she is conscious of the challenges in transporting her show across the world. Anna explains that in the UK, certain wines are appreciated differently. This necessitates a slightly different approach as the characteristics of the wines plays an important element in the performance. Merlot, for instance, the wine upon which she places ‘the pinnacle of the story’, is not so underappreciated in the UK as it is in Australia; ranking the second-highest selling wine in the UK.

The future beckons beyond the Edinburgh Fringe as Anna tells Tulpa she ‘definitely’ plans a season next year. She has also picked up a few regional tours that will see her take the show to McLaren Vale and the Adelaide Hills. Offers at the Brighton (UK) and Hollywood Fringes also being presented ensures the success of How to Drink Wine Like a Wanker has every opportunity to carry on further.

 


Words by Liam McNally

AVCon 2018

AVCon is a three-day festival that runs during July and signals the end to both the school and uni break. In 2017 it attracted over 20,000 visitors and this year I suspect that record was broken. It is a place where avid lovers of video games, cosplay, pop-culture, and anime come together to share that passion. Run entirely by volunteers, AVCon is an example of a small community coming together in real life as opposed to the forums many visitors undoubtedly frequent to discuss the latest in games, cosplay, and anime.

Walking through AVCon, where-ever you might be, it’s not unusual to hear someone gasp over a cosplayer, artwork, or piece of merchandise they’ve been coveting all year. Adelaide has a lot of amazing talent and, for me, that is where AVCon shines. Not only do we have a strong community surrounding anime and videogames, but we have a range of talented artists with varying art styles who converge to sell their wares and display their skill.

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CDW Stall at AVCon 2018, photography by Cameron Lowe

Each year the convention begins with the opening ceremony on the Friday evening—generally characterised by weekend and gold-pass holders gathering in the foyer of the Convention Centre for up to a couple of hours before the doors open. This year was the first year I attended the opening ceremony. We were introduced to the organisers, volunteers, special guests, and the spirit of AVCon with a skit which blurred the lines of dream and reality. The special guests for 2018 included Major Sam, Spike Spencer, Vera Chimera, Neil Kaplan, Beke, and Knitemaya who were all involved in panels across the weekend. The ceremony was followed by a screening of Ready Player One in conjunction with Hybrid World Adelaide.

With Saturday morning came a rush of people flocking in to enjoy the weekend. In the gaming hall there was a mixture of free-play and indie games, as well as some of the weekend’s gaming tournaments (which were also held on the Sunday). In the Exhibitors Hall there was a selection of stalls selling official merchandise as well as stalls promoting Marion and City Libraries, HIDIVE streaming service, and CDW Studios. Beyond the hall was the chaos of Artist Alley. Downstairs you could find panels, special guests, and anime screenings from both HIDIVE and Madman.

With the evening came the ever-popular quiz night with forty-nine tables competing for the prize and privilege of first place. Unfortunately, this year the quiz wasn’t as enjoyable as it has been in previous years with challenging questions and barely anything accessible to your non-gamer. Unfortunately, the winning team disappeared before they could claim their prize and their prize was passed on. I can only hope that next year’s questions will be better and more specific to avoid confusion and that next year’s winners will remain present.

The cosplay competition on Sunday was a wonderful display of talent from local and interstate cosplayers who cosplayed a range of people from games, anime, and pop-culture. Some had spent months on their costumes and others just a few sleepless days. One thing was consistent however, the attention to detail each cosplayer had for their costume, all doing a fantastic job of portraying their chosen character and their personalities. One highlight of the competition was seeing a Xenomorph come onto stage and break out into dance.

My highlight was, predictably, Artist Alley. I’ve always loved the scattering of stalls, the friendly faces, and familiar fan-art portraying characters I knew and didn’t, as well as those I’d long since forgotten. Artist Alley isn’t just fan art; Decay Comics, indie author Matt J. Pike (whose self-published book series Apocalypse: Diary of a Survivor is set in Adelaide), and Anthony Christou (a full time visual artist) stood out from the crowd by providing their own unique work. Artist Alley had a wide variety of products on offer ranging from prints and badges all the way to socks and scarves printed with original designs.

I’ve always found that AVCon is what you make of it. It is a wonderful place to engage with the gaming, cosplay, Lolita, and anime communities here in Adelaide. It’s also a place to meet new people and form life-long friendships. It offers a sense of belonging for people of all ages and celebrates the talents of video game enthusiasts. Overall I’ve always found it a friendly environment and would recommend getting a friend or two and heading in next year if you can afford it.


Words by Kayla Gaskell

In Conversation with: The Helpmann Academy

The Helpmann Academy is an important part of Adelaide’s cultural sphere – and it is a name that will surely be familiar to any artists starting their careers in this city. Their offerings of grants and learning opportunities – including masterclasses, seminars, and mentorships – are used by many local artists to get a start in their vocations. For people less actively engaged in the arts scene, they could be an organisation you are unfamiliar with but could well have played a crucial part in the nascent career of a local artist you know.

Stephanie Jaclyn on the set of Freemales
Flinders graduate and Filmmaker Stephanie Jaclyn on the set of her web series ‘Freemales’. Stephanie received a 2017 Helpmann Fellowship to undertake training and development opportunities in London. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Behind all this, is a small and dedicated team of individuals working to help offer opportunities to Adelaide’s artists. To discover more about what goes into reaching the results the Helpmann Academy has achieved, Tulpa recently sat down with Jane MacFarlane, the Academy’s CEO.

Helpmann Academy is one of a number of organisations providing support and opportunities for artists. We began by asking who the Academy is geared towards helping. Jane said that they ‘only support emerging artists’, people who are ‘graduates in the first five years of their career’. One of the things she says is important is that prospective Helpmann grantees know ‘they’re not competing against mid-career artists.’ It’s made very clear that for all the significance of Helpmann – that may make it seem imposing to the less experienced artists – it is just for these artists that the Academy exists. ‘A lot of people don’t apply because they don’t feel they’re established enough or they’re not good enough but everyone who applies through Helpmann is starting out in their careers,’ Jane explains.

Annabel Matheson_Photo by Ian Routledge Foul Play Theatre
Flinders graduate and actor, Annabel Matheson. Photo by Ian Routledge, Foul Play Theatre.

The process of grant-writing is not one many artists relish but it is a fixture of the artist’s life – particularly in their earlier years. On this matter, though, Jane explains that they are engaged in ‘helping artists as much as we can in their grant applications so we offer to read grants, [and] give feedback. Part of it, for us, is not just in [them] receiving the grant but [also] artists learning skills in grant applications that will hopefully help them in the long term.’ So an artist writing a grant application to the Helpmann Academy will likely receive helpful feedback to get them a step closer to their next application being a successful one.

As to what advice she would have for someone considering applying for a Helpmann grant, Jane says a successful grant is often marked by an approach showing both ‘head and heart’ – the writer of the grant must try to ensure the reader gets a ‘sense of the artist, what they’re doing, and why it’s so important to them.’

The Helpmann Academy has sent artists all over the world – from Iceland to Antarctica. That very morning before the interview, Jane had two artists in to the Academy ‘who just came back from Amsterdam and are living in New York.’ The Academy, she tells Tulpa, judges most importantly ‘what the best thing for that artist is, and what’s going to help them in their career’. Whether the proposal is ‘something very practical and Adelaide-based or something that is quite different and [that] we’ve never seen before’ doesn’t matter so much, according to Jane, rather, it ‘really comes down to the artist and what’s going to be the best thing for them.’

Helpmann Academy 2017 Night of Jazz
2017 Helpmann Academy Night of Jazz with Marquis Hill. Photo by Russell Millard.

Considering the broad and significant work the Helpmann Academy does for the careers of young and emerging Adelaide artists, there is one important question. What would be the ultimate goal for the Academy? What would it look like with absolute success? Perhaps as one ought to expect, Jane answers, ‘not to exist.’ She elaborates: ‘we want to see artists truly valued and be successful both financially and in terms of their aspirations’. Those who work at Helpmann ‘want to see artists live their dreams and be able to do what they do without having to juggle four or five jobs on top of their practice’.

Asked why the arts are not often more broadly valued, Jane explained she considered it to be the result of a number of factors. One factor being that socially, we tend most to hold sportspeople up and another being that other social infrastructure such as hospitals take precedence for decision-makers. She notes that, according to studies, ‘artists are the most educated profession in the country – and yet they’re the least paid.’

Looking to the shorter-term goals of the Helpmann Academy, Jane says they are trying to look at ‘two main approaches’. One is to continue to open up their masterclasses and seminars up to as many artists as possible. The other approach is to look at ‘ways we can fund larger scale projects and opportunities for artists as well’. In looking to Helpmann’s future, one can also look to their past, as the past three years have seen quite a bit of growth – Jane says they have doubled the amount of support.

As the conversation turns to the state of the arts in Adelaide, Jane explains one of the city’s arts scene’s strongest points is ‘how connected it is’. ‘Compared to other places,’ she says, ‘it is a lot easier to connect industry and organisations and people’. This element directly benefits Helpmann as they ‘have partnerships with lots of other arts organisations and work together with them very successfully.’ As an example of the Adelaide art scene’s ability to connect, Jane puts forward that Adelaide is now UNESCO’s first City of Music. ‘I think that is the music industry coming together really successfully.’ Adelaide’s artistic sphere has clearly been noticed from the outside and its successes rewarded. Embedded in this connectedness of Adelaide’s arts, is Helpmann, and they are well and truly doing their part to connect people, to upskill the city’s creatives, and to provide learning opportunities.

All in all, Jane MacFarlane paints a picture of a city with a lot going for it in its creative industries. There may be more to be done, hence the Academy’s existence, but Adelaide is a city well on its way to greater successes – aided by organisations such as the Helpmann Academy.

 


Words by Liam McNally

Feature image property of the Helpmann Academy.

Thanks to Jane MacFarlane and the Helpmann Academy

AVCon and Artist Alley: In conversation with Avery Andruszkiewicz and Ella Guildea

Ahead of AVCon cosplayers and vendors are preparing like mad for the three days a year when avid fans of anime, video-games, and general pop-culture converge on the Adelaide Convention Centre. AVCon is fast approaching (20-22nd July) and, as per tradition, it marks the end to both Uni and school break.

If you haven’t attended the convention before, it is, quite simply, a place where people of similar interests come together to celebrate anime, video-games, and the exciting work of a number of talented cosplayers and vendors.

Some of these vendors are local artists and can be found in Artist Alley and have provided both encouragement and inspiration to a number of artists and other creatives for many years. It’s not unusual to see people clutching their own sketch books or settled in a corner drawing throughout the weekend—I know that’s been me a few times!

In order to prepare for this year’s AVCon I sat down with Ella Guildea and Avery Andruszkiewicz, both of whom have attended a number of AVCons. Guildea even met her partner, Connor Madden, at the 2011 event, and he tables with her along with Sophie Ladd.

If you’re an AVCon aficionado you might recognise Avery Andruszkiewicz’s name already. Their design was selected to be on the AVCon shirts and merchandise for 2018. When speaking to Andruszkiewicz, I asked how they felt about their design being chosen and whether they’d expected it:

“Not really, but I definitely had all my fingers crossed for it. I was rather proud of my design this year, so I was really hoping to place, but winning the whole thing was a surprise! The other entries are always so amazing, I’m glad my design was picked.”

 

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AVCon Announcement of Avery Andruszkiewicz’s design.

 

Both Andruszkiewicz and Guildea have previously been involved with Artist Alley, Andruszkiewicz just for the 2017 event while Guildea will be tabling for the third year running with The Bees Knees (together with Ladd and Madden).

Andruszkiewicz says working in Artist Alley is: “a really great opportunity to meet and support other artists. But of course, the chance to get your work out there, and having people actually want to buy what you create is an amazing feeling.”

Guildea’s involvement with Artist Alley began when a friend asked her to table with them in around 2014. While that didn’t end up happening, in 2015 Guildea and Madden bought a badge maker, although “the final push for me to invest in a table at Artist Alley was really heavily inspired by artists Jac and Emerson from the table, Gutgeist! (http://gutgeist.tumblr.com). They travel every year from Melbourne to table at AVCon and were super helpful with guiding me on how to run my first table! I’m really grateful for the support they gave me.”

Much like the event itself, Artist Alley provides participants with a strong sense of community. Some artists get together ahead of the convention to work together cutting out stickers and pressing badges, essentially keeping one another motivated ahead of the event.

When I asked about the community of Artist Alley, Andruszkiewicz said that while they are still fairly new to it, it’s been quite welcoming. “Group orders to save money on shipping/get bulk buy discounts is not uncommon, as well as groups getting together to cut out stickers and press badges and such before a con. Working in a group can be great for motivation!”

One of Guildea’s highlights of the con experience “is the compassion and empathy vendors have for each other. On one of the days last year someone brought Krispy Kremes around to all of the tables, I’m not throwing hints or anything!”

 

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Ella Guildea, 2018.

 

This sense of community is evident in the level of support that artists offer to first timers. Andruszkiewicz and Guildea both offered some advice for anyone looking at getting involved in the 2019 event.

 

 

Advice from Andruszkiewicz:

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Avery Andruszkiewicz 2018.

 

“I always say just go for it, but definitely take the time to prepare. Use your resources. Don’t be afraid to ask artists for advice. A fellow artist by the name Hawberries (Twitter: @hawberries_) has put together a fantastic guide to art stalls, which was honestly my lifesaver for my first time, and I still reference it now.
Don’t table alone, it’s absolutely soul crushing. Either find a friend to split a table with (you save money on the table that way too, and that makes it easier to break even), or if you have enough stock for your own table (I’ll be blunt, you won’t for your first-time tabling), make sure you have a table buddy so you’re not there on your own.
Don’t go in with the mindset of making a profit, go because you want to and because you love what you do. Unfortunately, a lot of artists tend to come up at a loss at their first con, which can be disheartening, but even more so if you go with the exclusive intention of making money. Go, make friends, make connections, and as you gain experience, a following, and improve your art, the profits will come.

And to be harsh for a moment, prepare yourself for disappointment. There’s only a set amount of tables at any one convention, and the harsh truth of that is that artists get declined as a result. If you get declined, don’t let that overshadow your passion for art. Gather your resources again, work hard, and try again next time! Don’t let disappointment overshadow your love of the craft.”

 

Advice from Guildea:

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Ella Guildea, 2018.

 

“There’s a lot of Facebook groups which can be a really great influence for first timers – Aussie Con Artists is probably my favourite. However, the best way I’ve found to find the community is by networking at the conventions that you attend! Talk to your neighbours! Talk to that person who has the art style that you’ve totally fallen in love with!

Tough it out, keep it up and find what inspires you. Your first con might not be phenomenal, but if you’re passionate about vending, please keep it up!

Our first convention involved less than two weeks’ worth of prep, had 15 items in total, and featured the previously mentioned corkboard-ruler-blu-tack scenario. We now prep for significantly more than 2 weeks, stock over 125 different items, and have a nice easel to put our display board on so it doesn’t come crashing down every 20 minutes.

You’ll constantly grow and learn from your mistakes, and a lot of reflection as to how you can improve. You’re not going to become some sort of professional by the time of your first convention. Just throw yourself into it and learn!”


 

You can follow Avery Andruszkiewicz on Twitter @matte_bat_ or check out their Redbubble store https://www.redbubble.com/people/matte-bat/portfolio.

To contact Ella Guildea and The Bees Knees about commission work, see where they’re headed next, and keep updated about upcoming item releases, check out their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/thekneesofthebees

If you can’t make it to the convention check out their Tictail here: https://tictail.com/thekneesofthebees

Both artists are tabling this year at AVCon and are always up for a chat so don’t be afraid to stop by and say hello. When you do, don’t forget to mention this article!


 

Words by Kayla Gaskell

Ordinary Objects: Percy the Puzzle Piece

Percy is the filler piece of the puzzle.

The plain blue patch of sky that gets popped aside while all the other more striking pieces get matched up. Forgotten as colourful patches of grass with glints of wildlife are pieced together and trees are built from the trunk up to the tips of their autumn leaves.

Lying patiently, Percy waits on a quiet corner of the table, eager to be placed amongst the other pieces. He is lost under coffee cups and couch cushions.

The puzzle is never completed, but “will have to do,” as Percy is nowhere to be found.

Years later, Percy is plucked from his spot wedged between two floorboards. The puzzle he belonged to has already been discarded. No one remembers where Percy came from, or where he’s meant to go.

Percy is discarded, never completing anything or reaching his potential as part of the bigger picture. Percy the patient puzzle piece.

 


Words and art by Lisa Vertudaches

14117837_1175055035900900_9161235252814084858_nLisa Vertudaches is an independent illustrator & animator, working from a studio in Adelaide, South Australia. Specialising in looping GIFs, Lisa really enjoys creating cute, silly and sometimes absurd animations and illustrations.

 

 

www.lisavertudaches.com

 

The Artists of Viewpoint

 

Earlier this month, Sarah Ingham and I attended the opening night of Viewpoint, an art exhibition at the Light Square Gallery featuring nine recent graduates from Adelaide College of the Arts. The exhibition is due to end May 31th, so I thought it would be a great time to touch base with the artists and learn more about what went into this exhibition, and where they plan to go next. I was lucky enough to have a chat with a few of the artists and sit in on a talk they were giving about the exhibition process.

One of the first questions I asked was about whether their work reflected their personal relationship with the River Torrens. There were mixed responses. It seems that Annelise Forster had a strong emotional attachment to the river through her childhood memories which was reflected in her piece Stone Hopping. Yet Sophie Mahoney-Longford didn’t have as much of a connection, making her pieces, Riverbank, Ripple, and Reeds, genuine observational views. She also commented that she didn’t worry about trying to infuse her piece with symbolism, presenting her own candid approach. Thea Nicole Paulmitan chose to present a contemporary view of the river, looking beyond the river itself to the surrounding architecture in her pieces: Water & Bridge, Bridge & Water, and Hazy Torrens. Bernadette Freeman regularly visits the Torrens and says: “It was a wonderful opportunity for me to stop and reflect on its beauty and complexity.” As Forster said during the talk, they all chose different things to focus on, they all presented “different viewpoints”.

As with selecting different views and interpretations of their River Torrens theme, each artist had a different style or medium with which to approach their task. The mediums ranged from traditional oil painting, acrylics, paint pouring, sculpture, and photography. Each piece reflected the individual style of the artist, and, as Mahoney-Longford said: “provide our individual responses” to the subject.

Jane Heron-Kirkmoe was one of the artists who spoke to me about her art making process. She was lucky with the gallery space as an unplanned breeze impacted on her piece Spill the Overflow perfectly. She typically works in white and in multiples, forming objects with a contemporary edge. Her works are intended to provoke thought and encourages viewers to “find their own narrative”. She concedes that while her focus is on materiality and the beauty of the everyday, the work is not overly commercial.

While it was important to some of the artists to simply use this exhibition opportunity to express themselves, it was also important to others to make work which was sellable. Mahoney-Longford mentioned that two of her three pieces have already been purchased, and that it was a deliberate choice by her to leave her pieces unframed and therefore more affordable. It can be very important to have works that can be sold in order to balance the cost of creation.

During the group discussion, Ann Podzuweit made a point about the importance of artists having a day-job, as they often pay for your art. Bernadette Freeman made an interesting analogy, which I can personally relate to: art shops such as Eckersley’s are the artist’s lolly shop, but the sweets are much more expensive and add up much quicker. Heron-Kirkmoe also spoke about the importance of a day job, telling me the day job allows her to make art –time management can be a challenge though. Many artists tend to be in the same boat here. It is a delicate balance.

When I was speaking to Paulmitan, I asked if she were to start again with her pieces if she would approach them differently. She was adamant that she would take the same approach. It’s a part of her process to take photos and manipulate imagery, even putting together physical collages before settling on an idea and beginning to paint. Viewpoint is the first of Paulmitan’s exhibitions to feature both her painting and photo-manipulation. While she didn’t originally intend to display her photography, Paulmitan is very happy she took a step away from the traditional mediums predominantly featured in the exhibition.

I think that the most important lesson that these women shared is that it is integral to produce work that “expresses yourself, reflects you, and that you love.” Kylie Nichols stresses that she loves making her work, which is something that artists of any practice can aspire to. Forster mentions how important it is to find what works for you and use it. For her, it is being a social artist and being around people who she can discuss her work with. For others, this might be working independently.

In terms of advice for those considering their own exhibition with a group, these artists had plenty. It’s all about organisation and playing to your strengths. You need to get organised early. Look at grant applications and sponsorship opportunities, do what you can yourself (online advertisement via social media), consider the space you need and how it can be best used to the advantage of your works. One important thing to remember when part of a group exhibition is that you’re never on your own. And as Heron-Kirkmoe said, “aim for the stars, but have one foot on the ground as well.” And most of all, just enjoy the ride.

So where next for these artists?

Mahoney-Longford was considering getting involved with SALA, however her primary focus at the moment is to work on her commissions and her personal projects.

Heron-Kirkmoe is currently back in “making-mode” ahead of a coming exhibition at the Fleurieu Art House in August.

Paulmitan is currently considering further study and, artistically, she intends to pursue her photography rather than painting. In June, her work will be on display at the Youth Scape Exhibition.

Nichols will be exhibiting at the Goodwood Library as a part of ‘SALA Goodwood Road’ and is busily making for another group exhibition coming up in October at the Fleurieu Arthouse.

Freeman is currently creating works for exhibition in SALA.

Forster arrived at the gallery fresh from her studio and paint splattered, so it’s safe to say she’ll be continuing with her art with two SALA exhibitions and an exhibition in Melbourne on the horizon.

I didn’t get a chance to speak with Podzuweit, Todino, or Kukolj to discover their plans, but I am certain that we will continue to see their names and works around Adelaide in the future.


 

Photography by Nica Kukolji

Words by Kayla Gaskell