The standard of artistic talent on the Gold Coast right now is absolutely giving us life. We’ve got epic exhibitions on constant rotation, theatrical productions, all of the cabaret, live music, the works. It’s quite the time to be a lover of all things cultural in our sweet city.
Which brings us to the subject of this tale, a brand new art slash workshop slash event space showcasing the work of a team of folks whose names you’ve no doubt heard uttered once or twice.
The crew at Art-Work Agency, lead by artistic genius (and one of our faves) Claudio Kirac and his equally impressive partners in crime Paul Bow and Laura Strange, recently opened a new creative space and it’s an absolute delight.
AW Space opened on Friday night (March 22nd) with their debut exhibition Outside, made up of photographic and sculptural works by the Art-Works team, exploring themes of travel, friendship and connected places.
Which are, of course, some of our favourite things.
The works examine how our surrounding environments (both natural and built) and past experiences form our notions of home and community, and why we are drawn to particular places.
It’s an absolutely beautiful collection of works showing in an equally beautiful new space that the (lucky and also very hard working) Art-Work Agency team now get to call their office.
In case you’re somehow unaware, Art-Work Agency is a multidisciplinary creative agency specialising in photography and videography, design, art and consultation. Their industry experience spans over 20 years, and has been seen across the Gold Coast in the form of branding for local businesses, imagery for large-scale events like *Bleach Festival, fashion campaigns and generally just creating good work for good people.
It’s the perfect ethos for a business filled with folks who are passionate about, and have made it their mission to enhance, the Gold Coast community and in particular our art and cultural scenes.
AW Space will open for a curated selection of events and workshops throughout the year so keep your eyes peeled because this is one space you’re going to want to spend some time in.
We might like to move our office in there also. Pray for us.
LOCATION: 2/53-55 Cronulla Ave, Mermaid Beach
Words by Kirra Smith
There aren’t enough words in the world to describe the sky high levels of inspiration, creativity and general good vibes Claudio Kirac brings to the Gold Coast (but please, read on and you’ll get the gist).
He’s an artist, photographer and designer who has travelled the world to make magic with some of the biggest brands out there but, lucky for us, he calls our golden shores home. Over the last few years he’s worked closely with HOTA, Bleach* Festival and Festival 2018, to name a few, but his most recent project is a little closer to home.
We sat down for a chat with the absolute legend that is CK about his agency Art-Work’s epic new creative space and why the Gold Coast has become a well-oiled arts and culture machine.
How long have you been a Gold Coast local?
I have been on the GC for most of my life, was not born here, but definitely consider myself a die-hard local.
What do you love most about our beautiful city?
The small country town feel with some of the luxuries of a big city. The GC’s connection to nature is one of our most valuable assets and a definite game changer when it comes to quality of life and enjoying where you live.
Tell us your exciting news…
Our agency, Art-Work (AW) has climbed some big mountains in the past few years, from the strength of our collaborators to our internal creative and business mindset, you could say we are growing. With growth comes challenge and change, and your daydreams eventually manifest into something that is greater than you could possibly imagine. So, we have combined all our experience and knowledge, dipped our big toe in, and are creating a physical home for Art-Work, a multi purpose space for Design and Dreaming, right in the growing creative hub of Cronulla and Karen in Mermaid Beach
What will you have going on in the new space?
Our new creative space, the AW World HQ, will be our daily go-to for all of our creative production. It’s a blank canvas of sorts that we can use to experiment, play and grow ideas for the years to come – business in the front and dancing in the back. On a daily basis it will serve as our design office, with space to do photography and video production, contemporary art and creative consultation, with a vision to host exhibitions, industry gatherings and workshops from time to time – the space will be by appointment only, but you are welcome to drop by with coffee, tacos or wine anytime.
Tell us about your career journey so far, where did you start and how did you end up here?
I have always lived and loved art, from a 15 year history working in the surf industry, to jumping out on our own with Art-Work to work on the projects we love, it has been such an inspiring journey. I started AW with my long-term colleague and friend Paul Bow almost seven years ago now, from humble beginnings to trailblazing new territories; we are the perfect blend of creativity and commerce. My wife Laura Strange has brought such a new light to what we do across digital, design and strategy, that I find myself learning new things every day, which is one thing that we, as humans and designers, should never stop doing.
No doubt there have been many highlights, what are some favourite career moments?
The ultimate highlight is everyday when I pinch myself and am grateful for being able to be creative and get paid for it, also travels to far away lands of sunshine and snow and the memories and friendships we create along the way are experiences you will never forget.
Where do you find inspiration as such a creative guy?
I used to devour a lot of print collateral – still do, but much less – AW has an amazing design library BTW. I have to sometimes force myself to look beyond the pages of Pinterest, as it is veritable minefield of collated, curated craziness! These days a calm mind, a jump in the ocean and good verbal download helps to put things into perspective.
What are your thoughts on the Coast’s growing arts and culture scene?
The arts and culture scene on the GC is now a well oiled machine, compared to where we used to be five, 10 even 15 years ago now, the term ‘Cultural Wasteland’ never even entered my mind, although it’s taken a long and winding road to get to where we are now. With independent galleries through to HOTA and ongoing support from government infrastructure, I feel it is now at the perfect place to go next level and be taken seriously, with a community of talented creative hearts and minds to help tell the story.
What else would you like to see happen?
For artists and designers to stay here and embrace the ride.
What’s the plan for the rest of 2018?
We have had ridden a crazy wave this year, all the way from the beginning with HOTA, Bleach* and Festival 2018 through to working on creative content with our favourite locals at Dwell Store. Now over the hump with launching our new space and embracing the neighbourhood vibes we have some super exciting projects on the horizon across photography, video, brand and mural work to round out the year, but not before Laura and I head to the USA for a month long road trip of culture, food and good times!
Best piece of life advice you’ve ever received?
Wait for the moment, but do it now.
Favourites on the Coast:
Beach: From Cooly to the Spit, there’s nowhere like it on this planet!
Cafe: I’d have to throw my favourite Mermaid Beach locals in the hat, the best from All-Time, Hula Girl, Le Cafe Gourmand and Door 50 – you can’t go wrong
Restaurant: LUPO, Itoshin, Harry’s and Justin Lane for the cross section of good local cuisine
How does your weekend usually look? Up for the early or sleep in, depending on what’s on the cards, walk to get coffee and start from there. We sometimes work on Sunday because it doesn’t always feel like work. I like to cook, catch up with family and friends, reset and plan for the week ahead. A good schedule makes for a productive week, so the weekend is the time to reflect and refocus.
Time flies when you live on the Gold Coast and pretty much everything around you is fun. It flies so fast in fact, that’s it’s time for Bleach* Festival again and the recently released 2019 program is bigger and better than ever.
The incredible festival once again combines local, national and international artists in 132 performances over 12 days in music, dance, opera, theatre, cabaret, circus and visual arts and it’s not to be missed (again).
Because fun and cultural stimulation is what we live for, we are here to discuss a few key things you should absolutely not miss at the 2019 Bleach* Festival.
The eighth annual festival runs from April 17th to 28th and signals a new era for the Coast while celebrating our unique culture with a jam-packed program spanning large-scale opera, award-winning dance, eye-popping cabaret, free live music, a thought- provoking political swimming carnival and a thrilling drive-in with a difference. That’s a lot.
Let’s begin by discussing our beloved Spiegeltent, back to dazzle us with its magnificence and a little circus-style show called Limbo Unhinged. It’s by the folks behind Blanc de Blanc and it’ll unleash pyrotechnics, sword-swallowing and aerial shenanigans against a pulsating live soundtrack from April 17th to May 12th. Fun.
Bleach* Festival’s centerpiece event, Verdi’s Requiem, shows on April 27 and, featuring more than 150 musicians and singers, will be performed under the stars, with HOTA’s outdoor stage transformed into a fiery ceremonial sanctuary.
Also premiering in 2019 is Water Songs, a musical concert series that will travel through the Gold Coast’s waterways. Minstrels will perform from the waterfront into backyards and public parks along canals, creeks and channels just doing their musical thing, which is obviously epic.
Townsville’s Dancenorth presents Tectonic, a free 15-minute performance installation staged twice a night and inspired by the plight of Torres Strait communities whose island homes will be consumed by rising sea levels. We hear it’s an absolute must-see.
Bleach* Festival once again welcomes long-time collaborators The Farm, a Gold Coast-based dance theatre company, to present Throttle, a drive-in live-action movie with a difference. It’s a b-grade thriller that plays out in front of an audience who are all safely hidden away in their cars, which sounds like a horror movie in itself to be honest but we’ll give it a whirl.
Closing out the festival will be a concert featuring the delightful Montaigne on Burleigh beach and we are definitely here for that.
That’s all we’re going to chat about for now but let it be known the entire program is filled with absolutely mind blowing performances, all of which you should make time to see.
There you have it, another exciting round of Bleach* Festival is about to begin.
Words by Kirra Smith
She’s the girl you instantly want to adopt as your best friend, not to mention a talented designer, artist, jewellery maker and one half of local creative biz Art-work Agency.
Recently, Laura was commissioned to create a design for The Undercurrent’s Nobby Beach tee shirt, a place close to her heart. We sat down for a chat with her on capturing the cool and collected vibe of the beachside suburb we all know and love.
How long have you been a Gold Coast local?
I’ve been an official “full-time” Gold Coaster for almost three years now. I was living down here part-time previously while working in Brisbane, but was able to make the transition down here in 2015 and haven’t looked back! I’ve always had an affiliation with the coast and beach. I spent my early childhood on the northern beaches in Cairns before my family moved to Brisbane. Growing up, my grandparents lived in Broadbeach, so that saw me visiting the coast with family most weekends. I have fond memories of summer days spent walking down to Kurrawa Beach via the Broachbeach Mall with a melting ice cream in hand!
What do you love most about our beautiful city?
It’s hard to pick one thing, but I would say our sense of community is really unique and wonderful. People around the coast are generally super friendly – taking a morning walk means you’re greeted by at least a handful of people every day. We’ve got lots of the “big city” perks – food, coffee, arts and cultural activities, but we’ve kept our “small town” charm. It’s something I hope remains in the city as we grow and mature.
You recently designed a t-shirt for The Undercurrent representing Nobby Beach, what did you include and why?
Nobby Beach is an area really special to me as it’s where my husband was living when we first met! As he’s been on the Gold Coast since he was a kid, he has a lot of fond memories of Nobby Beach and the Magic Mountain era. It was a great opportunity for me to learn more about the history of the area and also to learn about how it influenced my husband growing up.
I wanted to capture this sense of nostalgia, but also capture the cool and collected reputation the precinct holds today. The chairlift was included as a tribute to the Magic Mountain days, and also because it’s such a quirky thing to have beachside – the chairlift is usually associated with the snow, not the sand! I also chose to incorporate two key street-signs from the area, Chairlift Ave (obviously!) and Lavarack Rd. For me, these two streets form the “heart” of Nobby’s – home to cafes, restaurants and access to the beach.
What are your thoughts on the Coast’s growing arts scene?
Everything about arts and culture on the Gold Coast is exciting. There’s so much going on that it’s starting to get hard to keep up – which is great. Gone are the “cultural wasteland” days – we’re amidst a new era of cultural change and innovation on the coast. Our cultural programming is distinctly Gold Coast and I hope that continues as we grow. We are really good at embracing our landscape and environment through cultural activities, and I think this is something we do differently to other destinations – perhaps because until now we haven’t had the facilities to house performances, so programmers have had to be experimental with venues and locations. Opera or sculptures on the beach? Dance workshops in the park? Theatre in the penthouses of high-rises? We do it all. We do it really, really well.
Where do you think we’ll be in five years?
The development of the Cultural Precinct will change the arts and culture landscape on the coast for the better, and will bring more opportunities for emerging and established creatives – which will entice them to stay here rather than relocate to other cities. We’ll see more young people choosing to call the coast home. My friends in Brisbane and further afield will finally agree that the coast has culture. The amount of coffee shops within walking distance from my house will have doubled to 24 (there’s currently 12…how nuts is that!).
What’s been your personal artistic journey?
I wouldn’t have branded myself as a “creative” growing up, so sometimes I’m still surprised that I chose a career in art and design! I was told by my year 12 careers councillor that I’d never be a graphic designer because I couldn’t draw super well…what a farce that was! I soon discovered that design wasn’t about illustrating and making things “pretty”, but rather about solving problems, which suited me really well.
You’re both an artist and a designer, what’s your favourite thing to create?
I’m happiest when I’m creating something that looks beautiful and solves a business need. I’m a pretty practical person and I like to create for an outcome or purpose. While a lot of artists savor the process…I’m more of a destination girl! I love seeing the outcome of a project and looking at the impact it has on the business.
What’s the best piece of life advice you’ve ever received?
What you think you attract – I always try to be positive and see the glass half full, not empty. Think positively and you’ll attract positivity.
Being a Gold Coast local, we have to ask your favourite on the Coast…
Beach: Love the Miami Beach front/Marine Parade.
Cafe: Can I pick two? All Time Coffee (almond latte and a doughnut) and Skull and Bones (bulletproof to go, please!)
Restaurant: This is tricky…it’s a toss up between Justin Lane, The Lamb Shop and Itoshin!
How does your weekend usually look? Morning walk to All Time to get moving, followed by a cruisy lunch with family or friends. Evenings usually involve attending a cultural event (theatre, film or exhibition) and some Netflix with my husband and kitties for good measure.