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Courtenay McCue

Chats with the artist behind CRT Designs.

Courtenay McCue, CRT Designs (Image supplied)

You may recognise local artist and muralist Courtenay McCue of CRT Designs work from around town. Her colourful murals have graced the walls of The Avenue, Raw Espresso, Blessed Health Foods and Cafe 7. In addition to her permanent masterpieces doted around the Gold Coast, Courtenay has also had exhibitions at the Swell Sculpture Festival, HOTA, Sand Safari and the Brisbane Street Art Festival. This impressive lineup has led to a recent collaboration with Placemakers* Gold Coast who were engaged by Hutchinson Builders to transform the exterior fencing of their Queen Street Village site during construction. So now you can view CRT Designs installation around the site on one of the busiest intersections in Southport. The vivid creation consists of 50 design panels around the site, a mural spanning a stellar 120 metres!

Inside Gold Coast spoke with owner of CRT Designs and artist Courtenay McCue about how she became an artist, her projects to date and what’s in the works.

How long have you been a Gold Coast local?
I’ve been a Gold Coast local since l was 4 years old, way back in 2002.

What do you love most about living here?
Definitely the people that live here in our beautiful city and the stunning coastline.

Talk us through how you came to be an artist?
I have always loved art since school and met some artists’ who did it full-time, I couldn’t believe we never got taught that it was possible at school. So then I believed that it was possible and kept pushing and never stopped! Still haven’t.

Courtenay McCue at Queen Street Village (Image supplied)

How would you describe your work?
Vibrant, happy, uniformed chaos with love.

What inspires you to create your pieces?
I am always inspired by my surroundings in my day-to-day life and popular culture in what is happening in the world.  It has evolved over the years and especially a lot within the last year. I am excited to see where it takes me.

What projects have you been excited to work on this year?
I was excited to work on my HOTA Rage Against the Virus project called “No Weekends” which was an art/fashion project during the middle of COVID lockdown on the Gold Coast back in April. The collection was made up of five uniforms designed for people who have been locked inside for so long they have forgotten what day it is. Inspired by a greatly exaggerated perspective of the Covid-19 pandemic. Then I was excited I got the phone call from Placemakers* Gold Coast about the Hutchies mural, which has been my biggest mural to date! And at the start of the year I was stoked to work with sculpture artist Clayton Blake on a collaborative installation at Sand Safari.

Courtenay McCue, CRT Designs (Image supplied)

Any advice for upcoming artists who dream of going professional?
Only advice would be to be positive, keep going with what you like doing and believe in yourself as an artist. Don’t do work in trade for exposure, know your worth!

What is your plan for the rest of 2020?
I have an upcoming artist feature at Forge Forward in Fortitude Valley which I am super excited about. I have wanted to dive into fashion design since studying it back in 2013 but never had the time to really focus on it properly. So I’ve locked myself into this exhibition to just focus on it for myself and as an experimental project for me which I am loving. Learning so much as I go.

Tell us your favourites on the Coast:
Cafe for breakfast: Best croissants ever from Le Café Gourmand in Mermaid Beach
Coffee spot: Randy Wallhole in Southport
Restaurant for dinner: Cha Chas, Broadbeach!

Courtenay McCue, CRT Designs (Image supplied)

Chats with Gold Coast artist Dan Mason

The Gold is absolutely brimming with local creatives, some brand new and some having been a part of establishing our local cultural scene.

One such longstanding artist is Dan Mason, a painter who will this week paint a live portrait at his pop-up show The Journeyman.

We sat down for a chat with Dan about his unique ability to create incredible art with knives and what to expect from this weekend’s show.

How long have you been a Gold Coast local?
I went to Miami High School in the late ‘80’s, surfing everyday before and after class. My working/ocean time ritual is pretty much still the same to this day.

What do you love most about living here?
Our clean slice of the Pacific Ocean

Tell us about how you came to be a full-time artist?
While at Uni in the mid 90’s, I worked as an old-school Photographic Retouch Artist (with brushes), designed, built and painted furniture in my garage and always yearned to work for myself honouring the gift of creative consciousness. I took the plunge ‘full-time’ at the start of ’03 after returning home from an overseas trip, where I became scarily ill. It was then that I decided that life’s too short to not do what you love – or at least give it a red-hot go.

What’s unique about your work?
I’d loosely suggest that I’ve spent between 200k-300k hours, with an emphasis on perpetual experimentation and painting in my studio. Remember, they’re only mistakes if you don’t learn from them. My painterly approach has metamorphosised into a delicate attack, with palette knives in hand & thick impasto oil movements.

Tell us about The Journeyman…
Firstly I’m painting a new portrait live in the gallery both days. Hopefully the cleaning bill after I leave isn’t too big! This two-day show is allowing me to connect with collectors who have acquired my artwork from Red Hill Gallery in Brisbane, over the past fifteen years, as well as some new faces. I guess I’m most known for my abstracted sensibilities and there’ll be most of the thick abstract oil paintings that I’ve created from the past twelve months on show AT 2005 PRICES! I’ve been developing my love of portraiture in recent times and will have a few 100x150cm pieces ready to go to good homes too. I’ve also created many very affordable smaller framed works for those who only have small walls to fill. They’re half their normal price for the weekend – that’s two-for-one.

What advice do you have for anyone looking to make their passion for art into a full-time career?
Be good at what you do and work harder than everybody else. Build relationships. Be very humble.

What’s in the works for the rest of 2019 for you?

I’m obsessed with developing my portraiture and painting people who contribute generously to our society. More of this is what I’m aiming for.

Tell us your favourites on the Coast…
Cafe for breaky: Neighbourhood Espresso, Currumbin Waters
Coffee spot: Dune Café at Palm Beach Parklands
Restaurant for dinner: Balboa Italian in Palm Beach
How does your weekend usually look: Hanging with my wife and two young sons at the park/beach. I love working in my backyard landscaping and gardening on Sundays too – it’s my outdoor ‘man-cave’. If I’m lucky, I get to watch one game of AFL on the box each weekend.

Gold Coast Artist Kellie North

Sound of Silence 4, Kellie North (image supplied)
Sound of Silence 4, Kellie North (image supplied)

Kellie North is an award-winning Gold Coast photographer and visual artist whose evocative work has been featured in international publications like Conde Nast UK and Australia’s Home Design Magazine.

Most recently though, several of her pieces were chosen to feature in a winning room on much-loved home renovation show The Block.

We sat down for a chat with Kellie about how her work came to be on one of Australia’s most-watched shows and how the human form inspires her to create such incredible work.

How long have you been a Gold Coast local?
I was born and did my schooling in Mackay then worked for a while before heading off travelling for many years. After travelling in North and South America, Mexico, UK, Europe and India my now, husband and I returned to the Gold Coast where we settled and had our two children.

What do you love most about our sunshine city?
What is there not to like, we really do have it all here. For a photographer and an artist it is so easy to find stunning locations, it offers such diversity with the ocean, beach, hinterland, rainforests and rock pools.

Tell us how three of your stunning artworks came to be on The Block?
It was a Thursday night when gallery owner Nancy Donaldson called me and asked if I could get three artworks to the Block site in St Kilda, Melbourne before Sunday. My instant reaction was ‘YES definitely’. I booked a flight to Melbourne and took the artwork directly to the shows site myself.

Sound of Silence 6, Kellie North (image supplied)
Sound of Silence 6, Kellie North (image supplied)

Why do you think these particular pieces were chosen?
This collection of prints are quite soft and ethereal in their look, so I think they suited the theme and interior style of El’ise and Matt. They wanted to create a room with a sense of romance, luxury and heritage and they thought these pieces worked well in that style.

What did it feel like getting that call to be involved?
I was absolutely thrilled to get the call and overwhelmed all at the same time. I knew I had to transport the pieces down to Melbourne within a few days and a courier was unable to get them there in time for room reveal. For an artist to have their work shown on a hit TV show like The Block is a real gift and something I am extremely thankful to Art Lovers Australia Gallery owners Nancy Donaldson and Jarrod Knight and to Perth couple El’ise and Matt for.

What’s been your journey to becoming an artist?
For most of my life I would have to say I have been a self-taught photographer doing my apprenticeship either on the job or out in the field and have always upgraded my skills with small courses online or in a college from time to time. Until 2014 when I decided to study a Diploma of Professional Photography with The Photography Institute. During my studies I was exposed to other inspiring photographers and genres that opened my eyes to the artistic side of photography and how an image could become a piece of art and not just a captured moment. This is where I would say I started to develop my voice and style as a photo artist. I learned the techniques in professional workshops or online I needed both within my shooting process and Photoshop to keep my flow simple and effective.

How would you describe your work?
With a lifelong interest in dance and womens stories, and wanting to create a piece of art from start to finish without the use of models, I turned to self-portraiture as a form of visual storytelling. I dived into the relationship between nature and femininity: sometimes playful, other times dark and mysterious, yet always conveyed with a strong thread of emotion. The style of photography I am most drawn to is definitely the Fine Art/Digital Photo Art. Together with photography I have always loved graphic art and working at my computer, so when I discovered the world of Photoshop and how you could use it as a tool to create realistic images with compositing, textures, colour manipulation etc. my world fell into place. I love the human form, dance and movement and creating characters with costumes and props to set a scene, hoping the viewer can immerse him or herself into the story possibly taking on that character and relating to it in some way.

Sound of Silence 5, Kellie North (image supplied)
Sound of Silence 5, Kellie North (image supplied)

Where do you find inspiration for it?
It doesn’t take much to get my creative juices flowing to be honest, it could be going for a hike in the bush, the light on a glorious afternoon when the sun has just hidden behind the mountains, a rock hop along the beach, a shell, a butterfly, a rock with a hole big enough for me to fit into. Women are a big influence, I love stories and listening to peoples stories and the reciprocity of telling my own and I try to do this through imagery.

What’s on for you for the rest of 2019?
I am up for whatever comes my way. I love collaborating with artists so I look forward to any opportunities for that to happen. I want to keep creating, and working on another series of prints to release towards the end of the year and then perhaps some down time over Christmas with my family.

Tell us your favourites on the Coast…
Cafe for breakfast: Café D Nor – haha! This is what my husband calls our kitchen, as he whips up such a great brekky we rarely go out for breakfast.
Coffee spot: Dust Temple in Currumbin
Restaurant for dinner: Etsu in Mermaid Beach
How does your weekend usually look: If we are not camping, we head to our local markets grab some prawns and yummy food, head to the beach and catch up with friends.

Tweed Regional Gallery & Margaret Olley Art Centre

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