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Rosie Dennis

The CEO of Bleach* Festival.

Rosie Dennis (image supplied)
Rosie Dennis (image supplied)

This year marks the 10th anniversary for the beloved Gold Coast Bleach* Festival. Kicking off on the 12th of August, and running for 11 days, the festival delivers nothing short of varied and inspiring contemporary art. If you haven’t been, we highly recommend you prepare to open your mind and experience one of the many amazing events or performances taking place on this year’s schedule. Prior to the festival’s commencement, we got to know the CEO for the festival, Rosie Dennis. Read on to find out a bit about her and how the festival has shaped the Gold Coast since its inception.

How long have you been working on the Gold Coast?
Two years.

Tell us a bit about yourself and your career to date.
I grew up between Murwillumbah and Pottsville. Growing up I spent many a summer night on the southern end of the Gold Coast with friends and family. I moved to Sydney straight out of high school and worked there until coming back home for this job. My career has taken me all over the world as a performer and in the last 10 years I’ve worked mainly as a director of large-scale theatre shows and documentaries in Sydney.

Bliss, Betty Grumble, Bleach* Festival (image supplied)
Bliss, Betty Grumble, Bleach* Festival (image supplied)

What would you consider your greatest achievement?
That’s a tough one, I think less about achievements and more about moments in my life that have had a significant impact on how I see the world.

For those who may not have experienced Bleach*, how would you describe it in one sentence?
An incredible contemporary arts festival that alchemises art, community and place.

What do you love the most about being part of the Bleach* Festival team?
The Bleach* team have an incredible can-do attitude which, given the events of the last couple of years has made the world of difference in our team’s morale, optimism and passion for what we do.

How do you think the Bleach* Festival has added to the performance, music and arts culture here on the Gold Coast?
I think we’ve played a big role in the last 10 years on supporting the development of Gold Coast artists. This is in part due to the fact that there are limited presentation opportunities for artists to present their work in a festival context.

First Light Last Light, Luther Cora (Image supplied by Bleach* Festival)
First Light Last Light, Luther Cora (Image supplied by Bleach* Festival)

What are you most excited for on this year’s program?
I’m really looking forward to First Light on Burleigh Beach – there’s nothing like being on the coastline, at that time of day, as an invitation to listen to place and be present to the moment. It’s really something special. The Coast locals are early risers so it felt like an obvious choice to align the opening of our festival with the daily rhythm of the neighbourhood. First Light actually kicks off Bleach* at 6am on Thursday 12th August. Come and join us!

What are your Gold Coast favourites…
Café: Cardamon Pod
Coffee spot: Stones Throw
Restaurant: Jimmy Wah’s
Bar or pub for a drink: Mexicali
How do you choose to spend your weekends? Usually with my family, minimal plans, maximum spontaneity.

Bleach* Festival 2021

Bliss, Betty Grumble, Bleach* Festival (image supplied)
Bliss, Betty Grumble, Bleach* Festival (image supplied)

It may not have happened overnight, but the Gold Coast is now a fully-fledged hub of arts and culture here in Australia, and as devoted locals to our perfect corner of the world, we’re sure you’ll join us all in being proud as punch. One of the integral pieces to this movement is undoubtedly our very own home-grown arts and cultural festival, Bleach*. Evolving, growing, and always attracting a big crowd, the festival has flourished into a massive program of events.

Now in its tenth year, the festival is sure to impress. Artistic Director for Bleach, Rosie Dennis, is as excited as can be, “We’re thrilled to be celebrating the tenth Bleach* Festival! Featuring the work of more than 355 artists, this year’s festival theme is “Listen To Your Heart” – and that’s exactly what we’ve done to create a program of experiences that reflect our contemporary Gold Coast.” The program runs from 12th-22nd August and spans 6 locations across the coastline from Currumbin to the CBD of Southport, and Burleigh Heads to Springbrook Valley’s winding roads. There is so much to see and do with a staggering 72 performances across 34 events! It’s quite enough to give you anxiety when you try and consider what events you’d like to check out. Well, let your heart rate drop a smidge and continue to read on. Our research has led us to produce you a neat little list of the festival highlights that we think should be on everybody’s radar — because we’re kind like that.

Think electronic music, queer performance art and DJs as they amalgamate to create an unforgettable night. Betty Grumble is a unique performer, to put it lightly, and her work always displays offerings of possibility, protest and play. Dare to open your mind? Then take a sensory plunge into this multi-dimensional spectacular, and rejoice our ongoing existence as people, bodies, spirit and living poetry.
Where: Dust Temple, Currumbin (ticketed)

Feast with Us - Bleach* Festival (image supplied)
Feast with Us - Bleach* Festival (image supplied)

Feast with Us
A program of not one but three evenings of unsurpassed culinary experiences from renowned chefs of differing backgrounds. The first night’s feast has indigenous community and culture at the forefront as First Nation Chefs Aunty Dale Chapman from My Dilly Bag, and Chris Jordan from Three Little Birds share the vibrant flavours of our native bush and showcase food from the oldest living culture in the world. A middle Eastern treat awaits those who attend the second evening as an eclectic group of women from the Multicultural Families Organisation will be cooking fresh, wholehearted, and flavourful foods from their home countries of Eritrea, Egypt, Lebanon/Syria, and Bosnia – all to share with you! Finally, the last evening promises to be a dive into the big flavours of the sea with Scenic Rim ambassador, chef, and author Brenda Fawdon (who is also the brainchild of Picnic Real Food Bar.) So if you feel your palette deserves some spoiling, then any one of these evenings is your answer.
Where: Justins Park, Burleigh Heads Hub (ticketed)

Big City Lights
Usually specialising in the creative design of lighting and video for live music, television, and installation projects, Colourblind will utilise cutting-edge technology and optical panache to transform our city, turning night into day. You’ll be mesmerised by hypnotic projections and technicolour magic as building facades mutate, pulse, and shine. Electrify your visual senses and feel your pulse race as the orchestrated fantasy of light play produces a spectacular fairyland on the Gold Coast. Guaranteed to be better than any fireworks display you’ve ever seen!
Where: Nerang Street, Southport Hub (ticketed)

Briggs, Bleach* Festival (Image by Tristan Eduoard)
Briggs, Bleach* Festival (Image by Tristan Eduoard)

Acoustic Life of Sheds
Beautiful settings and awesome music go together hand in hand. Big hART’s Acoustic Life of Sheds brings composers, musicians and artists in a collective celebration whilst at the same time honouring architectural examples of rural culture as sound shells — by seeing them as auditoriums in the landscape. Musical performances will be presented in a series of promenade concerts over a 20-kilometre journey along Gold Springbrook Road outside Mudgeeraba. Drive your way between the tunes and hear four different artists across a four-hour tour perform music specific to their setting. Be involved, and you’ll find yourself among the lush, green foothills of our hinterland and experience a completely different side of the Gold Coast. Picnic boxes are available to pre-order with your ticket – so why not?
Where: Mudgeeraba, Various locations (ticketed)

She predicted the colour of the season
If experiencing extraordinary and left of centre stuff is your thing, then we propose you strongly consider popping along to this performance. You’ll be treated to revolutionary designs by famed Brisbane-based visual and installation artist Justene Williams. With a backdrop of post-punk metal, her work will centre on elaborate sets and costumes made from collaged paper and repurposed objects, creating her line of imaginary fashion. – Watch out The Iconic!
Where: Nerang Street, Southport Hub (ticketed)

Acoustic Life of Sheds - Bleach* Festival (image supplied)
Acoustic Life of Sheds - Bleach* Festival (image supplied)

Briggs is an icon of modern indigenous creativity, the multi-award-winning (and multi-faceted) talent that you cannot miss in this year’s Bleach* Festival program. The inimitable pioneer of Australian hip-hop will headline a special one-off evening event at the Burleigh Hub with a stellar line-up of Australia’s finest contemporary artists and musicians. Assuring spectators a grand opening to the festival’s first weekend, although not ticketed, organisers ask attendees to register as there will be limited capacity due to Covid restrictions.
Where: Justins Park, Burleigh Heads Hub


Bleach* Festival runs 12th – 22nd August 2021.
Words by Alex Mitcheson.

Emma Ceolin

Emma Ceolin (image supplied)
Emma Ceolin (image supplied)

Ever been intrigued with the practice of yoga? Well, with International Yoga Day just around the corner on Monday 21st June, now is the perfect time to explore how to get bendy. Ahead of the annual event, we spoke to the owner of Coolangatta’s Yogaventures Yoga Studio, Emma Ceolin to get to know the young entrepreneur’s love for wellness and her local GC loves.

How long have you been a Gold Coast local?
I’ve been a Gold Coast local for over 2 years.

Tell us a bit about you.
I’m a yoga teacher, Mama to a spirited one-year-old and proud indigenous owner of Yogaventures Yoga Studio in Coolangatta. I first found yoga as a therapy for my own anxiety and depression and it completely changed my life forever. I’ve been practicing and teaching yoga since 2014 and it continues to enrich my life daily.

For those who don’t know, explain the practice that is yoga.
A common misconception is that yoga is stretching or fitness and it really is much more than that. I like to think of yoga as a work in, not a work out. Yoga is a holistic culmination of physical, mental, energetic and spiritual practices to cultivate health, happiness and healing. For me, yoga is the practice is coming home to yourself.

Emma Ceolin, Yogaventures Yoga Studio (image supplied)
Emma Ceolin, Yogaventures Yoga Studio (image supplied)

What made you start a yoga studio?
My very first yoga class was actually a really unpleasant and excluding experience. I distinctly remember thinking that when I’m able to, I’ll start a yoga community and movement of total inclusivity and acceptance for everyone from all walks of life in hope that no one ever feels the way I felt. When I opened Yogaventures it was terrible timing because I was 9 months pregnant and amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, but it still felt so right! The driving force behind Yogaventures has been to create yoga for EVERYbody with the intention to do good by creating an environmentally-friendly studio and supporting many charities and causes close to our hearts e.g. Puppy Yoga, Karma Yoga Classes or the Indigenous Membership Program.

What do you love the most about operating within the health/wellness space?
I feel so privileged to have a career in an industry centred around wellbeing because it means I’m surrounded by a community of gorgeous inspiring humans who elevate your vibration daily. It’s hard to have a bad day!

Emma Ceolin with her child, Yogaventures Yoga Studio (image supplied)
Emma Ceolin with her child, Yogaventures Yoga Studio (image supplied)

What’s one yoga pose/move that you encourage all people do?
If you only have time for one pose I highly encourage a yoga twist. Twists open the spine, heart, support posture, create space for the lungs to expand making more room for oxygen, help with digestion and are nourishing for the nervous system. They’re like the crème de la crème of yoga poses. PLUS they can be done lying down in bed or seated at your work desk!

How will you be celebrating International Day of Yoga?
On International Day of Yoga we are hosting a special yoga fundraiser to support the launch of Ngungwulah Aboriginal Corporation Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) across Australia. This cause helps create a stronger voices for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples within the yoga and wellness industry.

What are your Gold Coast favourites…
Café: Ground Coolangatta
Restaurant: I like Ramen
Bar or pub for a drink: Baskk
How do you choose to spend your weekends? I love to spend weekends surfing, hiking around Springbrook and enjoying the sunset with my family.

Tracy Cooper-Lavery

Tracy Cooper-Lavery (image supplied)
Tracy Cooper-Lavery (image supplied)

You would have to be living under a rock if you haven’t heard that HOTA is opening a brand new Gallery in May. With it, will fine-dining restaurant Palette, and of course a Rooftop Bar, appropriately named – The Exhibitionist’s Bar. To say we are excited, would be an understatement. In preparation for the highly-anticipated opening, we spoke with the Director of HOTA Gallery, the talented Tracy Cooper-Lavery. She gives us an insight into her career to date, along with what’s to come from the opening of the HOTA Gallery.

How long have you been a Gold Coast local?
Even though I have moved around a lot, the Goldie has always felt like my real home. I grew up here in the ‘70s, started my career here in the ‘90s and have been settled here for the last 5 years. I was always back for holidays too as my grandparents and parents are proud GC locals!

Tell us a bit about your career to date.
I was so fortunate to begin my career on the Gold Coast. Fran Cummings, the first Director of Gold Coast City Gallery took a punt on me and gave me my first job as the Curatorial Assistant. She literally threw me in the deep end and in my first week put me in charge of overseeing a large exhibition of bark paintings and sculptures from Arnhem Land that was arriving along with many of the artists, some who had never left their communities of Maningrida and Ramingining! After eight years, I moved onto the Bendigo Art Gallery in 2000 and then as Director at Rockhampton Art Gallery in 2011, until 2016 when I came back for my dream job as Director at HOTA Gallery.

Samuel Leighton-Dore, Cloud-Drive (2021). SOLID GOLD Artists from Paradise, HOTA Gallery. Image courtesy of the artist.
Samuel Leighton-Dore, Cloud-Drive (2021). SOLID GOLD Artists from Paradise, HOTA Gallery. Image courtesy of the artist.

What career achievement are you most proud of?
That’s a no-brainer – the opening of HOTA Gallery on 8 May! I feel so invested in this project and have been part of the development of the Gallery since it began in 2016. After so many years working in the former gallery spaces and having an intimate knowledge of the City art collection, I know how important this project is for the Gold Coast and for the arts in Australia.

What excites you the most about the art scene here on the Gold Coast?
We have so many incredibly talented and resilient artists working on the Gold Coast and the scene continues to grow at a rapid pace. There are great artist-run initiatives like The Walls at Miami and Generate GC which supports the development of new site-specific work by emerging artists. An exhibition like SOLID GOLD has been a great way for HOTA to amplify the work of Gold Coast practitioners and elevate their practice to a national audience.

What impact do you think the HOTA Gallery will have on the Gold Coast community?
The Gallery will be a game-changer for the Gold Coast and for cultural tourism locally. It provides the first significant seven-days-a-week offer at the Precinct (except for HOTA cinema of course!) and will present local through to international exhibitions. Who would have thought you would see a major exhibition featuring Andy Warhol, Jean Michel Basquiat and Jeff Koons – right here on the Goldie! The Gallery really brings together all of the aspects of the cultural precinct and provides more opportunity to spend a day with us. Take in some art, have a swim in the lake, catch a film or some comedy and finish your day off with sunset drinks in The Exhibitionist Bar on Level 5.

HOTA Gallery Exterior (image supplied)

What are you looking forward to the most about the HOTA Gallery opening?
The opportunity to present aspects of the HOTA collection in international standard exhibition galleries for the first time. Many of the works you will see when we open have never been shown publicly or not for many years. There will be some treasured favourites, as well as some stunning recent acquisitions to enjoy. Be sure to also check out our viewing window above the collection store to get a sense of the behind-the-scenes world of the Gallery!

If you had to pick one piece from the upcoming ‘SOLID GOLD: Artists from Paradise’ exhibition, which would be your favourite?
That’s tough, it’s like your children; you aren’t supposed to have favourites! What I do love is that there is such a diverse range of ages, careers and mediums on display. There are paintings, photographs, sculptures, installations, digital projections, outdoor works, immersive rooms, augmented reality mixed with ceramics, robotic sunrises and crystals! I think there are plenty of favourites!

What are your Gold Coast favourites…
Café: I love dropping to Bumbles at Budds Beach or Bam Bam Bakehouse at Mermaid
Coffee spot: Hot Shott Café at Main Beach, Urban Monkey at Bundall or Merlo Coffee at The Brickworks in Southport
Restaurant: Currently Etsu Izakaya or Mr Kojima; but soon to be Palette at HOTA Gallery
Bar or pub for a drink: The Exhibitionist Bar at HOTA Gallery

How do you choose to spend your weekends?
At the moment I don’t stray far from home on the weekends. I have spent so much time at work, I like to hibernate and spend time with the family. If we do venture out, it’s usually to the beach, to Rosser Park for a dog walk or a drive up into the glorious hinterland.

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