Sarah Beetson is a colourful character with an equally colourful array of career notches under her sparkly belt.
Hailing from the UK, Sarah is an Illustrator and Artist whose portfolio spans from prestigious fashion houses to international magazines and she recently collaborated with local brand The Undercurrent.
We sat down to chat with Sarah about her impressive career and why she chose to call the Gold Coast home.
One of your pieces is hanging at the Arts Centre as part of the Signs of the Times exhibition, what do you love most about being part of the Gold Coast’s art scene?
I love that everything still works via word of mouth here, there is a real arts community here even though it is quite small. I’ve had lots of enquiries and projects come in locally from people who have seen the Fiat Art Car – which has my work on it.
What drew you to the Gold Coast?
I moved here to escape city rent and live in a little converted dairy on my boyfriend’s family farm. He is 5th generation farm stock and we are so lucky to have fresh tropical fruit, vegetables, nuts and eggs daily! He and his father also built me a fantastic studio next to our house, nestled beneath a few palm trees, so I have such a great spot.
I’m from the UK and it is really not possible there to live in a remote, picturesque part of the countryside yet be only 15 minutes from a mainline train station and within 30-40 mins reach of the 3rd and 4th largest cities in the country! Plus – weather! I quickly realised living in Melbourne that year round sunshine and a mild winter weren’t part of the package! I grew up in the grey, damp north of England dreaming of sunshine and saturated beach colours and that is exactly what the gold coast is all about.
There have been so many incredible moments in your career, do any stand out as the most memorable?
There have been so many great moments and it changes every time I get a big exciting illustration campaign! Illustrating Wonder Woman for Smithsonian in the US, drawing lips to be animated for MAC Cosmetics Art Of The Lip campaign, and more recently collaborating on pitches with Netflix and Havaianas, have been highlights!
Every time I do a solo show in a new city is pretty special – I was invited to exhibit ‘Rainbow Warriors’ at VANDAL Sydney (exhibition is up until April), and a few years back I did a really big solo show called Rainbowspective in Paris. And getting to do an artist residency in Coney Island, NY has been a dream come true.
Your work is bold, bright and a little bit quirky, what inspires you to create art like this?
I think what I was saying earlier about growing up in grey rainy Britain and craving tropical colour is a big part of how it started. I’m really influenced by fashion and film, and I’m concerned with my work reflecting the cultural time and place we are at as a species.
You recently collaborated with Gold Coast brand, The Undercurrent, to design a t-shirt representing Surfers Paradise, what made you say yes to this opportunity?
One of the things I love and am most inspired by is hand made signage and vintage neon signs – so I jumped at the chance to look closer at the signage that Surfers Paradise had back in the 60s. I also loved the the tshirt would be a screenprint but using four colours – so I was able to vary my bright colour palette and use neon pink, aqua green, golden orange and bright purple!
You’ve also worked with international magazines and world famous fashion houses, how did it all come about?
I studied in Falmouth, which is at the most Western spot in the UK in Cornwall – and then moved to London upon graduation – in 2002 the internet was not nearly where it is now, and you really needed to be in the city to get established. I sort of fell into doing internships and commissioned work in the fashion sector – for Mary Portas’ fashion marketing agency Yellowdoor (I used to design window graphics for Sportsgirl and Sussan there!) and for POP Magazine and print design at Stella McCartney. Then I found an illustration agent and started freelancing. And the rest is history!
What do you have in the pipeline at the moment?
I’m working on a series called ‘Garbage Pail Politics’ – inspired by the 80s kids bubblegum stickers that were a spinoff of the Cabbage Patch Kids, which is focused on the insane political situation the world is in currently. ‘Impeach Trump’ and ‘Malcolm TurnBULL’ (featuring the PM in the guise of the Wall St bronze bull, money flying around him), are two of them. I will be exhibiting them at The Other Art Fair Melbourne in May and then at Illustrated 2017 London in June. Aside from that I just got a big painting commission in for a client in Sydney and I am about to begin working on my 2017 Archibald entry.
Your favourite piece of life advice?
Take your passion and make it happen
You’re not a Gold Coast local if you haven’t…
Queued outside Peter’s Fish Market for fish and chips on a Saturday or Sunday morning. When I bring friends from the UK they are so excited to choose their own piece of fish and how it gets cooked! I love sitting outside on the dock to eat and watch the trawlers haul in the fresh catch whilst a pelican or two hang around for scraps.
Being a Gold Coast local we have to ask for your favourites…
Beach: I’m not a huge fan of big waves so I love to go for a swim at Currumbin.
Restaurant: I love BSKT at Nobby’s Beach for delicious healthy food and Madame Tojo’s in Southport for a boho setting and great cake – their wine and tapas nights are divine! I love Japanese and Korean food here – too many great choices to name! My local on Mt Tamborine is awesome.
Bar: This is harder as one of us tends to be driving here so dinner is our usual outing! I do love Black Coffee Lyrics for a coffee for the driver and cocktail for the drinker – plus there’s a great vintage shop called Arkive next door to try on things whilst you drink!
Coffee Shop: Very locally to me, I love Black Sheep Bistro in Oxenford – apparently the chef is formerly of Palazzo Versace and the food is awesome – plus there’s always a $10 menu to supplement the more expensive dishes. Great coffee too.
The Gold Coast’s local art scene has blossomed exponentially in the last few years. Galleries, installations and murals have popped up all over the Coast and local artists are making themselves known both here and on the national scene.
If you’re looking for a unique way to spend a day on the Gold Coast, we’ve got just the answer. Here’s a list of local galleries to help you get your art fix.
Wayne Sorrenson Gallery
World-renowned landscape photographer Wayne Sorrenson opened his very own gallery in Miami in 2020 so we, the lucky Gold Coasters get to peruse his breathtaking art anytime we like. Within the gallery, there’s a huge selection of framed artwork to purchase, as well as a range of gift ideas including acrylic blocks, greeting cards and calendars to name a few. It’s all absolutely magical and a lovely stand-in for the international travel we aren’t allowed to do right now.
Where: 40 Lemana Lane, Miami
Anthea Polson Art
Anthea Polson Art specialises in contemporary emerging Australian art and sculpture, including investment works. A regular exhibition programme showcases the work of emerging and established contemporary artists.
Where: 29 Tedder Avenue, Main Beach
Maverick Hair & Art Space
Maverick is a small gallery hosting community art exhibitions and events throughout the year. Headed up by artist Byron Coathup and partner Hayley, the space (also boasting a hair studio) caters for art and design lovers and offers beautiful gifts for purchase from both near and far. Don’t be afraid to head up the stairs and check out the gallery.
Where: First Floor, 1/17 Griffith Street, Coolangatta
The Hive Burleigh Heads
The newest of the bunch, The HIVE was opened very recently by Jo Ellings, a Gold Coast artist who has been creating stunning works for over 30 years and is now sharing that talent with the likes of us. Within the gallery you’ll find an array of stunning works to take home with you or, if you’d like to stay awhile why not grab a ticket to one of their workshops and become an artist yourself. There’s also a regular meetup and music night if you want to meet some like-minded folks.
Where: 5/3 Park Avenue, Burleigh Heads
Level Up studio + gallery
The space is designed to provide access to art experiences for young people and adults within the local community and beyond, through public programs hosting a range of creative activations, such as art workshops, artist talks, school holiday workshops, networking events and an exciting monthly exhibitions program. Emerging artists can apply for space and we can all pop in there to check out the magic. So good.
Where: 72-82 Marine Parade, Coolangatta
The Walls Art Space Miami
The Walls is an interactive space that began in 2012 aiming to serve as a hub of creative practice, critical dialogue and innovative thinking around contemporary art. Their annual program focus is to curate monthly exhibitions in conjunction with their successful local artist in residence program.
Where: 4/18 Mountain View Avenue, Miami
Created by the good people at ArtWork Agency, AW Space is a pretty art gallery slash workshop slash event space showcasing the work of a team of folks whose names you’ve no doubt heard uttered once or twice. They are Claudio Kirac and his equally impressive partners in crime Paul Bow and Laura Strange. All talented within their own rights, the team have combined their forces to create a stunning space filled with beautiful works. Do yourself a favour and get in there.
Where: 2/53-55 Cronulla Avenue, Mermaid Beach
Stop in for a delicious brunch overlooking the ocean and take in the collection of local art and handmade goodies next door while you’re there! The space combines works by local artists with a new store filled with locally made homewares, clothing and creative pieces.
Where: 275 Boundary Street, Coolangatta
19Karen Contemporary Artspace
A stunning space filled with bold new art (and all for purchase!) by emerging, mid-career and established Australian and International artists. Exhibitions curated by Terri Lew rotate regularly, ranging in style and genre from pop culture, surrealism, realism, street art, abstraction and to the still undefined.
Where: 19 Karen Avenue, Mermaid Beach
The Gold Coast’s premier cultural precinct, HOTA (Home of The Arts) has been showcasing visual and performing arts since 1986. With an array of exhibitions, cinemas and dining/bar facilities, there’s something for everyone throughout the entire year. In 2021, we’ll see the precinct increase in size with an incredible new six-level Gallery that’s due to open with world-class exhibitions (including Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat and more) plus a showcase of incredible local artists.
Where: 135 Bundall Road, Surfers Paradise
A refurbished warehouse (a piece of art itself) in the heart of Currumbin Waters, Dust Temple and its creative space Hinge Gallery hosts local, national and international artists, musicians and poets. There’s also a fantastic café / coffee shop, so stay awhile and soak up the creative scene.
Where: 54 Currumbin Creek Road, Currumbin Waters
The Gold Coast is known for many things, one of which is definitely our beautiful waterways. Slightly lesser known perhaps is our rich Aboriginal history, wildlife conservation efforts and the passionate locals sharing the stories.
That’s about to change though thanks to Kayak the Gold Coast’s new ‘Heart of the Gold Coast’ half-day tour package.
Incorporating a unique spin on their original tours, ‘Heart of the Gold Coast’ takes guests on a cultural experience unlike anything the Coast has seen before.
The package begins at the Burleigh Jellurgal Cultural Centre where guests watch a short film on the Gold Coast’s Aboriginal history including ancient burial sites and the unique ways of the Yugambeh people who lived in Burleigh Heads over 4,000 years ago.
After receiving an ochre blessing, the tour heads out onto Burleigh Hill where guests are taken on a sub-tropical hike and told stories of the Aboriginal people who lived there thousands of years ago, how they lived and hunted food and how they believe the mountain was formed.
The hike comes complete with stunning views of the Coastline and a dolphin sighting if you’re lucky.
It’s both an educational and spiritual experience and you can’t help but be awe-struck by the passion with which the Indigenous tour guides share their people’s history and beliefs.
A delicious morning tea follows and then it’s sunscreen, life jackets and onto the kayaks for a leisurely cruise down the ridiculously beautiful and tranquil Tallebudgera Creek.
A quick stop over for a dip, past the (huge) local Osprey’s nest and guests pull up to the purpose built kayak ramp at David Fleay Wildlife Park.
Maybe you’ve been to Fleay’s but if not (guilty), there is a lot to learn about the man who paved the way for animal conservation in Australia.
David Fleay was passionate about keeping animals in enclosures the same as they would inhabit in the wild and after moving to the Gold Coast from Melbourne, he and his wife purchased land next to the creek and did exactly that.
With constant research and conservation techniques, he created a wildlife park resembling local wetlands.
The package includes the park’s Creatures of the Night show featuring an absolutely delightful sugar glider and a Bilby who literally buries his head in the sand.
We’re a lucky bunch here on the Coast, surrounded by enriching culture, both natural and historic and people whose passion it is to share that culture with anyone willing to listen.
‘Heart of the Gold Coast’ is an incredibly enriching tour package for both locals who may be unaware of our extensive Aboriginal history and visitors who want to experience our incredible natural wonders while also learning about how they came to be.
· Pick up and drop off from your hotel
· Indigenous history + kayak + wildlife park entry
· Morning tea
· Water, sunscreen & paddling lesson
· Small groups and personal service
· The best of Burleigh Heads
· Toilets + café
· Complimentary photographs of kayaking
Tour package runs from 7.30am until 12pm through Kayak the Gold Coast.
Long before healthy food became hipster, Helen’s Heavenly Bulk Foods was serving up delicious, good-for-you treats in the heart of Burleigh.
Since 1997 Helen Gibson has been a prominent figure on James Street sharing her love of healthy food including nuts and seeds, baking goods, herbs and spices, teas and powders, Acai bowls, smoothies and fresh juices.
Recently the space next door became available so Helen jumped at the chance to move the juice bar to accommodate her loyal customers who come from far and wide for her goodies.
Helen’s Heavenly Wholefoods Café serve a great range of healthy wraps, sandwiches and salads some of which are gluten free and/or organic.
They also have an unfairly delicious range of raw treats and protein powders available for purchase.
Both the store and café are constantly buzzing with bikini-clad beach goers, mums and bubs and those looking for fresh, delicious food and a passion for health you’d be cold hard-pressed to find anywhere else.
Stroll off the nearby Burleigh beach for a healthy takeaway treat or spend some time in air-conditioned comfort and watch the world pass by.
Having always been ahead of the curve in terms of providing delicious, healthy treats to Gold Coasters, Helen’s Heavenly Bulk Foods is the gift that keeps on giving.
Hours: 6.30am to 5.30pm
Address: 2/29 James St, Burleigh Heads QLD.
Words and photos by Kirra Smith.