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Gift locally, grow globally

11 December 2017 | Posted in: News

Photography: Edwina Richards

This year, tick off your Christmas shopping list with beautifully bespoke gifts produced here in Newcastle. Stunning photographic prints, fun and detailed cartography, cheeky illustrated mugs and postcards, and a plethora of other unique wares are available in store, at markets and online for you to purchase over the December silly season.

Silly may perhaps be an understatement for the often-last-minute dash one takes to a congested Westfield shopping centre. By doing your Christmas shopping at market stalls or local small business, you’re not only avoiding the heaving Christmas crowds but simultaneously supporting your local economy. The graphic artists, stone masons, florists, painters, and jewellery makers that invest in the local community through their small businesses are enabling employment and revenue to be established here rather than elsewhere.

Increasingly, over the past decade, these creative small businesses – in the form of both brick-and-mortar and online trade –  have breathed life into the city. This creative economy, defined by entrepreneurial makers, continues to grow the city’s global identity as a uniquely diverse and vibrant location, unlike anywhere else.

Although The Emporium closed its doors earlier this year, beautiful, hand-crafted products continue to be produced – you just need to know where to look for them. Locally produced pieces from illustration to sustainable fashion can be found among Renew participants and  outside the mainstream shopping centres. For gifts that are unique, handmade and often distinctly Newcastle, browse our newsletter and purchase online or in store.

Make a weekend date at the Olive Tree or Hunt & Gather markets, a trip to either the gorgeous contemporary jewellery store Studio Melt, or the new Newcastle Shop located within the Museum to satisfy your local gift-shopping needs. Or, if you find yourself too short on time, many of Newcastle’s bespoke makers sell, package, and deliver their wares independently online.

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A visual replica of the Renew story

27 November 2017 | Posted in: News

Capturing the Renew Newcastle story seemed insurmountable to everyone but local master craftsman, Jonathan Everett from Everett Creative who approaches storytelling with full gusto.

“Renew is made up of the journey’s of many, the experiments, the successes and the failures are rich and varied. Behind them all is a contagious “make do, can do” spirit that has changed the pulse of the city,” said Jonathan.

“I wanted to capture the enormous energy of Renew and harness it into a box that could be educational, inspiration and imaginative,” he said.

Jonathan is a fine furniture craftsman but his passion lies in art, museums and storytelling. Combining unique skill sets in heritage, curation and design, Jonathan has a history in crafting dynamic, hands-on interactive exhibitions that have brought to life a huge array of stories.

His work has showcased a replica Magna Carta for the High Court of Australia, the History of Wool in Australia and many things in between. The story of each piece is meticulously considered as part of the design process.

“In developing an approach to storytelling, it’s critical to get all the parts, whatever you can find, bring all the elements together, absorb it, understand it and then step back. The ideas will cement themselves,” explains Jonathan.

Those ideas did come. Like an empty building, the box, when closed, is black, silent and ominous. When opened, it bursts with activity in the form of colour, light, sound and images. A moveable replica of the impact a Renew project can make.

As curator of the interior, photographer, Edwina Richards, found herself falling down a rabbit hole of complexity after scratching the surface of Renew’s simplicity.

“The depth that a viewer dives into the story is up to them. The box is engaging and instructional on the surface, dig a little and it becomes labyrinthian in parts,” she explains.

Edwina searched 1,000’s of photographs. Selecting images that capture the sweat equity of the early clean ups, the innovative reuse of the spaces, the handmade products and the sheer joy and enthusiasm of being part of the ground swell generated by the Renew community.

A Renew participant herself, Edwina describes it as a privilege to know a community of artists who became pigeon wrestlers, leak pluggers, mould destroyers, hole menders, carpet layers and diplomats in order to be able to create their art in a space they may have to leave in just 30 days.

“Renew in a Box captures this spirit and salutes the creative ingenuity of those involved,” she says.

With an imaginative design and photographic collection as a backing, the story unfolds with interpretive text, history, statistics, timelines and mission statements. Residing on abstract shapes of brilliant colour using quirky icons and illustratations the details jump out at you. These graphic elements designed by long term Renewer Carl Morgan from ZooKraft Illustration and Design gives the box an all-age appeal and is unmissable to passers by.

Renew in a Box is currently on display at Newcastle City Library until 30 January and is available to travel to new locations around Australia to inspire people to see an empty space as a missed opportunity.

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Urban visionaries look to city’s future

27 November 2017 | Posted in: News


Written by: Rayannon Innes | Photography: Edwina Richards

Early this month, Australia had its very first taste of the Next City Vanguard Conference where fifty of the world’s leading urbanists gathered in Newcastle. Having travelled from all corners of the globe, the league of  ‘Vanguards’ as they are known, brought their expertise to the streets of a city in transition.

Following a tour that took the visitors to key sites of urban regeneration beginning at NeW Space City Campus, the group were then given a private encounter with two vacant locations: the Newcastle Station and Newcastle Post Office. Working in teams and informed by direct community and council consultation and in-depth heritage research each team devised a plan for the revitalisation of the historic sites. Their projected ideas were pitched to the public as part of the Vanguard Australia Big Idea Challenge and judged by a panel seated by Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes, and leaders in the local development, indigenous, and heritage sectors.

Emily Davies O’Sullivan, one of the four Vanguard delegates to represent Newcastle, was excited by the insights her fellow Vanguards presented in assessing Newcastle’s development. Emily’s Post Office ideas team were advocates for the ‘Twenty-four’ approach where a plan for site activation is considered over the immediate time frame of twenty-four minutes, hours, days, months, and years.

This concept embracing prompt temporary space activation, and its flow on affect into the long-term use of a site, has been actively applied in cities such as Auckland where community ownership is driving the city forward. In the US city of Baltimore, immediate space activation through the salvaging of building materials from vacant housing is an example of how swift community-led action can revitalise the urban landscape of a city and simultaneously create employment opportunities.

In our own city, vacant spaces have become opportunities for incubation, and the natural growth of the city’s cultural and economic value has followed.

“There’s a lot opportunities through Renew, the Council, and Newcastle Now who want to see us succeed” Emily said,

“It’s our city, let’s be the ones to take ownership”

The people and partnerships that served as the backbone of this era of Newcastle’s renewal, can now be experienced through the visually stunning, museum quality installation, Renew in A Box. The Vanguards had a peek at the exhibition in its NeW Space debut and you can experience it as well at The Newcastle City Library until the 30th of January.

Alongside her role as an urban planner, Emily is on the board of Octapod and is the co-founder of Ideas Bombing Newcastle.

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Creative branding creative

27 November 2017 | Posted in: News

Written by: Rayannon Innes | Photography: Edwina Richards

Quietly tucked atop the Hunter Street mall, one-man creative agency Brandon McIntosh busily works with a philosophy that embraces integrated brand identities that stand out for more than just a good logo. Brandon’s cheeky, minimalist designs reimagine the simple business card as a work of representational art.

“I always think of the start-up entrepreneur who’s put all those hours and work into the business” Brandon recalled,

“I feel their brand design is a visual representation of all that enthusiasm and passion…

… I think that’s a tangible thing; your design needs to respect all of that.”

Being an entrepreneur himself, Brandon is well-acquainted with the daunting task self-promotion can be for one within a creative field. From natural illustrators to museum cabinet designers, Brandon works to form a branded image that does stylistic justice to Newcastle’s creative business community.

Even through the odd family visit to his hometown in New Zealand, small, creative business inspire his designs. Cups, chip bags, aprons and loyalty cards comprise of the TDK peepshow winner ‘Fush & Chups’ project that proves even the humblest business can occupy a unique, eye-catching identity. Most recently, his unique designs for Instandbul tourism, the Bondi Bite Food and Wine Festival and designer garden centre Urban Exotic received significant recognition, earning him three prestigious AGDA (Australian Graphic Design Association) finalist awards nominations.

Regardless of having only recently completed his studies in business management, advertising and graphic design, Brandon’s unique aesthetic and meaningful approach to brand identity is increasingly getting him noticed. As he continues to grow his own individual brand identity, Brandon embraces the connections he  makes working for Newcastle’s expanding community of business owners. Despite calling New Zealand home and owing Sydney his business and design education, Brandon strongly believes it is this creative community that keeps him and others like him coming back.

“I think Newcastle is a creative city,

It has an artist’s identity.”

If you’re interested in developing a contemporary brand identity that represents you and your business in an effective and genuine light, you can get in contact with Brandon McIntosh over the phone or via email.

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Short occupancy for champions of opportunity

27 November 2017 | Posted in: News

Written by: Rayannon Innes | Photography: Boony Laohajaroenyot

How to build a body of work, a brand or a business in thirty days: an increasing number of Renew tenants are becoming the authors of this experience.

With the reality of a thirty-day vacancy notice made transparently known as part of the property license agreement, ambitious artists and entrepreneurs know to enter their space with unyielding dedication. The best opportunities often require an element of risk, and these Renew tenants have illustrated how accessing a space, although brief, can ignite nimble action.

Savant Apothecary in five weeks:

When Kylie Myatt received the keys to her Emporium shopfront space, she was well aware of the temporary nature of her arrangement. Having already had her eyes set on one day gaining a commercial space within the King or Darby Street precincts, Kylie treated her Emporium tenancy as an incubation period for her boutique skincare business.

Through a mindful approach to her social media marketing and a meticulous eye for shop fit-out and design, Savant Apothecary would gain the word-of-mouth that built her a firm customer following. The bespoke business became so successful over her five week Renew tenancy that the Junction Fair pursued Kylie to take a tenancy, following the announcement of The Emporium closure. From the sales and exposure created in her Renew space, Kylie was encouraged to take the next step with her business and sign the rental agreement for her new commercial space.

“I just knew when I started with Renew to give it everything I had” Kylie recalls,

“It just really gave me confidence. To go from the Olive Tree Markets to a shopping centre in one go – I don’t think I could have done it”

Today, Kylie continues to run her sought after beauty and skincare business in the Junction Fair shopping centre where her dedicated customer base continues to flourish.

Mel O’Dell in six weeks:

In the amount of time some might take to set up their studio space, multidisciplinary artist Mel O’Dell produced a comprehensive body of work that she exhibited over the This Is Not Art (TiNA) festival long weekend. The showcase of her new material included a collaboration with local boutique fashion label Chinchen St, where exclusive garments were sold to patrons of TiNA and other local festival events.

“Having a space away from the home to dedicate to my art… that in itself inspired my work” Mel explained.

Through the devoted art-making that took place in the six-week period, Mel gained an increasing confidence in her work as she continued to establish a considerable presence within the local creative community.

Mel is enthusiastic about the future of her career as a multi-faceted creative practitioner. Having now connected with new arts space Hudson Street Hum, Mel plans to lead a series of workshops exploring artistic process and the meditative qualities of fine art-making.

Nookstore in eight months and two spaces:

After six months activating their Hunter St mall space, independent street-wear retailer Nookstore quickly became recognised as a brand offering something exclusive to the public. Nookstore’s closure and subsequent re-opening in their second Renew space was supported by a fast-growing, subcultural following.

When they received notice to vacate two weeks into their second space that they decided to take on a permanent position within the mall through a commercial lease.

“It’s pretty cliché, but you just have to make the most of it” said Nookstore owner, Brodie Bannerman.

“It grew naturally but you still have to put the work in behind it. You need to make it sustainable”.

Continuing to work by this sentiment today, Brodie and the rest of the Nookstore team have recently expanded the business through the opening of a second pop-up store in Byron Bay. With the local flagship store continuing to serve a repeat market, creative enterprises like that of Nookstore are what provide the inner-city with a point of destination.

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