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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.