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Twice in tune with local talent

5 April 2018 | Posted in: News

Written by: Rayannon Innes | Photography: Liam Driver

What does a writer’s festival and a youth orchestra have in common? First and foremost, they both work in supporting local and emerging talent who are exceptional at what they do. In terms of something that you might not know; the Newcastle Writer’s Festival and Newcastle Youth Orchestra (NYO) also share an office space in a Renew property, right in the heart of the Hunter Street mall.

This first floor b-grade office space became a hive of creative activity when the NYO board moved in four years ago. When the Writers Festival joined them in 2016, exciting things were bound to happen. NYO made their Writers Festival debut as part of last year’s impressive event program. Alongside writer’s, illustrators and a lot of laughter, NYO Kids filled Wheeler Place with their enchanting music as part of the free Family Fun Day event.

This Sunday, NYO Kids will be returning as part of the festival to an even grander degree. Once again, NYO Kids will perform as part of the extremely popular Family Fun Day by opening the public event at 10am. In addition to this, a sold-out afternoon session of this year’s special event, Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf, will be performed by NYO alongside the National College of Dance inside the Newcastle Conservatorium.

Fortunately, due to popular demand, a second evening session has been added to the program. If ever there were a way to witness how the literary and performing arts could harmonise in a live spectacle, this Sunday’s sessions of Peter and the Wolf is where to experience it.

With a little bit of space and a lot of creativity and collaboration, incredible things can happen. The Newcastle Youth Orchestra and Newcastle Writers Festival are a true testament to that.

The Station: arriving somewhere new

22 March 2018 | Posted in: News

Written by: Rayannon Innes | Logo design: Brandon McIntosh

What’s in a name? Quite a lot, if you ask marketing strategist and creative consultant Bec Dujin.

With her team at Talk To Bec having just launched the rebranding of the Newcastle Station as simply ‘The Station’, the site, although still under construction, is coming one step closer to opening its doors to the public.

In conjunction with Revitalising Newcastle, the creative teams’ new vision for the site is encapsulated through the branding’s tagline: ‘departure of the old, arrival of the new’. Informed by both Renew Newcastle’s intentions for the temporary activation of the space and through The Station’s possible use far into future, the premise invites new ideas and experimentation for the Newcastle station.

In-line with Renew’s Platform4 concept bringing hospitality, events, education, and people together through the temporary station activation, Bec and her team want the brand to reflect and encourage Newcastle’s ownership of The Station.

“We’re creating something that belongs to the city, as opposed to something that’s just attached to it” Bec said.

“It’s something that I hope everyone can be proud of – and a part of”

This sense of ownership has been further reflected in Bec’s deliberate recruitment of local talent into The Station branding campaign. One of her key team members is graphic designer and current Renew participant Brandon McIntosh. With a keen eye for the site’s iconic architectural features, Brandon’s logo concept is a sophisticated depiction of the heritage façade to the new main entry point intended for The Station. With the purpose of highlighting the destination aspect of The Station, the design is truly an invitation to welcome people back into the station when it reopens later this year.

A trip not to miss

7 March 2018 | Posted in: News

Pictured: Bree-Lacey chooses lunch at local favourite, Sushi Koo.                                        Written by: Rayannon Innes | Photography: Lee Illfield

A few weeks before the closure of The Emporium was announced mid last year, Bree-Lacey Bickham graduated from her shopfront space into a commercial property two doors down. Although new to the Hunter Street Mall business community, Bree-Lacey’s custom-made womenswear store With Love Bree-Lacey, quickly became a fitting addition to a district known for its unique retail and hospitality offerings.

Sewing all of her vintage-inspired garments on premise, With Love Bree Lacey offers one-off, made to measure womenswear that looks timeless in any season. Bree-Lacey also stocks other local handmade goods including homewares and accessories from former fellow Emporium retailers Petra Hilsen Textile Design, Pottery Ali, CCY Studio and Jodie Louise Millinery.

Whether it be handcrafted wares, delectable food, consistently good coffee, engaging local and international art exhibitions, and many other goods and services, the inner CBD area has defined itself through its small business community. Despite this, with street construction making navigating the city and finding a suitable parking space more challenging, the journey into town can appear to be less appealing than it once was. During this current period of disruption in the inner-CBD area, some are even left feeling they should bypass the trip into the city all together.

Despite the challenges, local business need our support more than ever. Although parking hints can be shared and the use of cycle and public transport promoted, remembering what attracts people into Newcastle is integral to sustaining the vibrant culture of the CBD.

Bree-Lacey recalls many from Sydney and beyond frequently making the journey to view the work of herself and the other retailers in The Emporium. Today, those creative businesses are still trading but rely heavily on walkthrough sales.

As Bree-Lacey says, “It’s getting to know the makers behind things and getting to know the stories of their items. You’re not just getting an item, you’re getting a part of us”

Although even she can sometimes find herself hard-pressed for parking, Bree-Lacey suggests visiting the CBD earlier in the weekend where parking is free before 12pm on Saturdays.

Illustrious adventures

7 March 2018 | Posted in: News

Written by: Rayannon Innes | Image: ‘Grace and Katie’, Liz Anelli Illustration

When remembering the first stories one fell in love with as a child, it’s often the pictures jumping out at each page that stand the test of time. Whether it be the forest kingdom of Where The Wild Things Are or the fuzzy outback search party of Possum Magic, childhood adventure sparks at the illustrated word.

It’s bringing this magic onto the page that illustrator Liz Anelli continues to build her impressive career upon. So impressive is Liz’s lifelong work as a children’s book illustrator that she was recently  elected onto the executive board of directors for The Australian Society of Authors. Serving as the core representative for illustrators on the board, Liz will be responsible in advocating programs that promote cultural diversity and visual literacy across Australia.

This new role hasn’t settled the modern-day explorer in her however, with flights booked and a fuel tank filled for a trip around the northern parts of Darwin planned mid next month. Tasked to illustrate Pamela Freeman’s upcoming book Dry to Dry, Liz will be basing her research on the native life and seasonally unique environment that occupies Kakadu National Park and Croker Island. With a string of school workshops planned over her trip, Liz looks forward to hearing the stories of Darwin’s natural surroundings first-hand from the local children she’ll meet along her travels.

Until then, you can catch Liz at the upcoming Newcastle Writers Festival leading workshops at the Newcastle Library on Friday the 6th of April. Inspired by her recent picture book Grace and Katie, Liz will explore ‘Places and Plans’ where students are encouraged to re-design the city centre by drawing their own creations onto Liz’s illustrated map.

The stories behind a festival

7 March 2018 | Posted in: News

Pictured: Newcastle Writers Festival 2017                                                              Written by: Rayannon Innes | Photography: Liam Driver

With less than a month until the Newcastle Writers Festival is in full motion, this year’s program promises another literary lollapalooza for the city of Newcastle. In its sixth year, the festival will be showcasing the likes of Joanne McCarthy, Bruce Pascoe, Kitty Flanagan, Jimmy Barnes and Richard Fidler, with a host of many other renowned writers and literary professionals, a large proportion of which hail from Newcastle and the Hunter.

One particular author, Port Stephens’ Joanna Atherfold Finn, will be launching her anthology of short stories over the festival, alongside respected novelist and mentor Robert Drewe. Having connected over their mutual love for coastal writing and following an offer from Joanna to drive Robert from the airport back in the festival’s beginnings in 2013, the then PhD student, through Robert’s friendship and guidance, would eventually earn herself a book deal.

“To have a collection of short stories published today in Australia is extremely rare if you’re not an established writer” says journalist and festival director Rosemarie Milsom.

“The Writers Festival is enabling this talent to have a platform” she said.

With the theme of this year’s festival being ‘the stories behind the stories’, it’s compelling anecdotes like that of Joanna and Robert that Rosemarie believes is central to the Writers Festival. When comparing the Newcastle Writers Festival to other festival events, it stands alone in enabling the artist – or author – to delve into their work and create meaningful dialogue with their audience.

To close the festival weekend, a special event in association with Idea Bombing Newcastle called ‘What Is Your Newcastle Story?’ will be held in Wheeler Place. On the Sunday evening, guests are invited to share their stories with a diverse panel of influential locals.

The Newcastle Writers Festival will take place on the 6th – 8th of April. You can start planning your weekend by viewing the 2018 event program on the festival website.