National Youth Week 2017

This year Devonport Regional Gallery extended its National Youth Week programming after receiving funding from the Tasmanian Community Fund. This allowed the Gallery to offer a paid mentorship opportunity for a young person to develop event and project management skills.

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Reclaim in full swing. Photographer: Kelly Slater

The Sketchbook Project Exhibition, 31 March – 8 April

Across six weeks from the end of February, young people across the North West collected a handmade sketchbook to fill with their drawings, ideas and writing using pencil, ink, paint, charcoal, collage, pastel and more as part of the Devonport Sketchbook Project.

The Devonport Regional Gallery and their young members committee, The Droogs presented The Sketchbook Project Exhibition at Devonport LINC. A total of 88 sketchbooks featured in this public exhibition from 31 March – 8 April.

The Sketchbook Project celebrates and promotes young people and their talents in the North West, and provides a space for public viewing of their work.

Youth Rewind, 1 – 2 April

Free activities and workshops took place across the two days of Youth Rewind, including live music performances by young musicians and a community jam, meditation, yoga and dance workshops and sand art activities.

The focus of Youth Rewind was to promote positive wellbeing and for young people to socialise, exercise and learn coping mechanisms with their peers in a fun and relaxed setting.

Reclaim the Lane, 7 April

For its sixth consecutive year, Reclaim the Lane returned to Rooke Lane, Devonport, on Friday 7 April, 3.30–5.30 pm to an audience of approximately 700 people. The free event transformed Rooke Lane into a vibrant celebration of youth arts and music for all ages to enjoy.

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KT Hollywood with her work. Photographer: Kelly Slater

Burnie artist, KT Hollywood was this year’s resident artist and she created a new work in the lane. Reclaim the Lane also featured various art-making areas this year; a collaborative ‘Massive Mandala’ led by young, local artist Rachel Kumar, and a Zentangle class led by Launceston CZT, Michele Beauchamp. The popular event also featured the Red Turtle photo booth, a henna tattoo artist, face painting by the Droogs, performances by Mr Inferno and Jayden Mineur, and interactive stalls by youth service providers.

Outside Laneway Café there were also two musical workshops; a percussion workshop run by local musician Brad Von Rock, and a ukulele workshop, facilitated by young talent, Grace Maher. The space was popular with all ages.

A small Youth Market was established this year, focusing on giving young emerging makers and artisans a chance to sell their work.

Live music by young local performers entertained audiences throughout the event with performances by students at Geneva Christian College, Melinda Powell, Tia and Siobhan, Henry Rippon and Molly O’Brien.

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Photographer: Kelly Slater

For the second consecutive year, windows of local Rooke Lane businesses were also transformed by young people as they expressed their views and goals for the future, responding to ‘What I would like to change about myself”, ‘What I would like to change about Devonport’ and ‘What I would like to change about the world’.

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The Droogs at their stall at Reclaim the Lane. Photographer: Kelly Slater

Reclaim the Lane is organised by Devonport Regional Gallery and its young members, the Droogs, in partnership with Devonport City Council and Youth, Family and Community Connections. The event was jointly funded by the Department of Premier and Cabinet National Youth Week funding program, YFCC and Devonport City Council.

Highlights from the DCC Permanent Collection – Barbie Kjar

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Barbie KJAR, Falling Cups 1993, pastel on drypoint

Tasmanian artist Barbie Kjar is widely known for her portraiture, her distinctive style and use of colour, and the whimsical quality that is characteristic of her figurative works.

Kjar was born in Burnie, Tasmania in 1957 and completed a Bachelor of Fine Art at the University of Tasmania, as well as a Master of Fine Art at RMIT, Melbourne. Prior to her visual arts studies, Kjar studied English and Education, and literature has been a persistent influence on her practice. The artist has cited a range of writers including Herman Melville and Emily Dickinson as influences, while the work Come to me, oh green glass buoy 1996, from the DCC Permanent Collection, is based on a poem of the same title by Tasmanian author Sue Moss. Furthermore, the sea and dance have also been discussed by Kjar as being personal influences reflected in her practice. The DCC Permanent Collection holds three of Kjar’s works, spanning a period from the late 1980s to the mid 1990s. Though Kjar’s practice has broadened since this period, with sculpture now increasingly a focus of the artist, her work continues to be imbued with the distinct style for which she is known, and of which the DCC works are examples.

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Barbie KJAR, Come to me, oh green glass buoy 1996, pastel on paper

While Kjar’s work is visually distinct, her unique personal perspective on portraiture and its processes contributes to the distinctness of her work. Kjar views portraiture as a deeply personal process that evolves and develops over time, rather than entertaining the belief that a work can be planned in detail from the outset. She has referred to the process as a conversation, wherein it is essential that both the artist and the subject are open to a degree of exposure. This conversation takes time; time which Kjar is willing to devote in order for those sitting for her portraits to become comfortable, and in turn open to being truly observed.

This sensitivity allows Kjar to extract and convey the narratives revealed within her sitters, exploring the story of a person, rather than simply capturing their likeness. Rather than attempting to present a biographical narrative, Kjar pursues the essence of the person, derived both from conversation and an acute observation of their facial features and expressions. This process reflects Kjar’s assertion of the fundamental importance of the eyes and the gaze in portraiture.

The time Kjar spends with the subjects of her portraits extends further to her process. She begins drawing from life, using charcoal or watercolour, before determining her point of focus. Kjar has been drawing since school, and although working across a variety of mediums, she has expressed a particular affinity for printmaking. Having studied etching, lithography and screen printing at the University of Tasmania, Kjar discovered her likening to the feeling of peeling off the paper after running the plate through the press.

Known for her drypoints, having been referred to as one of the great masters of the medium by art critic Sasha Grishin, Kjar uses an electric engraver to achieve lines that appear hand drawn, and have been praised recurrently for their velvety quality. Works such as Falling Cups 1993 from the DCC Permanent Collection evidence this skill, while reflecting Kjar’s goal; ‘to draw people well, really well… and to seek symbols and layers which investigate the meaning of life’ (Barbie Kjar, ABC Radio interview with Barbara Pongratz, Artist’s facial fascination, 29th August 2003).

-Erin Wilson, Curator of Collections

You can view more of Barbie Kjar’s works on her website, or through Bett Gallery

View more works from the DCC Permanent Collection here

Highlights from the DCC Permanent Collection – David Keeling

 

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David KEELING, Headland 1995, oil on board

David Keeling was born in Launceston in 1951, and now lives and works in Hobart. He studied a Bachelor of Visual Arts at the Tasmanian School of Art, Hobart and a Master of Fine Art at RMIT, Melbourne. Keeling is widely recognised for his landscape paintings, through which he considers the ongoing flux of our presence in, and impact upon, the natural environment.

Throughout his practice, Keeling has explored the conflicting priorities of nature and culture; a significant consideration of life in Tasmania. As a body of work, Keeling’s paintings give insight into the Tasmanian landscape, tracing some of the social, cultural and ecological circumstances it has seen unfold. The perspectives of the landscape Keeling has considered have been both contemporary and historic, from elements of the sublime, the romantic and the nostalgic, to the familiar banality of our everyday urban surroundings. His practice is encompassed by the belief that we must move beyond these ‘comfortable’ views of our surrounds if we are to have a meaningful impact on the preservation of our environment in an increasingly industrialised world.

Keeling has stated that for him the process of painting is contemplative, this spirit of contemplation being extended to the viewer, as the impact of each work is heightened by its imbued ambiguity. Earlier in his practice, Keeling encouraged audiences to consider the way they view their natural surroundings, discouraging an overly romanticised perspective of the landscape, without denying its compelling beauty and awe. More recently, Keeling has presented the landscape bounded by the practical necessities of the man-made, striking the balance between an appreciation of beauty and an awareness of the impacts of our everyday lives on the environment. In these more recent works, Keeling has moved away from depicting more generic, sweeping vistas, to portrayals of places we encounter every day. Throughout his practice however, the artist has consistently incorporated into the landscape, elements that literally or symbolically connote a human presence.

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David KEELING, Frame 1992, oil on linen

The Devonport City Council Permanent Collection holds several of Keeling’s works, including Frame 1992 and Headland 1995, which was completed in the mid-1990s, following the artist’s residency at the Australia Council London studio. Headland is dominated by a pair of wrought iron gates, slightly ajar, framing a nonspecific golden hillside. Keeling often featured gates in his work during this period, ‘in reference to our rich heritage of wrought iron work’. This painting also connotes the imposition of people into the pristine environment, while referring to issues of land ownership.

Like Headland, Frame also depicts a nonspecific landscape, with a luminous yellow shape seemingly floating in the centre of the hillside scene. This narrow shape recalls the simplified outline of a house in a child’s drawing, and while in some ways unobtrusive, connotes man-made structures. Despite its small ‘footprint’, this form dramatically alters and disrupts the outlook. In Frame, Keeling has depicted the landscape from an aerial perspective, ‘as if the viewer were floating over the vista’. These elements of the surreal in early works, such as those in the DCC Permanent Collection, conjure the feeling of an unnerving intrusion into the landscape, which reflects Keeling’s aim to unsettle our ‘comfortable’ views of the environment we continue to impact upon.

-Erin Wilson, Curator of Collections

You can view more of David Keeling’s works here

View more works from the DCC Permanent Collection here

Young Writers in the City: From Where I Stood #2: Mary Ann Sayers, by Jane Beeke

Since January 2017 we’ve been featuring the creative essays and stories written by young writers who completed residencies in Devonport as part of the Tasmanian Writers’ Centre‘s  Young Writers in the City program, December 2016 – January 2017.

Writer: Jane Beeke
Residency: Bass Strait Maritime Centre

Jane Beeke spent her residency at the Bass Strait Maritime Centre, writing a continuous story inspired by the history she researched. This is the second entry in this story, which we will roll out as a fortnightly series for you to explore.

Read the first entry: 1. Harry Wood

From Where I Stood

     2. Mary Ann Sayers

Mary Ann stood over the boiling water. Using all of her weight on her laundry stick, she pushed the clothes down into the copper tub. Clouds of steam and black smoke filled the little laundry room. Mary Ann breathed deeply. She caught the linen on the end of her stick and heaved it onto the edge of the copper, like landing a fish.
The door of the laundry opened and cold air rushed in. William was here. He stood close to the copper, warming his wet hands and his wet feet. His face was red from cold.
“Morning,” said Mary Ann. “Have we heard anything?”
“About the J.L. Griffiths?”
William didn’t reply at first, but waited until his wife had hauled another load of linen out of the copper, and the sound of dripping water had subsided.
“No sighting,” he said. “They’ve sent a search vessel from Melbourne, word is.”
“It’s been two weeks.”
“Nearly three.”
They stood together in silence. No ship would ever take three weeks across Bass Strait. She was lost.
“Shame for the old man Griffiths, then.”
Mary put down her stick and stood with William, her back to the warm, wet wall.
“Are you going to tell Bill today?”
“Tell what?”
“Tell him your plan for the Colleen Bawn?”
William nodded. Today, he would gift his son his first ship, and now two William Holymen would sail Bass Strait.

Today was a good day, even from the view of the dark, stinging morning.

Read the first entry: 1. Harry Wood

Next fortnight, we’ll hear Jane’s story as told from the perspective of William Holyman.

Young Writers in the City: Sonder, and the Lucid Dream by Skye Cusack

Over the next week we’ll be featuring the creative essays and stories written by young writers who completed residencies in Devonport as part of the Tasmanian Writers’ Centre‘s  Young Writers in the City program, December 2016 – January 2017.

Writer: Skye Cusack
Residency: Rooke Street Mall, Devonport

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Sonder, and the Lucid Dream

Preface

I am going to be honest with you. Sitting in the Rooke Street Mall, watching people I have never met and will never see again float by me, I had an existential realisation.

It dawned on me that all of these people were not split seconds of my life, but in fact real people with lives of their own. I learnt afterwards that John Koenig, creator of The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, created a word for this: sonder.

Whilst not a legitimately credited word, the concept of ‘sonder’ led me to remember a theory I studied in school. The theory suggests that your brain cannot create new data whilst unconscious, so the people in your dreams are people you have seen in real life and subsequently forgotten after the moment subsided. This, in turn, inspired me to play around with the idea of dreaming about people I saw at the mall.

Now, whilst it is frowned upon by many to play the ‘it was all a dream’ card when explaining story inconsistencies, I was very excited about the prospect of using literary techniques to create a piece that seemed genuinely like a dream. The possibilities seemed endless. Of course, I did have some limitations – I wanted all the characters present in my ‘dream’ to be influenced by people I seen during my time in the mall.

I strongly encourage you to reflect on the fact that every single person in the piece below is influenced by a real, living, breathing person.

 

The Characters

The first thing the Girl senses is that she is late. She can’t figure out what she is late for, but the feeling of dread in the pit of her stomach is a special feeling reserved for missing an important appointment. It is only after this feeling simmers down slightly that she becomes aware of her surroundings, her place in the world.

She is in a familiar place – a mall of some kind, she can’t recall the exact area. There is a large Christmas tree up ahead.

“Christmas already…” she mumbles.  “But if this is Christmas, then why am I so cold?”

Light, fluffy snow falls to the earth around her, decorating the roofs of stores and outdoor café tables. The Christmas tree looks like something from a bakery – the crisp, clean fir of the tree sprinkled in powdered sugar. She stands, mesmerised… her first White Christmas.

“I’m so glad you’re here!”

She instinctively closes her eyes as she reacts to the sudden voice. When she opens them the snow is gone. A bead of sweat drips down her face from the sweltering heat.

“I’m sorry?” she replies to a lady in a ringmaster’s outfit. Her makeup is reminiscent of the ‘60s, with a clean wing drawn on both eyelids. Her orange hair is teased and decorated to be glittering shrubbery on which her top hat sits.

“Please, don’t apologise,” says the Ringmaster, kindly. “We just really need you in position next to the other contestants over there.”

The Girl looks to where the Ringmaster is pointing and sees two people standing on a small stage in place of where the Christmas tree just was. One is an extremely beautiful lady in a wedding dress, her hair and nails styled perfectly. The other is a child, around the age of twelve or thirteen, with almond-shaped eyes and a mullet.

“Contestants?” she repeats. “Oh, no, you must have me mixed up with someone else. I’m actually late for-”

“Please!” the Ringmaster cries. “I’m begging you.”

“But I’m late for… I’m, um…”

“Are you alright?” inquires the Ringmaster, concerned. “This game is really fun. Maybe you could let off some steam. Please?”

Looking into the Ringmaster’s pleading eyes, the Girl knows she can’t say no. This lady seems so gentle and sincere. Plus, she is right – the Girl did feel quite distressed. She follows the Ringmaster to her spot on stage.

Beside the other contestants, the Girl notices things about them that she couldn’t have from a distance. The Bride, is beautiful, yes, but there is a haunting sadness in her eyes that gives the Girl an immediate drive to look away. The Child is quivering, whispering random words under his breath in intervals. The Girl looks at her feet. What has she gotten herself into?

A sudden burst of commotion stops the Girl’s rapidly beating heart. Out of nowhere, there is an entire crowd of people on the upstairs balcony of the building parallel to the stage, the Tapas Bar. They are laughing and flirting with one another as if they have been there the entire time. The Girl even spots a few people holding half-smoked cigarettes.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” the Ringmaster booms in a voice entirely different to the polite, timid one from earlier. In fact, the Ringmaster’s entire demeanor is different. She is now holding herself tall, chest out, like a male peacock putting on a show for a field of peahens.

The people on the balcony settle down in response.

“Thank you all for coming,” the Ringmaster continues. “Let’s welcome our contestants. Give a round of applause for…” The Ringmaster turns towards the contestants and smiles. “Actually, I don’t feel like introducing them. It would spoil the surprise. Besides-” she turns to the audience. “You already know who they are.”

If the audience knows who we are, then who would it spoil the surprise for? the Girl thinks to herself. Maybe I should just leave. I really am running very late by now.

“Before you consider leaving, you must at least want to know about the prizes.”

The Girl jolts back to reality. How did she know I wanted to leave?

“I see the word ‘prizes’ has your attention. Unfortunately, I cannot disclose what your prizes will be, as they are all something very personal to each of you.”

The Girl looks at the other two contestants, thankful to see that they also seem confused.

“You each want – no, you each need something. We can provide that for you…given you play along.” The Ringmaster looks pointedly at the Girl, who jumps to attention at the wordless accusation. Suddenly, the Ringmaster’s expression brightens. “Well, now that that’s out of the way – let the show begin!”

Promptly, three men approach the stage to escort the contestants to their first challenge.

“But, I didn’t even agree -”

“Hush,” says the Child, and the Girl quietens down. “Think about what you want. It’s not worth backing out.”

“But I don’t know what I want-”

“Me either,” sniffles the Bride.

The Child looks exasperated. “You two are ridiculous! Haven’t you been saying this entire time that you’re late for something?”

He points at the Bride: “and you’re obviously in a wedding dress and not at a wedding, so I’m guessing you want a rich husband or something.”

“No,” cries the Bride. “It’s the complete opposite! I left my fiancé at the altar. I just couldn’t go through with it. I don’t think I’m ready…I’m too young.”

“Well there you go,” sighs the Child. “You probably want a trip to Schoolies or something.”

They reach their destination. They have only walked a few steps, but it feels like miles.

“Chin up,” the Ringmaster booms to the Bride. “You can’t aim far staring at the ground.”

The Girl’s blood goes cold. Aim? Anything involving weaponry is surely illegal…

“It seems you have quite the imagination,” says The Ringmaster. The Girl looks at her reluctantly, calming when she sees a football in The Ringmaster’s hand. “The only thing we kill here is boredom. Anyway, we’ll do a few warm-up challenges before we give the big reveal. Just to get everyone in right state of mind.” She winks at the contestants and throws the Child the football.

“It’s simple,” she continues. “Whoever throws the ball the farthest wins.”

The Ringmaster steps back and lets the Child have the spotlight. He takes a deep breath and steps forward. Everyone waits in dead silence as he holds the ball in his hands. He lifts his arm, pulls his elbow back and…

Places the ball on the ground.

“What?” the Bride mutters. The Girl looks over to the Ringmaster, shocked to see the Ringmaster giddy at the sight of the Child’s rebellion. The Girl looks back at the Child and sees that he is muttering frantically again.

“Throw,” she hears him say firmly. “Toss. Hover. Throw!” He is getting embarrassed now. The Girl can see a pink flush in his cheeks. He drops his voice to a whisper. “Fly.”

As soon as he utters this word, the Bride shoots up into the air. The Girl, bewildered, looks up and sees a white ball of fabric wildly flailing in the air. “What’s happening?” The Girl asks the Ringmaster. “We have to get her down!”

The Ringmaster just smiles.

“How did this happen?” The Girl feels faint. Is this a rouse? The sound of the Bride’s screams makes it seem otherwise. But then…what on Earth is happening?

“Down,” says the Child, and down the Bride comes. She floats softly to the ground and lands on her feet. The Bride calmly fixes her appearance. She looks astoundingly poised considering the situation. She turns to the Child and smiles. “What was that about?” Her eye twitches. “Seriously, tell me. What was that all about, you little-”

Suddenly the Girl finds the football in her hands. She looks up, bewildered. There are so many people watching her. Their stares feel invasive and unclean. She suddenly feels claustrophobic, even in such an open space.

The Girl, completely fed up with this entire situation, turns 180 degrees and throws the ball in the opposite direction.

It falls inches away from her feet. In her anger she had forgotten to calculate her aim and sent it nosediving into the ground. Hot tears appear, rapidly affecting her vision. She stays with her back turned to everybody, ashamed.

“You’re lucky I specified that you could throw the ball in any direction.”

“What?” The Girl turns to confront the Ringmaster. “You never mentioned anything like that.”

The Ringmaster grins. “Now, now, don’t try to take all the credit. You still only tied for first place. You threw it farthest this way and she threw it farthest the opposite way.” The Ringmaster gestures to the Bride before turning to the Child. “I guess that makes you second. Chin up, it’s much better than third. Anyway, onto the next challenge!”

The contestants are escorted back to the stage, where the Ringmaster is waiting to deliver the instructions for the next challenge. “This challenge is simple,” she informs them. “It’s a classic case of ‘First In, Best Dressed’. Kind of. Basically, whoever puts together the nicest outfit wins. You can go to any store and get anything, no matter the price. You have ten minutes. Go.”

The Girl feels the sudden urge to co-operate. Potentially losing the last challenge has brought something out in her. She doesn’t feel like herself as she races through store, grabbing bits and pieces to wear. She feels like a warped, lucid version of herself. Like something from a dream.

She runs into the fitting rooms. As she frantically undresses, the Girl can hear the Bride crying in the neighbouring cubicle.

“I can’t take it off,” she is sobbing. “If I take this off, surely a part of me will die. I can’t, I can’t, I can’t…”

The Girl forces herself to ignore her compassion and continue getting dressed. Once she is done, she kicks open the door and runs back to the podium. She notices with a shock that the Bride is already there, her face in her dainty, pale hands.

“Welcome back,” the Ringmaster says to the contestants. “You all look quite nice.”

The Girl tries to look at what the other two are wearing, but the Ringmaster speaks before she has the chance.

“And the winner of this round is…” The Ringmaster looks at the Bride. “You.”

When she does not react, the Girl gives the Bride a small tap on the arm. The Bride looks up from her hands, astounded. “Me? But I didn’t even change.”

“Oh, but dear… You didn’t need to. Every girl wants to be a princess.”

The Girl looks over at the Bride, noticing a tiara atop her blonde curls. “Was that always there?”

The Bride reaches up to touch the head piece. “It must have been.”

They look back at the Ringmaster, waiting expectantly to hear the next challenge. The Ringmaster doesn’t speak. She is barely even moving, her head turning slightly as she looks between the competitors.

The silence becomes too much. “What’s the next challenge?” the Child cries.

“Change of plans.”

“What?” The contestants exclaim in unison.

“Show’s over. It’s come to a nice, clean ending and everybody is bored.” She gestures to the audience, who aren’t even paying attention anymore. They are back to chatting amongst themselves.

“But we haven’t even gotten to the main event!” The Girl is furious.

“And what about my prize? Didn’t I win?” The Bride looks as if she may cry.

“I think you’ll find you all received your prizes. Don’t you all just feel like winners?”

The Child seems to understand before anyone else. He shares a knowing smile with the Ringmaster. “Thank you,” he says, putting his hands in his pockets.

The girls watch as he walks off the stage. They watch as he walks the length of the mall and disappears into the distance. They share a look of confusion.

“It would appear someone is waiting for you.”

The Girl looks to where the Ringmaster is pointing and sees only empty space, but the Bride suddenly cries out: “Thank you!”.

The Girl watches as she walks off the stage. She watches as she holds her hand out to thin air and begins walking the length of the mall, disappearing into the distance.

“But… what about me?”

“You shouldn’t be wasting your time with pointless questions like that. Aren’t you running late?”

A flash fires through the Girl, sharp and silky, like a ribbon made of metal. It ties all the jumbled bits inside her together and suddenly her face lights up with joy. “Yes, I am. I really should get going now. Thank you.”

Everybody watches as she walks off the stage. They watch as she walks the length of the mall and disappears into the distance. They watch, and then they all go home.

Young Writers in the City: A Writer in a Radio Station by Lauren Hay

Over the next week we’ll be featuring the creative essays and stories written by young writers who completed residencies in Devonport as part of the Tasmanian Writers’ Centre‘s  Young Writers in the City program, December 2016 – January 2017.

Writer: Lauren Hay
Residency: SeaFM studios

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A Writer in a Radio Station

 

DISCLAIMER!

______Entrée ­­­­­­­­­­_____

This is a creative non-fiction, personal report-style parody essay.

As this is an artistic impression, the views and opinions expressed can only be considered as one possible representation of the people, places and events described. No – Liability. Yes – Deniability

 

– Day 1 –

Main

06:30AM

Today I’m embarking on an expedition. Daring to go where no bibliophile and technologically illiterate individual has gone before! Okay, so perhaps radio stations and wordies have more in common than I want to admit. Doesn’t change the fact that this will be – as my cowgirl bestie would say – my first Ra-di-oh! (At this point I wanted to insert a tech savvy and intelligent metaphor; then remembered that I am not tech savvy and subsequently substituted it with a subpar pun.)  He-hem. As I trundle down the sun-stained and dimpled driveway, my ears catch the first vibrations of what is to come – “It’s Sea FM’s Lee and Jess for breakfast!”.

On the drive there – to prepare myself – I’m sure to sing loudly to whatever songs the station plays. As I don’t know the majority of these songs, the lyrics become little else than garbled and ill-glorified syllables that bleed into one and other. Good thing I sound better on paper.

 

07:45AM

I arrive early, a miracle. After hesitantly pressing the doorbell – then wondering whether it was is a doorbell or a button to call security deciding that it has to be a doorbell, only to go through the whole dilemma again – I am greeted by John. Luckily, it appears my absolute befuddlement in the face of the common doorbell – very advanced technology that –hasn’t raised any red flags and I’m welcomed into the building and shown about. I’m assigned a desk in the sales department. Soon after, I meet Kayden, Jerry and Teena as they arrive at eight on the dot.

Teena is an account manager and the contact with whom I liaised to organise my residency. As I listen to the charm and debonair with which she holds counsel over the phone, I envy her call making aptitude. I’m doubly impressed when I realise the conversation she’s having is with the woman attending reception (whom I’m yet to meet), visible and audible through the open sales department door. It’s nostalgic, like covert $20-Chickenfeed-walkie-talkie conversations separated by one room; and risqué Facebook group chats at uni with my flatmate… separated by three feet of empty-McDonald’s-packaging-strewn sofa.

John suggests I relocate to Studio 1 where Lee and Jess are in the middle of broadcasting their morning show; a weather update. Apparently it’s going to reach 20 ˚C today. I’m wearing jeans and sneakers; I eye Lee’s board shorts and flip-flops pensively. So this is the wisdom of a radio host…

Between presenting, Lee and Jess are busy editing upcoming segments and perusing the net for material; as well as communicating with their listeners. I spy a familiar, royal blue banner, infamous block white font. Facebook. The Omnipotent Overlord of all human interaction. The Friend, The Like and the Holy News Feed. Facebook, Amen.

I feel a little less guilty about tuning out during university lectures now. Or I would, if it weren’t for the fact that; even whilst roving Facebook, Lee and Jess appear ten times more tuned in than when I attend any university lectures. I have not yet noticed a USB port or direct cable attached to either of them. But, I’m sure if I knew what bionic people smelled like, the scent of android would be …on the air.

 

08:30AM

Kayden pops into the studio to pre-record a segment. As part of 7AD’s production team, Kayden assists by voicing ads and creating accompanying segments for the show. Today, he will be taking the Sea FM cruiser out to the bluff, listeners who bump into him there may obtain a Friends with Benefits keychain. Owners of the keychains receive discounts at participating local businesses. A clever name, I muse, the sensible sort of person that is likely to go out of their way for a bargain is also likely to get a little thrill from being able to use the questionably risqué phrase, friends with benefits.

Come to think of it, maybe I should find myself one of those tags.

Lee is an efficient wizard when trimming Kayden’s recording to broadcasting perfection. So fast, is he – in fact – there is cause to worry if Kayden has made it to the location before the recording is aired.

I’m a literary fly on the wall as Lee and Jess navigate the topics of their summer show. “It’s seventeen degrees, Thursday morning. This is Sea FM’s Lee and Jess.  Coffee, Best evil laugh, President Evil and the temperamental Tasmanian traffic and weather. The atmosphere in the studio is easy and familiar despite the influx of information that the dulcet duo trawls through, moulds and edits into something tantalising and entertaining.

The great dedication the Lee and Jess pay their show is profound. Good thing teachers have always been such sticklers about waiting till recess to visit the loo, I note. Not every ad break is long enough for a sneaky toilet stop.

 

09:30AM

As the morning show calls for curtains I retreat downstairs. The sales department has sprung into a lazy summer life in my absence. I meet Emma – the aforementioned legend holding down Forte Reception; Darren and Karen – both scions of the sales department. I eye the yoga-doing emoji on the poster above the desk I’ve been allocated, the text on the poster reads, “THINK digital”. I hope my new acquaintances don’t realise that I can barely think analogue. Rather than my alarm clock, it was the sunrise and my sister’s cat that prompted me to rise from my bed at a quarter past five this morning.

 

10:00AM

While I’ve been sitting here, hacking away at my keyboard, listening to the crooning of the swanky summer tunes in the background, the activity in the sales department has trickled in and out. Shortly after ten Teena has a visitor. She introduces herself, with a smile, as Lin: The Hanger-On. She’s here to do some laminating. We’re Sea FM for the community. Someone laughs. Someone introduces herself as Tex. Theresa. But, call me Tex.

Lin: The Hanger-On talks to Teena about a cookbook she’s planning to make. She wants to burn the pages, to give it a rustic look, like her grandmother’s. I think of my own mother’s Christmas cake. She’s burnt that every year she’s made it. I make a note to self: don’t try to make a rustic Christmas cake. Charcoal is carcinogenic.

 

11:00AM

Tex and Teena mention that there will be cake. This rouses the rest of the station, Lee wanders through the Sales Department, Darren materialises from his desk like a mammal from hibernation. The question on everyone’s lips is – when? John re-appears at some point. Have I missed it? Tex assures him no, he hasn’t.

Cake – it turns out – is code for birthday. Isn’t it always? Everyone gathers in the kitchenette and I meet a second Leigh[1]. It’s his birthday. If we go by the candles, Leigh is turning five. The fully grown man that blows them out isn’t fooling anyone. Leigh hosts the breakfast show for Burnie’s station, 7BU. Though, he’s clearly part of the 7AD family. When everyone sings Happy Birthday I’m struck by how, no matter the talent of the singer, it’s a song that cannot be tarnished. The cake is cut and I introduce myself to Leigh. People filter out and I meet Nathan. I haven’t met you before, I’m Nathan. Nathan is relatively new, he tells me, and works in production. Leigh, Nathan, Jerry discuss the marvellous inclusive nature of radio, and how many of the people in the business had little to no background in radio before they began working at a radio station. It’s a comfort to hear, my novicey nature feels a little less like the tacky gum that sticks to the bottom of a shoe.

 

12:20AM

Studio 3 is Nathan’s haunt. He offers to show me what it is that someone in production actually does. The short answer is, Nathan makes ads. The array of buttons, knobs, dials and twin computers that claim a majority of the desk space appear a little like a marshalling solider crab, microphone claws poised. I warn him I’m technologically illiterate. He laughs and describes his first impression of the tech and production of the program– terrifying and magical.As Nathan explains further, it’s not hard to see why.

7AD is part of a network of fifty-one stations across Tasmania and the mainland. These stations all assist each other with the production of the ads that air on their various shows. For the stations that share airways this also means coordinating timetables so the programmes run smoothly. Nathan pulls up a complex, colour-coded, computerised schedule to exhibit what an average day looks like. My brain pulls up and stops like the awkward-vertical-rainbow-bleep at the end of a ‘90s VCR. Nathan makes making ads seem awesome.

At the same time he educates me, Nathan completes his tasks for the day. It’s hard to believe he’s only been at this for three months. The tasks he is assigned come from On High. On High – is actually a man named David, based in Launceston. According to the speed dial list by my assigned desk in the Sales Department David’s title is: Creative Writer. A unicorn in this sea(FM) of technology! The scripts Nathan receives, to edit and record, all go through David.

 

14:30PM

It’s about now that Lee wanders into the studio to record the dialogue for some ads. There are only two. Didn’t we have an ad that needed to be recorded within the next hour? The ad’s script isn’t amongst the others. Jerry, Content Director – A.K.A the guy who says what airs and when – suggests Nathan call up On High, to ask about it. David is as nonplussed as Jerry and Nathan. They decide the recording can’t have been that urgent. Nathan turns to me and shrugs, and I learn a new idiom – We’re not saving babies. It doesn’t have the same ring to it as Hakuna Matata but it still means no worries.

I end the day ec-static… (puns on me everyone) and even get the dramatic-driving-off-into-the-sunset journey home.

 

– Day 2 –

Dessert.

07:45AM

Happy Birthday is a song that cannot be tarnished – less than 24 hours since I wrote it and already I’ve been proven wrong. Driving through Ulverstone I hear something great… and terrible. Jess’ amped up Happy Birthday rendition to Lee has the same cringe-worthy wonderfulness of an aptly executed pun. Highlight of the day. Oh, and yes, that does mean that in two days Sea FM celebrates two birthdays for two Lee/Leighs.

On air, Jess gifts Lee dessert bowls and a cake decorating kit. The story of why they aren’t wrapped involves The Moth from Hell and Jess seeking shelter in the guest bedroom. I ponder the wisdom of letting Jess in on how I got over my own fear of moths, but can’t picture her downing half a bottle of vodka to experience exposure therapy by throwing them at her friends.

 

08:00AM

I arrive and manage to navigate the doorbell successfully. Can’t fool me twice. I’m greeted by everyone – Good to see you! How are you today? – The atmosphere feels like thoughts of fairy-bread and bubble-wands. As I settle in the Sales Department John draws me into a conversation about what my residency actually entails. Good question, John.  My answer is that it entails whatever I can fit into 2000 words as I am “influenced by the space”. There’s a reason they call us creative writers.

The rest of the morning consists of kooky conversations as I edit yesterday’s jottings. Teena, Tex and Emily laugh, work and swap stories. Lee emerges from Studio 1 to join the conversation and pass on Jess’ farewells, as she had to leave early. And then, it is time, once more: to get our cake on!

 

11:30AM

Another day another cake; what a cake! So, I missed my opportunity yesterday to wax poetic about 7AD’s confectionary of choice. It’s a decadent tri-tiered mud-cake, topped with whipped cream and syrupy cherries. Jealous? Lee, waves us down from singing Happy Birthday in favour of Jess’ masterpiece. Kayden pops a champagne bottle of confetti – seeing as you’re not drinking he tells a dumbfounded Lee. Lee laughs – have fun cleaning this up! What Lee doesn’t realise is that Kayden will take this advice literally; and when Lee later goes to leave for the day he will find the confetti in his car after Kayden has poured in in via the open sunroof.

As the 7AD crew stand around the kitchenette enjoying the cake and each other’s company they discus campervans; holidays and journeys they’d like to make with their families. I ponder how many different forms the word journey can take. Mine, coming to 7AD headquarters, has been relatively short, a mere sixteen hours. Still, it’s been an incredible privilege to be allowed a glimpse into the 7AD world and meet the masterminds behind 107.7. On the scale of great journeys, it sits somewhere between Frodo’s epic to Mordor and the average recluse’s midmorning jaunt to the mailbox. Yeah, I think I won that luck of the draw.

 

[1] Different spelling but pronounced the same as “Lee.”

Young Writers in the City: From Where I Stood #1: Harry Wood, by Jane Beeke

Over the next week we’ll be featuring the creative essays and stories written by young writers who completed residencies in Devonport as part of the Tasmanian Writers’ Centre‘s  Young Writers in the City program, December 2016 – January 2017.

Writer: Jane Beeke
Residency: Bass Strait Maritime Centre

Jane Beeke spent her residency at the Bass Strait Maritime Centre, writing a continuous story inspired by the history she researched. This is the first entry in this story, which we will roll out as a fortnightly series for you to explore.

 

From Where I Stood

  1. Harry Wood

The boy lay in the hull of the boat. Through the open ribs of the unfinished deck, he could see the grey of the morning sky. In the little space in the bottom of the boat, it was still dark, and the warm, dry wood of the timbers formed a gentle cocoon around Harry.
Perhaps this darkness and closeness is what let Harry’s father, a coal mining man, slip so easily into work at the shipbuilders’ yard.
Harry was luckier than his father. He was born into boats. His life had been spent here in Formby, watching the ships slide from the slips into the welcoming waters of the Mersey River. He and his father had come as a package to Griffiths’ shipyard after the mines had closed, and quickly Harry became the star apprentice.
In the channel opposite the shipyard, Harry’s ketch – built with his own hands alone – rode quietly at the anchor. Harry was nineteen, and his ketch had just turned three.
Harry heard the knocking and creaking as someone scaled the ladder at the side of the unfinished boat. He took up his axe and began to gently shape the ribs of the ship, shaping the edges.
A silhouette appeared against the grey sky. It was Harry’s father.
He let himself down into the hull, and Harry handed his father an axe. They worked together. This is how it had been with them – a relationship of shared work, of building things together.
“Have you heard any news about the ship?” asked Harry, eventually. “Has she come back in yet?”
“The Pharos has been sent to search for her. A government steamer.”
“How long has it been?”
“Nearly twenty days, Harry.”
No ship would take twenty days to cross the Strait, least the J.L. Griffiths, the fastest ship ever to sail to Melbourne. Harry had shaped her sharp bow himself.
A shuddering thought came into Harry’s mind. Somewhere, that sharp bow had smashed and splintered onto the black rocks; had been consumed in a sea, boiling with fury.
Harry sighed a white cloud of steam into the cold morning air, and gently, gently shaped the ribs of his new creation.

 

Next fortnight, we’ll hear Jane’s story as told from the perspective of Mary Ann Holyman (nee Sayers).