Monday, March 24, 2008

Do Things Change? If so, are we changing?

Adelaide's been the place I call home now for over 11 years. My family moved here in 1997 because my parents wanted to give my brother, Max and I a chance for a better education. In 1997 my brother started Year 8 at Morialta High School and I went into Year 5 at Marryatville Primary School. This was a huge adjustment for my brother and I. I remember being so upset that my parents had dragged me away from the life I knew in Whyalla and from all my best friends. At nine years old I substituted this loneliness with the infatuation over the idea of having a puppy, continually pestering my parents, "I want a puppy!"

That wish was granted to me on the evening my mother and her walking buddy, Anne, returned with dog in toe. Coffee, the overly enthusiastic Jack Russell, that was named so after leaping onto my mum's lap mid-coffee-flow at Cafe Bravo. Coffee had immediately made himself a part of the family, making another one of his leaps he jumped onto my face (while I was sleeping) and licked my nose. Roused from my slumber, I exclaimed in glee, "Mummy! You got me a puppy!" Though this wasn't quite the full story as Coffee was an escapee pup from the local suburbs and had rather taken to the idea of Mum and Anne as being its owner, following them both all the way home. Of course the next day we had to return Coffee to his rightful possessors and I had to let go of the notion that Coffee was my puppy. But this story isn't about Coffee, it's about change, and it's about my home, Adelaide. 

Adelaide is known as the town of churches, a sleepy town and "The Festival State", as is printed on South Australian car number plates. Whenever I ask anyone who has backpacked around Australia, "So what did you think of Adelaide?" They're usual response has been something along the lines of, "It was boring." This is usually followed with things like, "I much prefer Sydney's nightlife and Melbourne's shopping" and so on and so forth. And yet looking around me today, March 2nd, 2008, I think Adelaide has alot more to show for itself and it's certainly doing so in this year's 2008 Adelaide Bank Festival of Arts. The Visual Arts Program is a collaboration between sister galleries around Adelaide and the Festival. The Artists' Week had already proved to retain a kicking diversity of sorts, bringing together in proud superiority a range of perspectives in the artistic realm. Artist talks, masterclass', group discussions, artist floor talks, journal launches, forums and gallery tours have built the framework for a productive and engaged week of thinking, talking, questioning and discovering more about contemporary art from Australia and all over the world. This opportunity has been grabbed by Adelaide's art enthusiasts with an encouraging rigourousness.  

I know, coming from the country originally, where your photo was published in the local paper simple for rocking-up to your brother's cricket match, that there is an undercurrent of social reform in Adelaide communities. We Adelaidians are very much stuck in a state of armed 'clickness'. By clickiness I mean the action of being so tightly knit that one individual, or a social network, or even an entire society becomes exclusive from all others. You may argue that this could not be the case because Australia is a multicultural nation, therefore how could we object to welcoming others? But I would say to you then that even with such diversity Adelaide social circles cling to their select groups. Whether that be a cultural group, sexual preference, a religious denomination, a sports team, workplace relation or any kind of 'click' imaginable. The thing is that we've all been guilty of excluded others because of this or that, and what for? To protect our 'click' from breakage because if the unspoken boundaries start to weaken who knows what could happen! Hell, next you might be welcoming a homeless person to the movies or inviting an international student to the pub with you and your mates. What preposterousness that would be. 

Adelaide seems to lack the desire to share its blossoming culture with the rest of the world. Well, at least that was the case before the Festival of Arts geared into action at the start of March 2008. Adelaide is now the place to be! Not only because of the delicious delights of renown artists', curators, writers and collectors gathering in Adelaide to share their talents with us during Festival time. But also the Adelaide Fringe Festival opened on Friday 28th of February, filling the City's Rundle Street and East Terrace with approximately 40,000 members of the public on opening night. Attracting both fifteen year old, straighten hair, tight jeaned, Hungry Jacks hanger, to the loud mob of drunken, petrol-head, Clipsal goer. That's right, Clipsal 500 cranked up a 'pumped up' and perhaps 'drugged up' audience of 291,400 this year between 21st-24th of February. In addition WOMADelaide, a three day world music concert swung into style March 7th-9th in the Adelaide Botanic Park.

Adelaide is currently buzzing with a spirit of curiosity, marvel and celebration. Setting us apart and cracking open our usual high brow reform, causing inquisition and humouring our better nature. Pushing us to get involved in making Adelaide come to life with art. Julianna Pierce, the Visual Arts Consultant and Curator of Artists' Week says that this year's program, "aims to leave a legacy in South Australia and nationally..." Woo there Julianna, nationally? Do you mean to say that our little Adelaide can make national acclaim? Well I suppose if Julianna thinks we can, we must. She goes on to say, "...where professional opportunities are created, knowledge and experience is shared and networks and friendships are formed" (Pierce, 2008: p.1).

Being the youngest student chosen to take part in the Critics' Masterclass for Young and Emerging Writers I feel I have a lot to live up to as my peers have had more life experience. For me, the most exciting occurrence was the opportunity to meet these talented individuals and build communication between young writers in Adelaide. I think we might just start a revolution...

Pierce .J., 2008, Visual Arts Program, Adelaide., 2008, Media Release, Adelaide.


one of us said...

Hi Writing Gang!

How you going? I just wanted to let you know that 'one of us' is me Polly. Also this is the piece of writing I mentioned in the masterclass, the one about my dog.

Also I am hoping to start a small students run arts publication and would really like all of your involvement!! Anyone who is currently studying or teaching arts are welcome to contribute. The first edition is the end of April, so please get writing and send me your text:

There will be a launch of POINT-BLANK (that's the publications name) at the end of April, location still to be organised. If you have any questions please be in touch with me.

Thanks and happy writing,


Lauren Sutter said...

Hey Polly,

I know how you feel when you mention being one of the younger arts writers in the group. As a 22 year old whose never really experienced anything outside of these last 17 years of school and study life, I often wonder how I could possibly have any authority or conviction in my ideas, understandings or beliefs compared to those that have traveled, learned and lived. What right could I possibly have in saying something is so when I have so little knowledge or experience of my own to draw upon?

Then again, we all come from such unique and disparate places that surely whatever we bring to the proverbial table has its own weight and worth. Reading through everybody's writing for the Adelaide Festival has really proven to me how wonderful those unique perspectives are. And the great thing is that we will always have that unique perspective, regardless of our age or experience.

Thanks for your reflections on these 'changing' perspectives!


one of us said...


You're welcome! It's wonderful to be able to share these changing perspectives. To be able to engage with visual culture and with an open audience, at the same time. I really appreciate your understanding. You're a gem! Your opinion, knowledge, beliefs, experience(s) are all valued because they make you you! :)

Polly x