Kate is ready for the ride

Talented, friendly and inspirational. These are the three words that come to mind during my time with West Australian musician Kate Hindle. With the release of her brand new EP ‘Ready For the Ride’ on Friday, and after a challenging 2017, Kate’s music career couldn’t be any better right now.

21-year old Kate grew up in Collie, a small country town in Western Australia. From a young age, she knew that music was for her. Beginning with piano at the age of 7, Kate and her parents realised her talent for music. “My mum put me into guitar lessons when I was 8. Once I was really getting the hang of it, I started to sing whilst playing the guitar when I was 9”. From there, Kate’s career started to evolve, learning more instruments along the way. Kate tells me during our phone interview that she can play the bass, drums, mandolin, ukulele and the penny whistle. “I was in a Celtic band for a little while”. I can hear a smile on her face when she tells me that.

Of course once she perfected her instruments, she began to write songs, well dabble with silly lyrics as she puts it. But one day she wrote a song that she was proud of. She penned the song at 12, called it ‘Unknown Love’ and even recorded it, though the recording is no longer available. But it was in that moment that Kate realised her potential as a songwriter. “I realised that I could write about family and things happening at the time.” She is now a full-time singer/songwriter.

Around the same time that she wrote ‘Unknown Love’, Kate really began to see music as a career. She had heard about a school, Senior College of Country Music (formerly Camerata Country Music School) and aspired to attend. But unfortunately for Kate, at that time they weren’t taking applicants that young. But being determined, she started working hard to achieve her goals, eventually ending up at WAAPA. The Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts offered Kate a position when she was 17, something that she is immensely thankful for. “From there I attended the Junior College of Country Music on a scholarship in 2014 and the next year in 2015 I received another scholarship for the Senior College”.

Kate Hindle Georgia Maloney
Photo: Georgia Maloney Photography

After graduating with her music degree from WAAPA in 2015, Kate released her single ‘My Home’ on iTunes, which made it into the Top 40 Country Music Chart. But her star was only just beginning to rise. In 2016, Kate finished in the top 10 of Autralia’s highly prestigious country music competition, the Toyota Star Maker. 2016 also saw Kate perform at big music festivals such as the annual Tamworth Country Music Festival, the Gympie Muster and the Mildura Country Music Festival. In 2017, Kate visited the Tamworth Country Music Festival once again, this time performing with Golden Guitar award winner Travis Collins.

From our interview, it’s clear that Kate aspired to live in Tamworth from a young age and that aspiration turned into reality. “Living in Tamworth was a dream. I was pursuing my career as a country music artist.” Kate was making a name for herself in Tamworth for a year, when her world started to slowly crumble. She had her heart broken, but that was the least of her worries. Kate’s ever increasing back complications would suddenly put a halt to her career.

Kate had a spinal disc push through her spinal canal which almost paralysed her and caused her unbearable pain. But through her darkest days, and her doctors telling her that all her pain was psychological, Kate remained as positive as she could be. “One day the negativity just pushed me to go ‘You know what? I’m gonna get through this and I’m gonna prove to you that it’s not in my head. I’m gonna keep positive. Keep pushing everyday.’” And Kate continued to have that mind focus until one day her bladder stopped working. Suddenly the doctors realised the damage to her body. Her injury was affecting the nerve to her bladder. Following successful surgery in Newcastle, Kate was finally starting to get better but moved back to Western Australia to be closer to her family.

Although Kate’s spinal injury hasn’t stopped her, it did cause her to miss out on a few massive gigs. But Kate found inspiration in what she had been through to write music. “Being in a wheelchair really brought this determination that ‘I really want this’ and I got to write about the really positive journey. I get to write about what I’m feeling and how it affects me and music is definitely a remedy of mine.” So whilst she was in hospital, Kate started to create lyrics for a song to a melody that she had had in her mind for a few years. Kate penned the lyrics ‘I’ve gotta learn. I’ve gotta try to keep getting by’ and thus became her track and eventual EP title ‘Ready For the Ride’.

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Photo: Georgia Maloney Photography

Releasing on Friday the 19th January, the EP features 7 tracks; 4 originals and 3 covers. “All of the songs that are on there have played an important role in my journey,” she tells me. There’s a song from Canadian musician Anne Murray who has always uplifted Kate. Another cover is from country music legend Slim Dusty, who’s Bush Balladeer style has always inspired Kate’s music. The last cover is Patsy Kline.

Kate co-wrote 3 songs on the EP, and penned the remaining track solo. “The songs just symbolise life to be honest.” There is a track on the EP titled ‘Whiskey Lullaby’ which Kate co-wrote with fellow WA musician Johnny Taylor. “It’s about an alcoholic, which isn’t about me, but I just expanded my songwriting skills for this song and I thought it was very important and kind of about my journey.” Kate also co-wrote a song with Felicity Urquhart in Nundle, New South Wales. The song is titled ‘Loneliness’.

Once Kate had written several different songs for the EP, she travelled three hours to Perth to meet with Mark Donohoe, the co-producer of the EP. “We started doing demos. We worked out which songs would make the cut and which wouldn’t.” After looking at different options for the feel of the album, the two decided that the album would be positive and one that people could relate to. Mark Haggerty Jr., a drummer, joined Kate in the recording studio, an experience that she describes as “an honour. He put a twist on some things which was awesome,” a twist which Kate feels actually made the songs better. Kate also worked on the guitar lines with Tamworth musician Rusty Crook for two full days. “We worked on the guitar, the mandolin, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, lead guitar. All of it.” Kate tells me that Rusty had a big input into the album, doing an incredible job. The producer Mark then put the bass line down and then spent the next few weeks tweaking the songs. “I then went back to record the, let’s just call them, end vocals. We spent the next few weeks recording harmonies and mixing and checking the balance of everything.” A long process indeed but Kate assures me that it was all worth it.

With the songs recorded and mixed, Kate was nearly ready to produce the album. But before that she had to come up the artwork, something she did herself. “I sent it to one of my friends who is a designer and she fixed it all up for me.” The CD was then ready to be manufactured, ready for release on the 19th January.

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The complete album cover

As my phone call wraps up with Kate, her gentle voice tells me about her busy year ahead. She’ll be performing 13 gigs over 10 days at the Tamworth Country Music Festival, then touring with her friend Trevor Tolton to Victoria before spending a weekend in South Australia performing. They then head to Western Australia, performing at a country music festival there. She then heads to Bundaberg, Queensland for another festival “I have 4 festivals within the first 5 months of the year”.

As Kate thanks me for the interview and I thank her for the time it’s not hard to see why Kate is so popular. With over 3,500 Facebook fans, Kate’s friendly nature and inspirational talent creates a real country music artist that I think so many people can relate to.

Talented, friendly and inspirational. This is how I describe Kate Hindle.

Kate Hindle- Captain's Eye Photography
Photo: Captain’s Eye Photography

Exciting things ahead

2018 is not just a brand new year, it’s a brand new opportunity for me and this blog.

Now I won’t go into too much detail, but let’s just say I was more than happy to kiss 2017 goodbye. I’m not meaning to sound cliche, but it really was the worst year of my life thus far.

So 2018 has come around and there are some exciting things happening for me. Aside from getting married in August, I have some big articles coming up that I can’t wait to share with you all. I’ve made this blog my priority this year so I’m definitely going to pour my heart and soul into bringing you some interesting articles.

Just over a week into the new year and I have 5 interviews set up. Sami Cooke from Young, now residing in Newcastle, will be one of my first stories for the year. Sami boasts an amazing talent and has some big things happening with her music career this year.

Kate Hindle, another musician who  resides in Western Australia, has overcome some pretty big things lately and will be releasing her new album later this month. I will be interviewing her to find out more about that.

16 year-old singer/songwriter Lili Crane has an amazing talent for someone so young. I will be chatting with her to talk about her current music career.

This one is for the older readers. You probably all know him as ‘King Brian’ from the Retravision commercials, but lately Brian McCombe has made a name for himself as one of the most photographed people on Facebook. Just how does he manage all these selfies with people? I’ll find out when I interview him.

Finally, Alex Shepherd A.K.A Asylem is an up and coming rapper from Newcastle. The 18 year-old will be releasing an EP at some stage this year and will feature in one of my articles this year.

I will also be following and updating news from Georgina Grimshaw and Kendall King.

I really can’t wait to share these articles with you.

To stay up-to-date on when new articles are posted, click the follow button on the page. Alternatively, you can also keep up-to-date by liking the Facebook page facebook.com/creativecollectionsblog or following the Instagram page @creativecollectionsblog.

Georgina Grimshaw- upcoming gigs

Newcastle’s Georgina Grimshaw has had a busy last few months. Aside from performing at several weddings, something that she feels very privileged to do, she’s spent a majority of her days touring around Queensland and New South Wales visiting and playing to rural towns.

“I love going to play in country towns. People are friendly and really appreciate what you are doing. I love travelling, being out in nature on the open road and the adventures of meeting new people.”

More recently, Georgina has been playing a lot of local gigs in more local surroundings such as Maitland and the Newcastle Racecourse.

I recently watched one of her performance at the Levee in Maitland. It”s Georgina and her acoustic guitar but her amazing voice soars through the outdoor shopping strip. She sings a combination of her own songs as well those from artists who have inspired and influenced her music such as Missy Higgins and Lorde.

Georgina will continue to play at the Levee Maitland throughout December, January and February. See the details below.

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Photography: Caitlin Schokker

If you live in the Armidale and Tamworth areas, Georgina is headed your way this week. You can see at the following places:

Friday 15th December: Two Goats Cafe and Baa, Armidale, 7pm

Saturday 16th December: Post Office Hotel, Tamworth, 9am-12pm

Sunday 17th December: Hopscotch Restaurant and Bar, Tamworth, 11am-12pm

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Photo: Aimee Dechellis

Seeing Georgina perform live is definitely worth it, so if you are able to, I highly recommend checking out one of her upcoming gigs.

Kendall’s King Tide

Sun, sand and waves. This is the back drop for the debut video ‘Tide’ from local Sydney artist Kendall King.

Kendall has always had a feel for music, beginning at the age of 5. But it wasn’t really until nine years ago when he began to produce his own music. “I started writing in 2008 and recording myself on the PC with a cable I used to plug straight into my guitar amp,” he tells me before saying that he can actually play 10 instruments. These include the piano, drums, saxophone, flute and violin along with the guitar and vocals.

I wonder if having the ability to play so many instruments makes it easier to create different sounds for each song? Kendall tells me that he creates all the sounds, excluding vocals, on a computer. “It’s rare I’ll actually record an instrument. Even when I track a guitar part, it’s plugged directly into the PC through an audio interface and I’m using emulated guitar amps and effects”.

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There’s a lot that goes into creating and, later, producing a track. The melody is first, which is usually created on a piano by Kendall. From there he will draw the MDI notes and start layering sounds, adding in harmonies and chords. “It usually takes me 5 minutes to come up with a song and then another 6 months of producing and re-editing until the final song is ready.”

Wanting the freedom to be his own artist and create what he visualised, Kendall started to develop his own label SKYLLA about 2 years ago. Creating a label meant that Kendall would have independence as a musician along with creative individuals working alongside him that he has a deep connection with. But SKYLLA has become more than just about music, as Kendall tells me during our interview. “We are a 360 company. We don’t just make music. We do photography, videography, artworks, bookings and promotions. We make our own rules. We are free to express ourselves the way we want to express our art.” Kendall feels that this approach is more authentic, as he isn’t owned by anyone or locked into a particular contract, something a lot of artists strive for.

Although beginning out with just music, Kendall is now involved in the visual aspects of it, because music is more than just audio. “It’s become a visual medium and that forced me to become a photographer, a videographer and a graphic artist.” Essentially, when Kendall is creating the music, he is picturing the finished  package with the cover art and music video.

Kendall put his video skills to practice during production for his music video ‘Tide’. Filmed at Manly and Stockton beaches, the video offers a visual journey for the viewer. Before ‘Tide’ was filmed, Kendall had planned out exactly what vision he had for it. “I was part of the lyric writing process so I instantly had visions of sand dunes and the ocean.” Kendall also produced, mixed and mastered the track. Although Kendall is seen to be singing in the film clip, the vocals are actually performed by Jacob Michael.

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‘Tide’ was shot in two days with Kendall doing a majority of the camera work. This included him setting a drone on autopilot to follow him through the sand dunes. He did, however, use a cameraman for a few shots. The shooting of the video was followed by two solid days of editing and producing the final product before it was ready for release.

‘Tide’ was released less than a week ago and has already amassed nearly 80,000 views. That is an incredible effort for an independent artist releasing their first film clip.

Having already released ‘Tide’, Kendall is planning to release an album, with 15 songs ready to go. “It’s just a matter of putting all the songs through the final production process. Mixing, mastering, film clip, art work and then release.”

In total, Kendall has been working on this album for a year now. 2 years prior, he conceptualised the idea of SKYLLA and created a full album last year but decided to scrap it because it wasn’t up to standard. “I’m very happy with this new collection of songs. I’m happy with how each song is sounding. I’ve had the chance to work with some amazing vocalists.”

Whilst Kendall works to release this collection of his work, and as such has no release date just yet, his vision for SKYLLA as a brand remains clear. “Me and the team have discussed starting a clothing line.” But Kendall explicitly states that they only do what they love and want interests them. “We want to make a clothing line because we want to wear the clothes. We make music that we want to listen to. If people out in the world enjoy what we do as well that is a bonus.”

For now, ‘Tide’ is just a taste of what Kendall and the team at SKYLLA have to offer, and if the track is anything to go by, the future looks very promising.

You can view the film clip for ‘Tide’ here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IhVY94G7Y-I

To keep up-to-date with what Kendall is up to , check out their social media pages.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kendalldking/

Instragram: https://www.instagram.com/kendalldking/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/kendalldking

Spotify: Search ‘Kendall King’

Itunes: Search ‘Kendall King Tide’

The Aussie Coeliac- how Ashlee turned her struggle with the disease into a top 50 blog

Ashlee Adams is a coeliac. She is a marketing manager and graphic designer. She is also within the top 50 food blogs in Australia.

Ashlee was diagnosed with Coeliac disease at the age of 6 in 1998. For ten months prior, she had seen her mum be diagnosed with the disease and readjust her life. So for Ashlee, being a kid was tough at times. “The disease gave me social anxiety and I got bullied because of it.”

Such problems lead Ashlee to a period in her teenage years where she just didn’t care about the disease anymore. “I got sick of it all. I pretended I didn’t have coeliac disease and ate whatever I wanted”. One day, Ashlee collapsed at school, ending up in hospital because she had fed her body so much gluten. “I had damaged my internal organs so much that I couldn’t get nutrients and I had a baseball sized ulcer”.

Although struggling with disease at times, Ashlee has now taken it in her stride and has created a blog “The Aussie Coeliac” that is within the top 50 food blogs in Australia and the top 50 food blogs for that particular niche in the world, something which hasn’t come easy.

Ashlee tells me that her main motivation behind her blog was realization that she wasn’t alone in being a coeliac. In fact 1 in 70 Australians suffer from some form of the disease. “I wanted to share my years of knowledge and help them.” Having to learn to cook at a young age so that her food was safe to consume, she has begun to share the recipes with others so they can (safely) indulge every now and again too. “I had a lot of recipes that others hadn’t figured out yet”.

So what exactly is coeliac disease? Well to put it simply, it’s where the immune system cannot handle gluten and therefore reacts abnormally, over time causing damage to the bowel. This means that the bowel can become inflamed and flattened when gluten is consumed which, overtime, may lead to gastrointestinal and nourishment absorption difficulties.

So Ashlee’s blog is essentially dedicated to eliminating and replacing certain foods that are toxic to those suffering from coeliac disease, something that she has worked on over time.

Like any blog, getting ‘The Aussie Coeliac’ up and running was a slow process. “Posting quality content on a regular basis was a good start. Finding likeminded groups and reaching out to companies or influencers was a big part.” Ashlee also credits The Social Media podcast as helping her boost her blog by offering great tips and tricks.

Although the process was slow, with Ashlee having been writing her blog for 5 years, this year her blog was finally recognised in the top 50, something which she is very proud of. “It took me time and money to get where I am now.”

For her blog, Ashlee’s research included dining at many different restaurants and food spots that boasted gluten free options. “I spent money at these places and reached out to people, leaving my card with them.” From there, Ashlee put reviews on sites like Trip Advisor, Zomato and local groups. “If you tag the restaurants or brands in your social media share, I’ve found most would reshare or even sponsor.” Basically, the more people that share your post, the more it is out there and the more reputable you become.

However successful her blog has become, the success of it all is still sinking in. “Every time somebody shares something, I get really surprised,” she tells me.

“I was at an expo and Olympic Gold medallist Jacqui Cooper came up to me and asked me for a photo.” She further tells me that hearing how her blog has helped others really satisfies her.

The self-proclaimed perfectionist says her life revolves around food, something which is an integral part of her life. Aside from completing a Bachelor’s degree in literature, graphic design and web development plus a certificate 3 in marketing and journalism, Ashlee’s passion for food is what really defines her success as a blogger. “Food is a science, and I love mixing and meddling with ingredients to find new techniques,” she says.

Ashlee’s blog has led to her write a cookbook, something which she is in the process of writing now. Titled ‘RSVP Gluten Free’, the book focuses on gluten free and allergen free entertainment. Whilst there is no release date yet, ‘RSVP Gluten Free’ is likely to be the ultimate cookbook Bible for any person who suffers from Coeliac Disease or gluten intolerance or for those of us, like me, who want to cut a little bit of gluten out of their diets.

 

For now Ashlee is enjoying her success and writing about what she loves. You can read more about coeliac disease, coeliac friendly restaurants and Ashlee’s life by visiting: http://www.aussiecoeliac.com.au

Wedding Tips for a budget conscious bride

It’s the moment you’ve been waiting for, maybe even expecting. He’s finally popped the question. You tell all your family and friends, post it on social media. But then the reality settles in- you have a wedding to plan. If you’re a budget conscious bride like I am, then just thinking about the cost of your wedding could be enough to give you cold feet. But weddings don’t have to be expensive. Now I’m no expert, but hopefully these tips that I’m about to offer you, will help you save on your big day.

The average Australian wedding costs around $40 000, which for somebody like me seems too much to spend on one day. In fact, I am doing my wedding for just a quarter of that and not skimping on anything. Yes, I still have the dress of my dreams, a photographer and videographer, lovely flowers and cake and a venue by the water. You just have to be clever and shop around.

The first thing my fiancé and I did as an engaged couple was sit down and decide on a budget. We looked at how much each of us is earning and how much we could put away each week without breaking the bank. This is how we came up with our budget of $12 000, plus we’d still have money left over for our dream honeymoon to New Zealand.

With our budget in focus, we began to look at venues that would suit our budget. I really didn’t see much point in even considering venues that we knew would be way out of our price range. That way we couldn’t fall in love with a place where we would have to live off 2-minute noodles for 18 months in order to afford it. We’ve chosen a beautiful place by the water in Newcastle where, for just over $100 per head, it includes canapes and 3 courses; beer, wine and soft drink; table centrepiece and chair ribbons plus more. And because we knew we would only be having a small wedding, we looked for places that specifically had a low minimum number.

Through my research, I found that most places can be quite a bit cheaper if you have your wedding during Winter or through the week, so also consider this as an option if you are looking to save money. Most venues will also give you a discount if you wanted cake as dessert.

Once we worked out the total budget for our wedding, we were then able to put on a budget on all the different elements. So for my dress, the limit was $2000. I think it’s important to know your limit when it comes to dresses and only try dresses on within that budget. The last thing you need is to fall in love with a dress that you can’t afford. Thankfully I found the dress of my dreams for only $700!

In terms of photography, it can be one of the most expensive things on the day. In fact, most photography companies charge in excess of $2500 just to capture your big day. For some people, they wouldn’t mind paying this much for photography but for couples like my fiancé and I, we just can’t justify spending that much. So we shopped around and asked friends and family for recommendations. We have found a photographer who takes amazing pictures and doesn’t actually earn anything from doing so. As a couple, we make a donation to the charity of her choice and she then photographs our day. For us, this was an easy decision because helping charity is the ultimate gift.

The same went for videography, we could not justify spending $3000 on someone to video our big day. Again, we have shopped around and found a lovely couple to video our big day for a fraction of the cost of what most people pay. We get 2 videographers for 14 hours who follow us from preparation until our first dance. We also get a 2 hour feature length film of our wedding day completely edited. This is only costing us $1800, nearly half of the average video company charges, Again, every couple is different and may wish to spend more money on videography than other things.

One can also save money by DIYing. We are making all our stationary (invitations, place settings and cards), saving hundreds by doing so. We are also using the help of family and friends to help us save money. My dad is making the wishing well, saving us a couple of hundred dollars.  Our MC is a family member and our wedding performer is a friend. Our cake is being made through a friend and is costing less than $200 and because I know a florist, I am getting the bouquets made way cheaper. I also know the Hair and Make-up artist so am getting a great deal on these also. Use your friends and family’s talents to your advantage, then you are saving money and can spend more money elsewhere. Trust me, friends and family will actually feel privileged that they can help you out on your wedding day when there are so many other vendors out there you can use.

Now, I don’t need to go through all the elements of planning with you, but what I will say is that every decision you make needs to be one that both of you are happy with. Remember to shop around and do your research- attend wedding expo’s, join social media groups, negotiate prices etc. Above all do what you want. Don’t worry about pleasing everyone by feeling obligated to invite all of your cousins, 2nd cousins, 3rd cousins, your mum’s best friends friend etc. We are only having parents, siblings, aunts and uncles and our closest friends because we want a wedding of about 50 people. We haven’t let anybody influence that decision. Your day is about you as a couple, and you need to be happy with what you have planned together.

So when you’re planning your wedding with a budget in mind, remember to research, shop around, negotiate, do some things yourself and utilise the talents of family and friends.

Featured Image: KLK Photography

 

 

Jenna’s creative life- from dancer to makeup artist

Jenna O’Connor (nee Drelincourt) is a woman of many creative talents. As I discover in my interview, creativity is who she is as a person.

Jenna’s dance career began when she was just 4 years old at what she describes as a ‘tin pot’ dance school that really wasn’t very good. She was at that school until high school, where her dance career really started to come into focus. “I had a teacher at this dance studio that took me under her wing. She choreographed my audition piece for a Performing Arts High School.” Jenna says that this created a realisation that the tin pot school she was at, really wasn’t going to get her anywhere as a dancer.

The Hunter School of Performing Arts which Jenna attended is well known for their knowledge and could get people careers, something that Jenna had striven for. But attending such a school also had some consequences. “The teachers kind of did my head in a little bit and I ended up kind of messed up from ballet,” Jenna tells me as she takes a sip of water.

Jenna’s dancing led her to Japan, where she landed herself a job. She was one of the youngest people to get a job but she wasn’t old enough to sign a contract. Luckily her Japanese host family were very accommodating. “They helped me out. They signed contracts if they needed to and acted on my parent’s behalf.” Then, just as her career in Japan was in full speed, Jenna received some bad news from back home in Australia- her father had been in an accident. “I stopped dancing for a while because of this, which made me hate life.” Dancing was all Jenna had ever known, and now it seemed like it had been taken away from her.

After her father had begun to recover, Jenna met somebody who would steer her into the right direction for her dance career, leading her to study at Queensland University of Technology. “I didn’t think that was a possibility. What? A dancer’s degree? Really? But I did a Performance Degree, a Bachelor of Fine Arts.”

Whilst studying for the degree, Jenna tells me of one of her most memorable choreographic piece. “I had to choreograph a 10-minute piece for an assignment. I had to have a storyline and it had to come with a synopsis and be based on a certain thing.” The subject she chose was emotion, more specifically the process of bereavement. A couple of months prior, Jenna had has her pop pass away so took that as inspiration. She focused on the five stages of grief. Her dancers were based on the New South Wales Central Coast, so every weekend Jenna found herself flying to and from Queensland. “The dancers really embraced the choreography and you could see that they really got something out of it. So that’s probably the most rewarding piece I’ve created as a choreographer.”

Jenna at a University photoshoot

After graduating from university, Jenna saved some money before moving to Germany and dancing around Europe. “I enjoyed seeing the world and getting paid for it,” Jenna tells me with a smile. “I got to see really small villages around Germany. Being able to dance in places like that made it even more of a dream come true. It wasn’t something that I was used to culturally.”

During her time in Germany, Jenna did a performance in the streets of Stuttgart, dressed in plastic. “I was modelling art but in a quirky way. The outfit was super-duper quirky and it was weird, but fun. Different so I liked it.”

Jenna returned home what she thought would be briefly for a wedding. But she never returned, meeting her now husband Alex. Instead she opened her own dance studio Newcastle Dance Collective which she now reflects on. “It was nice to have the control for myself while I could. Not letting somebody else control my daily life was amazing. But self-motivation was a struggle especially on the days when I was tired.” But the most rewarding part for Jenna was of course the students. “It was so nice seeing the kids come in at one level and leave at another. Seeing their personal growth and the fact that dance had given them that growth was probably the most rewarding part.” Unfortunately, due to illness and other personal reasons, the studio has since closed. But that now gives Jenna time to focus on her other creative endeavours in life- makeup and hair.

“I need my creative element now that my dance career is finished and I get through my makeup.” Jenna is a consultant for cosmetic and skin care company Mary Kay, something which she is very passionate about.

She tells me that there is so much to love about working for the company. “I get to meet new people, which is always a great thing and network with them.” But the best thing for Jenna is her clients. “I get to help women feel great about themselves. Yes it gives me my creative outlet with makeup, but when you get to help someone their skin and I help them feel good about themselves, then that’s the best part.

But Jenna doesn’t just sell Mary Kay, she also uses their products to create makeup looks for women for special occasions such as weddings and even film clips. Her favourite makeup looks she created was for a film clip that she choreographed as well called ‘Sideways’ for the band Bad Pony. “It was a bit out there, but I definitely got to showcase the Mary Kay products in an out there way. It was not just every day looks. So, I tested everyone’s ideals about Mary Kay being everyday makeup by coming up with something quirky which was good. They all looked amazing.”

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Makeup for the Bad Pony film clip

Jenna, like all makeup artists, has tips for creating the best look for you. “Make sure you prepare the skin, because it’s like a blank canvas. Taking care of your skin is a good way to start.” Primer is also a big must have when wearing makeup. She also says that experimenting and practicing is a good tool. “If you don’t push your boundaries, you will never learn new things. Experimenting and practicing what you experiment with is probably the best tip.”

Jenna has found that since leaving the dance industry, she feels lost but makeup is helping to fill that void. “I definitely get excited when I have to do somebody’s makeup. I definitely enjoy the outcome at the end of the day.” Jenna likes that she is now able to put more focus into Mary Kay and helping people out. “I get to help people and I have that choice as well which is the best thing about it.”

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A makeup look Jenna created for ICON

Having just recently completed a hair styling course, Jenna hopes that she can now offer a package deal of both hair and makeup for those special occasions like weddings and formals. “This opens up my business a bit more, I think.”

Jenna O’Connor has had a lot happen in her 34 years of life but one thing is for sure, everything she has done, she has done with purpose and consequence. Wherever life takes her next, Jenna will follow her unicorn-filled, creative and talented life.

Interview with Artist Rebecca Tapscott

“I am a maker of things; working predominately within the realms of contemporary painting.” These are the words of Australian Artist Rebecca Tapscott during our interview. But she is so much more than just a contemporary painter, as I soon find out. “I do like to mix it up a bit with Cyanotypes, welded sculptures and ceramics,” she tells me.

Rebecca realised her talent for art when she was just 9 years old, having won her first art prize with a drawing of her pet Guinea Pig, Speedy. “It inspired me to keep recording the world around me.” Rebecca’s artistic ability was something that ran in the family. Her ancestor on her mum’s side, Frederick Garling Jr was the first formally trained artist in Australia. Her Aunt from her dad’s side has also been a painter for many years.

Rebecca continued painting during school where her ability grew, before proceeding to Art School at Charles Sturt University in Wagga Wagga, New South Wales. “I went to Charles Sturt in part because my family couldn’t afford to send me to Sydney and because they offered Silversmithing which I was fascinated by.” Silversmithing is where objects are crafted from silver.

As an artist, Rebecca describes herself as a “dysfunctional worker who can get caught up with art until the early hours of the morning.” She jokes that this can make her a grumpy mother. Whilst having a room dedicated for her art, she admits that her art spreads from the studio. “I tend to spread my work place from my studio to all ends of the house, which encourages my children to explore their creativity.”

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Copyright: Rebecca Tapscott

Being a mother is the most important job for Rebecca which is how one of her exhibitions ‘Motherworld’ came into focus. Beginning 6 years ago, ‘Motherworld’ was created as a means for a collection of mothers to re-explore the art world after children. “It occurs every second year and each year we explore how our work or arts practice has developed and evolved in tandem with children.” For Rebecca, the focus of the exhibition this year was her own childhood memories and how they had influenced what she wants to happen in her kids’ world.

I ask her how she prepares for such an exhibition and what work goes into it. “It is not just about making an artwork, it also has to look good on the wall. Some galleries have specific hanging types and others don’t.” She also tells me that promotion is also one of the main factors. If the promotion is in the hands of the artist they generally call newspapers and radio stations and use social media as a way of advertising the exhibition. Then there is the mental preparation which, for Rebecca, is the hardest part. “When you make art and exhibit it, you are presenting a piece of your soul for others to critique.”

Glancing through Rebecca’s artwork, there is a clear inspiration from natural environments but the meanings delve much deeper. The 2015 artwork ‘A murder of Crows’ depicts a landscape with crows, but there is a deeper meaning behind it as Rebecca tells me. “It actually had 48 crows that represented the 48 women who had been killed in domestic violence that year up until the exhibition date.” In 2016, Rebecca exhibited at The Northern Rivers Community Gallery in Ballina whereby all the artwork shown depicted a deeper undercurrent prevailing in the life of the birds that were shown.

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Rebecca Tapscott: A Murder of Crows 2015

Currently Rebecca is about to exhibit work at the Belconnen Arts Centre in Canberra that depicts life cycles. “I make Cyanotype prints of dead things then paint the living counterpart in a contour drawing over the top. This represents my brush with death, having recently survived breast cancer.” Later in our interview, I learn that Rebecca has used her fight with breast cancer to tweak her artistry. “Before I use to do numerous sketches and rework artworks. Now I am bold and every line has meaning and method. My linework is continuous and my colours are raw. One line, one life and colour to be joyful that I still have life.”

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Copyright Rebecca Tapscott

Like most artists, there are things that inspire Rebecca to do what she does. She finds inspiration in the works of Matisse, Kandinsky and Frida Kahlo but also from the art of her family and friends as well as life experiences itself.

Aside from being an artist and a mother, Rebecca is also a teacher in Kyogle in Northern New South Wales. “I love engaging students with art and how it encompasses everything in the world, from English to Maths.” She has recently finished her Masters in Mathematics but still predominately teaches art. “I try to get students to focus laterally in their worlds and see how they can explore the mathematical in the artistic and vice versa.” She uses Mathematics as a means for conceptually visualising the world from another level of understanding. “This assists my art and teaching practice as I incorporate programs that encompass art and Maths.”

She says one of the best things about being a teacher is getting her students to create murals because she loves public art. “I feel it allows students to engage with their communities. At Kyogle under my instigation, the local students started painting power poles throughout town”. This is an endeavour that she hopes will continue over the next few years.

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Copyright Rebecca Tapscott

As my interview with Rebecca Tapscott draws to a close, I am beginning to see the person she describes herself as: someone who thinks deeply, laughs with meaning and shares kindness. You could say that it is present there in her colourful and wonderful works of art.

To view more of Rebecca Tapscott’s art, visit her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/rebeccatapscottartist

Georgina’s Cafe Corner

It’s 11am at Peppertown Coffee Bar in Mayfield, Newcastle. The smell of bacon and coffee wafts through the small, cosy café. The staff are friendly and welcoming with a smile. I sit down, waiting for my friend to arrive.

Georgina Grimshaw walks in, smiling. Her long red hair is pulled into a braid. She is dressed in jeans, a jumper and boots and remarks how cold the August weather is outside. We order our food as Georgina comments on how good the Birthday Cake milkshake is. She is friendly with the staff here, having performed numerous gigs here.

Gigs are an integral part of Georgina’s life as a musician. It’s what puts her music out into the world and it’s also something that she really loves doing. She sees touring by herself as a challenge, a way to do things for herself. “It’s good to do those things, you can have confidence in yourself to do it and do something more confidently next time,” she tells me, having just completed a solo tour throughout rural towns in New South Wales and Queensland. “I love going to play in country towns. People are friendly and really appreciate what you are doing. I love travelling, being out in nature on the open road and the adventures of meeting new people.”

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Photo: Susan Mac

But of course, life wasn’t always about touring and performing for Georgina. Born in Newcastle in 1994, she has grown up always loving music. But it wasn’t until school that she really discovered her passion for music and just what she was capable of. “In music class at school I really discovered new things about music. As an assignment, I wrote a song and really kept writing from there.”

Georgina becomes reminiscent and tells me about the first time she really sung into a microphone. “I sung with a school band and it was the first time I really heard my voice and noticed what I could really do.” Her singing career only rose from there.

After performing countless gigs and writing music, Georgina began work on her debut EP Café Corner. She describes the process to me, including how she writes the songs.

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Photo: Susan Mac, Art work: Shanais Staneke

For Georgina, the song writing process is fascinating. She describes it to me as seeing something, acting on it, experiencing it then internalising it to finally understanding it and creating something from it. “I pick up a guitar and start to sing, play and work it out,” she tells me before saying where she gets her inspiration from.

Like most artists, Georgina’s stories come from life experiences, both her own and from those she knows. She doesn’t write happy songs because life isn’t always happy. “I’m not unhappy. But I do find happy songs can be corny.” Sometimes songs can help us to understand life.

Including writing the songs, it took a total of nine months for Café Corner to be recorded, produced and released. The EP was recorded at the Green Room in Warners Bay. What started as guitar lessons with Matt Purcell, turned into recording time.

“I usually spent an hour in the recording studio each week to produce/record/mix various parts of each song,” she tells me of the process. ‘The Storyteller’ and ‘Snow Globe Heart’ were partially written prior to the recording process. Whilst these songs were being worked on, the other 3 songs were written.

The five track EP demonstrates Georgina’s ability as a songwriter and a singer. As an artist who best describes her music as storytelling, the lyrics of each song take the listener on a journey. Of the songs on the EP, Georgina worries that ‘Café Corner’ might be whiny to some although she feels that it is most symbolic to her breaking out of the cover gigs and becoming her own artist.

Her personal favourite is the final track ‘Blue with the Grey’, which she wrote the morning of having to record her final track for the EP. She describes the song as meaning a lot to her. “What I wrote it about had been something I’d been struggling to talk about. The song is basically about becoming disillusioned and hurt by various people in leadership at church. It was my way of saying why I had left and expressing all the hurt and confusion I’d felt”.

Perhaps one of the most mature and emotionally driven tracks on the EP is ‘Free Now’. Following the death of one of Georgina’s friends, she wrote the track to help her understand everything she was feeling and comprehend what had happened. Most of us have lost someone close to us so it’s a track that we can all relate to and is simply breathtaking.

For independent artists like Georgina, it’s good to stay true to yourself. Independent artists get to be themselves and sing the music they want to sing, which is why she offers up this advice for aspiring independent musicians. “Don’t wait for anyone to give you permission to do what you want to do. Have an attitude that you never know what might happen, who might be there watching you perform.” She also says to try and be involved in as many open mic nights and gigs as possible to experiment as an artist and build a following. “It’s really important to get to know the people in your local scene”.

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Photo: Emma Jane Pitach

More recently, Georgina has found herself increasingly performing at weddings. “Weddings are special. To perform there makes me part of their history and makes the couple so happy,” Georgina tells me with a smile. She goes on to tell me about how emotional wedding days are and how she can channel this into her performance. “They’ll remember me singing their special songs, which is a privilege to have that access into their lives.”

For Georgina, music is her life; it is her job. It does more for her then just pay the bills. She describes song writing and performing as a way of helping her understand and cope with life. “It’s a lot cheaper than therapy,” she laughs. “Every moment of my working day is thinking or listening to music, thinking about what I could be doing or what other people are doing.”

As our interview begins to wrap up, she tells me that she would love to be a florist, and has recently started creating some flower pieces. I notice a floral piece on the wall at Peppertown that she has created. Her Instagram and Facebook also show photos of Georgina picking flowers from the wild and wearing flower crowns. I think this reveals a lot about Georgina and her free-spirited nature.

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Photo: Caitlin Schokker

Georgina lists some of her favourite musicians as Missy Higgins, Angus and Julia Stone, Ed Sheeran and Delta Goodrem; all fantastic artists. One day Georgina may well be just as influential and popular as these artists, but for now she is just enjoying being her own musician and doing what she really loves- singing the songs from her heart and being her own artist.
Café Corner is available to purchase, stream and download now. To see more of Georgina Grimshaw, visit her Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/GeorginaGrimshaw

The Nutcracker- The Story of Clara

 

Forget the Sugar Plum Fairy and everything else you ever thought about ‘The Nutcracker’, for this production is about Clara and the life she leads, weaving in both the history of ballet and its revolution in Australia, and history itself.

It has been 25 years since Graeme Murphy conceived this extraordinary production of the classic ballet. Murphy, who has danced with the Australian Ballet and was the artistic director of Sydney Dance Company for over 30 years, has become known to take classical ballets and delve into their deeper stories.

“When you take something that’s inherently fanciful and weave some truths into it, that for me works. And if you can find a context dancers can relate to they will invest so much more,” Murphy says of his work.

Since this work, Murphy has reinterpreted ‘Swan Lake’, ‘Romeo and Juliet’ and ‘Firebird’, to name just a few, for The Australian Ballet, cementing his place as one of this country’s most creative and cotemporary choreographers.

‘The Nutcracker-The Story of Clara’ follows the back story of the protagonist. The ballet opens on Christmas Eve in the 1950s somewhere in Melbourne. Children are playing and Clara, a former Russian Ballerina, returns home from shopping. As she turns on the radio, the sweet sounds of Tchaikovsky’s ‘The Nutcracker’ fills the small room as nostalgia hits Clara.

Clara’s Russian friends visit her and they share a few drinks and dances together. Clara’s doctor arrives with footage of Clara’s performing years with the Russian Imperial Ballet. Her body weakening, the guests leaves and Clara is ordered to rest. And so her hallucinations begin.

Through Clara’s hallucinations we discover that as a child she strived for perfection in ballet classes which lands her an acceptance into the Imperial Ballet. We also learn of her love affair with a Russian soldier, who upon the Russian Revolution breaking out in 1917, is killed.

What is most significant is how Clara’s performances weave in the traditional story of ‘The Nutcracker’ and the history of ballet in Australia. As a prima ballerina, Clara performs the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy for the Tsar and Tsarina. When her beloved dies, dancing becomes her only companion whereby she joins the Ballet Russes. She spends years touring the globe with the Ballet Russes, arriving in Australia in 1940. Due to the second World War, she is forced to stay in Australia, taking her last curtsey at war’s end.

‘The Nutcracker- The Story of Clara’ offers an intriguing 2 hour performance for the audience as the story unfolds in different ways. For starters, this ballet opens with characters speaking dialogue rather than dancing it, which is almost non-existent in ballets. In fact, the dancing doesn’t actually begin until nearly 5 minutes into the performance and even then it isn’t your traditional classical ballet. A lot of the choreography we see from the elder Clara and her friends is influenced by styles other than ballet: folk, contemporary and character. As the performance progresses, we begin to see more of the classical ballet through Clara’s performances as a ballerina. Act 2 showcases Tai Chi and Contemporary dance as a homage to the original Chinese and Arabian dances in the classic Nutcracker. Clara’s final performance in the ballet mimics the choreography of the Ballet Russes production of ‘The Nutcracker’ truly tying her story into the original. Murphy’s choreography is unique, thoughtful and executed well by the performers.

There are three Clara’s in this production- Clara the Elder, Clara the Ballerina and Clara the Child; all of which play a vital role in the story.

Clara the Elder was performed by Ai-Gul Gaisina, a Russian Ballerina and former Australian Ballet dancer. Gaisina captures the essence of Clara the Elder perfectly, with her theatrics and dance talent conveying the role as the storyteller to perfection.

Principal artist Leanne Stojmenov shines in her role as Clara The Ballerina. Her talent is alluring, her stage presence felt by the audience. The expressiveness in her movement tells of the beautiful and sad life that Clara lead. She possesses a particular grace that makes her dancing truly mesmerising. Stojmenov is partnered perfectly with Kevin Jackson who fulfils the role of the Doctor and Beloved Officer. Jackson’s strength and skill shines in his performance.

Clara the Child was performed by Emma Gavan, a guest artist of the Australian Ballet. Other guest artists included founding Australian Ballet performer Colin Peasley, Graeme Hudson and Audrey Nicholls who dance the roles of Clara’s Russian friends.

‘The Nutcracker- The Story of Clara’ is a fantastic and unique production that cements The Australian Ballet as a diverse company that represents Australia and its history. Through choreographic storytelling, Murphy has created a ballet masterpiece that strongly lives on 25 years later.