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Marvellous, Electrical: Scratch and Hope, part 1

The first of a three-part series: VW Beetles, artistry, engineering, and stories of migration at Marvellous, Electrical this week.



Marvellous, Electrical: Toowong Knights


The Regatta Hotel, Toowong – Public Domain image by Wikipedia user Adz

“Every problem in life has a solution. A bouncer stopped me at the pub door once for wearing flip-flops. I had tape in my bag.”

“Take a walk around the block. Put silver duct tape around your feet and shoes, loop it over, make it look pretty. Come back wearing ‘silver sandals’, they’ll let you in.”

Meet the patron saint of Brisbane’s student drinkers in this week’s Marvellous, Electrical.

Interview with ABC Capricornia: Adventure, experience, participation

Rockhampton riverside, Central Queensland
On my last trip to Rockhampton in Central Queensland, I was interviewed by Chrissy Arthur of ABC Capricornia. We talked about some of my projects in Australia and New Zealand, the role of public libraries in 2016, and this year’s upcoming Fun Palaces across Queensland and worldwide.

The best part was talking about how creativity isn’t determined by your pay grade – anyone can have a bright idea, and a role like mine is as much about listening to organisations and their communities as it is ‘thinking up cool stuff to do’.

You can hear ‘Zombies, Burlesque, Cardboard, and Coffee’ on ABC Capricornia’s Soundcloud account here.

Prepare For Trouble / Make It Double: Pokémon Go @ State Library of Queensland

The Pokémon Go game is bringing crowds of players to all kinds of public spaces, so of course museums, galleries, and libraries are working to attract these people, get them through the doors, and engage them.

It feels like every cultural institution worth its salt has used social media and friendly signage to let Pokémon players know they’re welcome. The smart team at Queensland Art Gallery / Museum of Modern Art, just next door to where I work, put out Pokémon lures at the weekend to attract extra players to the South Bank. Read more

Brisbane Writers Festival

Brisbane Writers Festival Logo

I’m appearing twice at the Brisbane Writers Festival this September.

The program is out today in papers across the city and you can see it online at the website of organisers UPLIT.

On Saturday 10th September from 4-5pm, I’ll be at Queensland Art Gallery speaking on “The Rules of Engagement“, a panel with Kate Pullinger and Caroline Keins exploring the changing ways that artists, institutions, and communities interact.

Then on Sunday 11th September, I’ll help a panel of scientists and science-fiction writers to explore science, imagination, and identity. Join Dr Maggie Hardy, Prof Tamara Davis, Ellen van Neerven, and Dr Maree Kimberley for “Science and Belonging“, which I’ll be moderating from 11.30am-12.30pm at The Parlour in the State Library of Queensland.

Find out more at the UPLIT / Brisbane Writers Festival website.

Marvellous, Electrical: Quexit?

Could parts of Queensland ever secede from the Sunshine State? Is Queensland identity especially unstable now, and does this reflect political turmoil in the US and UK?

How long is the history of independence movements here? And how flexible is the Commonwealth of Australia when it comes to redrawing boundaries and reshaping identities?

I talk with Professor Paul Williams of Griffith University about the mysteries of “Quexit” in this week’s Marvellous, Electrical.

Brisbane Times on Bernard King

The Brisbane Times has just published a story on the State Library of Queensland’s acquisition of the last ever interviews with Aussie celebrity chef Bernard King.

I discovered the tapes after writing an edition of Marvellous, Electrical about King and his place in Australian pop culture.

To read more about how we discovered these materials and why we’re putting them online, read last month’s blog on the Bernard King tapes.

Queensland Heritage Leaders Workshop

Back in May, I led a couple of sessions for Queensland’s Heritage Leaders Workshop, exploring ways to turn audiences into participants and expand the conversations we have at panels, keynotes, and other events.

Videos from the day are now online and you can see more from Queensland’s Heritage Leaders event at the QANZAC 100 website.

Marvellous, Electrical: Aussie Rules

This week’s instalment of my regular newsletter Marvellous, Electrical looks at Aussie rules football.

Sign up for weekly Marvellous, Electrical here.


Queensland Fun Palaces 2016

“We believe in the genius in everyone, in everyone an artist and everyone a scientist, and that creativity in community can change the world for the better.

We believe we can do this together, locally, with radical fun – and that anyone, anywhere, can make a Fun Palace.”

– Fun Palaces Manifesto

October might seem far off, but plans are underway for Fun Palaces across the Sunshine State in 2016.

What’s a Fun Palace? It’s the opportunity for a community to come together and explore the arts and sciences for free.

From fancy inner-city venues to radio stations, theatres, websites, suburban parks, swimming pools, remote tropical islands, people’s back gardens, and, yes, libraries, Fun Palaces are a way for people to get together with friends, family, neighbours, workmates, and strangers in their community, to celebrate the artist and scientist in all of us.

Theatre director Joan Littlewood and architect Cedric Price came up with the idea of Fun Palaces back in the 1960s. They imagined “a laboratory of fun” that would serve as a pop-up community venue for both art and science.

Today, Fun Palaces take place all over the world on the first weekend in October, allowing communities to be part of something bigger, setting off sparks of inspiration and connection which lead to lasting benefits for the people involved.

Fun Palaces illustration

Fun Palaces are for all ages and all members of a community; they can be big or small, low-tech or high-tech, dramatic or domestic. In the small country town of Parkes, New South Wales, we devised a 2014 Fun Palace that let kids and adults join forces to create superhero games from recycled materials.

In 2015, I was co-producer to 11 simultaneous Fun Palaces across a 13-mile stretch of South London. Football clubs and firefighters, jewellers and businesspeople, comic stores and kickboxers, university students and lecturers, plus many more all joined forces to celebrate the arts and sciences in the London Borough of Lambeth. London’s 2015 Fun Palaces also included an online comic maker built for us by the State Library of Queensland, where I’m currently based.

If you’re a Queenslander who’d like to get involved with Fun Palaces this year, our team at the State Library can give advice and support, or connect you to venues which are already running Fun Palaces across the state – including every single public library in the city of Brisbane. We’re also equally excited if you just want to make a tiny Fun Palace in your office or your garden or your kitchen, with your mates or your neighbours or your family.

We all have something to offer, we all have something we’d like to learn or explore. If you’d like to join the adventure in Queensland, either contributing to a Fun Palace on the weekend of 1-2 October, or helping Fun Palace organisers in the run-up to their event, contact the State Library’s Signature Team.

Chalked Fun Palace sign from Brockwell, London

Image by Shelley Silas


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