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Marvellous, Electrical: This Means War

What’s it like to cook and clean for the soldiers and hospital patients of Brisbane?

How do you cope with split shifts on the city’s south side when you live in a northern suburb?

There’s evil eyes, paperclip pranks, and butter on the windows in Marvellous, Electrical: This Means War.


The Scrub Turkey Sessions

Tomorrow, Saturday 1st October, we’ll be playtesting the Scrub Turkey Sessions game (PDF download) devised as a collaboration between State Library of Queensland and Griffith University.

Urban ecologist Professor Darryl Jones and I made a cheap and simple game which lets people step into the role of a male scrub turkey trying to build a nest and attract a mate.

Librarians across Queensland have been experimenting with the game for weeks now, adjusting the rules and resources – now it’s your turn to get involved. Read more

Queensland Fun Palaces 1-2 October

The long-awaited Fun Palaces weekend has arrived.

Fun Palaces illustration

After months of planning and preparation, communities across Queensland are gearing up to celebrate the arts and sciences in all their forms, partnered with a range of libraries and other institutions.

From the islands of the Torres Strait to the cotton fields of the Darling Downs, plus every library in the city of Brisbane, and of course our own State Library on the city’s South Bank, the first weekend in October will see a swathe of venues open their doors for community-led events celebrating the Fun Palace motto “everyone an artist, everyone a scientist.”

We’ve come along way since Parkes Library hosted Australia’s first ever Fun Palace back in 2014.

I’ll be with the State Library team on Saturday, supporting events including our Scrub Turkey Sessions devised with urban ecologist Professor Darryl Jones of Griffith University.

Wherever you are in the world, check the Fun Palaces website for your nearest event, or join in online with the Comic Maker built for Fun Palaces by the State Library. (We’ve also put the code behind the site online, if you feel like a bit of digital tinkering).

Memory Squad!

What does it mean to have a creative relationship with the past?

How do 21st century institutions manage our cultural heritage?

I asked Jacinta Sutton, Gavin Bannerman, and Laura Daenke of the State Library of Queensland.

Call them the Memory Squad.


Read about their work over at Library as Incubator today.

Banned Books Week: Love Illustrated, Rona’s War, and Hansard 37

I’m working in a library at the moment, so here’s three quick stories for Banned Books Week, the US-led celebration of our freedom to read what we want.

Materials from Rona Joyner's STOP campaign - via State Library of Queensland

Materials from Rona Joyner’s STOP campaign – via State Library of Queensland

These all come from the research of the State Library of Queensland’s resident banned book specialist, Joan Bruce. Read more

Marvellous, Electrical: Eustress

“Dance, whatever you say, it’s mostly all about me: its own kind of hedonism. You look in the mirror and judge yourself. You entertain the audience, maybe you inspire one or two kids who’d like to be dancers themselves, but that’s about it. It can be overwhelming to focus on yourself that way.”

“What I do now, I don’t stop people getting sick, I don’t fix every problem, but at least I know I’ve helped.”

Queensland ambulance

A classic Queensland amublance. Image from Queensland State Archives.

This week’s Marvellous, Electrical tells the story of a top-flight contemporary dancer turned Brisbane paramedic.

Read Curious, Mysterious, Marvellous, Electrical: Eustress here.

Local History, Local Music

Got to love a conference which takes place in a pub: I’m speaking at next week’s Australian gathering of the International Association of Music Librarians, and the venue is Brisbane’s Ship Inn, a “rowdy sailors’ drinking den now transformed into a civilised gastropub”.

My paper’s called “Wondrous Strange, Marvellous Electrical” and it’s scheduled for the afternoon of Friday, 30 September. I’ll use a playlist to explore musicality, play, makers, archives, uncomfortable histories, and information science in the digital age.

It’s not too late to sign up for the conference via their Eventbrite page.

Attendees will get to hear a bit of Powerwolf during my presentation, but sadly Mina’s ‘Se Telefonando’ didn’t make the cut.

It’s lovely, though, so have a listen below:


Marvellous, Electrical: Substance

This week’s Marvellous, Electrical explores the Brisbane drug scene of the early 2000s.

Fortitude Valley by Wikipedia user lilywatanabe, used under a CC-BY-SA 3.0 licence

Image by Wikipedia user lilywatanabe, under a CC BY-SA 3.0 licence

A drug support worker who worked a beat in Fortitude Valley, the historic hub of Brisbane nightlife, joined me to talk about the rhythms and routines of heavy drug use in Queensland’s capital.

Read Marvellous, Electrical: Substance here.

Comic Makers at Brisbane Parking Day

Yesterday I took a team of staff from the State Library of Queensland to run a pop-up comic making stand in Brisbane’s West End.

Brisbane Parking Day - Comic Maker Stall

Drawing on previous experiences with comic book dice at Bermondsey Street Festival, we took over a car parking space to let Brisbane locals tell their own sidewalk stories using simple three-dimensional cartoons. Read more

Download the Code: Fun Palaces Comic Maker

State Library of Queensland’s Online Comic Maker returns for the 2016 Fun Palaces event celebrating the arts and sciences in communities across the world.


I devised the Comic Maker for Fun Palaces 2015; it was designed and built by Talia Yat and Phil Gullberg of the State Library of Queensland, where I’m currently Creative in Residence. (You can read the story of its origins in this Comics Grid interview).

The deceptively simple site encouraged users worldwide to surprise us with non-narrative comics, cheeky horror storiesand even comics in Te Reo Māori.

This year the Comic Maker has been fully integrated into the Fun Palaces homepage, but we’ve also released the code behind the site as a Github repository.

If you’d like to use the Comic Maker code to design and devise your own website – to reimagine, remix, or adapt the State Library’s work into a whole new online offering – visit the Fun Palaces Comic Maker page at Github.