The Wheels on the Zine Wagon go round and round….

28 Oct: Townsville – Zine workshop

Life on the road can be all consuming and quite easily turn into a way of life without even noticing. Everyday offers endless possibilities, from exploring to meeting new faces, but, like any lifestyle change, something must always give, and for us, it was computer time. Blogging has taken the back seat to adventure, and let’s be honest, I don’t think it’s going to change.  Elouise and I have been photographing and documenting, but with no real time to reflect or upload to the online world, when so much is calling our names.

In March this year, I was lucky enough to be invited up to Mackay’s Artspace Gallery to deliver 2 days’ worth of zine workshops, and with Mackay being home to the bi-annual artist book conference, I knew there was a zine and artist book following up here. We decided that Crossroad Arts would be the perfect fit to host the workshop and zine fair. Crossroads are one of the very few arts community orgs that I find truly inspiring and not afraid to get their hands dirty with all walks of life. Steve, the director, is currently undertaking a residency at the Darpana Performing Arts Academy in Ahmedabad India. Checkout his video blogs here.  It was great to see familiar faces come along and hear about their current projects and developments.

24 Oct: Mackay – Zine Fair/Workshop @ Crossroad Arts

After a number of trips up and down the death stairs, the car was parked, we stank like wet dogs and the wagon looked worse than it ever had with boxes and zines all over the place. Off we went to our next home away from home, Townsville. We knew that the crew from Artspaced and RUN would be waiting with open arms.

27 Oct: Palm Island – Zine workshop

27 Oct: Palm Island – Zine workshop

Palm Island, an aboriginal community 20 minutes away by a tiny 8 seater flight off the coast of Townsville, was, without a doubt the most anticipated workshop of the tour. I’m sure when I mention Palm Island, certain connotations come to mind for you, and with the lack of adequate housing and employment opportunities within the island, it’s hardly the Marriot Hotel. That said, we were both excited and unsure of what we were going to be in for. The early morning flight gave us both the lay of the land and sea before landing, which was breathtaking to say the least. Michelle Hall from Bwgcolman Community School greeted us with excitement. Normally the schools art teacher, Michelle had picked up the slack with a chronic shortage of teachers and has taken on-board subjects like Geography to keep the subjects running. Our full day workshop was to be a reward for a  group of grade ten girls who had been working hard and attending school. It took a little while for them to warm up to us and the zine making plan, but less than thirty minutes in, the typewriters were in full swing and some of the best zines of the tour were in motion.

Michelle’s group are currently working on a project to create the Islands first cultural map with all the locations written in English and Indigenous dialects, and we can’t wait to get our hands on a copy.  Over lunch Michelle gave us the guided tour around the school, showing off the graff murals that Townsville’s RUN collective have done. We ate kebabs for lunch at one of the few shops and gazed at spectacular views of the surrounding islands. Both of us can’t wait to head back and stay for a week and work on a longer term project. We were lucky enough to have a taste of what Palm Island can offer thanks to Jeanette from Artspaced.

Unlike Palm Islands reward class, the following day, students from schools in and around Townsville were in attendance because there were either suspended or expelled. The workshop was going great, we connected with the students, and they were making their ‘we hate cops’ and ‘teachers suck’ zines. Within an hour more teachers and staff arrived unannounced, out numbering the students. Sadly that put a stop to our ‘No rules zine making’ workshop and creativity. It was clear the zines had also come to a dead-end. With the wagon packed back up, and looking like we had been living in it for the past 2 years, not 2 weeks, we drove off to Cairns with plans of hitting up Wally’s (The Upholstery) birthday party!

29 Oct: Cairns – Zine workshop @ Crate59

Our workshop was really well received in Cairns.  Great number and quality crew rocked up, some even brought resource materials with them. I guess we shouldn’t be too surprised, as it wasn’t that long ago that Gutter Trash was held which launched ten local zines.  I’ve got a soft spot for Cairns, it’s the home of some of Australia’s most kind hearted arty crew, and lucky for us most of them helped us out in one way or another. MOFO, the Merchants of Fine Objects, once the home of limited edition T-shirts and artwork, is now the home to off the grid gigs, events and the new gallery, Room 1.  MOFO also became our home during our stay in Cairns.

29 Oct: Cairns – MOFO Gig (Meat Bikini)

As part of the Cairns launch, Joel Goodman of Auxiliary organised a gig at MOFO the same night as the workshops. Listening to one of Cairn’s punk intuitions Meat Bikini (best band name I’ve heard in years) made me think back how surreal the last three days have been. 27 October we were on Palm Island, 28 in Townsville with the quote, unquote bad eggs from the schooling system, and on the 29 the tropical city of Cairns in the beautiful community space Crate59 . Every workshop was so dramatically different, the places and people were real and we both wished we could stay longer and engage with each community. We have been in Cairns for the last week and we head back south today. Throughout the entire journey we have been treated like kings and queens, and are yet to ‘rough it’. The beautiful people of MOFO, Auxiliary, Room 1, Crate59, Arthouse and The Upholstery of Cairns have entrained, supported, hosted and housed us.

During our stay we quickly discovered that the only way to escape the subtropical heat is to delve into the depths of the rainforests. Stoney Creek has been our favourite getaway… you should have seen Elouise’s dismount from the rope swing! Picture a mid-air karate kick while slipping over. Classic!
Dr Jerm

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