Category Archives: Events

Oi You! Urban Art Festival Brings Banksy to Adelaide

Banksy Reworks Warhol’s Monroe

George Shaw, a self-described ageing punk, says buying a loud shirt back in 2005 at his wife’s urging led to an obsession that changed their lives forever.

He picked up the well-cut shirt – with green felt running down the sleeves and a plasticised stencil on the back – in a UK boutique to wear to a friend’s 40th birthday bash. When some lads from Bristol mentioned that the stencilling on the shirt was reminiscent of the rogue street artist Banksy, who cut his teeth on the rough Bristol streets, Shaw’s curiosity piqued.

“I thought Banksy sounded like my kind of guy,” said Shaw.

“Through a hangover the next day, I Googled Banksy and I felt a rush. I was so excited – it was the first artwork that I really related to. It was a bit like the punk movement, it really had something to say.”

That loud, well-cut shirt and the street art obsession it inspired will bring Shaw, his wife and creative partner Shannon Webster, and more than 70  pieces from their urban art collection, including  22 Banksys, to Adelaide this month for the Oi You! Urban Art Festival.

The duo has run the festival in Sydney and in Nelson, on New Zealand’s South Island, where they live. Shaw says they approached Adelaide City Council (ACC) with the idea to host one in Adelaide, and the council saw its value. ACC, through Splash Adelaide, is backing the event with the State Government and theAdelaide Festival Centre, which will be the hub for festival events, including an exhibition, an art hunt, a scrawl wall and outdoor installations.

“There’s a fabulous local street art scene in Adelaide already,” said Shaw. “Hopefully this festival will allow for it to win an even broader audience and be a bit more cherished.”

To be sure, Adelaide has a healthy obsession of its own with random artworks popping up on buildings and in alleyways. The South Australia Illustrated: From the Street exhibition at the Art Gallery of South Australialast year helped legitimise an artform that has long been maligned.

As part of the exhibition, Adelaide-raised street artist Peter Drew invited fellow street artists to ‘respond’ to an unfinished portrait of Adelaide’s founder, Colonel William Light. These were hung briefly on the Gallery walls, alongside traditional, historically important paintings. They were then plucked one by one and hidden around the city, sending anyone from students to office workers running through the CBD in a game of finders keepers.

Elusive and anonymous

Elusive and still anonymous, Banksy is one of the world’s best-known street artists for his iconic and satirical stencil art in public places. His last major show saw some 300,000 people queue for hours to get in and his art fetches hundreds of thousands of dollars at auction houses in Britain and the US.

The Oi You! Festival will host 22 Banksy pieces, along with work from other leading graffiti artists around the globe, including Faile, Swoon and David Choe from the US, the UK’s Antony Micallef and Paul Insect, and the artist known as Milton Springsteen from NZ.

“I like a lot of art but street art really speaks to me, probably because it’s not exclusive. It’s inclusive, it’s populist.

“The way I look at street art: it’s almost like you think of traditional art as the theatre – street art is the cinema. It’s for the people.”

Matt Stuckey adds colour outside the Adelaide Festival Centre

Since 2005 Shaw and Webster have collected about 100 urban artworks, among them Banksy limited edition prints such as the Kate Moss image channelling Warhol’s iconic Marilyn Monroe and the original Flower Thrower canvas, the cover image for the Banksy bestseller War and Piece. Both works will be part of the exhibition in Adelaide.

Shaw says they have spent the best part of seven years following Banksy’s shows around the world, including war-ravaged Palestine and the more high-end Los Angeles for Banksy’s Barely Legal show in 2006, where Shaw found himself shoulder to shoulder with Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.

“It’s been surreal. We found ourselves at the epicentre of this phenomenon that just exploded across the world.”

Obsessed stamp collectors

Unlike the collectors who buy art on a hunch that an artist will make it big and their works will command big price tags, Shaw says he and Webster just bought what they liked, and they liked a lot.

“We’re like obsessed stamp collectors.

“It began with an interest in what Banksy had done and we kind of went overboard. If there was a new piece out, we had to have it.

“Most people start collecting art when they are rich but we weren’t rich – we were comfortable I guess – but we still sold both our cars and went to the bank to support our obsession.”

Their next goal is to find a permanent home for the Banksy collection, ideally in earthquake-wracked Christchurch, New Zealand, which is in the midst of a massive rebuild.

“We’d really like to see Christchurch become home to an annual Oi You! festival and to our collection.

“They’re going through a very significant rebuild there and we like the idea of being a part of that.”

Adelaide is sister city to Christchurch so it’s fitting perhaps that Adelaide will get a taste of Oi You!

The festival kicks off with an Opening Night party on 19 April before opening to the public from 20 April to 2 June. The Opening Night party will give fans a sneak peek at the exhibition and feature talks from some of the artists as well as a DJ set from local electronic artist, Oisima.

A large annex built outside the Artspace Gallery will provide plenty of space for budding local artists to express themselves. One side will be a ‘scrawl wall’ covered in chalkboard paint and the other, made from corrugated iron, is dubbed ‘corrugated irony’.

And while you won’t be able to take a Banksy original home, local duo Ankles and Smile, known as Rawhide, will give everyone the chance to own some art in The Great $5000 Art Giveaway. On Saturday 27 April and Sunday 28 April, 38 tokens will be hidden across the Adelaide Festival Centre Plaza, corresponding to 38 works of art. Find a token and take home a piece of art – it’s that simple.

Australian street art gurus Anthony Lister, Rhone and Beastman will be in town too, to create large works on big walls. Matt Stuckey will create a number of installations on the plaza outside the Festival Centre too.

Among other festival events are street artist guided tours of some of Adelaide’s best urban art sites, and a Street Art Film Night in the Space Theatre Foyer on Friday 10 May, featuring screenings of locally-produced documentary Who Owns The Street, and the Academy Award-nominated Banksy film Exit Through The Gift Shop.

As for the shirt that started it all, Shaw reckons he might wear it on opening night.

“It’s all come from that shirt. Our whole life changed in that moment.”

Visit the Oi You! Urban Art Festival on Facebook for all the latest news





Miffy is in the house

Miffy has arrived.

The much talked about and anticipated bunny is the latest and possibly the final member to join our household. She is of course utterly adorable. A seal point, lop eared dwarf (or do I have to say bunny of short stature?), Miffy is somewhere between a pale gray and a very light cocoa. The breeder says this colouring is particularly rare.

I say it works in beautifully with our dark wood floors.

The progeny of mother Gypsy and father Thomas, Miffy was born 23 October 2012. It happens that she shares a birthday with Grandma, Mo’s mother, which the kids find especially amusing.

Artist Dick Bruna’s Miffy

Her name, which means little rabbit in Dutch, is in honour of the Miffy character illustrated in  series of picture books by Dutch artist Dick Bruna. The first Miffy book was produced in 1955 and has since inspired two television series. Our children happily watched Miffy for many years on public televsion in the US – so it was a no brainer that our little, female rabbit should be a Miffy.

Miffy has been with us for only two days but so far she is curious,  spunky – and fast. She’s a tiny, fluffy bundle of energy; easily startled like all small bunnies but still gutsy enough to explore our turf on her terms.

The children are probably a bit too excited for Miffy to warm to them just yet. They are busting to play with her but don’t seem to understand that she needs to suss them out first – have a sniff and wander around them calmly before they can lunge and pick her up.

That will come in time, we hope.

Bill Shannon: Crutch-Wielding Provocateur

Bill Shannon at Kumuwuki / Big Wave. Photographer: Chris Herzfeld

Bill Shannon had to change the wheels on his skateboard when he hit the rough textured streets of Goolwa. Surfaces are an occupational hazard for this American improv artist, who mixes street dance, skate and hip hop to create his own brand of creative expression.

Even more challenging; Shannon does it all on a pair of rocker-bottom crutches and with a tonne of don’t mess with me attitude.

He was in the river-port town of Goolwa south of Adelaide for the Regional Arts Australia National Conference, Kumuwuki/Big Wave. As Keynote Artist in Residence, Shannon was everywhere: he opened the four-day gathering of artists, arts workers, and regional and community specialists with an address that was both entertaining and provocative.

He hosted a masterclass and workshop for 10, exploring the idea of public space and its connection with personal identity, and led the ScrLK program. Featuring some of Australia’s best-known disability focused organisations including Back to Back and Restless Dance Theatre, the program presented screenings based around disability-led digital arts projects and discussions on how emerging digital technologies, cultures and the National Broadband Network will significantly affect disability culture in regional areas.

“I was interested in programming Bill Shannon to speak as his practice represented a form of creative resilience that was being discussed as a theme throughout the conference,” said Steve Mayhew, Artistic Director of the 2012 Regional Arts Australia National Conference.

“I was hoping that the experiences from this particular viewpoint and perspective would subtly inform people living in regional areas who are dealing with similar issues, access being a very large example of this,” said Mayhew.

In-Your-Face Choreography

Through his blend of energetic, in-your-face choreography and simple video techniques, Shannon deals with the public’s hopes, assumptions, fears and misinterpretations of what an artist with a disability is. He raises questions around how you engage with public space and how you use your own body as a canvas for performance art and experimentation.

He uncovers a world of prejudices that disabled people encounter daily and questions his methods – often involving a hidden camera – as he readily takes advantage of strangers’ good Samaritan impulses to make his point.

“Performance art grew out of my childhood experience. I was always a spectacle.” said Shannon, speaking at a Disability and Arts Transition Team gathering in Adelaide this week. He demonstrated how he had to walk in a semi squat as a child growing up in Pittsburgh, PA, to alleviate pressure on his malformed hip joints.

He had a brace and crutches and to top it off the leather squeaked when he walked. “It was a very intense spectacle. But I didn’t really have a big emotional reaction to it as a kid.”

Shannon was diagnosed at five with Legg-Calvé Perthes disease, a disorder of the hip joint in children that can limit the amount of high-impact activity that an otherwise healthy child can take part in.

The Crutch Master

One of a series of CRUTCH! videos on Bill Shannon, Directed and Produced by
Sachi Cunningham and Chandler Evans.

Now 42, that kid with crutches is known around New York’s dance scene as the Crutch Master, and is widely sought around the globe to showcase his flamboyant and seriously athletic dance style and to talk about it. He’s become a poster boy for disability, albeit reluctantly.

Shannon said “peer pressure to keep up with the other kids led to a relationship with creativity.”

“I call it creative necessity – creativity as survival to keep up with peers. I was challenged constantly with these hurdles like jumping through the hedge. All the kids would do it and I had to figure out how to do it with my crutches. I had to get creative to keep up.”

Shannon is a showman, to be sure. He’s a performance artist, melding street dance with the influences of skate and hip hop cultures. Armed with a BFA from the Art Institute of Chicago, he counts poetry and sculpture among his art forms.

And author: he’s working on an outline for a book that will lead readers from his beginnings to the development of the Shannon Technique, a how-to-guide for his style of dancing on the so-called rocker-bottom crutches with U-shaped tips.

He’s a bit of a psychologist too, creating names for some of the scenarios he has encountered when interacting with able-bodied people. There’s faker squared, a reference to the people who think he’s faking his need to use crutches to get around. He can actually walk unassisted but not for long periods or without pain.

“Sometimes I’ll lift up the crutches and do a little tiptoe to give people the satisfaction of thinking they’ve caught me faking. I have the satisfaction of hosting their discovery.”

“If I fake the faking, I take possession of the faking and that’s empowerment,” Shannon said.

And there’s the moment of projected narrative. In one video sequence, a hidden camera shows Shannon’s efforts to pick up a bottle at a marketplace in Russia, while an older local woman looks on, willing him to succeed.

Over the past two decades Shannon’s installations, performances, choreography and video work have been presented in the US and internationally at events, venues and festivals including Sydney Opera House, Tate Liverpool Museum, NYC Town Hall, Portland Institute of Contemporary Art, The Holland Festival, Amsterdam and Temple Bar in Dublin.

Cirque du Soleil

Shannon also completed a project with Cirque du Soleil where he choreographed an aerial duet and a solo on crutches for their 2002 production Varekai.

It was an offer to tour with Cirque du Soleil that prompted Shannon to devise what he calls theShannon Technique. Unable to leave home base for months and endure a grueling performance schedule, Shannon said he started to name his dance moves so that he could pass them onto others.

The Shannon Technique “is a contribution to the history of dance. I never had a class to learn to dance on crutches – I never had the shoulder of the giant to stand on.”

“I decided to lay it all down so that in the future some other individual serious about dancing on crutches can use this as a guide.”

“It’s all about the economy of movement,” he said. As for skating in Goolwa, “it’s like skating on sandpaper. I had to change out the wheels on my skateboard.”

Der Kommissar Opening in South Slope

Der Kommissar, the newest kid on its South Slope block, swings open its doors tonight, promising to blend traditional Austrian eats with Brooklyn smarts. Artisanal Austrian-style sausages, craft beers and schnapps define the bar-restaurant-hangout on 5th Avenue, at 15th Street, which is loosely modeled on the outdoor sausage stands common in Vienna.

Three Park Slope locals – Gary Baldwin, his Austrian wife Monika Wuhrer, and neighborhood mixologist Alex Darsey – wanted to create a place where locals could kickback with drinks, chat or watch a game, while noshing on simple, high-quality, artisanal snacks. Der Kommissar ”brings a little bit of Vienna to 5th Ave,” touts the website.

Just like a Viennese Würstelstand, sausages feature high on Der Kommissar’s menu – from frankfurters and bratwurst to lesser known käsekrainer and weisswurst. There are also pretzels, potato salad, sauerkraut and the classic Austrian Liptauer, a spread made from quark, paprika, caraway, herbs, pickles, and anchovy. And for something sweet, the beloved Manner Schnitten – traditional Austrian wafers layered with hazelnut cream.

Food will be available at the bar, as well as through a window that opens onto the street, a leftover from its previous life as a Spanish take-out spot. The whole idea is to keep it simple and relaxed; a place you can stop-by with the kids for an afternoon snack, or hang with your mates late into the night.

Baldwin and Wuhrer are known around the hood as the owners of the nearby Open Source Gallery, which has been a nomadic art force since a five-alarm fire damaged it and the couple’s apartment in November. Since it began in 2008, the gallery has become an institution, offering everything from a soup kitchen through the holidays to summer camp for local kids. Business partner Darsey is a photographer and well-known bar tender.

Der Kommissar, which is hosting a “soft opening” tonight from 7pm to 10pm, is at 559 5th Avenue, phone 718. 788. 0789.

Paper Dolls to Walk Runway at Brooklyn Collective

I’m not sure I get exactly what this show is all about, but I do know I want to go. The idea of paper clothes and faeries and cupcakes is about all the lure I need. But if you need more, here are the details accompanying the invitation:

“Come out to frolic at Papertopias Frisky Faeries Fashion show! This is a life-sized paper doll fashion show exploding with glamor, treachery and sass. The show explores voyeuristic glimpses of a changing identity, with each paper outfit taking its inspiration from a beloved children’s book character.

There will be music performed by DJ T3db0t, devilish sweet treats … mayhem, trickery, life size paper doll fashions, original paper doll art work, and a fabulous dance party after.”

Papertopias was created by Ruth Irving, an artist who creates custom doll sets from her Brooklyn studio. Irving trained in architecture at University of Florida, and has honed her studies to stretch the boundaries of the paper dolls we’re all familiar with by melding history, glamor and the fantasy of future fashions.

Papertopias debuted its life-size paper fashions in a show last month at Urban Alchemist, a design collective on 5th Street in Brooklyn.

The second performance this Friday, March 18, starts at 8pm at  Brooklyn Collective. Even if you don’t get the paper doll thing, it’s a great excuse to check out  local art, jewelry and other quirky stuff on show and on sale at the collective.

Brooklyn Collective is at 212 Columbia Street, between Union + Sackett Streets. Phone 718.596.6231.

Park Here! But Make it Snappy

One day, when I grow up and have a house, I want a room in it just like the wonderful, whimsical Park Here, an indoor garden housed at Soho’s Openhouse Gallery for the past couple of months.

Openhouse Gallery is an exhibition and installation space, pop-up retail location and events venue at 201 Mulberry Street in Nolita. The notion to create an indoor, pop-up park is ingenious and I only wish I had bothered to go there sooner.

Tree stumps, fake grass, a pond filled with coins and neat faux leaves entwined on branches, enlivened by chirping birds and perfumed air, make for the perfect winter haven. Take a book, a laptop or a kid and lean on a tree trunk, grab a park bench or nab a huge cushion and while away a bleak afternoon.

Entry to the “park” is free but if you get peckish, Brooklyn’s own Robicelli’s Cupcakes were on sale this closing weekend, as well as brownie treats from The Chocolate Swirl, and other vendors have been in place through the season. It’s just a few steps to restrooms unlike in most parks, and there are no grass stains or muddy boots to worry about.

It’s a fabulous idea, but of course all great ideas need money, so this, sadly, is the last weekend of Park Here. Though, according to the Openhouse Facebook page, they’ll be setting up again next Winter!

If you can get there before it closes tomorrow, Park Here is open from 11am to 6pm at Openhouse Gallery, 201 Mulberry Street, between Spring and Kenmare Streets.

Stripes Galore at Petit Bateau Pop-Up

I have made no secret of my love of stripes, the French-Navy-striped “la marinière,” in particular and French label Petit Bateau is one of the masters of the iconic striped tee. Even better when Petit Bateau has a massive sample sale and it’s just a brisk walk away from home.

I was late to the game on this sale – it began in early December – but it is in full swing still until the end of January and there was plenty of stock at last check.

I scored a classic, long-sleeved stripey top pour moi and about five adorable shirts for the kids. Everything was at least half price, often even more; think $15 for a red + white striped boys’ cotton tee.  Like any sample sale, you have to dig through boxes and there isn’t a fitting room. The chap running the show is incredibly accommodating though and let me slip things on over my clothes. For the record, if you happen to be petite and small chested in particular, don’t worry that there aren’t many tops in women’s small – try the 12, a sort of teen/junior sizing – and it will likely work just fine.

There are pants, tunics and a smattering of skirts and underwear too, but the real boon is in the tops.

The sale is at 219 Seventh Avenue, between Third + Fourth Streets. Cash and credit cards are accepted.

G’Day Australia Day

My American husband’s birthday coincides with Australia Day, so every year we toy with the idea of celebrating both events in one place. We’ve thought about the big black-tie shindig at Cipriani but the price tag is too steep, so we usually wind up downing Coopers and kangaroo in the (heated) garden at Eight Mile Creek.

Well, it’s almost that time of the year again.

G’Day USA kicked off January 15 to 29 with a string of events designed to showcase Australian business prowess in the US. The program spans eight cities including NY, LA, Boston, Houston and San Francisco, and events include conferences, forums and product sampling covering new business, art, education and tourism.

For Americans, Australia Day is the Aussie equivalent of July 4 Independence Day, complete with fireworks and a national holiday. Every year, January 26 commemorates the arrival of the First Fleet at Sydney Cove in 1788, the hoisting of the British flag there, and the proclamation of British sovereignty.

The official national day Down Under is marked by an address from the Prime Minister and the Order of Australia and Australian of the Year awards. That, and a whole lot of partying and beer-swilling, as well as some level of national pride from old and new Australians alike. Though, from my experience (and I have been away a long time …) Aussies aren’t big hand-on-the-heart patriots in the same way as Americans. It is, afterall, a nation built largely by convicts and with a longstanding guilt borne from mistreatment of indigenous Australians, the Aborigines.

History aside, New York-based Aussies with a spare $250 could grab a ticket and a gown or dinner suit for the Australia Day Black Tie Gala on January 28 at Cipriani Wall Street. Better still; try convincing your company to buy a ten-seat corporate table for $2000-plus.

One of the highlights at this year’s New York event, hosted by G’Day USA and the American Australian Association, will be performances by cast members of the upcoming Broadway version of Priscilla Queen of the Desert. But be warned, this event always sells out fast.

If that’s not your scene, I suggest beginning Australia Day with a flat white and a breakfast pie at one of Tuckshop’s three downtown Manhattan locations  – they opened a third in Chelsea Market in November – or at DUB Pies across the river in Brooklyn.

For dinner, Eight Mile Creek is one of my faves, with its special three-course Australia Day Dinner for a fixed $42 that includes kangaroo skewers with a pepperberry ketchup and a rack of Australian lamb or seared tuna, and best of all the dessert plate with a mini pavlova, sticky date pudding and lamingtons! When you’re done with dinner, head downstairs to the bar for the drink specials and party until 4am!

Another biggie is the annual New York Magpies event to be held Saturday, January 22 at Nevada Smiths on Third Ave. It’s a gathering of football-and-beer-loving Aussies complete with Tuckshop’s meatpies, Keith the Koala handing out Tim Tams – a beloved Australian chocolate biscuit – Aussie music and of course plenty of footy and cricket on the tvs. For tickets go to

Or check out The Sunburnt Cow, The Sunburnt Calf, Bondi Road or Brooklyn’s Sheep Station. And for watering holes within stumbling blocks of each other, head to The Australian or Van Diemens, where the beer and wine will be flowing.

It’s the Simple Things

It’s the little things, like picking pumpkins with the kids and then carving silly faces into them that make a windy weekend a fun one. We headed to the Red Hook Community Farm for the 5th annual Red Hook Harvest Festival. Besides a farm market and live chooks and bunnies, there are always great local food stands – The Good Fork, iCi, and the Lobster
among them this year – and the pumpkin patch. Somehow in 12 years in the US I had managed to never carve a pumpkin. So today, that changed. The kids were happy and dare I say, I was too. It is the simple things really …