BE A MAVERICK

“There’s a bit of a shakeup happening,” Gold Coast artist and curator, Byron Coathup says with a smile.

“A kind of renaissance where a lot of the younger generation, its artists, designers and even architects are actually trying to get at who we really are as a city. It’s really important, particularly with the Commonwealth Games coming up.”

Byron is the narrative thrust behind Maverick Hair and Art Space. Byron and his partner, Hayley have just recently opened the doors to their new Griffith Street location in Coolangatta. The doors have opened to local artists, too.

When Byron isn’t curating at Maverick and giving new talent opportunities in the gallery, he’s on the streets and behind the scenes embodying the Coast’s growing art culture.

“I studied Fine Art at Griffith before moving to Melbourne for three years. I did some graphic design study down there and it was kind of my trip for learning and testing the waters for my artistic career,” he says.

These two fields of study are often contradictory at times. Where fine art encourages certain artistic liberties, graphic design is governed by the accurate conveyance of visual messages.

“I looked at graphic design as a way of learning the rules after completing a fine art degree that teaches you to forget all the rules. There are rules you need to abide by and once you learn them, that’s when you can break them.”

Still working across these and other artistic mediums, Byron attributes his success as an artist and curator to his multi-disciplinary studies.

“I was taught by a lot of artists who cross platforms and I’ve always been encouraged to allow my practice to unfold organically through the act of conceptualising, thinking and making things,” he says.

“I like to see how art integrates with life.”

Byron’s practices are a reflection of this ethos, evident most in his ongoing projects centred on cultural studies and titled, Culture Sculpture and The Culture Shop.

“Culture Sculpture is a term I use to describe objects and destinations that builds content and atmosphere for a city like the Gold Coast. They build our culture and make the Gold Coast what it is – Queensland’s ultimate playground.”

Byron believes that the bricks and mortar of art culture on the Gold Coast lies in human connection. A major aspect of The Culture Shop is to maintain that connection by allowing tourists, and locals, to discover the artist behind the art through conversation.

“The Culture Shop,” Byron says, “was designed to bring the community closer to your local artists, designers and businesses. I hoped to give locals and tourists a sense of place through common surroundings, such as a general store.”

Maverick Hair and Art Space stands by similar principles. Byron, whose creative experience includes Bleach Festival and the Gold Coast City Gallery, enjoys directing his curatorial efforts at Maverick to push local artists’ work that will allow them exposure to the community around them, to the community they’re apart of. And in the new and much larger space on Griffith Street, it’s entirely possible.

“As well as supporting local artists, I really want to introduce underground interstate artists to Maverick. I want them to come up and look at the Coast as a new place to exhibit artwork. We need a slice of what Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane are getting.”

Go and see Hayley and get your hair done next to the impressive French windows against the brickface beneath exposed rafters. Go and see the art space, the love of Byron’s labour. It’s intended as a gift to the community, something that’s always changing. A place where people can come and always see something new.

Drop into Maverick Hair and Art Space: First Floor, 1/17 Griffith Street, Coolangatta, 4225. And see more of Byron’s work at www.byronc.com.au

IMAGE (c) Brenton de Rooy

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