RAW Natural Born Artists is an organisation that gives independent artists a platform to gain exposure that they might not otherwise have available.
Artists from various genres including film, fashion, art, music, photography, performance art, hair and makeup artistry, can showcase their work at a RAW event every month, as well as online.
The RAW concept began in 2009 in Los Angeles, California by a budding fashion designer who was frustrated by the limited, ineffective ways for artists to get their work seen. Heidi Luerra then took the concept nation-wide in the USA, then internationally, with the first stop being Brisbane, Australia! RAW events are now held monthly in the US, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, England and Japan.
The Gold Coast and Byron Bay have RAW events run by Zara Klemick. The February showcase for Gold Coast artists was ‘Visionary’, and was held at the Currumbin RSL. The Currumbin Rissole may not be as alternative as other venues used for RAW events around the world, but the venue hosts Soundlounge, and is a Gold Coast mecca for quality, independent performers. It can now boast itself as the venue that brings quality artists of all genres out of the Gold Coast woodwork.
It’s not possible to discuss all the talent at ‘Visionary’, but standouts for me included Fiona Watson’s lino relief printmaking for her preservation of Gold Coast memories, Kane Kokaris’s surrealist paintings for his dark, other-worldly imagination, Celeste Roddon’s realist sketches for her subject matter which includes Walter White and Jack Sparrow, Natarsha Alexandria for her dramatic black pen sketches, and Shirlyn Liaw for creating original crochet handbags from recycled Spanish cotton.
Fiona Watson is a secondary school art teacher who has chosen the time consuming and painstaking process of lino relief printmaking as a way to ‘relax’. Calling herself ‘The Sentimentalist’ she sees her work as helping to preserve Gold Coast history. Like fellow Gold Coast artist Anna Carey, Watson loves to portray the fibro shack of the 1960s. She creates her prints by handcutting pieces of lino to create the relief, then paints watercolour over the relief onto paper, a technique that dates back to World War I. The result is dark ink-like prints that give the viewer an instant feeling of nostalgia for old Gold Coast suburbia.
Kane Kokaris is a self-taught painter whose surrealist work can seem dark, foreboding and fantastical at the same time. His painting of a snail with a flowering cactus growing out of its shell, and another of a chameleon with a toucan on its back among sliced trees with slices floating directly over each other, were both mesmerising in overall detail. They were also surprising in the smaller details such as dark sunflowers underneath the chameleon and small skulls in the floating pieces of wood.
Celeste Roddon’s realist sketches are done in pencil and graphite, and while that may not seem out of the ordinary, her subject matter creates instant identification with a wide audience. Her drawings of characters from contemporary film and television (such as Pirates of the Caribbean, Walking Dead and Breaking Bad), attract attention because the characters are popular, but she also engages with her audience by portraying images of things we like to wear, namely, old Converse sneakers and Chanel No. 5 perfume.
Natarsha Alexandria’s black pen sketch of an eagle’s head represented the strength and drama present in all the work she had on display. While sketches of skeletons with unicorn heads on them may have been confronting, such strongly defined drawings created a lasting impression in a room competing with so many other artists work.
Shirlyn Liaw’s ‘The Cotton Pear’ crochet handbags stood out simply because they are so unique and so well made. Another self-taught artist, Shirlyn hand-makes every bag, and no two bags are the same. The bonus is that she has gone to great lengths to find ecofriendly yarn.
There was plenty of music on the night and I loved hearing the hugely talented Quintessential Doll. Steph Lindsell’s voice is reminiscent of Julie Cruise singing the eery and spooky soundtrack for Twin Peaks. The backing cello, violin and electronic beats created musical drama perfect to match many of the visual artist’s work on display.
All the talent on show was extraordinary. Yes, I’m biased because I live on the Gold Coast, but I can state without a doubt that Gold Coast RAW artists are world class. Who knows what would become of them if RAW wasn’t around to give them the opportunity to share their art?
The next RAW event will be ‘Exposure’ upstairs at the Currumbin RSL on 9th April 2015. For more information go to http://www.rawartists.org/goldcoast