Art and Stories are two of my favourite things in the world. Last night these came together when I went to see the 5 Writers Road Trip at the Northern Rivers Community Gallery.
As I stepped into the room I was surrounded by wild and gestural responses to the landscape of the Northern Rivers in an exhibition called ‘Terrain’ by Susan Jacobsen. It was an intimate space. People began to sit in the small gathering of chairs facing the front panel, wine glasses in hands.
This year’s five writers are amazing group of international, award-winning authors including Luke Carman, Kate Forsyth, Gabbie Stroud, Jesse Blackadder and spoken word artist Miles Merrill, chaired by Zacharey Jane.
They spoke of their writing, gave readings of their latest work and shared jokes about their Road Trip so far.
Being in an art gallery, their theme for the night was art and stories.
Zachary said that after being immersed in an art exhibition, she comes back into the world and everything becomes art.
‘I see art in the curve of a gutter’, Zachary gestured with an arching sweep of her hand.
Kate agreed that art was very inspiring and significant to her writing.
Miles said other forms of art inspire his poems more than writing does. He also said if funding is cut from art, education and health to pay for economic investments, then we are sacrificing quality of life for money. The other writers agreed.
Gabbie also spoke of education, and her struggles being a teacher, which she has written about in Griffith Review.
Luke said he wanted to see a greater variety of writers have the opportunity to be published. A more diverse range of voices need to be part of Australian literature.
Travel and fellowships have also influenced their writing. Jessie had the opportunity to go to Antarctica and Kate has travelled through Europe. Jessie said that if she hadn’t physically gone to Antarctica then writing her books set there would have been difficult, or maybe even impossible. Kate said that while in Europe she imagined that she was the characters in her story as she walked through the historic buildings. This was an interesting subject for me, as I will be off to Thailand to do some writing of my own soon!
Following these discussions, the 5 Writers began their second round of the Tag-team Storytelling Cup. They formed two teams and had to tell stories on the spot, using props, random plot twists and genre changes. There was lots of yelling, laughing and strange stories that came out of it!
Afterwards I spoke to Jessie and Miles, who were so incredibly lovely and inspiring. I would have liked to speak to all the authors but had to hurry home to my little ones, one of whom was ready for a breastfeed.
I smiled and waved to the authors as I left, stumbling awkwardly over a speaker box on my way. Yes, I’m smooth.
If you are in the Northern Rivers it isn’t too late to see the 5 Writers Road Trip! Tonight they will be at Brunswick Heads Picture House at 7pm. Tomorrow they will head to Club Lennox at 7 pm.
The Five Writers Road Trip is supported by the Australia Council for the Arts and the Byron Writers Festival.