Review: TiNA 2015 Wrap Up
I started my first This is Not Art (TiNA) on a cool Friday morning. The morning was spent blowing up balloons and fixing signs to the Obelisk, gaining me the privilege of wearing a TiNA Volunteer lanyard. I had an itinerary set out for the day, a packed lunch and a cardigan, just in case. Had I checked the weather report I would have known that the temperature was set to reach into the high 30’s, instead I was busy googling how to get to the Royal Exchange.
That’s the first thing I came to love about TiNA: the locations scattered across Newcastle are places I have never visited in my three years of living here. For the first time I experienced the spaces within the Royal Exchange (Which I thought was a bar), the United Services Club (a.k.a the Gun Club, which I didn’t realise was a bar) and Staple Manor (Is it a church?). I hung out at the Lock Up and the Roost Creative, which has an amazing old school elevator. My journey on the elevator is now a video on my Instagram.
These locations were perfect; they were older style buildings with lots of personality. The Royal Exchange was decorated with fairy lights and a colourful mural that greeted you on the way in; everyone sat around on bean bags and old arm chairs. At the United Services Club some people sat in chairs while others stood near the windows and fireplaces where they could view old war remnants. It was a more open venue with white walls compared to the Exchange with its low lighting and vintage furniture. Then there was Staple Manor, where we sat on pews facing a large stained glass window feature.
The second thing I came to love about TiNA was the way how easy it is to immerse yourself into the panels; hearing artists discuss their works and the happiness that ensues as well as the trials and tribulations. The artists who spoke at the 2015 panels, well the ones I watched, were so open with their feelings and emotions. It gives you a strong impression on their character as well as their limitations and fears; it’s a very vulnerable experience. You can feel it in the room, you look around and everyone is watching and listening. Phones are nowhere to be seen, whispers can’t be heard; the only thing that can be heard is the occasional rustle from people repositioning themselves.
There’s a great variety of panels as well, I was lucky enough to see six including Women Kicking Ass, Writing Sex, Writing the Body, Writing in Pictures and TED-esque Talks: Into The Deep. Each panel had a different focus yet managed to be equally inspiring and interesting. The speakers had been carefully selected so as to be able to diversify the topics. My personal favourite was the TED-esque talks which featured five speakers talking about their diversities and passions.
The whole day was an experience; even just walking from one venue to another was special. It’s not often that the streets of Newcastle are with creative types and it creates a completely different atmosphere. When the sun went down and the normal crowd emerged I felt an almost surreal sense of place. I hadn’t really noticed during the day how many other people, like myself, were walking around enjoying the TiNA festivities. The crowd were full of smiles and energy, lending to Newcastle an overall feeling of security and openness.
What had me most excited for TiNA 2015 was seeing Natalie Tran in person. Natalie Tran is a YouTube personality, she’s been doing so for years. I’ve been following her videos and Facebook page for quite some time so to be in the same room as her was terribly exciting. So exciting that when the panel was over I found myself overcome with fear of actually talking to her and instead allowed the crowd to swallow me up. I loved listening to her speak; she was witty and entertaining but also opened up on her aspirations and what she wants to do next. She wasn’t a big showy personality but rather allowed herself to openly discuss her good and bad points.
Through TiNA I found more artists to get excited by such as Gina Chadderton, the cartoonist behind George Rex, as well as Kate Iselin and Emma Marie Jones, who are both candid writers. After watching his TED-Esque talk I’m searching for Tom Doig’s book The Coal Face and still have the good feelings left over from Chloe Allison Escott’s talk on Super Mario Maker. Adeline Teoh aligned with my own feelings that even if you’re not in the place you want to be it’s the journey you make getting to that place that counts. I found the artists to be very humble and comfortable answering any questions.
I found this most true on the Sunday, the weather was still in the high 30’s but I felt like I had a better grip on the heat by that stage (Aided in large part to the numerous coffee stalls selling iced coffee). I was once again volunteering with my lanyard hanging proudly from my neck asking people to fill out surveys while I walked around the Zine Fair held at the Foreshore. Everyone was thankful for the breeze that was hanging around that day, even the artists who were using bananas and rocks they had found as paperweights.
I have a good friend who is now in the business of making zines so I made sure I talked to the artists for her. Gina Chadderton, of George Rex, and Rebecca Sheedy were both extremely helpful in telling me where I could buy zines but also mentioning that if I was in Adelaide to check out their monthly zine workshop. Gina was even kind enough to give me a zine for free for my friend. Jake Lawrence, of @thetimecowboy, and Alexander Bennetts, of @noiseETC, gave my a little zine of plants with their Twitter names in lieu of a business card to follow their adventures. Freya Dougan helped wrangle up willing survey volunteers, as well as completing one herself. Owen Heitmann, of 24 Hour Cynic, was another survey volunteer thanks to Freya.
The fact that I was volunteering and asking people to fill surveys was in no way a hindrance; in fact people were approaching me and asking to fill out surveys. I met other artists from Newcastle as well as Sydney and Canberra but the majority were from Melbourne. I sat around with them, idly chatting about their TiNA experiences and what they liked about Newcastle. I’m giddy for next year and the new TiNA adventures and experiences, the next round of artists I’ll meet and hear talk about their passions, the next round of parties (Which are unbelievably cool) and to be part of the scene that overtakes the streets of Newcastle over the October long weekend.
Event review by Jodie Millard for Culture Hunter.
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