Festival 2018 seemed to come to us from nowhere and in retrospect we’re still not sure whether that was because we weren’t paying attention or because it was poorly publicised. In any case, it was a week of concerts, dance performances and public art in Queen’s Gardens and Strand Park, complementing the Townsville segment of the Commonwealth Games.
The concerts – some free, some not; some in the Spiegeltent, some in the open air – included The Idea of North (last here in 2006), the Grigoryan brothers, Archie Roach, local youth dance and circus groups, Townsville Guitar Orchestra and many more.
The Queens Gardens site was decorated with hundreds of hanging stars, very pretty at night, but the street art at Strand Park made better photos:
We all know about recycling, re-using stuff which might otherwise have been thrown away (and we all know that there is no “away”, don’t we?) and “upcycling” is the next refinement of the idea. Many of my favourite examples are in the arts and crafts area – Waste to Wonder‘s inner-tube jewellery, for instance – but the National Gallery of Victoria’s Triennial (Dec 2017 – April 2018) had some extreme examples.
Dutch design studio Formafantasma exhibited several pieces of furniture created primarily from tech waste, such as the computer-case drawers at left.
Their design and construction was superlative, and I enjoyed their quirky decorative use of small items of tech junk.
The week and a half from July 28 to August 6 was so full of good things that Townsville’s arty-musical people could hardly keep up. The Australian Festival of Chamber Music alone was a full-time occupation for some, with three or four events per day. It coincided with the Strand Ephemera exhibition and, as if that wasn’t enough, PUNQ.
Townsville’s winter is a busy time for all sorts of open air events because the weather is so reliably beautiful. The fact that tourist numbers are up, as Southerners escape their own not-so-nice winter weather, doesn’t hurt either. Strand Ephemera, occurring in odd-numbered years since 2001, is one of the highlights. (I posted articles on the 2011 and 2013 events but missed out on 2015.)
This year’s event closed last Sunday. The ‘People’s Choice’ winner was also my own favourite because it ticked so many boxes – appropriate to the site and to the notion of ‘ephemera’, saying something important (i.e., ‘don’t trash our oceans’) without letting the message overwhelm the art, collaborative and local. Here it is:
Flying into Athens for the first time felt a bit weird because the landscape was so much like that of Townsville: the bright sky, the nearly-bare hills and the parched vegetation we could see from the plane created a near-deja-vu experience: “We flew all this way and nothing has changed?” (The airport itself didn’t do much to alleviate that, either, since it was much more like ours than Dubai’s or Singapore’s.)
A tourist-bus ride around the city and down to the port of Piraeus showed us that the city is indeed different but that its setting is rather similar. The hills beyond Piraeus could almost be the hills beyond Ross Dam, were it not for the encroaching suburbs.
Athens even has its own Castle Hill, rising from the centre of the old city and providing wonderful views; it’s not as big as our Castle Hill but is a little better known. The locals call it “The Acropolis”.
One of the things we only really learn by visiting a place is how big it is: walking around a building or a city gives us a far better sense of it than looking at photos.
The Acropolis Hill is big enough to dominate the skyline anywhere in the central city but small enough that an energetic tourist can walk right around its base, stopping to look at all sorts of ruins and museums, in a day – and we did just that, simply by rambling at will until it became clear from our map that it was easier to keep going than to back-track.
Part of our walk, up to a lookout on the top of Areopagus Hill, turned out to be a route popular with locals. We continued down and around the Southern side of the Acropolis Hill, past the Roman theatre to the new Acropolis Museum a short distance away from the hill, back towards the hill to see the (classical Greek) Theatre of Dionysus (see Wikipedia), and finally around the Eastern end of the hill and back into Monastiraki for dinner. This map shows the territory and this page in my “Gallery Crawl” section presents more about the Acropolis itself.