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Denise Smithson, Strategy Media Director
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By Denise Smithson

Torontoist summed it up right when they wrote: “There is something undeniably joyous about a massive red ball. One that eases itself into unexpected public places is rather impossible to resist.”

And so it has been appearing around Albany, Western Australia, this weekend as part of the Great Southern program of the Perth International Arts Festival (PIAF).

The irresistible RedBall snuck into the Albany Town Hall where it attracted lots of attention. People photographed it, touched it and tried to bounce against its slick, soft surface.

This award-winning project from New York artist Kurt Perschke certainly has a way of transforming cities into an unexpected canvas of possibilities.

The RedBall is just one example of why I love PIAF – you just never know what you might experience!

Now in its tenth year, the Great Southern Festival offers world-class arts events in a region renowned for breathtaking landscapes and award-winning food and wine.

I remember when Great Southern festival director Rod Vervest first revealed that PIAF was supporting a regional festival – as the then Albany Advertiser arts journalist and  later the newspaper’s editor, I got right behind this fantastic opportunity to bring arts, of all shapes and forms, to the forefront of public debate.

Today, according to the current artistic director Jonathan Halloway, almost 50 per cent of the population engage with the Great Southern festival – that’s an impressive statistic.

But even amid such success, we must not become complacent - the more we make it our festival through sponsorship and support, the more we show ourselves to be culturally sophisticated and switched on to contemporary society.

It’s great to hear people discuss what they have seen; whether a play was challenging or fun, or their impressions of an exhibition – what is important is that we have that dialogue going on where we discuss and listen to other’s opinions.

The arts is big business and a vital part of a healthy community.

The region has an incredible pool of talented artistic people; it would be great that they continue to call the Great Southern home while still enjoying a professionally satisfying career with lots of opportunities like those the festival offers.

We need to continue to foster and nurture all that is creative in our community – wherever that may be - because the benefits are many and far-reaching.

Enjoy the festival!


Interior stylist has the wow factor

Parkes-based businesswoman Karen Creith has gone from furniture retailer to creating a whole new career as an interior stylist and columnist, as well as editor-in-chief of her own magazine, Style Your Home With Karen Creith - all in a matter of months.
Karen created an innovative business concept that has made her business brand stand out from the crowd and she wants to share her insights to help others find success.
As part of a second-generation family furniture business, Karen knew they had to do something different to survive tough economic times. And thanks to Karen the business has gone from surviving to thriving.
“Our family business, Furniture One, has been around for 46 years and has a great following in Parkes, NSW, but I knew we needed to do something different to create more opportunities and expand our market share,” she said.
“I love decorating and having a furniture business gives us a unique point of difference. So I approached the local paper to see if I could write a column giving home decorating advice and tips – I also secured a spot on the local radio. The result of which brought a whole new group of clients through our doors.
“Similarly, we had built a lovely new home that had been styled within an inch of its life by me so I approached a regional magazine to have it featured, and then because it came up so well, I secured coverage in a national magazine.”
Before she knew it, Karen was writing regular columns on home styling for two national magazines - Modern Home and Home Ideas. Karen’s engaging content and cheeky titles like, The Art of Faking It and The Importance of Having a Good Shag, have proved a hit with the public and quickly led to the icing on the cake – her own magazine.
Style Your Home With Karen Creith magazine is an instructional guide to styling and is on sale nationally.
“My philosophy is that everyone deserves a beautiful home regardless of their budget. I absolutely love helping people to make their dreams become a reality and give them a home that they will love to come home to,” she said.
“What started out as an idea to create greater exposure for our business has erupted into opportunities I never dreamed possible – and the key was to just ask.
“My business messages are about being confident, fully utilising your skills and making the most of opportunities when they present themselves.”
Karen’s services range from complete design layouts that result in a furnished and completely styled and decorated home or advice on colours, kitchen and bathroom designs and renovations.
“It’s endless the possibilities of how I can structure my service but at the end of the day I can give your home the wow factor it needs,” she said.
Along with a new website, Karen has just launched her online store which is stocked with lots of items to create an overall styled look. Visit the website at


Geometric abstraction focus of solo exhibition

Beth Kirkland - Untitled 5 (Source_derivations 1 series) 2011 oil on panel 41x40cmBeth Kirkland - RiverSea 2010 oil on panel 41x41cmAlbany, Western Australia based Canadian artist Beth Kirkland will hold her first solo Perth exhibition at Nyisztor Studio later this month.

Source_derivations 1 opens on October 29 and will showcase Kirkland’s geometric abstraction to a new audience.

Originally from Toronto, Ontario, Kirkland has lived in Australia since 1975. She has exhibited regularly in Western Australia and Sydney, and is also a visual arts lecturer at the Great Southern Institute in Albany, WA.

Award-winning artist Ron Nyisztor from Nyisztor Studio was looking forward to Kirkland exhibiting in the artist-run space in Melville, as he thought her work was interesting and unique. He particularly welcomed the chance for a regional WA artist to show their work.

 For Kirkland, the use of abstraction in her art is a way of expressing a sense of place.

 “Overall, abstraction is my way of grasping, rendering and reconciling my experiences. In the case of Source-derivations 1, these experiences arise from my visit to Gibraltar Point Centre for the Arts in Toronto in 2009,” she said.

“I’m interested in how abstraction might express the sense of being out of place or of being in two places at once -feelings familiar to the ‘un-reconciled migrant’. The context of this exploration was the city.

“In 2009, I spent three months in my home town of Toronto, living and working at an arts centre on the Toronto Islands, a recreational area just 10 minutes from the city by ferry. I walked much of downtown Toronto photographing pre-existing monochromes or grids, constructing a portrait of the city.

“I liked the juxtaposition of the order and calm I find in geometric abstraction with the unruly city environment in which these works are located.”

This exploration led to the work presented in Source_derivations 1.

“The paintings are derived from the photographs taken in Toronto, which are included in the exhibition. Some of the resulting paintings may be interpreted as jarring, others quite beautiful,” Kirkland said.

“There are consistencies in the language that I have used which is the repetitive mark-making, the paint strokes, the stripes, the division of the painting surface and also the architectural forms - there are shapes that are not organic but building-like and give the feeling of the built environment landscape translated into flatness.

“I have a background in weaving, and I sometimes think my painting has been influenced by the often repetitious processes involved, as well as the fine fibres I used to work with. The lines in some of my painting recall the warp threads suspended loosely within the interior space of the loom prior to their being tightened for weaving.”

Kirkland has just returned from a second residency at the Gibraltar Point Centre for the Arts in Toronto where she has conducted research into the Renaissance use of architectural backgrounds in religious paintings. She intends that this research lead to Source_derivations 2, to be held in Sydney in 2012.

Kirkland was a finalist in 2009 and 2011 $25,000 City of Albany Art Prize, Albany, WA, - the national annual acquisitive prize for paintings.

Source_derivations 1 by Beth Kirkland opens at Nyisztor Studio, 391 Canning Highway, Melville, WA, on October 29 until November 13. Gallery hours Tuesday-Saturday 10am-5pm, Sunday 2pm-5pm.


Just write - good advice...

Seth Godin's article on how to overcome writer's block is a good one.


Japan's Forgotten Link to the ANZAC Legend

Smithson Media officially launched its report - Japan’s Forgotten Link to the ANZAC Legend recently.

Albany-based consultancy, Smithson Media, successfully gained a grant from the Australian-Japan Foundation to partially fund research into His Imperial Japanese Majesty’s Ship Ibuki.

At the beginning of World War I, the Japanese battle cruiser Ibuki formed part of the naval escort of Australian and New Zealand Expeditionary Forces that made its way to Egypt and eventually Gallipoli.

HIJMS Ibuki played a pivotal role in the protection of the convoy of troop ships that assembled from around Australia and New Zealand, and on November 1, 1914, sailed from Albany, Western Australia.

Smithson Media undertook research in Australia, Japan, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

The research confirmed that HIJMS Ibuki’s story should be included in the telling of the ANZAC story and adds to Australia, New Zealand and Japan’s knowledge and understanding of each other’s place in history.

Fascinating details of HIJMS Ibuki’s convoy duties were revealed at official report launch. Download press release

Read more about the Ibuki project under the Media section