The Art Gallery of Western Australia opened a new venue this year - the main foyer was transformed after opening hours, with a stage under the spiral staircase, lots of tables and chairs and also lots of barstools and couches on the first floor overlooking the space from above. A cash bar that also served tapas helped transform a space for viewing still art into a magical space for listening to live music. I just love the Art Gallery space and I loved it as a venue for music.
We were a little late for getting the best seats in the house, even though we were early and had coffees in the cafe (and a $3 custard kiss cookie, overpriced and not as good as my Nana's). A very nice lady suggested we grab a space upstairs and as we made our way up the spiralling staircase I declared this to be my favourite event of the year based purely on her being so nice and helpful :) We hung out on the railing and had a good old chat til the warm up act started and I felt drinks were in order. Knowing us as well as I do, I knew I was better to go and get the drinks and kathrynlinge better equipped to mind our spots. And as it happened after I took a dreamy walk down the stairs during which I decided my dream house would have a spiral staircase and then a less dreamy and more don't-trip-on-your-long-skirt-and-high-h
Katie Noonan came out with her two accompanying band members - an electic guitarist and her husband who plays sax - and they proceeded to just carry us away for the evening. Her lineup was a mix of songs from the trio's (Elixir) two albums which put music to Australian poets' works and also off her solo album (Skin) as well as a couple from their tribute album to Lennon and McCartney. I must say that was the best version of Eleanor Rigby I have ever heard. And her voice is as pure and beautiful live as it is on album. And it's such a real joy to watch a musician just do their thing. She has such amazing control and training, such a huge range and she so clearly knows how to use her voice as instrument as well as the microphone as instrument and you can watch her actively create and move sound. It was just awe-inspiring to watch.
Two things I thought about during the event. The first was, art makes me happy - both doing it and experiencing it. Colour, sounds, words, textures, stimulation. The second was, if this first is true, how much success is then necessary? I was watching Noonan and how talented she is, and how interesting she is as a performer, artist and musician. And how many different projects and bands she has been involved with over time. She tries new things, not because they might be the one thing that brings her success and fame, but because she is driven to create new things. And as you explore the creation of art, it doesn't really matter whether you succeed or fail because it's about the process. I loved George and I am sad that probably she will never return to George and record a new album. But really, I loved her voice in George and there I was listening to it last night - more jazz type music than pop or alternative, but beautiful and enjoyable.
And it made me think about Shiny. We closed Shiny this week but had decided we would about a month ago and really had decided it was a closing market probably way back in about Feb or March. It took me a while to announce it because I was sad that it was over. But at the same time, it was over. It was a lot of fun. I learned a lot and I enjoyed the team and working with the writers. But it was over. The project was done. And you have to be ok with moving on and trying new things - art should be about risk and it should always involve an element of the risk of failure. It should push out on the boundaries and not stay where things are safe and known. And you should be able to move on to new things, new sounds, new words, new ideas and concepts without getting caught up in the nostalgia of what was. Cause that is gone. And done. And explored. And known. And there is no shame or embarrassment or regret about moving on. Moving on is about saying "I have taken all I can from this" or "I tried this and it's not working" or "I tried this, and it worked, and now I want to try something else". Moving on might just be the most hopeful act you can do. The quest for more, and better and growth and expansion.
I really liked the way Noonan presents as an artist with lots of interests and pursuits and styles. It appealled to me in any case. Also, she mentioned Stradbroke Island a lot - as a muse, I guess, for her. Her magical place where she writes a lot of her songs and where she and her husband got married. And one of the poems she used for one of the songs was about Stradbroke Island. It reminded me of the stories for the collection Glitter Rose that Marianne de Pierres and I are doing for next year. I am going to have to go visit Stradbroke Island some day so I can see it in real life after experiencing it so much in the written and sung word!
And the third thing was - how lovely going out on a worknight can be and how unstressful it is to do it with a good friend and to a classy but relaxing venue.
Artbar is a winner in my book and I am looking forward to attending some of the events in future seasons.