Opinion | So little time to see so much | Christopher Saunders

INSPIRED: The delegation of young urban thinkers and innovators from across the world in Newcastle as part of the Next City Vanguard.
INSPIRED: The delegation of young urban thinkers and innovators from across the world in Newcastle as part of the Next City Vanguard.

Anyone else feel like it’s getting to the pointy end of the year again?

So much on and so little time. Gallery openings, theatre productions, new studio events, visiting delegations and those impending end of year celebrations lurking just around the corner.

Recently, in my Renew GM role, I was able to present and begin a dialogue with some diverse groups of visiting delegations. Morning was with a small group of ambassadors working with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. The afternoon was with 50 of the best and brightest young urban thinkers and innovators from across the world. They were here in Newcastle as part of the Next City Vanguard. Both groups were keen to discuss how our creative entrepreneurs have helped shape this city and it was an opportunity to promote the great work of our artists.

Later, I was able to tag along with the Vanguard to the Lock-Up to hear from local creative identities Jessi England and Cherie Johnson.

Jessi has been guiding the vision of this contemporary arts space for five years. The Lock-Up is an extraordinary cultural asset for Newcastle. It consistently provides first-rate exhibitions, installations and events that provoke and challenge. The current exhibition, Transmission, is no exception.

The curator and contributing artist for this work is Cherie Johnson. I first met Cherie when she applied for a Renew Newcastle space in 2016. I checked out her work and website, Speaking in Colour, and saw what she was offering the community through workshops, facilitation and collaboration. We spoke at the time about community development opportunities and the availability of workspace. Hearing Cherie speak last week to a room full of visiting change agents was another thing altogether. She made it clear that this work is all about beginning a conversation - a dialogue around the complexity of issues that surround contemporary indigenous art making and production.

Cherie is a dynamic speaker – passionate, respectful and inclusive. Our international guests were transfixed. Conversations began to flow effortlessly around cultural inclusion and appropriation. If you are searching for a keynote speaker or workshop facilitator to provide insight and inspiration, Cherie Johnson has it all.

Transmission is at The Lock-Up until December 3. Get in quick, before end-of-year events kick in and inhibit your availability.

Christopher Saunders is general manager of Renew Newcastle