If you were on the beach during the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and Festival 2018, you may have encountered giant art impressions in the sand. Two local creatives used a tractor and massive rollers to leave their art along the beach between Surfers Paradise and Broadbeach.
The impressions carried visual messages about sustainability, the environment and climate change, and festival-goers had hands-on opportunities to contribute to the imagery and messages through workshops.
The project ‘See Change Sand Tracks’ is the brainchild of Australian designers and strategists Tristan Schultz – a proud Kamilaroi man, and Bec Barnett who together form Relative Creative. The creative designers create experiences and events that help people think, talk and mobilise.
Tristan and Bec participated in Generate, a City of Gold Coast creative program for the development of new work for Festival 2018 and it’s through that process that ‘See Change Sand Tracks’ was born.
“It was a three-stage process where we initially proposed an idea,” Bec told We Are Gold Coast.
From there, they met with all the other creatives involved in the Generate program, toured key festival sites and submitted a proposal for Stage 2. Then they presented the project to a group of stakeholders, submitted a budget that would bring the project to life and were teamed up with a producer (Celia Smith).
“All this looks simple,” said Bec, “but the whole project from our first Generate submission to Festival 2018 took two and a half years.”
Tristan said even the idea itself was born through the Generate program process. Once the group of participating program artists toured festival zones – Surfers Paradise and Broadbeach in particular – it became clear that the beach and sand were a perfect canvas to apply concepts around mapping our future challenges.
“The concept of ‘tracks’ made from a tractor-roller rolling out art along the beach was very roughly sketched out after one of these Generate workshops. Then the hard work, how to make it work,” Tristan said.
Tristan said people were “super-interested” in the sand trays available to them through a series of ‘See Change Sand Tracks’ workshops as well as the walking rollers they could roll out on the beach,
“They became immersed in playing in the sand and getting their impressions just right. This is not surprising, with a significant body of research around what is known as ‘sand play therapy’ for both adults and kids,” he explained.
The imagery used on the rollers was designed in-house by Tristan using a visual language that developed alongside the project. Bec explained that the imagery of the project is made up of hundreds of icons which all connect back to a particular topic.
“For example, one of my favourite icons is the outline of a kangaroo with other components of the icon suggesting movement and change. This icon is prompting the audience to think about alternative food sources that could be more sustainable than our current diet focused a lot on non-native meats such as beef, which is quite detrimental to the environment,” she said.
“Beyond the iconography we printed years such as 2068, 2088, in a large font as a way to encourage people to think about longer-term futures rather than just the short term. This technique works well in encouraging people to think about more out-of-the-box alternative futures,” Bec explained.
The final 18 Future’s Map chosen to be rolled out on the beach, as well as the four futures maps adapted for the waking rollers were all outcomes of workshops Bec and Tristan held across the city in the lead up to Festival 2018.
“The people who were involved in these workshops had a big input into the final project,” Bec said. “At the same time though the project’s focus was largely established prior to these workshops and that was informed by years and years of work together and with communities around Australia, conversations and extensive research; every icon is supported by a reference to reliable and credible research.”
Relative Creative was one of ten creative practitioners taken through the Generate program. The three-year, three-stage initiative brought together some of the Gold Coast’s most talented emerging artists specifically to develop content for the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games arts and cultural program. It was part of a larger Accelerated Cultural Development Program, a City of Gold Coast initiative, which saw $7 million invested into the local arts sector over the past four years.
Like most of the artists who participated in the Generate program, Tristan and Bec are both excited to be part of the city’s ever-evolving cultural landscape. They liken the scene to their own daughter.
“Currently the cultural scene is a little like our baby girl; young, booming with energy, learning from the big wide world a million miles an hour daily and open to ebb and flow into new personas, not yet fully developed into a recognisable identity, but so far, forging quite a unique path,” Tristan said.
“I think the Gold Coast is going to go through a profound political moment. We haven’t had one yet, but socio-environmental conditions arriving at our feet are going to force one upon us.”
“We are going to have extremely important contexts in which to find ways to urgently speak to people, through the arts. We are going to emotionally and psychologically feel climate change, rising sea levels, over-densification, mass human movement. Because we see ourselves as quite a burgeoning tech hub too, we are going to be a centre of debate about the ethics of technology, as over the coming decade, we come to realise how it compromises being human.”
“We have immense behavioural changes needing to occur over the next decade on the Gold Coast, in relation to our perception of privilege as a car culture and how we might recode perceptions towards public transport, we have huge infrastructural projects needing to occur to facilitate good public transport – all this needs creative and cultural practitioners to activate communities to change behaviours and habits.”
It seems Relative Creative will be at the forefront of that cultural shift and in the mean-time Bec and Tristan are busy on their design practice (as well as parenting).
“At the moment this is a mix of designing and developing workshops to run via Rebel Design School, getting ready for See Change Sand Tracks appearance at QPAC’s Out of the Box Festival at the end of June and working on a range of different, but exciting, creative projects for a variety of clients,” Bec said.
Generate is a City of Gold Coast initiative through the Regional Arts Development Fund and a partnership between the Queensland Government and the City to support local arts and culture in regional Queensland. The Queensland Government also supported Generate through the GC2018 Arts and Cultural Program.