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Brisbane's Best New Events of 2018

The six most innovative events to have landed in Brisbane this year.
By Concrete Playground
November 21, 2018
By Concrete Playground
November 21, 2018


The six most innovative events to have landed in Brisbane this year.

While it felt like this year's cultural calendar was dominated by bottomless brunches and themed high teas (and there were a lot of them) a lot of other game-changing events were also taking place. From immersive dessert museums to spine-chilling installations and a pop-up creative space with a year-long program of free festivities, Brisbane has seen a influx of events celebrating the city's cultural ecosystem and bringing people together.

At Concrete Playground we encourage exploration and showcase innovation in our city every day, so we thought it fitting to reward those most talented whippersnappers pushing Brisbane to be a better, braver city. And so, these six new events were nominated for Best New Event in Concrete Playground's Best of 2018 Awards.

  • 6

    The weird and wonderful combined in Patricia Piccinini’s exhibition at Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA). Extending across a range of mediums from sculpture to photography, Piccinini presented an augmented vision of reality through an amalgam of science, nature and fiction. Curious Affection featured over 70 immersive artworks, and it was the first time GOMA had exhibited the work of a contemporary Australian artist on such a large scale. It featured a variety of new commissions and old works in Piccinini’s unmistakable hyperreal style, including ‘The Field’, an installation of more than 3000 flower sculptures. Accompanying the exhibition was a superb film program at GOMA’s Australian Cinematheque, which ran from science fiction through to horror classics.

    Words: Alex Bateman. Image: Natasha Harth.

    Vote for Patricia Piccinini: Curious Affection

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  • 5

    More than just that patch of grass and trees at the edge of the CBD, the Brisbane City Botanic Gardens boasts a whole heap of wonders — gorgeous greenery, ponds filled with cute turtles, free exercise classes and more. Between April 6 to 15, it was also the site of Brissie’s first major outdoor contemporary art exhibition: Botanica. For ten days, the gardens came alive with artworks, talks, workshops, choirs, puppets and more, including Kerrie Poliness’ geometric line drawings across the park’s manicured lawns, which she tended to live throughout the event. And if you’re wondering about the timing, yes, Botanica was part of The Festival, the huge arts and culture fest that ran alongside of the Commonwealth Games. While the athletes were getting active on the Gold Coast, Brisbanites were roaming through the centre of the city and seeing its natural splendour in a whole new way.

    Words: Sarah Ward.

    Vote for Botanica

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  • 4

    In September, a big, white container came to South Bank. But, like most shipping containers in the city, it wasn’t being used to transport furniture. And the word ‘séance’ was written on the side in black. It was kind of ominous. Séance was an installation where participants took a seat inside the tiny space, put on a headset and placed their hands flat on the table in front of them. The lights went out and the container entered complete darkness. For the next 20 minutes, participants were fed ‘suggestible information’ through their headsets. You’re probably thinking that there’s something dark or supernatural about the whole thing — and going by the name, we don’t blame you. Séance was a sensory experience that looked at the psychology of a group sitting together. Despite not being a horror or supernatural-themed piece, it was a scary indicator of how easy it is for confusion, information overload and the people sitting right next to us to affect our judgment. Artists David Rosenberg and Glen Neath (who have collaborated in other sensory deprivation projects before) were the creative masterminds behind the project, which was described as ‘disorienting’ and ‘deeply unsettling’.

    Words: Jonathan Ford.

    Vote for Seance

  • 3

    In April, Broadbeach on the Gold Coast played host to a fun new addition in Arboria — a huge, blow-up sculpture that featured a walk-through labyrinth of winding tunnels and lofty domes. On exhibition at Kurrawa Park as part of southeast Queensland’s arts festival running alongside the Commonwealth Games, the inflatable structure took its inspiration from the forest. Incorporating tree-like spaces, stylised leaf patterns and a soundscape from Ecuador’s Mindo cloud forest, it created an immersive, multi-sensory experience for visitors young and old. A maze of pods and domes lead to a stunning central space, where massive columns and soaring Gothic-style windows mirrored those of Chapter House at the UK’s York Minster cathedral. It was the work of world-renowned group Architects of Air, who’ve created and exhibited a whole series of these ‘luminaria’ structures across the globe.

    Words: Libby Curran. 

    Vote for Arboria

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  • 2

    A giant gumball machine that you could climb inside. An adult-sized ballpit in bubblegum-pink hues. A dedicated fairy floss room with its own swing. Throw in ice cream, sweet and snack tastings, plus the ability to jump out of a giant birthday cake — and Brisbane’s pop-up dessert museum sounds like the kind of place that Willy Wonka might own. The Sugar Republic pop-up brought sugary delights to folks with a sweet tooth, boasting an array of spaces filled with all things chocolate, confectionery and dessert-oriented. If you weren’t making yourself a soft serve and showering it in sprinkles, you were spinning a wheel o’ treats. Other highlights included a sherbet-filled rainbow bridge, a ‘press for confetti’ button, an interactive sprinkles wall, a neon art wall and other dessert-centric art.

    Words: Sarah Ward. Image: Rachel Devine.

    Vote for Sugar Republic

  • 1

    Thirty years since Expo 88 lit up the Brisbane River’s southern banks, the area we all know as South Bank still has a few luminous tricks up its sleeves. Flowstate was one of them, a temporary creative space that took over the former Arbour View Café precinct, featuring an immersive digital art installation, an open-air performance pavilion and a grassy relaxation zone. It’s the first aspect, JEM by design studio ENESS, that immediately captured the city’s attention — and had Brisbanites rushing to the South Brisbane parklands. A glowing arc-like structure fashioned from LEDs, it responded to movement, meaning that everyone could influence its display of light and sound. Or, to put it another way, it emitted a symphonic and visual experience when approached. In addition to JEM’s eye-catching wonders, the 3000-square-metre space also boasted an array of performances, including a year-long free program during its first year of operation. On the 20-show-plus bill: CIRCA showing off their acrobatic skills in Aura, Dead Puppet Society unleashing their roving installation Megafauna and live, immersive, moonlit orchestra event Song to the Earth. Other highlights include participatory dance performance Planets, South Bank art tour What I’m Here For, and whispered storytelling from Brisbane writers, poets and artists in These Frozen Moments.

    Words: Sarah Ward. Image: Joel Devereux.

    Vote for Flowstate

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Top image: Flowstate.

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