From tatoos to canvas, Jeremy Martin braves Rocky's first art battle. Photo Christine McKee / The Morning Bulletin
From tatoos to canvas, Jeremy Martin braves Rocky's first art battle. Photo Christine McKee / The Morning Bulletin Christine Mckee

Six artists enter challenge to paint picture in 100 minutes

THERE'S a new buzz around Rockhampton's nightlife as the city emerges from behind its outdated reputation and breathes life into the idea of a good night out.

New bars like Chango Chango, the Cuban rum bar, The Verandah Bar upstairs at the Giddy Goat and The Workshop are a mile away from the younger nightclub scene that marks the city's entertainment precinct.

It was The Workshop that hosted a unique event last Friday night, very different to anything the city had seen before, and a mark of the new breed of arts and music venues on offer to a more worldly crowd.

Winner of Friday nights art battle at The Workshop, Danielle Pretorius makes a start on her painting.
Winner of Friday nights art battle at The Workshop, Danielle Pretorius makes a start on her painting. Christine Mckee

Six artists, including internationally renowned Lucas Grogan who painted the Quay Lane mural, went head to head on blank canvasses for 100 minutes before the 'audience' voted and the paintings auctioned to cyclone recovery.

As each artist set about their own creations, about 100 people watched the images unfold - from the street-style of Lucas Grogan, the ultra-femininity of artist-in-residence Emma Ward, relative newcomer Marie Seeman, two tattoo artists who had never painted on canvas and eventual winner, Daniella Pretorius who took home $500.

For those who like their entertainment hard, fast and loud, Friday night also saw the return of Rock Force to The Criterion.

It was pub rock at its absolute best and the first time in 15 years the four members had played together. 

They shook the night all night long in 'tribute' to Cyclone Marcia and a city built on resilience.

The Workshop backed up on Saturday night with Ladies of Jazz; cool, funky and very entertaining.

Marie Seeman with her tribute to the heroes of the Cyclone Marcia cleanup.
Marie Seeman with her tribute to the heroes of the Cyclone Marcia cleanup. Christine Mckee

Rockhampton Regional Council's regional promotions manager Sarah Reeves says Rockhampton as a city is working towards a stronger economy, and becoming a better place to live.

"There is a need for us all to collaborate and stay focused on the bigger picture," Ms Reeves said.

"People may not always agree on the details, but everyone has different taste and a different perspective to bring to the table - and that is a good thing."

Despite the buzz and anticipation of the growing arts scene, she said there had been some negativity around paying an out-of -region artist to paint the Quay Lane mural, especially in a city bursting with local talent.

It's not from the arts community itself which understands the bigger picture and have relished the opportunity to not just meet, but to work alongside Lucas Grogan and realise his mural is only the beginning of Rockhampton's laneway dream.

"If we want a more compelling visitor and lifestyle experience, then we need to utilise both local talent and those known further afield," Ms Reeves said.

"This brings recognition and in turn gives local artists more exposure.

"It's the same reason that food and wine events bring in celebrity chefs, music festivals bring in international acts and event organisers scramble to secure big names.  

Internationally renowned artist Lucas Grogan paints his last signature mural in Rockhampton before he leaves to live and work in Europe. Photo Christine McKee / The Morning Bulletin
Internationally renowned artist Lucas Grogan paints his last signature mural in Rockhampton before he leaves to live and work in Europe. Photo Christine McKee / The Morning Bulletin Christine Mckee

"We have plenty of great chefs, actors, musicians and other talents in the region yet nobody jumps up and down when Beef Week, Food and Wine Festivals and other publicly funded events pay for the celebrity element."

The Quay Lane mural, behind the Criterion Hotel, is seen as a beginning, which Ms Reeves said would become apparent as details of the River Festival are released.

"The River Festival will become a platform for local artists of all kinds to showcase themselves to a wider audience, but we need to capture the audience to get them here in the first place," she said.

"That is what projects like the Lucas Grogan mural hope to achieve."



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