Yesterday was Matt’s birthday and with his presents still air-mailing their way towards us I thought I’d better take him out for dinner. We haven’t eaten Mexican in years even though our lovely friend Aaron cooks at the local cantina + it’s one of Matt’s favourite food groups (cereals, fresh fruit and veg, dairy, mexican…) so after popping quickly into Pip Staffords show opening at Inflight (nice one too – ‘Waiting Room’) we hauled ass to Amigo’s and got ourselves a table. Mucho beans and rice (and one large Marguerita) later we were stuffed to the gills and trawled home to get more coats and digital camera before heading off to meet old friends at the Republic.
About ten years ago, Matt and I were part of an electronic media collective called Empire Studios that we founded with Art School pals, Sean Bacon and Tim Stone. We were later joined by Stefanie Carnivale for a while. We bumbled our way through some ridiculously large-scale projects that funding seemed to keep miraculously appearing for: I guess we seemed to hit all the funding target marks at that time – young (ha!), emerging, new technologies, public art… We did three projects ‘Empire Public Art Project’ ‘Empire State’ both public outdoor projection and sound events and “Two Cans and a Piece of String”, a video booth project, before we disbanded. Tim and Stefanie were moving to Melbourne and I got a little cranky about stuff that, in hindsight, never really mattered and called it quits.
Sean, Matt and I kept working together for a little longer, with Deborah Pollard at Salamanca Theatre Company mostly, then Matt went to Canada. Sean and I did a couple more and then a really traumatising project down the Huon Valley for the Tasmanian Trades and Labour Council before we wished each other well and I headed off to join Matt in Vancouver while Sean and his beautiful girlfriend Angie headed to Paris.
Matt and I got married after about a year in Vancouver, Sean and Ange got married about 2 months later in Morrocco.
Our early experiences with Empire taught us all so much – It’s an opportunity that gave us each the chance to nut out some big, big ideas within a tight and skilled support network and the collaborations continue today. S & A settled back in Sydney while we returned to Tas but Matt and Sean continue an ongoing café based deejay/veejay project called ‘Caffeine Broadcast’ with an event staged every couple of years. Deborah Pollard is now based in Sydney too (now with Urban Theatre Projects) and Sean continues to work with her as does Matt. He flies up on Monday as a matter of fact, to spend a week developing audio for her new project.
It’s a great network to be part of and one that has invaluably set me up for everything I do now – I learnt so much from my Empire compadres and Deb Pollard combined and it remains one of the most fertile times of my life when I also seemed to have had boundless energy to make it all happen. What happened to that? Oy…
Anyhoo – Sean and Ange have a baby due in October and were in town for a flying visit to show of the bump which happily coincided with Matt’s birthday so we got to coo and hang. They are about to buy a house in the Blue Mountains. It’s all ‘grown-up stuff’ as Ange said to me (now a successful TV producer in her own right and about to complete post-production on her first independant documentary about her indigenous bloodlines – *sigh*).
It was so good to see you guys, good luck with everything and I’m sorry I misheard your proposed baby’s name as ‘Beaker’.