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Kathy Mackey: The Intersection between Art and Leisure on the Gold Coast

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Kathy Mackey: The Intersection between Art and Leisure on the Gold Coast

We spoke to local artist Kathy Mackey about her work Let’s Organise Your Leisure (22-23 Jan, 22) – workshops that invite locals to create works out of pool noodles and yoga mats, before sending them out on the lake in a ‘Float Off Finale’ installation.

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about the concept of your project – what interests you about that intersection between art and leisure?

The project responds to how I see aspects of the Gold Coast’s identity being linked to beaches, rivers, and canals - as well as how residents and tourists enjoy leisure activities as a kind of public performance. We may be very comfortable with participating in a yoga class in a park or waving pool noodles above our heads at the pool but may not have thought about what this could look like as a form of artmaking. I run and kayak regularly and am fascinated with how we describe the way our bodies move through space – artists and sports people see this very differently.

Q: What research have I undertaken? 

I have undertaken some exciting research where I set up tour experiences for groups of workshop participants – some of whom are fellow artists and some who are not. I held one recently where a group of creative seniors kayaked from Budds Beach to a location in Paradise Waters where we built an installation around a pontoon in a canal.

A really important part of the research is the journey along the way as we chat about notions of public and private spaces and the contrasts between the natural and man-made environments. After making the artwork we then debriefed over morning tea and shared ideas about how that experience felt for people as a form of public art making as well as a form of leisure.

Q: Can you expand on your approach investigating the concept of ‘leisure time’ in particular?

Since retiring from full-time work in the traditional sense – I have become more aware that “retirement culture” could be so full of organised, scheduled activities that you would be busier than when you were working! My arts practice playfully comments on this phenomenon and hopefully creates opportunities for seniors to become involved as participant makers of site responsive art.

This project at HOTA is aimed at an intergenerational audience, but I am very keen to see the grandparents taking the lead!

Q: Can you tell us a bit about the materials you’ve used in your project; the ones you describe as ‘artefacts of leisure’?

The pool noodles in particular are symbolic of a range of leisure activities associated with living near the water. These include children playing along the shoreline and learning to swim as well as being a popular artefact used by seniors who use them when doing aqua aerobics.

To me the sight of a pool noodle brings a smile to my face – the bright colours, the smooth texture and their potential as a sculptural material has allowed me to create a new body of work that responds to the sites of the Gold Coast in a unique way.

Similarly, when we see a yoga mat -we think of relaxation and moving the body through space in a graceful and balanced way – but their colours and textures make them great art materials as well.

Visit Kathy's Website

Kathy’s work is supported by GENERATE GC, which is a City of Gold Coast initiative delivered in partnership with Tasdance and SITUATE Art in Festivals.


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HOTA proudly acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we are situated, the Kombumerri families of the Yugambeh Language Region. We pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging, and recognise their continuing connections to the lands, waters and their extended communities throughout South East Queensland.

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