As well as theme parks and vast stretches of golden beaches, there’s an impressive arts and food trail springing up along the Gold Coast.
There’s something mesmerising about watching strips of clay morph into a striking fruit bowl – albeit slightly lopsided.
Talented Gold Coast potter Jo Norton, who is extremely encouraging, has helped me create a beautiful bowl that I know will sit perfectly on my kitchen bench.
“It’s got character,” says Jo, who has been sharing her skills with wannabe potters at her Currumbin studio – Norton and Norton – for the past four years.
Jo was a home economist, then worked in the travel business for 20 years and later opened a cafe and catering business. She then rediscovered the magic of “potting” following on from her school days and was mentored by accomplished Gold Coast potter and friend, Megan Puls.
Jo loved it so much, she wanted to share her passion with others, so opened her own studio.
“It’s extremely satisfying watching people discover their artistic side and create something from scratch that’s useful and reminds them of their experience,” she says.
“There’s a healthy arts scene on the Gold Coast and people love creating things. As for pottery, it’s the enjoyment of making something with your hands that is individual and the thrill of using that piece in your home.”
Jo also organises the dynamic Empty Bowls Gold Coast event that’s been happening worldwide since the 1990s.
“It involves donations of handmade bowls from potters and food from local restaurants -people purchase a ticket online and at the event choose a bowl which is then filled with food.
It’s a simple gesture that is very meaningful,” she says.
“It is about raising awareness and funds for the homeless and hungry in our communities. We sold out last year and raised more than $18,000.”
Across the street is another creative hub, Dust Temple, an old warehouse that has been refurbished into a gallery, cafe and arts and performance space.
Owner, architect John Wilson describes it as an integrated art precinct where he organises exhibitions and live art drawing sessions. Pop in and you may well see artists, silversmiths and crafts people busy at work.
“I think there’s a much greater appreciation of the arts on the Gold Coast these days and it’s encouraging for all,” John says.
Dust Temple also serves great coffee and the pastries are delicious.
Art lover Terri Lew owns the dynamic 19 Karen Contemporary Artspace tucked away in an industrial precinct in Mermaid Beach which she opened in 2008.
Step through the doors and a lifelike ceramic figure of the flamboyant Mexican artist Frida Kahlo sits at the entrance.
“I have always had a fascination for Frida and love all things Mexican and when a friend saw the work, I knew I had to have it,” says Terri, who also displays art on the walls of the Sofitel Gold Coast Broadbeach.
A former publisher who always loved art, she says she was the first to open a gallery in a warehouse space in Australia.
Terri has always encouraged emerging and contemporary artists and now represents more than 80 Australian and international artists and holds regular exhibitions.
A walk through the gallery showcases vibrant artwork ranging from striking paintings to ceramics, many of which you just want to take home.
HOTA-New Gallery to open next year
The Gold Coast is all set for a big boost on the art scene when the new $60.5 million art gallery opens in 2021 as an addition to its Home of the Arts – HOTA complex in Surfers Paradise.
The new six level gallery has been inspired by William Robinson’s impressive Rainforest painting and designed by international architects ARM.
The HOTA centre that sits on the banks of the Nerang River is already a vibrant arts precinct that includes an outdoor stage and theatres.
HOTA chief executive officer, Criena Gehrke says they are working at presenting more opportunities for people to experience the arts in different ways.
“There’s a host of workshops, live performances in unexpected places, great art, and of course the best Australian and international artists and companies performing indoors and out,” she says.
There’s also a burgeoning food scene along the coast especially at Burleigh Heads with the fabulous Restaurant Labart. Former Sydney chef Alex Munoz Labart and wife Karla champion sustainability, seasonality and simplicity concentrating on great tastes and textures.
The beachside Burleigh Pavilion offers seaside vibes and great views while next door in the same complex, you will find The Tropic restaurant. You can watch Guillaume Zika and his team at work in the large open kitchen.
Another favourite haunt is the Iku Yakitori Bar that serves authentic yakitori cooked on binchotan charcoal with a drinks menu of rare Japanese whisky, sake, and shochu, which is a distilled spirit.
Home for a few days is in a renovated two-bedroom Burleigh apartment, Pandanus, designed with a 1960s summer in St Tropez feel.
Brisbane interior designer Anna Spiro, who helped turn an old seaside motel into the award- winning Halcyon House at Cabarita Beach, created this inviting seaside cocoon.
Located in a typical sixties apartment block it reflects Spiro’s quirky colourful decor with hues of blue and original artwork.
Her second apartment, Hibiscus that will feature a Hollywood Regency style, is underway.
If you fancy your own beach club experience, call the Pandanus property manager, walk across to the beach and you’ll find striped umbrellas, sun lounges and an esky topped with your favourite drinks – heaven.
As for my beautiful fruit bowl – it looks fabulous on my kitchen bench- lopsided and all.