courtesy CIP QUT Precincts

opening night speech: 


Shape’s role - culture building.

Culture shapes our attitudes, aspirations, imaginations, and deep level perceptions of ourselves, our communities, societies and our histories; the patchwork of perceived knowledge. Culture shaping and making isn't an instant splash but rather a slow seep - a bit like water shaping a rock. Within the context of tonight Shape of Things to Come is one of those culture-making programs. Now in its 10th year Shape is a persistent program that has moved beyond the splash of the new to become an entangled part of the cultural life of the university. 

Of course each year Shape appears as this the annual showcase, but with most cultural programs and projects the presentation is the icing on the cake. The real aliveness and importance of Shape is embedded in the processes of creating this moment - this presentation.

From the start Shape built a bridge between QUT faculties (the then Built Environment & Engineering & Creative Industries Faculties) re-framing and capturing students through a lens of creative practice & thinking processes. This became known as 'The creative arm of QUT' and it blurred the lines between faculties.  Subsequently this creative arm has been brought together under the one banner of Creative Industries…. I’d like to think Shape had a role to play in this shift.Shape also offers the teaching staff a moment to consider their graduating students outside of the academic strictures, and to nominate a work & practice (regardless of grade). Over the years the staff have embraced the open nomination opportunity. They have nominated works that where successful; works that challenged the status quo and practices that in hindsight where indicative of emerging areas of interest & future practice.  Shape is an open nominations systems that the teaching team nominate into as they see fit. Shape supports the culture building infused in O week; shaping the expectations and imagination of possibilities of our incoming first years, whilst recognizing and supporting our outgoing students. Shape is a cultural feedback loop of knowledge, experience and inspiration shared through presentation, talks and workshops presented by our emerging young professional graduates to our first years.  Shape has also played an important role within the QUT Precincts curatorial internship program. The CIP program aspires to support the growth of trans-disciplinary curators who leave us with the skills and confidence to engage in cultural exploration, proposition and presentation. Each year an outstanding graduating intern takes on the lead role - as their first professional gig, and each year there is a fear of how can one make sense of a multiplicity of QUT's Art & design practices? The differing creative methodologies, language, making & presentation process and outputs that make up this broad church of artefacts. And yet each year these young curators dig deeper - beyond the artefact to glimpse at the zeitgeist of that year, and each year they weave a tapestry of interconnected conceptual concerns, inspirations and principles into a rich presentation.  Equally Shape's Website, originally created by a graduating student in 2006 (and who is still with the project), has over the decade captured all the nominated and presented works. The site is now an important on-line legacy showcasing the rich complexity and diversity of creative practice coming out of QUT.

Shape not only sets the scene for future students, but also brings back and honours the graduating alumni.  Shape allows these alumni some distance from the end of their degree experience, and to revisit their work situated amongst a diversity of their peers. This program is as important to those moving into the world as it is to those starting the journey at QUT. The longevity of Shape of Things to Come means that it has moved beyond the new, to become an important element within the cultural life of QUT, its students and graduates. Equally its seems fitting that in the 11th year of Shape (2017) will coincide with the new CIF2 building, and I look forward to seeing how Shape of Things to Come transforms with this new opportunity.

For me the point of aliveness is the interstice between the new and the known - the emerging norm. This is an intangible yet very real and impactful state where possibility, inspiration and innovation are at their most alive. Shape's flexibility of process, presentation and engagement - the cultural loop between the cohorts of students arriving, present students and graduating students is one such site of this aliveness.

 I once again look forward to seeing the works and rich tapestry of this year’s show.