Last year’s instalment of Radio With Pictures at Sydney’s Graphic Festival sold out and it’s easy to see why. The 90 minute show at the Sydney Opera House saw a group of compelling storytellers come together over a mutual love of radio, writing and graphics. It was a multimedia show that fed all the senses.
This year the show was hosted by Fenella Kernebone. The theme for the night was ‘The Things You Do’ whether it be for ‘love’, ‘fun’ or some other unspecified reason. The stories ranged from comedy to drama to satire and just about everything in between. There were eight presentations in total and the evening saw the likes of actor, Claudia Karvan and musician, Don Walker (Cold Chisel) share a stage with artist, Gria Shead; animator Marieka Walsh; comic artists Sam Wallman and Bailey Sharpe; radio maker, Gina McKeon; producer, Jane Ullman, writers Lorlei Vashti and Patti Miller; and illustrator, Grace Lee.
The evening commenced with one of the most fun and entertaining stories of the night. It was a tale taken from a newspaper advertisement circa 1875 where a bookshop owner advertised for a wife. It was a progressive idea for the time (things like Farmer Wants A Wife and RSVP didn’t exist) but it was ultimately a relatable anecdote that encouraged us all to take risks and be bold in our quests for love.
One of the weaker stories of the night was ‘Teach Us Pet’, which saw black and white cartoons of a young boy who wakes up to hear his mother killing off some of his pets. It was redeemed by the story that followed, ‘Like An Animal’. The sound in this latter one was amazing and it was easy to see how Jane Ullman is an award-winning sound effects artist. Her sonic arrangements really helped compliment the idea of young children connecting with and learning about animals.
Don Walker’s fans would’ve enjoyed hearing samples of his Shots book coupled with animations. It was a very different feel to the sombre, ‘Gay Enough’, which followed. This was the tale of a refugee seeking asylum in Australia and how they had to prove their sexuality to the authorities. It was jarring to go from his to the funny, cheekiness of Lorlei Vasthi’s ‘Nobody Is Making You Do This’. The latter was named after a Margaret Atwood quote and was the light-hearted recount of an epic battle with writer’s block that stretched out over a year.
Once again the mood shifted for Patti Miller’s ‘The Mind Of A Thief’ which had parallels to Kate Grenville’s The Secret River novel. It was also the winner of the Premier’s history award while Pat Grant’s closing story – a love letter to his recently departed father – was highly intense and personal and was probably not the right platform for such an emotionally-charged story.
Radio With Pictures was one fascinating and interesting night. There were stories to make you laugh, ones to make you cry and others still that made you think. In future, a rethink of the theme may be in order to allow things to run more smoothly and cohesively but there was no denying that the 2013 edition had a little gift or two for people to take home from such wild and varied proceedings.
Originally published on 9 October 2013 at the following website: http://www.theaureview.com/sydney/graphic-festival-radio-with-pictures-ft-don-walker-claudia-karvan-fenella-kernebone-and-more-06-10-13
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