Artists have an opportunity to capture this extraordinary moment in time through their art and experiment with new ways of working, new forms and thinking outside the box in terms of modes of delivery.

Horizon Festival, supported by the Regional Arts Development Fund (RADF), called for submissions from Sunshine Coast-based artists to create new projects and/or work as part of Homegrown – a new initiative developed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Homegrown aimed to support the region’s local artists to develop and present work across all art forms – music, visual arts, dance, theatre, film, comedy, words + ideas, film, interdisciplinary – that specifically respond to 2020 and the extraordinary times in which we find ourselves.

Over three months, Homegrown saw six new works commissioned from local artists. June’s first work was Plastic Belly; a contemporary dance performance by Sunshine Coast-based choreographer Courtney Scheu and visual artist Itamar Freed. Set to an original sound score by Harel Tsemah, and filmed on the beautiful secluded beach at Third Bay in Coolum, this work is both visually captivating and deeply sensitive to the current times. Plastic Belly explores human connection, at a point in history when this topic is more relevant than ever. Recent experiences due to the COVID-19 pandemic have traversed the emotional and mental impact of isolation, the fear of the unknown, and a deep desire for connection.

June also saw the release of What Now, a film-based project by Timothy Birch following the journey of three humans on the Sunshine Coast during this abnormal period. Timothy Birch deep-dives into their worlds, visiting them in their homes to understand how 2020 as a whole, and COVID-19 in particular, have impacted their lives, art, and beliefs about the world. The final work was a documentary-style video that will become a ‘time capsule’ to remember this extraordinary moment in time.

July’s first works was Love Note to the Landscape; with visual artists Helena Jackson-Lloyd and Rosie Lloyd-Giblett on a mission to capture the essence of place. Love Note to the Landscape was a celebration of plein air artwork, created in three iconic Sunshine Coast locations – Maroochy Regional Bushland Botanical Gardens, Coolum’s First Bay and the Mooloolah Wetlands. See the works here.

July also saw Parametric; an interactive digital artwork that investigates our individual and collective emotional state in a post isolated world to create unique pieces of art. You are invited to input your feelings on a sliding scale across a series of questions about how you feel about your life and relationships. Each input changes the artwork and renders a morphing and shifting piece of art on the screen before your very eyes. Experience it here.

August’s first work was Transience, created by artists Glen Manning and Kathy Daly, this was a short-film of their signature etchings on the sand of our spectacular Sunshine Coast Beaches, exploring our connection with the marine and coastal landscapes through the synergy of art and movement. Thematically, the work is a response to both Covid-19 and climate change; the virus resulting in wide-spread community focus on microscopic organisms, and an acknowledgement that we are experiencing a rapid period of global climate change. Massive ephemeral drawings of microscopic phytoplankton were  inscribed on the sand by artists Glen and Kathy and augmented by a solo performer, Reina Takeuchi, allowing the viewer to enter an unseen world of interconnected ecosystems. Captured by local filmmakers and storytellers, Pluggas, this beautiful short film showcased this ephemeral, multidisciplinary artwork, allowing us to see the sand inscriptions unfold and then be swept away by the incoming tides at First Bay in Coolum.

August also saw the release of Trace; a short-film featuring James Muller’s signature large-scale projections onto the ocean at Mooloolaba Beach. The video contained an accompanying soundscape by renowned local musician Shannon Sol Carrol, delivering a multi-sensory experience of Mooloolaba Beach as you’ve never seen before. Trace invites us to consider our connections to the places we frequent and asks us what has changed during our recent experiences with Covid-19 and isolation? This stunning work celebrates complexity, mixed messages and contradiction, encompassing connection and disconnection.

Homegrown was supported by the Regional Arts Development Fund, a partnership between the Queensland Government and Sunshine Coast Council to support local arts and culture in regional Queensland.