An “an incredibly dynamic DIY scene” permeated Brisbane in the 1990s, a formative and influential decade for composer, artist and curator Lawrence English.
His own creativity brewed in a cauldron of experimentation that bubbled in the city’s arts venues, the pages of its fanzines and street publications, the shelves of Rocking Horse Records and the airwaves of 4ZZZ radio.
Lawrence says a cultural landscape in flux, coupled with Brisbane’s affordable lifestyle, gave artists like himself the confidence and opportunity “to build something from nothing”.
“People could take a moment to explore new ideas, to consider what might be rather than what has to be to survive,” he reflects.
“Today, I think Brisbane still has a lot of creative folks with amazing vision and it’s up to us as cultural leaders to ensure that the city allows this next generation the opportunity to blossom and, in doing so, create new opportunities, new visions and new agendas for us all to consider and explore.”
This ethos is evident in Room40, the Brisbane-based music label he founded in 1999.
“Our focus has always been outward; my intention from day one has been to link Brisbane to the rest of the world,” he says.
“New voices calling from the fringes eventually meet in the cultural centre, it’s how art and culture are revitalised and regenerated.
“Culture is not static and it’s important for the living voices to be heard loud and proud.”
Lawrence’s association with Brisbane Festival stretches back to its earliest incarnations, plucking memories of forward-thinking and adventurous programming that eventually shaped his practice.
“Festivals have a responsibility to be champions of the new and the emergent.
“They are great connectors and vehicles for growing new cultures and the awareness of new cultures.”