Lennox Head artist Kate McDowell performing part of the piece at La Boite HWY Festival 2016.
Lennox Head artist Kate McDowell performing part of the piece at La Boite HWY Festival 2016.

Local artist is telling some of our most poignant stories

LOCAL artist Kate McDowell is working on a controversial and personal work of art set in Byron Bay, called The Adventures of Wonderbabe the Terrible.

The project will be completed in December, during a residency at NORPA in Lismore, after McDowell received a $5000 grant by Arts NSW to complete the work with other artists as the Wonderbabes Collective.

Kate McDowell lives in Lennox Head but grew up in Lismore.

She moved away to Wollongong, then Sydney, but has been back in Lennox for about 12 months.

McDowell studied creative writing with Honours majoring in Writing for Performance, plus a postgraduate Diploma in Writing for Performance at NIDA in Sydney.

It was at NIDA that she started developing this piece, which was first a two-hour solo show. It has since been explored with an ensemble cast with puppetry and visual theatre, but McDowell and her team have returned to the work in its original form as solo storytelling.

"I was trying to figure out the forms of contemporary performance that this work could fit within, because I was constantly struggling with this two-hour performance poem, or performance prose poem, which was controversial and didn't really fit the playwriting genre," said the artist.

"When I performed it at NIDA people were quite shocked.

"It's quite explicit, it deals with young women and the underside of youth culture and its set in Byron Bay.

"It's about a young woman really testing her limits, trying to figure out where she stands politically, how she can have a voice in this time as a young woman and what that means.


McDowell is now working with Sydney based composer and sound designer James Brown and local DJ Vinnie Laduce, Director Elsie Edgerton-Till and Designer Charles Davis, both of Sydney, to create a version of the work that is also a live electronic music performance piece to be performed at cultural and music festivals.

"The idea is for young people to walk into a tent and we will offer a whole world created into that space telling the story and being a dance venue in itself," McDowell said.

McDowell said she is looking forward to the residency at NORPA Lismore.

"We will also be working with Julian Louis as a mentor in dramaturgy, something that NORPA has offered in kind," she said.

"By the end of the two weeks we'll have the project put together to be sold to festivals".