Discover the Gold Coast's arty side

A life drawing class is just one of the ways in which to unleash your inner artist while immersing yourself in the creative energy of the GC.

Dust Temple is a creative hub offering a range of classes and activities.
  • Katrina Lobley
  • May 2019

I’ve done life drawing before so I know the drill but this time, as roller-skater, musician and life model Amy Roberts slips off her robe to strike a pose, I breathe a tiny sigh of relief. She’s turned away from me, with her hip thrust at a jaunty angle and arms crossed above her head.

It’s always quite a moment, to be confronted by a stranger’s nakedness. Amy is facing the novices in our group and, even though I should be drawing, I check my friends’ faces – they’re a picture of concentration as their pencils scratch away at the paper.

The classes at Dust Temple are open to all skill levels.
The classes at Dust Temple are open to all skill levels.

Musician Julian Holland strums a flamenco guitar in the corner (at other times, it could be classical or blues music accompanying the class) and the privacy curtain separating the gallery from the street-front café ensures that we’re contained within our own little world. I’m at Dust Temple opens in new window, a creative complex tucked into an industrial area on the Gold Coast. To the casual passer-by, it might look like nothing more than a quirky spot to order coffee but it’s actually a place where you can tap into your artistic spirit in a multitude of ways. On Thursday evenings, they have life drawing sessions, poetry jams or open mic nights. There’s also live music on Saturday mornings and an occasional jazz series curated by performer Kacey Patrick.

Founded in 2013 by Isla and John Wilson, the creative centre includes artist workspaces and a recording studio, and there are plans for a distillery. Isla is a poet, and John an architect who’s responsible for giving the former surfboard factory a kooky steam-punk vibe with rusted iron, hardwood beams and over-sized doors. “It’s a concept-driven design,” says Isla. “We’re on a floodplain so he was imagining that floods had come in and washed these things in.”

The life drawing classes are accompanied with live music to make for an inspiring environment.
The life drawing classes are accompanied with live music to make for an inspiring environment.

Dust Temple is also a second home to creatives like our life drawing host, Rebecca Cunningham, who is sensitive to nerves in the room. She advises the newcomers to not look at their paper, to keep their eye on the model and to draw a continuous line capturing Amy’s form. Her advice works; my friends go from not knowing where to look as Amy rolled through a series of snappy one-minute warm-up poses at the beginning, to looking like consummate artists as the poses stretch out to 20 minutes. The best part of life drawing is always seeing each other’s efforts at the end. We put forward a piece and gather around to inspect the work. One friend’s work is a revelation – he’s given Amy windswept hair and energetic lines that positively hum. This is like therapy for some people, Rebecca explains. “It helps them take a break from the busyness of life. It’s beautiful.”