We chat to the QUT Creatives behind the Brisbane Showground’s newest iconic addition.
Each year when the Ekka rolls around, Brisbane gets a little excited – and not just about the public holiday. Ask any local and they’ll be quick to tell you the experience is not complete without an Ekka strawberry sundae.
On Wednesday, April 12, King Street hosted a one-night-only strawberry sundae pop-up event. A few lucky locals won tickets to the event and were able to get their hands on an iconic Ekka strawberry sundae ahead of time. The rest of Brisbane will have to wait until the real Ekka season in August.
The event came about thanks to a collaboration between Lendlease’s King Street at the Brisbane Showgrounds and Creative Industries students from the Queensland University of Technology (QUT). The end result? An installation celebrating the iconic strawberry sundae.
Project Director for the Brisbane Showgrounds Andrew Hay said the inspiration for the Ekka strawberry sundae sign came from the yearly Ekka nostalgia and family memories.
“The CI students were asked to pitch innovative and creative projects to highlight the heritage of the Brisbane Showgrounds while creating excitement and interaction with the local community,” said Andrew.
“Placing the nostalgic strawberry sundae sign at the end of the old Dairy Hall will definitely be a way for everyone to relive their experience with the strawberry sundae all year around.”
The winning four QUT students (Aimee Watt, Annabelle Cridland, Alexandra Lucey and Bridget Cassidy) were thrilled to have been chosen for the project.
We caught up with one of the winning students, Aimee Watt, to chat about what it meant to see their creative project literally up in lights.
What was the inspiration behind this project?
We had to base our ideas off a brief that we were given by Lendlease, which was basically to capture the Brisbane show in a creative project that would bring awareness to the new precinct that is being opened. We instantly thought of the Ekka and the meaning of the Ekka – local produce, excitement and, of course, the strawberry sundaes.
Originally we didn’t think we would ever create a sign – all of the other uni groups were doing pop-up stores and food and movies. We thought those ideas were cool but an installation would be easier and more efficient with our budget because we could spend all our money on the sign, and then create a marketing campaign around it.
It wasn’t until Bridie said she had a contact with Neon Signs Australia that we were like, “Oh my god, let’s do a neon sign!” So we emailed them and were so thankful that they [said] yes.
What was the experience of pitching to the Lendlease board like?
Definitely nerve-racking, but it was so exciting in our first year of uni. Everyone asks uni students, “What’s your experience like? Where is your experience on your resume?” So for us to have this as something we can put on our resume – pitching to a professional in our first year – how cool is that?!
We just wanted to get a 7 on our assignment, and to win the competition if we could. Going in to the presentation, we were 100 per cent committed to making it the best pitch we possibly could. It helped that we were all on the same page; we worked really well as a team, our communication levels were high, and we were all so passionate about the project.
How does it feel now to see your work literally up in lights?
Crazy! Incredible! It looks so much better than I thought it could. Especially because the plan is to leave it there forever, so my grandchildren could walk past that sign and be like, “My nan made that!”
That’s the whole idea: it’s going to be a historic part of Brisbane and in that way it captures the brief really well, which is what Lendlease wanted. It really makes us feel good inside to know we’ve made a piece of history. You can see it from the Arena and everywhere – it will be in photos for years to come.
And did you get a 7 on your uni assignment?
Yes, we did!
Do you have a favourite strawberry sundae memory from the Ekka over the years?
The strawberry sundae is always the last thing I get before I leave, then a few weeks later I’m like, “Oh, I could really go another one of those.” You just crave them all year round! You can try to make your own, cut up strawberries, but it’s nothing like the real thing. Tasting one now, I’m just like, “How do they do it?!”
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