A gallery and store for lovers, dreamers, and weirdos
Our mission is to bring the best of Australia to the world, and the best of the world to Australia.See our handpicked guides to Newcastle
BY ALICIA POOLE
If you’ve wandered around Wickham of late, you might have noticed there’s been quite a boom in the creative scene, and we couldn’t be more excited. Newest creative tenants to the area, Heath & Chloe Killen and their space, The All Story have been welcomed with open arms.
The All Story is a gallery, store, workshop and event space dedicated to all the lovers, dreamers, and weirdos in the world. Take a step inside and we can guarantee you’ll forget you’re anywhere near Newcastle.
Born and raised in Newcastle, the All Story’s founder and director, Heath has been surrounded by creative pursuits from an early age. His father who is a recently retired Newcastle based architect and a brother working in Industrial design; you can see that creative talent runs in the family.
“As far back as I can remember my father was developing new businesses and projects, so I grew up around a lot of invention and this idea that you could just make something happen, even from your own bedroom. My projects have usually been focused on curation and publishing, so I think my family history, channeled through my particular interests and experiences, led to opening this space,” Heath told me.
Moving to Canberra to study graphic design at University, Heath has since had quite the career in the design industry. From managing Melbourne design magazine, Desktop, to working as a freelance designer and managing multiple design projects. The course of his career has taken him all around the country.
Chloe is equally impressive with her extensive copywriting and course writing experience, as well as her recent PhD exploring creativity in the production
of Australian children's picture books.
After having their son Miles, like most parents, the pair were re-exposed to the world of childhood and began exploring all of their favourite childhood literature as well as all of the new work out there.
“Becoming a father led me to reconnect with a lot of the stories that I loved when I was a child, but I also quickly started to discover some of the new books and creators who are working today. The quality of the art and storytelling happening right now is astonishing, but so much of it has struggled to find an audience. A lot of the great work happening overseas just hasn't been made available here, while a lot of locally produced work just gets overlooked for various reasons. We're hoping to help change that.
“Many of the artists that we love and represent are working fluidly between different disciplines, producing art, comics, picture books, animation, and other projects like games and toys. All of these outputs are treated with the same degree of care and respect, and none of them elevated in importance over the other. They're just different modes of expression for different audiences. That's really what we're offering here.”
So, what can you expect? Ah well – expect the weird and wonderful, the quirky and the peculiar, the wacky and the unconventional. With a specialisation in illustration, comics, animation and children’s book literature, the mission of the All Story is to ‘bring the best of Australia to the world, and the best of the world to Australia.’
Now calling Wickham home, and with the continuously growing creative scene in the area, we think they couldn’t have picked a better location!
“Newcastle was always the place we had in mind for The All-Story but we were never set on any particular area. Wickham is a very unusual, very interesting, mixed-use suburb that is changing all the time and is starting to attract great businesses and studios. We're happy to be part of the change.
“This location makes us a destination, and knowing that people need to travel to some extent to get here encourages us to innovate and provide incentives to visit regularly. A big part of that will be in developing an exciting and diverse program of exhibitions, but we'll also be putting on unique workshops and special events. Naturally, we hope to create a space that will be of interest to art lovers, but also one that welcomes people who don't often visit galleries or bookstores. We want to surprise people and change perceptions.”
Now, the name encapsulates many a thing, but Heath was originally inspired by a magazine that went by the same name that was created in the early 20th century.
“The All Story magazine would publish pulp fiction and genre writing but it was all taken seriously and presented in a very beautiful way, which is
a philosophy that felt like it matched our own. This is also taking place in a time when cartooning is developing into a really exciting artform
full of possibilities. In our gallery and store we're dealing with works that continue this lineage.
“I think that most people are unaware of just how vibrant, diverse, and exciting the worlds of comics, graphic novels, zines, and picture books are right now. We're seeing these mediums become a place for art and storytelling by so many talented people from different backgrounds who have never had a platform before. There's a sense of freedom, and a personal touch, that's hard to find anywhere else. I think a lot of people will be happily surprised when they discover what we have in store for them!”
The store side of the space expands on the same philosophy as that of the gallery, with a special curation of books, toys, games, art objects, and creative zines.
“We will also be commissioning original products, publishing new books, and providing an educational program of workshops, classes, and events. Our educational program aims to complement major institutions by filling in the gaps and offering flexible, trans-disciplinary programs that can be tailored to the changing needs of the industry and help it evolve.
“Subjects will include illustration, writing, animation, history, philosophy, and even meditation. We will cater for juniors, seniors, and everyone in-between.”
The All Story is exactly that. A space designed to expand the minds of those whom visit it. With an aim to encourage individuals of all ages, backgrounds, and any level of experience (or lack thereof) in the art world to explore, ask questions and engage with.