You can’t create a pop-up venue without first considering the art at the heart of your concept. Meet two Adelaide creatives who have made it their business to build the best art experiences imaginable.
Dave Court and David Musch are two multidisciplinary creatives who have made a name for themselves within the arts and event communities over the years. They’ve already crafted some of Adelaide’s most hyped small venues, and chances are you’ve partied in them.
Court and Musch are the creative duo behind the immersive party experiences of Royal Croquet Club’s Neon Forest and former design team for pop-up party venue Archie’s Clubhouse. What they also produce are spaces that expose punters to an unexpected dimension of art and design. Incorporating their respective skill sets of visual art and tech production, these guys have found their niche in the artistically curated party scene.
The duo have been given creative control over the entire design and implementation process for RCC’s outdoor club, Neon Forest. But this year was a far cry from the storied narrative you might remember from last year’s kaleidoscopic caravan park. It’s a shift that comes with newly appointed RCC Artistic Director, David Sefton, who introduced a darkly uniform aesthetic to the overall look of the University of Adelaide venue.
“Essentially we got a bit of a brief for the whole event and we just took that and worked that into our own brief for Neon Forest. [We kept] everything nice and clean and white, and then at night everything becomes really colourful,” Musch says on reconceptualising the club to fit RCC’s new aesthetic.
Building a club is no small task by any measure, but as a team these guys are equipped with backgrounds that collectively supersede their years.
Dave Court is perhaps best known for his recognisably vibrant murals splashed all over Adelaide. Aside from painting, he is a self-taught graphic designer and has headed major projects that range from designing music video sets to clothing design. Court studied visual arts at the University of South Australia and graduated with honours in painting in 2013, but began pursuing creative ventures during his studies. He says his visual arts background perhaps gave him an edge on graphic design graduates by affording him a separate skill set outside the norm of design.
“Uni was very conceptual and art focused, which is a good thing because it’s a bit of a point of difference rather than being churned out of a graphic design course. But all the technical stuff is self taught and learned from trial and error because uni was so concept-based,” Court says.
He opened retail and clothing store Created Range in 2014 through Renew Adelaide while simultaneously working as Creative Director of arts and culture magazine, Yewth Mag. Admitting he had never done layout design before, Court says he taught himself how to use design software, InDesign, in order to be a part of the collective.
“You can see the design progression from issue two to issue ten,” Court laughs.
Musch on the other hand, is a tech and production all-rounder and operates through his company, Mapped Design.
Like Court, he has been working within his field for a while, accumulating the skills which he now says puts him in the advantageous position of finally utilising using them.
Musch picked up a penchant for lighting and production during his high school years in the Marryatville drama department, later segueing into theatre production, and eventually undertaking a communications apprenticeship doing commercial audio-visual work.
“I’m quite fortunate. In all the jobs I’ve done up until now I’ve managed to pick up a skill. Even working in IT doing sales admin I learned how to talk to people over email, it’s as simple as that,” says Musch.
“I’ve only really done things that have either been a bit of a challenge or are worthwhile that I know I’ll gain something from, whether that’s money or a skill, or networking.”
During this time he’s cultivated a deejay career under the pseudonym J. Hennessy and often plays at the sites he’s created. It should give audiences genuine assuredness of a good time that the people who created the party are the ones running it too.
Court and Musch designed this year’s Neon Forest as a whole object by constructing the outer perimeter as an imposing geometric hull, intended to enclose their world of underground house music inside. Before entering you could opt for your face to be dotted with paint that glowed in the overhead UV lights, and if you were lucky enough, you could catch an exclusive Fringe show in the two shipping containers paint bombed by Court and fellow artists, Hari Koutlakis and Henry Jock Walker. It looked fantastic and fully realised, and most of all it was intensely fun.
“We really wanted Neon Forest to be a place where people could come away with something they didn’t have before. So if people go into [Neon Forest] and they’re exposed to something like underground music or an experimental performance and they’re walking out with something more than they had, then that’s it,” Musch says.
“I think for me – and what a lot of my art work is about – is creating a an overwhelming experience or evoking a response in someone that’s almost mind blowing. That’s what we created as you come through the entryway and into this world that’s an assault on the senses from all around,” adds Court.
It’s clear they have left a lasting impression on newly appointed artistic director of RCC and former artistic director of Adelaide Festival, David Sefton. He says the decision to hand over creative control to the guys is crucial to executing an arts festival that is sincerely artist-driven.
“There’s that level of interaction and participation that David and Dave created that forces audiences to play and take part, rather than just going in as a passive partier. You’re getting painted up, you’re playing, you’re interacting with the spaces, so you’re actually a part of the festival. What you’re having is an artistic experience as well as just going out to party,” Sefton says.
The guys recently finished another collaborative event at Regen Festival for the City of Onkaparinga but are also busy working on their own things.
Musch is working on an interactive lighting installation for this month’s Hedonism exhibition at science and technology museum, MOD, and Court is right now finishing the city’s largest ever mural. The monumental piece is several storeys high and represents Adelaide as a UNESCO City of Music and the history of our music scene. Look out for it next time you’re crossing Morphett Street Bridge.
For these two self-made creatives, the hustle doesn’t just stop at the end of Mad March.
Letti K-Ewing is the Writer in Residence at The Mill. This work was contributed through The Mill’s Writer in residence program.
Annual application for residencies open in June. See The Mill’s website for more details.