As international travel starts to sound like a real possibility again, I’ve been dreaming up post-pandemic trips. Top of the list: Svalbard, Norway (for the northern lights); British Columbia, Canada (for bear spotting); and Paris (because Paris). And, of course, New York and Singapore for work. What I want — and I know I’m not alone — is a chance to escape, to spend time looking rather than doing. And so, in that spirit, for this issue of T Australia — our “Journeys” issue — we’re living vicariously through actors, activists, creators and musicians, whom we’ve asked to tell us about a journey that changed them.
Our cover star Idris Elba told Joe Brennan about a recent stint in Sydney, where he was filming George Miller’s “Three Thousand Years of Longing”. Feeling the itch to make music, the British actor was nudged into doing a recording session with the Sydney band of the moment Lime Cordiale. What ensued was barefoot, tequila-soaked nights of musical exploration, as Idris and the Leimbach brothers came up with a sound all their own.
It’s a great story, but not an easy one to shoot. Idris is busy in London, and Oli and Louis Leimbach are on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, having postponed their European tour due to the pandemic. We wanted them to be together for the shoot in some way, so our production team traversed time zones and all manner of scheduling conflicts to have the brothers appear on iPads while Idris got to work for our photographer Simon Lipman. (Check out our behind-the-scenes footage to get a sense of the shoot.)
The trio appears in our special feature, “Modern Poets” (page 62), which brings together the stories of six artists, each of whom expresses something in their work that cannot be said in words alone. There’s the singer-songwriter Nick Cave, who’s been making ceramics, and David Hallberg, the great American principal dancer who is determined to show the world what he sees as a quality unique to Australian dancers. They’re joined by the up-and-coming filmmaker Madeleine Gottlieb, who tells Jen Nurick about her fascination with male relationships, which has fuelled much of her work.
In many ways, Madeleine reminds me of our columnist Bri Lee. Bri is 30, Madeleine is 29. Both are assertive, eloquent and whip-smart, yet they go beyond the academic; they have an eye for beauty and a sense of joy, and this comes through in their work. This issue, Bri reflects on travelling through East Africa, a journey she undertook before embarking on her legal career (“The Great Unknown”, page 30). What she saw helped her to shrug off the insecurities of youth and prompted her to start asking the difficult questions that have become her calling card.
Of course, not all journeys require physical distance. In “What We Take From the Virus” (page 36), our wellbeing writer, Helen Hawkes, likens the past two years to the archetypal hero’s journey — one that’s deemed meaningless if the hero fails to return with some precious thing or great wisdom.
If I’ve gained anything from this pandemic (aside from a bout of Covid-19), it’s an appreciation of all that exists right here in Australia — not least the wealth of writers, photographers, stylists, designers, illustrators and editors that help us put together this magazine.
And in good news, you’ll be seeing a lot more from the T Australia team, as this issue marks our first as a bimonthly magazine. We have big plans for the year ahead, including some remarkable profiles (be sure to grab our next issue, Artistry, on newsstands from May 2). And if that’s not enough, you can subscribe to our newsletter for regular updates on all things arts, dining, fashion and travel. In the meantime, I hope you find some kind of escape in the pages that follow — I certainly have.