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BNE November/December 2016 |




s a senior treasury analyst for

Brisbane Airport Corporation

Damian Istria has the finances

of a multi-billion dollar organisation in

his hands – and he loves his job – but it’s

never going to give him quite the high

he had at his previous job. But then, he

was flying through the air as an acrobatic

performer with Cirque du Soleil six nights

a week, travelling the world with the

greatest show on earth and occasionally

meeting A-list movie stars backstage. It’s

what childhood dreams are made on, but

few get to live the dream.

Istria (


) did have a head start. At

16 he was already competing for Australia

on the national gymnastics team with his

own dream to win a gold medal. When

a serious injury kept him out of the

sport for two years he came back to win

his gold medal at the Commonwealth

Games in Melbourne, but it did make him

reconsider his future and when a friend

urged him to send in a video to Cirque

du Soleil he did. It was enough to get him

an audition but it was a daunting process,

even for the gymnast who was ranked in

the top 10 in the world on horizontal bars.

Istria admits he wasn’t prepared for what

came next. “We were asked things like

‘be the colour blue’ or ‘be a monkey’ and

to ‘sing your favourite song’, then ‘climb a

rope and sing your favourite song while

being a monkey’,” he laughs.

He may have been out of his comfort

zone but Istria made it to the three-

month training program in Montreal, then

was offered a contract. He stayed for

seven years.

When Cirque du Soleil’s new show


comes to town on 24 November,

the Big Top will be raised right next to

Istria’s new workplace, BAC headquarters

at Skygate, and this time he’ll be there in

the audience with his own children and

he’ll remember exactly what it was like

to be performing – the adrenalin rush of

being on stage, the moments when he

could see the faces in the audience and

felt he was allowing them all to be kids

and dream again, that just for that minute

he’d made a difference to their lives.

In the footsteps

of tastemakers

If you’ve ever wanted to follow in the footsteps of

some of the most creative people in the city now

you can. Kat Macarthur, founder of Brisbane-

based global walking app WunderWalk recruited

10 top influencers from different fields to share

their favourite walks which are now loaded onto

the app.

For example, director of Brisbane Fashion

Month and fashion maven Carly Vidal-Wallace


pictured above

) has compiled seven of her

favourite stops in Bulimba on her Fashionista Off

The Beaten Track walk. The walk takes in about

a kilometre of Oxford Street, starting from the

ferry stop at the river end but, as Carly explains, it

can be a day trip once you factor in the browsing,

eating, shopping and maybe an off-map visit to

the cinema, an iconic building in the area. Her

fashion picks on the walk include Frankie and the

Fox and costume jewellery specialist Thousand

Island Dressing as well as Issada who often do the

makeup for her fashion events.

Food also figures highly on Carly’s walk and

Delizioso is a family favourite – and the gelataria

just behind Sugo Mi’s pizzeria is a perfect

refreshment break mid-walk.

Kat Macarthur says she invited ‘tastemakers’

such as Carly to contribute walks to guide people

to places they might not otherwise discover

and they range from a ‘creatives’ walk (from the

curators of artisan craft gallery) to hidden gems

in the city from Showroom proprietor Catherine

Roberts. There are also history walks (Art Deco

and Taste of the Past in New Farm) an Indie

Theatre Walk (by Stan Dup Ensemble) and a

street art walk. See

QUT fashion students are showing there’s more to

cutting edge fashion than just how it looks. Over the

last two years they have been experimenting with

bio-textiles and designing clothes from ‘vegan leather’

which were displayed recently at the CreateX festival.

The ‘fabric’ is made from fermented kombucha curd

and is sustainable, biodegradable, reusable and versatile.

It can be cut, stitched, moulded, glued, oiled, dyed,

painted, waterproofed and laser-etched.

According to QUT fashion academic Dean Brough

making kombucha fabric is almost like brewing beer.

“We produce it by fermenting tea to form a fast-

growing curd on the surface which we harvest, wash

and dry to make a material of a strength and texture

somewhere between leather and paper,” he says.

So far students, including Alex Bell (

pictured right


have made briefcases, handbags, shirts, shoes, vests,

jewellery and whole outfits using the material. The

products are the result of a unique collaboration

between QUT and The Edge, at State Library of

Queensland, in the only kombucha bio-textile research

program in Australia. Together they are researching

how the kombucha fabric can be modified for different

purposes from hand-made fashion creations to

industrial manufacturing.

Brewingup biofashion

My circus life