HOTA offers up a mixed bag of delights this Summer with Pick ‘N’ Mix program

Australia’s favourite contemporary cultural playground, HOTA, Home of the Arts has recently announced its sweet new summer program.

We just don’t play enough as adults, do we? HOTA is set to rectify that this summer with their kaleidoscope of nostalgia and fun, Pick ‘N’ Mix.

Named for the paper bags of colourful, sugary goodness we all remember from our local corner store, Pick ‘N’ Mix will provide a plethora of play options for young and young-at-heart Gold Coasters, including sprinklers on the lawn, 80’s concerts and roller nights, new exhibitions, giant games, outdoor concerts, open-air cinema, sunset cocktails and – of course – incredible art.

HOTA CEO Criena Gehrke thinks that an event like Pick ‘N’ Mix couldn’t come soon enough.

“I think a sense of play and imagination and whimsy has never been more important,” she tells us.

“As hopefully we start to see some kind of light at the end of the COVID tunnel, it does feel like things are beginning to shift, and I think there’s a real sense of nostalgia, a longing for earlier times.

“You know when you used to go to the store and pick all your candy and put it in the bag? We want that same experience here of being able to choose your own sweet adventure.

Let’s come together and just have fun, have a bunch of playful experiences, and just laugh.

Doesn’t that just sound like the sweetest idea?

One of the centrepieces of Pick ‘N’ Mix is HOTA Gallery’s inaugural, free summer exhibition Art Mixtape: Yours for Summer, supported by Principal Partner Chevron One Residences, which celebrates the vibrancy and diversity of the City Collection, along with new works from leading Australian and New Zealand artists.

“At the very core of this program is our inaugural summer exhibition, Art Mixtape: Yours for Summer,” says Criena.

“It’s full of some of the best contemporary art by some of Australia’s leading artists and full of surprises around every corner.”

The HOTA Gallery is also currently playing home to Dumpling Dreams – the second ever exhibition in the dedicated Children’s Gallery – a whimsical dumpling dreamscape brought to life by beloved Brisbane-based artist YEAHYEAHCHLOE, featuring an installation of dumplings with human features, including a huge dreaming dumpling that may or may not be farting in its sleep! You’ll just have to visit to find out.

“It’s this installation around imagination, friendship, choosing your own adventure and has all these great activities kids can do,” Criena enthuses.

It’s whimsical but really touching, too. Bright pink and feelgood.

Rolling into the new year, visitors to HOTA will be able to step into their skates for HOTA’s own pop-up Roller Rink from December 10 and HOTA’s home company, EVERYBODY NOW!, will host social skating sessions with Roller Nights (13 and 20 Jan).

Then from 10 December, enjoy a menu of summer classics perched at the Pick ’N’ Mix Pop-Up Bar located on the HOTA Concert Lawn and check out the special Twilight markets that evening.

Over January and into February, HOTA warms up with three weeks of gallery tours, lawn games, giant sprinklers, open-air cinema, and a line-up of incredible outdoor concerts including Soundtrack Cinema: Labyrinth x Bowie featuring HaydenGoSeek and The Good Band (15 Jan), Soundtrack Cinema: Rock of Ages x 80s Rock featuring Lloyd Handsome and The Shiny Boys (16 Jan), Confidence Man and Jaguar Jonze (22 Jan) and Brazilian Heat (29 Jan).

HOTA’s free outdoor activities and lawn games will keep everyone entertained from 10 January with Playing Summer: Lawn Games including giant Jenga, Chess, Connect Four and more.

The Big Sprinkler will be set off on the HOTA Lawn multiple times a day for visitors to have a run through from 10 to 28 January; while live music will entertain with Fridays on the Big Lawn and Press Play Sunday Sessions; as well as free Yoga Flow on Sundays.

HOTA’s 2021 Christmas Commission is an ambitious text-based artwork by emerging Gold Coast artist Nicholas Tossmann. Moments is a multi-part installation inviting visitors to create their own journey across the HOTA Precinct to ponder the meaning of the season.

“His work is really beautiful,” Criena tells us. “It’s started to be installed around the precinct. It’s these gorgeous verbal prompts done as vinyl decals – they give you an emotional response to those words.” (You can read more about Nicholas’ installation in this edition.)

Vinyl, sprinklers, Labyrinth, mixtapes and roller rinks… we’re definitely sensing an eighties theme here.

“I reckon that’s what happens when you get curators and CEOs of a certain age!” Criena laughs.

“No, but we’ve had a bit of challenging time of it, and the eighties were full of neon and happiness and pop was God in a really interesting way. There was so much joy in the eighties, even if we’re looking at it through rose coloured glasses.

“In times of challenge and change, people become nostalgic and yearn for what came before. After major world events like wars, people seek out cinema and movies and musicals and theatre and art… it’s something that makes people feel better, and I do think that’s what’s happening at the moment.”

Indeed. With all the works on offer over the next two months, it’s time to grab your friends, families and kiddos and head to HOTA to choose your own sweet adventure.

Pick ‘N’ Mix runs this summer at HOTA, Home of the Arts. Plan ahead and make a day (or several) of it at

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