‘Head Above Water’ is a photography exhibition celebrating the highs and lows of 15 years of Ironlak, as witnessed through the lens of Luke’s camera. It’s a story of art, graffiti, and friendship – but also one of both freedom and struggle. The title speaks to the constant grind of life and business.
Around Y2K Luke Shirlaw, a kid from Townsville who was working at Kmart, painting graffiti, and studying graphic design – came into the Ironlak company early development via an internet chatroom, and kick-started a friendship that would vastly alter the trajectory of many people’s lives. As Ironlak moved through its business and cultural journey, Luke would remain a constant fixture in the development of the brand. Originally designing the logo and can, and helping from the sidelines – eventually taking a full-time role as marketing/creative director.
Luke explains; “From traveling in China, we often speak of the need to ‘flow like water’ – to adapt to rapidly changing circumstances and keep cool under pressure. You know, ‘when life gives you lemons, you paint that shit gold’. Given how turbulent business life can be – especially in pursuing an idea that you care deeply about – it can be easy to feel like you’re always only just keeping your head above. Treading water, and getting nowhere. This show reflects how far we’ve come, the impact that we’ve made, and those who have shared in the journey with us. It really has been an amazing ride. ‘Head Above Water’ is still a mantra of persistence, but has evolved today to remind me to rise above the chaos, appreciate the achievements so far, and enjoy each day as it comes.”
The exhibition also marks a new beginning, as Luke moves on from Ironlak to focus on his own creative marketing practice. As sad as we are to see Luke off, we're pumped for all his future endeavours and to support him through new project and ideas.
Come and experience the journey from the beginning!