The Greenhouse Blog

Writers – do you want to appear at EWF 2015?

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The Emerging Writers’ Festival prides itself on being inclusive to everyone in the writing community, of all ages and at all stages of their career. In this spirit, each year we run an open artist call out as an opportunity for writers to put up their hands and let us know they’d like to be involved in the festival. And it’s that time already for the 2015 festival!

For writers – remember, this is your festival! It’s what you make it and we want you to feel like you own it! Tell us what you want to hear – the discussions about writing you want to have – and whether you want to be one of the people to lead the conversations. Tell us about other emerging writers you would like to hear too!

If you would like to be considered as a festival guest at the Emerging Writers’ Festival in 2015, simply fill in this form.

Applications are open now and close January 3 2015. We look forward to hearing from you and hope to see you at the Emerging Writers’ Festival in 2015!

The Emerging Writers’ Festival runs 26 May – June 5 2015.

We’re looking for a Program Coordinator!

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The Emerging Writers’ Festival is more than just a writers festival, we are an organisation that works on year round programming both in Australia and internationally and in partnership with some of the most exciting literary and arts organisations around. This is a big job and we are so excited to announce a new role within EWF to support us achieve all of our goals.  

Working closely with the Festival Director and General Manager, the Program Coordinator will see the smooth delivery of EWF programs including the Digital Writers’ Festival, Emerging Writers’ Festival (EWF) and interstate touring. This is an exciting new role within Australia’s pre-eminent festival for emerging writers and is a real launching pad for arts industry talent.

Download a Position Description including application guidelines here.

Applications close 5pm Wednesday 3 December 2014. 

This role is based at The Wheeler Centre in Melbourne.

This role is supported by the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation.

EWF Roadshow: Laura Jean McKay

Laura Jean McKay is the author of Holiday in Cambodia, a short story collection that explores the electric zone where local and foreign lives meet. Holiday in Cambodia was shortlisted for the NSW Premier’s Literary Award 2014. Laura will be leaving Portarlington in Victoria to appear at the Emerging Writers’ Festival Roadshow at the NSW Writers’ Centre on November 8. Ahead of this trip, EWF Director Sam Twyford-Moore caught up with her.

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Holiday In Cambodia, your debut book, is a collection of short stories – what attracted you to the form?
There were two things. The first is that when I was living in Cambodia I was trying to write an historical novel but there were too many stories. I realised that a book of shorts was the only way I could even begin to capture what I was experiencing over there, and that a novel wouldn’t do it justice. It was a matter of what form was needed to tell the tale.  I think that’s true of most stories. We try to stick with the one form, but sometimes a novel should really be a haiku. The second thing is that I was hanging out with Cambodian writers like Chakriya Phou and Kho Tararith in Phnom Penh who were working predominantly in short forms – stories, essays and poetry. I loved their work. They were my heroes. So I started working like that too.

One of the big conversations at the EWF Roadshow will be around writing residencies, travel stories and writing from the fringes. Where do you write from?
When I climb the stairs every morning to the studio I share with my boyfriend Tom Doig, I just stand there gasping stupidly at the view out the window. It looks over Port Phillip Bay and the You Yangs in Portarlington, Victoria and it’s so crazy wonderful. Because we live in a small town around the bay, I also spend an extraordinary amount of time on public transport. The Geelong (or Geebanger as I like to call it) to Melbourne train has seen tens of thousands of words from me in the past year. I’m thinking of dedicating my book to Vline.

And where has your writing taken you?
I have travelled to New Zealand and back on a cargo ship, lived in a caravan surrounded by wild animals in the Northern Territory, worked with Nou Hach – the only independent literary journal in Cambodia, travelled up the guts of Bali with the Bali Emerging Writers Festival and EWF, then gone back months later for the Ubud Readers and Writers Festival, and spent lots and lots of time not going anywhere – writing about other places and other lives in my undies at home. Now I’m about to hop on a train for the Emerging Writers’ Festival Roadshow. I’ve been everywhere, man.

You’ve had a long history with writers’ festivals, what do you get out of them as a writer?
The first big proper writers’ festival I went to was NYWF, Newcastle, 1999 (!), and it changed everything. I moved from Brisbane to Melbourne because of that. I enrolled in a writing course because of that. I became festival-struck because of that. There are some people, writers and people I love, that I really only get to see at festivals because we live in different states or we’re just busy or different. Rushing from one great panel to a performance – program in one hand, new book in another – and bumping into someone you met at the last festival who introduces you to a new person and so you decide to flag the performance and go have a beer/tea instead is really wonderful. It’s the opposite of writing. It shakes all the knots and letters and screen time out and resets. Even if I only make it to the thing I’m programmed in, at least I walk bipedally, look at something other than a screen and interact with other humans for a few hours. They’re very healthful, writers’ festivals.

Can you give us a sneak peek into your 5×5 rules of writing? Care to leak one here?
Writey-leaks! My rule number one is: write what interests you. This may seem obvious but a lot of writers get told to ‘write what you know’, and it can be a problem. Write what you know has been taken too literally to mean write only what you know. It’s limiting or confusing, especially for early career writers. Writing what interests you opens this up. If you’re interested in what you’re writing about, your reader will be too.

Laura will be delivering the rest of her five rules of writing at the Emerging Writers’ Festival Roadshow at the NSW Writers’ Centre, along with four other brilliant writers – Benjamin Law, Tom Doig, Delia Falconer and Walter Mason. Tickets available here and full program available here.

 

Introducing the Control Room

In the Control Room, the audience is in control of the conversation. We put a writer or publishing industry professional in a room and the questions come from the crowd. There is no host, only the guest and the audience. They bring the experience, you bring the questions.

During our NSW Writers’ Festival Control Room we have an exciting range of guests with brains full of writing and industry knowledge just ripe for the picking. From festival directors, published authors, publishers and self publishing experts, we have you covered! Check out their bios below and start compiling your questions!

EWF Roadshow: NSWWC
Saturday 8 November, 10am – 6.30pm
NSW Writers’ Centre, Callan Park, Balmain Road, Rozelle

 

11am JEMMA BIRRELL

After working in Australian publishing, Jemma Birrell moved to Paris to join Shakespeare and Company, one of the world’s most famous bookshops. As the store’s first Events Director, she developed a world-renowned literary program, presenting today’s leading authors, thinkers and musicians. She was Co-Director of three editions of FestivalandCo, Shakespeare and Company’s biennial literary festival, set in a park across from Notre Dame. The festival attracted participants including Alain de Botton, Will Self, Martin Amis, Beth Orton, Jeanette Winterson and Charlotte Rampling.

Jemma began as Artistic Director of Sydney Writers’ Festival in late September 2012. She has curated two Festivals so far with international guests such as A.M. Homes, Karl Ove Knusgaard, Alice Walker, Eleanor Catton, Sandi Toksvig, Vince Gilligan, Sheila Heti and Andrew Solomon. Local authors include Thomas Keneally, Alexis Wright, David Malouf, Richard Flanagan and Fiona McFarlane.

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12pm WALTER MASON

Walter Mason is a writer, blogger and creative writing teacher. His first book, “Destination Saigon” was named one of the ten best travel books of 2010 by the Sydney Morning Herald. Walter’s latest book, “Destination Cambodia,” was released in 2013.Walter runs the Universal Heart Book Club with Stephanie Dowrick, an on-line book club that concentrates on matters of the spirit. He lives in Cabramatta, Sydney.

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2pm LAURA JEAN MCKAY

Laura Jean McKay is the author of Holiday in Cambodia (Black Inc. 2013), which was shortlisted for the New South Wales Premier’s Literary Awards. She is a PhD candidate at the University of Melbourne and the recipient of a 2014 Martin Bequest Traveling Scholarship www.laurajeanmckay.com

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3pm ROBERT WATKINS

Robert Watkins is a Publisher at Hachette Australia, was previously their commissioning editor for adult fiction and non-fiction, and has been working in the Australian book industry for 18 years. Throughout his career he’s worked across sales, marketing and publicity. He’s primarily interested in publishing non-fiction with a leaning towards young, contemporary voices – but is also a big fan of contemporary fiction with a real Australian edge.

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4pm GARRY TRINH

Garry Trinh is the Community Manager for Blurb, one of the world’s premier print-on-demand publishing company’s. Garry is also an award winning photographer. His photo book Just Heaps Surprised to be Alive was nominated for Photography Book of the Year at the 4th International Photo Book Festival at Kassel, Germany. His work has been exhibited at the Australian Centre for Photography, Campbelltown Arts Centre, Blacktown Arts Centre, Stills Gallery, Gallery 4A and many others.

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Be sure to check out the full EWF Roadshow: NSWWC program with over 20 events and 45 speakers across the day, there will be contemporary conversations providing resources for all writers!

André Dao on the Ubud Writing Residency

After the intensity of our five day overland trip across Java, followed by a week of panels, book launches and general festival madness, our six day residency at Taman Bebek – which translates as “duck garden” – has been a chance to recuperate and take stock as much as anything else.

Designed by Aussie expat and local character Made Wijaya, Taman Bebek is a sprawling collection of rustic villas overlooking a lush tropical valley on the outskirts of Ubud. Wijaya is one of Bali’s most celebrated landscape architects, and its hard to think of a more relaxing place to spend six days writing and reading than amongst the greenery (and by the pool) at Taman Bebek.

taman bebek 1It’s also been the perfect setting for some wonderful conversations with our Indonesian counterparts – conversations which have been the true highlight of this program. Those conversations have ranged from the current state of politics in Australia and Indonesia through to the practice and ethics of translation, via the culture and cuisine of Sumatra, Java, Bali and Sulawesi.

It’s perhaps reflective of my ignorance about Indonesia before embarking on this program, but I’ve been struck in these conversations by just how disparate and diverse Indonesia is. The subtitle to Elizabeth Pisani’s book (which was a constant talking point at our lunches and dinners) Indonesia Etc. is “Exploring the Improbable Nation”. As I got a better handle on the sheer size of the country, and the multitude of ethnicities, languages and religions within it, the improbability that such a thing as Indonesia should exist became ever clearer.

Something else that came up again and again in our conversations was the sense of excitement – and now that the democratic process has stalled the sense of dread – surrounding the election of Joko Widodo (aka Jokowi). Maggie, who also volunteered on Jokowi’s campaign, spoke to us about the sheer sense of hopefulness and empowerment that surrounded the election. For the first time, Maggie told us, the people have found their voice – and they have spoken, loud and clear. With both the People’s Representative Council (the House of Representatives) and the Regional Representative Council (the Senate) controlled by the coalition opposing President-elect, there are fears that Jokowi’s reform agenda might be obstructed. Even worse, the defeated candidate, Prabowo, seems intent on finding a way to subvert or reverse the election results. As was noted in several panels during the festival, this is indeed an interesting – and tense – time in Indonesia, as the country’s democratic future hangs in the balance.

Away from the political arena, my cultural knowledge of Indonesia has been immeasurably enriched. Over breakfast on the second day of the residency, we were treated to a reading of a chapter of Ahmad Tohari’s novel The Dancer. One of Indonesia’s most respected writers, Ahmad was also an incredibly humble and friendly figure during the residency. The reading was followed by the first of many wide-ranging conversations about Indonesian literature, and I’ll be returning to Australia with a notebook – and a suitcase – full of recommended reading.

Ahmad Tohari reading

Inevitably, our conversations always ended with the same questions: how to get people to read, how to get Indonesians and Australians reading each others’ work. There was a consensus that to achieve the latter, translation – and high quality literary translation at that – is absolutely crucial. My feeling is that bilingual publications are enormously helpful in that respect, especially with greater numbers of Australians taking up Indonesian language studies. One key area for improvement is the internet – is it wishful thinking to imagine a future version of the web with more and more bi- and multi-lingual websites?

As for the former question – how to get people to read anything in the first place – we had no easy answers. But given the tone and tenor of so many of our conversations during this residency, it seems like a good idea to make sure our writing is culturally and politically engaged with the region, and the times.

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Supported by the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Asialink, Emerging Writers’ Festival, Melbourne Writers Festival and Ubud Writers & Readers Festival.

Photographs by André Dao

 

Introducing NoRMAL performer: Gaele Sobott

Gaele Sobott is currently completing a collection of short stories on her experience of disability, and life in Lakemba.

She will be performing with a group of other writers at the NSW Writers’ Centre on 8 November as part of the Emerging Writers’ Festival Roadshow. We spoke to her about the development of this series of performances.

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NoRMAL is part of a series of performances you are doing featuring readings from writers with disability. Can you tell us a little bit about how these events came about?

We began workshopping the concept and some of the stories at the Urban Theatre SPACE Residency early this year. Our main focus was to write about our individual experiences of disability and to consider audience access to our texts as part of the creative process. We were chosen to perform at Arts Activated at Chatswood Concourse on 29th October. This is the leading arts and disability conference in Australia and it’s an honour to perform to our peers in the sector.  It’s also very important to perform on mainstream writing platforms. We approached Sam Twyford-Moore who has been very supportive of Write-ability initiatives in Victoria and who, along with Jane McCredie from NSWWC, spoke at the Scribbler Literature Forum in Sydney in June.  NoRMAL is on the EWF Roadshow program, which is very exciting.

The third and final performance is at the Lakemba Senior Citizen’s Centre on the 2nd December. I live in Lakemba and am grateful to have the opportunity to  perform in our community. The City of Canterbury Council has been very helpful in providing the venue, financial, administrative and promotional support.

Who are the writers who will be reading and what are some the themes that will be explored?

NoRMAL features Georgia Cranko, Gayle Kennedy, Gaele Sobott and Amanda Yeo.  In writing about experiences of disability, we explore topics including disconnection, preconceptions and medicalisation. But disability is only one of many aspects of our identity.  Our writing is obviously not restricted to the experience of disability.

Your writing focuses on your experience of disability and life in Lakemba. Did you draw from the experiences of people around you as well, or has it been mainly a personal journey for you?

NoRMAL is writing that is largely concerned with personal journey.  In relation to the collection of short stories I am currently working on, I find it difficult to separate the writing into personal journey as opposed to writing about people around me. Generally the people around me are part of my personal journey.  I weave the people around me and my personal journey into fiction.

The Emerging Writers’ Festival Roadshow is on at the NSW Writers’ Centre on Saturday 8 November. For more information and to buy tickets, click here.

Introducing our Amazing Babes: Genevieve Fricker

The very clever and funny Genevieve Fricker is one of Australia’s most exciting emerging comedians, with credentials such has having trained and performed at the Upright Citizen’s Brigade theatre in New York.

As part of our event Amazing Babes for the EWF Roadshow, we are inviting an incredible line-up of writers to tell stories about the women who have inspired them, in their writing and their lives. The most popular event of this year’s Emerging Writers’ Festival finally comes to Sydney; this is a night to be inspired and celebrate the women who made us who we are.

We had a quick chat with Genevieve about her work, advice for writers and how she braves taking the stage!

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What is your writing background?

I’m a stand up comedian/musician, who somehow had a weekly social column in the Sydney Morning Herald for a year before they figured out I was terrible.

What piece of advice has helped you grow as an artist which you could share with us?

To always go by gut feeling. If I make something and it doesn’t feel good performing it or putting it out there in general, chances are it’s not good. It goes the other way to – making something that makes you feel happy sharing it shouldn’t be second guessed or intellectualised. If it feels good, keep doing it!

Do you ever get scared putting so much of yourself out into the world when you are on stage? How do you calm your nerves?

If anything I find it much easier to be honest on stage than I do in real life, which is unfortunate for my loved ones. Also, hiding the most horrible stories about yourself behind jokes is not particularly brave, so I’m only ever nervous when someone I know is in the audience. When that happens, I drink.

Amazing Babes
7:30 PM, Thursday 6 November 2014
Giant Dwarf, 199 Cleveland Street Redfern
$15 Full / $12 Concession: book now

Introducing cartoonist and curator Leigh Rigozzi

Leigh Rigozzi is a Sydney-based artist and the editor of Blood & Thunder, an infrequently published anthology of Australian comics. He is the Projects & Communications Officer at the NSW Writers’ Centre.

Leigh has curated an exhibition of comic art for the upcoming Emerging Writers’ Festival Roadshow and will be speaking on a panel about book design.

We spoke to Leigh about curating a comics exhibition, women in comics, and designing zines.

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The exhibition is being billed as “an exhibition of comic art from Australia’s thriving graphic publishing scene”. What do you think has changed in the last couple of years so that we are at the point of the scene “thriving”?

There has always been great output from the comics scene in Australia if you know where to look, but the publishing culture is very homegrown and DIY. A lot of it is still like that, but there have been a few big events in Australian comics recently. Pat Grant and Simon Hanselmann, who are both represented in this exhibition, have each produced graphic novels which have gone on to become international successes. In fact, Simon’s book has just hit the New York Times bestseller list.

There’s movement happening in Australia, too. The Museum of Contemporary Art puts on a hugely successful zine fair every year, there are small publishers in Australia like Milk Shadow books and Pikitia Press doing some great stuff, and print collectives like the Rizzeria are making it easier than ever for creators to realize their visions in print. Perhaps the scene isn’t ‘thriving’ in the sense that people aren’t making money out of it, but there are more and more talented people coming out of the woodwork all the time.

Comics and graphic novels have traditionally been a male domain but with the work of female artists being recognised more and more, do you think we are beyond that point now? You have curated Katie Parrish in this exhibition, are there any other emerging Australian female artists you would recommend checking out?

There is no shortage of women in the Australian comic art scene. I think that is because it is largely based around creative communities driven by passionate creative individuals rather than an industry driven by commercial interests, where the types of stories that sell often seem to be based around hoary stereotypes and narrative tropes.

Some of the women who will be exhibiting in this show are Nicky Minus, Jo Waite, Natalia Zajaz, Bailey Sharp, Katie Parrish, Lizzie Nagy and Mandy Ord, all of whose work I recommend highly, and there are a lot of other very talented ladies out there in the Australian comics scene.

Comics are appreciated as much for their storytelling and artistic merit as for their printed form. You used RISO to great effect with the Blood & Thunder Anthology, a form of printing with a cult-like following. Do you think comics need to be held to be truly appreciated, do you lose something viewing them on the computer screen?

Comics employ a visual language that can translate across many media forms. I enjoy online comics a lot, but I also have a fetish for print. A lot of comics are designed with physical publication in mind, so for that work obviously print is the most appropriate form. When we put together Blood & Thunder, we wanted to make a book that was as much about the variety and quality of print as it was about the narratives it contained. We used multiple stocks and print techniques to bring the book into being, and that tactility is obviously something that can’t be replicated on a screen.

In this exhibition I’ve tried to bring together some artists that represent a spectrum of what is going on between drawing and print in comics. I love the artifacts left behind by an artist on an original comics page, and I love the qualities that are unique to various print techniques, so to some extent I’ve chosen artists based on that relationship between original pages and printed work.

Along with curating this exhibition, you are appearing in the session The Look of the Book, a discussion on why book design is so important. Is there an example of interesting or exciting book design that has come out Australia in the last couple of years?

I’ll be talking from a personal perspective on that panel as opposed to some kind of ‘industry insider’. I’ve self-published a lot of work over the years in various forms, and in some ways the Blood & Thunder anthology was a culmination of that. I’ll be talking about some of the print techniques I’ve used over the years and how those techniques affect the design of a book.

The full day festival at the New South Wales Writers’ Centre on Saturday 8th November is filled with daring contemporary conversations around the art of writing – featuring discussions on pop culture, criticism, mentorship, digital literature and way, way more. To read more about the Emerging Writers’ Festival Roadshow and to book tickets, click here.

Introducing our Amazing Babes: Tamar Chnorhokian

Tamar Chnorhokian is one of the original members of SWEATSHOP and her first book The Diet Starts on Monday (Dec 2014) is the first publication by the group. The book is an exciting addition to Australian writing for young adults, with a strong focus on cultural diversity, growing up in Western Sydney, and the promotion of positive body image.

As part of our event Amazing Babes for the EWF Roadshow, we are inviting an incredible line-up of writers to tell stories about the women who have inspired them, in their writing and their lives. The most popular event of this year’s Emerging Writers’ Festival finally comes to Sydney; this is a night to be inspired and celebrate the women who made us who we are.

We had a quick chat with Tamar about her work, advice for writers and telling the story of your culture and community.

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What is your writing background?

I completed a communications degree in writing and publishing at the University of Western Sydney. My stories and articles have appeared in Westside, Seizure, Fairfield City Champion Newspaper, Moree Champion Newspaper, My Home Magazine and on Big Ideas (ABC 1).

My first novel is The Diet Starts On Monday (SWEATSHOP, 2014). I’m an original member of SWEATSHOP Writers and have been collaborating with the group since 2007.

What piece of advice has helped you grow as an artist which you could share with us?

That less is definitely more. In other words you don’t have to explain everything. You need to trust that the reader will be able to connect the dots.

When did you realize that you had an important voice, and a point of view other people needed to hear?

When I wrote about what I knew. There are lots of references to my Armenian culture in my stories. This brings about topics that haven’t been explored in Australian literature before – for example, encounters with the evil eye. I also write about where I was raised, along the western suburbs of Sydney. I think it’s important that positive portrayals of the community are told from people who know and understand the region.

Amazing Babes
7:30 PM, Thursday 6 November 2014
Giant Dwarf, 199 Cleveland Street Redfern
$15 Full / $12 Concession: book now

Introducing our Amazing Babes: Eliza Sarlos

Eliza Sarlos’ Amazing Babes introduces readers to such inspirational women as Gloria Steinem, Kathleen Hanna, Aung San Suu Kyi, Miles Franklin, and Malala Yousafzai. All the women in this book had the ideas, determination, and creativity to bring about change in the world.

As part of our event Amazing Babes for the EWF Roadshow, we are inviting an incredible line-up of writers to tell stories about the women who have inspired them, in their writing and their lives. The most popular event of this year’s Emerging Writers’ Festival finally comes to Sydney; this is a night to be inspired and celebrate the women who made us who we are.

We had a quick chat with Eliza about her work, advice for writers and her proudest creative accomplishments.

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Can you tell us a little bit about your writing background? 

It’s weird, only when I’m asked about being a writer do I feel like I’m a writer. I feel much more comfortable with the idea of being a facilitator, or a creative producer – I do a range of things, one of which is writing, and within that I had the good fortune of wanting to make a book for my son’s first birthday. It started off as a really small, personal project – I got my friend Grace Lee to do some drawings to go with the book and her illos were so beautiful it felt really selfish keeping them on our bookshelf. I convinced her that we should do a crowdfunding campaign and print up some more copies, and when we did that it was wildly successful, and somehow landed under the nose of Scribe Publications, who wanted to print it. And suddenly I’m a writer. I couldn’t be happier about it.

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What piece of advice has helped you as an artist which you could share with us?

There’s a kids book I really loved that got recommended to me on one of the launch events for Amazing Babes, by this awesome guy who worked there, called Line 135. It’s about a girl and her dreams, basically – really beautifully illustrated but the story is even more striking than the wonderful line drawings. It’s basically about just believing that you can do anything. It tells you that whatever it is you want to do, it is possible. That’s totally been my experience in life – I think I’ve probably fallen victim to wanting to do too much, but I think it’s all been completely possible. Whatever it is you want to do, you can do it! </inspirational message>

Alternatively, I recently flicked Dave Eggers a copy of Amazing Babes at the Melbourne Writers’ Festival and in return he gave me a copy of McSweeneys – the one that’s printed as a zig zag. I asked him how he got the printers to do that. He said he just asked. That all you’ve gotta do is ask, and most of the time people want to make things happen with you. It’s totally true.

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What professional accomplishments are you proudest of?

I feel incredible lucky to have collaborated with so many amazing artists and creators on some really wonderful projects – from running a music festival in Newcastle to an arts festival on Cockatoo Island, to starting a radio show on FBi Radio that’s now a national program, supporting young kids across regional NSW to create a tour to presenting illustrators, storytellers and radio makers on stage at the Sydney Opera House. It really blows my mind that I get to do these things and call them, to varying degrees, “work”. But hands down the best collaboration I’ve been involved in was working with Grace Lee on Amazing Babes - at every stage of it – from when it was going to be a zine for Arthur (my son) to a rough n ready crowdfunded print to a book you can now buy in stores all over the world. Every time I see it on a shelf somewhere I virtually have to pinch myself.

 

Amazing Babes
7:30 PM, Thursday 6 November 2014
Giant Dwarf, 199 Cleveland Street Redfern
$15 Full / $12 Concession: book now

kathllen

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