About Me

My photo
Sydney, NSW, Australia
I'm an arts management worker/ artist/ designer. I work at Accessible Arts in administration and bookkeeping, but also work on various freelance activities from photography to graphic design. I'm Associate Partner at the ARI, the Big Fag Press, board member of Runway Australian Experimental Art and occasionally work at Bailey and Yang Consultants. My creative work has often been driven by social issues and commentary. This blog started as a way of documenting research for my honours year at uni, which I have continued, in order to gather inspiration for future artistic practice.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Experts Project

On the topic of clothing and identity, another artist who has explored the subject is Lara Thoms in The Experts Project. This consists of interviewing random members of her community and basically getting them to tell her what topic they are most "expert" in. The art revolves around a kind of role- reversal where Lara Thoms goes over to these people's places, dresses up in their clothes and gets them to take a photograph of her in their home. It's kind of an insightful response to the idea of "walking in someone else's shoes".

                               Lara Thoms dressed up as (and photographed by) Minto resident 
                                   Shirley Robinson, an expert in decorative toilet roll holders.

* Image taken from the Brag.

If I Go Like You

"To look a certain way evokes a certain understanding of who or what we are. How we are seen and wanting to be seen - If I go like you."

--Paul Gazzola

If I Go Like you is a project in which Paul Gazzola explores the relationship between clothes and people's identity. This is not the first time I've come across experiments where people have been asked to swap clothes or spend time wearing other people's clothing, and how uncomfortable and weird it makes them feel. The psychological phenomena of this is very interesting to me - clothes are seemingly just fabric to cover one's body for modest reasons and to protect ourselves from the elements, yet fashion and clothing have taken on social roles beyond our practical needs, and into our psychological ones.

Rally for Marriage Equality

Last year on December the 3rd I went to Sydney's Rally for Marriage Equality as an opportunity to do some research, take some photos and generally support a cause I believe in. My opinion is pretty much that there should be more love in the world, so who cares what form it takes. I understand that "marriage" is technically a religious term, so honestly, if the Church doesn't want to get involved in gay marriage, that's their choice. But I believe in the separation of Church and State, and the idea that two people in love don't have equal rights just because of their sexuality pretty much just seems like discrimination. Why stand in the way of people's happiness? And considering the rate of suicide among the gay community, I really think governmental support could go a long way in sending a strong message.

Here's some of my photos from the day:
I loved how everyone took the opportunity to dress for thr cause, come out and be part of this very colourful community. Confidence in numbers I suppose!


The rest of this Flickr set can be found here. Some of my photos were also used in this beautiful Coming Out Journal on Tumblr.

I Hurt I am In Fashion

I Hurt I am In Fashion is a blog I was directed to that I am now enthralled by. The wit and irony compliments my opinions perfectly. It's so daring, I believe the author has been sued several times. But some of the quotes and images, it's just - amusing, amazing satire exposing animal cruelty, exploitation, body image myths, chauvanism, and well, just sheer ridiculousness.

* All images taken from I Hurt I am In Fashion.

Monday, January 30, 2012

My Internship

Okay, so I've been meaning to write a post on my internship.

[Image sourced from the Big Fag Press website]

I'll start with a little about the press itself. The artist collective named it the Big Fag Press because the actual machine is called a FAG 104 Offset Proof Press, and well, it's pretty big. These machines used to be used to check the quality of a print before the design went to mass printing, obviously with new technology in printing, these machines are pretty much obsolete for the commercial printing world, but if you take a look at the quality of a print properly made on one of these machines, trust me that no current system can take its place.

Anyway, so this machine was made in Switzerland and headed for the scrap metal yard in Australia when Lucas Ihlein, Mickie Quick, Diego Bonetto and Pat Armstrong bid on the machine a total of $50 and then spent several thousand transporting it! Being commerically "unviable", we use it for limited edition runs of artists' printing work (though we have done the odd packaging printing and a few other random things). The beauty lies in that the paper doesn't need to be put through rollers of any kind like contemporary printers, so you can print on virtually anything (even perspex) up to a B1 size format. We use things like fine watercolour Fabriano, Mohawk paper a lot, and have printed on recycled envirocare, gloss paper, matte, anything - it all depends on the project.

The Press basically works on the chemical reaction where water and oil separate. It's difficult to explain but basically we print one colour at a time off a metal plate which has been pre-prepared at Imagination Graphics. The plate is dampened, and the oil based ink is deposited on the image by ink rollers and then picked up by the rubber blanket and eventually rolled over paper-bed. Each colour is done separately, so most designs need pre-press colour separation work, as well as careful registration on the printing day.

[Photograph is mine]

During the Green Bans project, which was part of Sydney Design's Old is New theme, we even did some experimentation with Fiona McDonald on using old lithographic techniques and chemicals to prepare our own plates. It didn't work out for that project in the end, but I think it's definitely a future goal for the press.

[Photograph is mine]

The most current thing I've worked on at the Press is Lucas Ihlein and Ian Milliss' Yeomans Project (all photographs are mine):

Possibly the thing I've helped out with most is Lucas' Environment Audit - with some of the actual research in the MCA exhibition, as well as pre-press work and printing.

And, a few other things the Press has done in the past:

[All images are my photographs of artists' work at the Big Fag Press]
And here's a little piece I wrote on my experiences as an "intern":

An Unlikely “Internship”

Now, it’s not many people who can say they know how to and have helped change the blanket on a 4 tonne printing machine (that’s the weight of 8 cars). Actually, a year ago, I thought a blanket was just the rug I use on my bed. But now I know, large offset printing machines use rubber blankets to transport ink from rollers to paper. How did I come by this information? It’s an interesting story.

A while ago in my Fashion Design degree I decided I wanted to take a more artistic route and major in the visual communication/ printwork side of things, and I was told I needed to do an internship. The desire to be part of the artworld always having been somewhere there in my subconscious I seized the opportunity when Lucas Ihlein by chance gave a lecture in a class I was taking, told him I was inspired by his presentation and would he mind if a wannabe artist hung around him for a while. At this point I had no idea he was part of a collective at the Big Fag Press, and that suddenly my degree and my artist dreams would veer down the same path.

Being an “intern” (yes I still do the “_” hand movements when I say this outloud) with a group of artists is very different to what I’ve experienced in the world of fashion where I remember steaming dresses all day long. I could have been the coffee kart chick at a larger magazine company that couldn’t afford to let an amateur like me do any actual work, instead I’ve been welcomed into a small business almost at the point where it’s just got off the ground, making artist contact one after the other and being allowed and thanked to be an integral part of every process from admin, to running the machine, to event organisation and documentation and digital design work. I even got to use my patternmaking and sewing skills to make a cover to fit the press!

I’ve met and worked with artists Michael Stevenson, Jason Wing, Kate Sweetapple, Keg de Souza, Ian Milliss, Fiona McDonald, and many more, not to mention collaborating with Artspace, the MCA, Fremantle Arts Centre, The CrossArt Projects, Firstdraft Gallery and Performance Space, The Paper Mill and of course Mickie Quick, Diego Bonetto and Pat Armstrong. Lucas even paid for a workshop I attended at the Rizzeria. Our big project last year Green Bans Art Walks saw me designing the project logo and T-shirt, and one of my photographs of the event ended up by chance in the City News newspaper which subsequently got me a few freelance photography jobs.

I’m on the brink of being able to run the Big Fag Press by myself (apart from perhaps the weight of some of the parts!), and I’ve learnt so much, as well as being able to consolidate skills I already had in photography and digital design. The opportunities I’ve encountered, not to mention the mentoring, inspiration and (dare I say) friendships I’ve made have been invaluable to me. I’m currently simultaneously doing a few of my own prints on the press, and beginning my final year and major work for my degree, altogether happy to have ended up at this point, in a place I feel I’ve helped, and has helped me.

[Photograph taken by Lucas Ihlein on my camera]

Saturday, January 28, 2012


Last year I worked on a mini-project through the Big Fag Press with artists from Squatspace (as I mentioned, my "internship" involves meeting a steady stream of artists from various places who work with us in collaboration from Artspace, FirstDraft Gallery, the MCA, The Cross Art Projects and many more). Anyway, on this particular day I met Keg de Souza (and her beautiful husky Dodo). We printed with her a few months later for her project in Primavera as a sort of experiment on the Press - she needed printing on a large sheet of perspex, which we hadn't done before, but it worked out beautifully.

[Image sourced from Keg's own flickr page]

The perspex was turned into a lightbox and put inside this large inflatable construction made of recycled umbrellas called Impossible Utopia.

[Image sourced from Keg's Impossible Utopia blog]

Anyway, the reason I mention Keg, is because Lucas directed me to a site called Pozible where Keg has recently been successful in gaining crowd funding for one of her projects as part of an artist's residency where she needed the money for flights to New York.

Since I'm going to be using the Big Fag Press in my major work, I really wanted to do a print sometime this summer (and also because it would be nice to finally establish myself as a professional artist).

I've applied to Pozible for a project, you can support me at loveislove.pozible.com.au.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


[Logo created by a classmate and circulated for the specific purposes of the Open House event]

On the topic of individuality, I have to say I found a lot of inspiration in an inter-disciplinary subject I studied in 2010 Situational City. The subject revolved around creating an event that described the city, kind of like a miniature "pop-up gallery" Open House. In my group of design students from different disciplines we decided to research and come up with some kind of social commentary in the form of artwork about individuality in the progressive city of Sydney.

[My group's logo designed by yours truly]

Unmasked is video projection art about a series of individuals who call Sydney their city, getting ready in their homes for a night out on the town. It aims to recognise the idiosyncrasies and individuality which makes us all special and intriguing; and uncover -if only a little- the mask we put on for the outside world.  

"We all wear masks and the time comes when we cannot remove them without removing our own skin."
-André Berthiaume

[Image created by Sam Scopelliti and circulated for the purposed of our project Un-Masked]

[Collaborative project created by myself and my group]

My reflection article Situationist Times can be read here.

This event inspired many after it, I know a classmate and Visual Communications student of mine Kate Disher-Quill continued her Situational City inspired work for her major project Our Town, and Jessica Kirkby held an event EX as part of her Fashion Media project EX magazine. I also believe the Open House concept was revisited as a "Part II" in 2011 by the students undertaking the same subject.

I like the thought of creating "situations" as part of my final year project too, but I'll save my ideas for later posts.

Second Skin

I loved the theory part of the subject Fashion, Gender and Identity, we could choose from any topic related to body, identity or clothing, I chose to think a little outside the box and analyse Tattooing from a fashion perspective. My essay Tattooing and Identity remains one of my greatest achievements in this course. I focused on three main ideas, that tattooing is an indicator of identity in an individual not just through aesthetics but also through the realms of the physical and the emotional processes it conducts. The main inspiration taken from this research was the idea of tattoos or clothes, or the way that we change the way we look, is all about conveying our sense of self (or disguising it) to the outside world.

I've recently been watching the series Criminal Minds, which begins and ends with a quote from significant leaders or writers - one that recently stuck out to me was,

"We are so accustomed to disguise ourselves to others, that in the end, we become disguised to ourselves."

*From the French:  
Nous sommes si accoutumés à nous déguiser aux autres qu'enfin nous nous déguisons à nous-mêmes.
-François de La Rochefoucauld

It also made me recall a Postsecret from Extraordinary Confessions of Ordinary Lives:

[Image Scanned from Book]

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Maybe she's born with it (no, I'm pretty sure it's Fotoshop)

There's been a lot of talk lately about teaching children from a young age that the standards of beauty in magazines and media are unattainable because they are simply not real. The extent to which irresponsible journalists and sensationalist tabloids will go to edit images into anything they like is coming to light and challenging whether our ideals of beauty are even possible. With some hope this could alleviate problems many teenagers (mostly teenage girls) face with regards to self esteem and eating disorders.

[Image Sourced]

I came across this link on headspace's facebook page. I think it is witty, perfectly ironic and extremely true.

After all,

[Image sourced]

This form of photo manipulation for consumerism is quite clearly obvious and irresponsible. But I take issue with advertising further. Fashion advertising (and, actually, most of advertising) all by itself is designed to specifically make you feel inadequate about yourself or your life so that you will be convinced to buy clothes, or beauty products or gadgets in order to somehow be successful and happy. This is the less obvious side of manipulation, but if you think about some of the latest advertisments you've seen, you'll find this absolutely everywhere. With the frequency that I saw them, last season I found myself wondering if Jennifer Hawkins and Miranda Kerr are the only people at all who look good in department store clothing. My ideas are substantiated in Bodies Talk, an article by Caryn Frankline written during London Fashion Week 2010.

Is it really enough to be happy to be blonde, thin, wearing an extravagant hat and gambling money on horses being mistreated?

[Image Sourced]


So, in highschool, I made some dresses out of ribbons and outfits out of lace and string using the technique of macramé that I adapted from making childhood friendship bracelets. And I won a prize for it, so I thought maybe fashion was my calling.

[Left: my own photography; Right: Scanned image from Dolly magazine 2004]

However, I've discovered over the last few years doing my (very lengthy) degree, that somehow I fit better into the role of an artist than a fashion designer. I don't like the idea of making things for a commercial benefit, I don't like the superficiality of the industry and the people within it I've encountered who will remain nameless. I am not a perfectionist - I do not care that a placket on a shirt does not sit right. And I'm frustrated with the indifference that I feel choosing a sleeve for a top or where a pocket should sit in a pant. It seems shallow. I like making clothes on a whim, not caring if they're perfect. In fact I have a skirt that I love, and I couldn't be bothered to put in a zipper so it takes a lot of breathing in to put on. Art inspires me more - things that are beautiful for the sake of simply being beautiful, or meaningful because the creator has something significant to say about the world they live in. I wrote a piece a few months ago for a competition at Art Monthly on my "art vs fashion" position here.

I've been "interning" at the Big Fag Press for over a year now courtesy of Lucas Ihlein (who happened to give a guest lecture in one of my inter-disciplinary subjects) and a group of artists who seem to understand my world view. But I'll talk more about my internship later. So, through this serendipidous meeting with Lucas and love of street photography inspired by my photography sub-major, I have decided to finish off my final year as a media student.

Since my research will hardly fit comfortably into a visual diary, I've decided to collate a blog of everything and anything I encounter that could inspire me for my final work in media. I do my best work when I work with the things I believe in. I guess this will become a sort of journal of my biases and opinions.