Bo Wong // Denmark, WA

The entrance to the official Design Satellite Headquarters (a room out the back with my other office, the laundry) in Denmark, WA. Photo Bo Wong // Design Satellite

The entrance to the Design Satellite office in Denmark, WA. Photo Bo Wong // Design Satellite

The Design Satellite office, including prints from Twenty Eleven and a giant map of Australia which now has more post it notes than towns. Photo Bo Wong // Design Satellite

The Design Satellite office, including prints from Twenty Eleven and a giant map of Australia which now has more post it notes than towns. Photo Bo Wong // Design Satellite

Detail in the Design Satellite office with prints from David Thomson from the 2010 Fremantle Print Award, a comic about Ordinary Dave and his adventures in the contemporary art world, swapped from a shoot with the artist. Also a small Trevor Vickers painting, a gift from the artist after a shoot. Photo Bo Wong // Design Satellite

Detail in the Design Satellite office with prints from David Thomson from the 2010 Fremantle Print Award, a comic about Ordinary Dave and his adventures in the contemporary art world, swapped from a shoot with the artist. Also a small Trevor Vickers painting, a gift from the artist after a shoot. Photo Bo Wong // Design Satellite

This post marks the first anniversary and 50th issue of Design Satellite (yes, I missed two weeks- thank you mathematicians!).

Design Satellite is a cross section of contemporary Australian creative cultures. It’s outsiders shown from the inside. It’s about people who have made difficult choices, gone against the grain and flourished. I’ve had some massive professional and personal tragedies and triumphs since launching Design Satellite one year ago. My father passed away, as did one of the artists I featured for Design Satellite, along with two arts innovators who I worked with over the last few years and respected deeply. I’ve had positively gushing feedback and some deafening silences. I got my first front cover of a national design magazine and tried in vain to be published in others.

When a friend suggested I feature myself to talk about why and how I’ve chosen this geographically isolated location to live and work from, I hesitated, not wanting to seem ‘up myself’. But that’s been over-ridden by the fact that I’m always up for celebrating life’s little victories. So “cheers” to you, my fellow journeymen and women. Here’s a little story.

I left Western Australia at 16 and spent the next 10 years living out of vans and old Holdens, circling and zig-zagging around Australia multiple times, going to festivals, working on blockades, living in share houses and sand dunes in Broome, Cairns, Darwin, Melbourne and Hobart. This gave me an insatiable love for being on the road in this enormous continent. Not just Highway No 1, but the rambling, winding roads that always had the promise of something unknown around the next corner. After an overseas stint, I enrolled in universities in three different states over 6 years, eventually graduating in 2008.  After a few years of settling into a very good job in the arts, some freelancing and sessional lecturing and a nice little house in Fremantle, with a high quality bloke and now a gaggle of kids, I got itchy feet again. A snap decision while watching our kids play, on a holiday visiting my husband’s childhood commune in NSW, became a prime motivator. Ten weeks later, we had rented a tiny farmhouse and put the kids in school in the coastal town of Denmark, population 5000. I sold most of my stuff on Gumtree and took 6 months leave without pay.

We had no internet, no landline and I got 1 bar of reception on my mobile, not nearly enough for Instagram! I took work calls from a stump in a nearby paddock and wrapped up the conversations when the rain became too hard. I could not see my neighbours and barely spoke to anyone all day. I drove into to town sometimes to use the internet, which was very s…..l…..o…..w. Needless to say, I had some spare time. I thought I might re-train, find a new pathway, become a new person. I tried some baking and jogging. But of course, wherever you go, there you are.

I had some OK camera gear and experience. I had friends in medium to slightly above average places. Was I going to throw it away and head back to dish washing (my previous position before ‘Photographer’)? To be honest, I was frightened I’d be ‘forgotten’. That I’d fall of the edge of the earth and never drink free booze at an opening again. But cultural currency is born at the edges, not the centre. Australians do ingenuity born from regionalism well – our thriving arts and design industries are testament to that.

Design Satellite was born of those long, lonely days, with the truly first world question: What do I like doing? Hanging out with artists. Talking about life. Photographing art. Driving on dirt tracks with my elbow out the window.

Tick tick tick. Tick.

Inside the Design Satellite headquarters in Denmark, Western Australia. Presiding over the lounge room is Boom, by Lee Harrop, which is made from shoe polish and gold- first exhibited at Ron Nysiztor Gallery in Perth and then in Kalgoorlie at the artist's Open Studio. Objects ad furniture are gifts and Melville Market scores. Photo Bo Wong // Design Satellite

Inside the Design Satellite headquarters in Denmark, Western Australia. Presiding over the lounge room is Boom, by Lee Harrop, which is made from shoe polish and gold- first exhibited at Ron Nysiztor Gallery in Perth and then in Kalgoorlie at the artist’s Open Studio. Objects and furniture are gifts and Melville Market scores. Photo Bo Wong // Design Satellite

Design Satellite is funded by me photographing for artists and arts organisations in regional areas, shooting the stories in my spare time there. This has given me fantastic opportunities including, clockwise from top left : flying on a lot of small planes; shooting at Aboriginal Art Centres (seen here shooting barefoot at Martumili Arts in Newman next to a Nora Wompi painting; living in my caravan, the Lemon Delicious, in Fremantle so that I can shoot in Perth for a week a month (bookings open!); shooting Emma Francesca's work in Kalgoorlie, in Lee Harrop's studio during the Regional Arts Australia Summit (on a grant from Country Arts WA). Photos from Design Satellite's Instagram page.

Design Satellite is funded by me photographing for artists and arts organisations in regional areas, shooting the stories in my spare time there. This has given me fantastic opportunities including, clockwise from top left : flying on a lot of small planes; shooting at Aboriginal Art Centres (seen here shooting barefoot at Martumili Artists in Newman next to a Nora Wompi painting; living in my caravan, the Lemon Delicious, in Fremantle so that I can shoot in Perth for a week a month (bookings open!); shooting Emma Francesca’s work in Kalgoorlie, in Lee Harrop’s studio during the Regional Arts Australia Summit (on a grant from Country Arts WA). Photos from Design Satellite’s Instagram page.

A #shelfie in the house, with books and collected second hand objects. Orange weaving on the floor, by Marlene Brumby Iwantja at Tjanpi Desert Weavers and panting on the wall by Tjawina Porter, from Tjarlirli Art at Tjukurla Community. Rug from Corner Store Fremantle. Photo Bo Wong // Design Satellite

A #shelfie in the house, with books and collected second hand objects. Orange weaving on the floor, by Marlene Brumby Iwantja at Tjanpi Desert Weavers and panting on the wall by Tjawina Porter, from Tjarlirli Art at Tjukurla Community. Rug from Corner Store Fremantle. Photo Bo Wong // Design Satellite

Moving to a regional area has it's perks and quirks. Clockwise from top left: The first house we rented in Denmark, overlooking the Harewood Forest; Jetta having a snuggle with Aquilla from Brumbies Run; Felix on Ocean Beach with Riki; Velcro's and my favourite activity is in abundance in Denmark, we're surrounded by a river, an inlet and the ocean to throw sticks in. All photos from Bo Wong's Instagram page.

Moving to a regional area has it’s perks. Clockwise from top left: The first house we rented in Denmark, overlooking the Harewood Forest; Jetta having a snuggle with Aquilla from Brumbies Run; Felix on Ocean Beach with Riki; Velcro’s and my favourite activity is in abundance in Denmark, we’re surrounded by a river, an inlet and the ocean to throw sticks in. All photos from Bo Wong’s Instagram page.

Remembered Shapes, 2014 by artist Tom Freeman inside Bo Wong's home in Denmark, Western Australia. Photo Bo Wong // Design Satellite

Remembered Shapes, 2014 by artist Tom Freeman inside Bo Wong’s home in Denmark, Western Australia.
Photo Bo Wong // Design Satellite

Getting in to the spirit of Denmark: Clockwise from top left: Mornings walks on Wilson's Inlet ; Getting my merch on for the Western Australian Forest Alliance at the Denmark Arts Markets with Melissa Howe ; Nearby Torndirrup National Park makes for a nice Sunday walk; Arguing with Paola Anselmi while Kevin Draper considers how to kill us both while judging the Great Southern Art Awards together at Vancouver Arts Centre, Albany. Photos from Bo Wong's Instagram page.

Getting in to the spirit of Denmark: Clockwise from top left: Mornings walks on Wilson’s Inlet ; Getting my merch on for the Western Australian Forest Alliance at the Denmark Arts Markets with Melissa Howe ; Nearby Torndirrup National Park makes for a nice Sunday walk; Arguing with Paola Anselmi while Kevin Draper considers how to kill us both while judging the Great Southern Art Awards together at Vancouver Arts Centre, Albany. Photos from Bo Wong’s Instagram page.

Artwork by Susanna Castleden inside Bo Wong's son's bedroom, which looks out onto the Design Satellite office in Denmark, WA. Photo Bo Wong // Design Satellite

Artwork by Susanna Castleden inside Bo Wong’s son’s bedroom, which looks out onto the Design Satellite office in Denmark, WA. Photo Bo Wong // Design Satellite

In the lounge room, a photograph from Kevin Ballantine, bought through the Perth Centre for Photography annual fundraiser. Photo Bo Wong // Design Satellite

In the lounge room, a photograph from Kevin Ballantine, bought through the Perth Centre for Photography annual fundraiser. Photo Bo Wong // Design Satellite

Artworks on left by Paul Moncrieff who was featured as one of the first stories on Design Satellite. Gift from the artist. On the right, works by Lee Mansbridge, the result of an art-swap with the artist inside the kitchen of Bo Wong's home in Denmark, WA. Photo Bo Wong // Design Satellite

Artworks on left by Paul Moncrieff who was featured as one of the first stories on Design Satellite. Gift from the artist. On the right, works by Lee Mansbridge, the result of an art-swap with the artist inside the kitchen of Bo Wong’s home in Denmark, WA. Mansbridge’s work can be seen at Artist Open House Fremantle this year.  Photo Bo Wong // Design Satellite

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