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.