Summer Greetings and Sharing the Blog Love

Hello! Hope it’s been a good year for everyone. It’s been another mad one in the world but I try to remain grateful for the many joys in my own little sphere, and hopeful that we may keep up the good fight towards intelligence and humanity over idiocy and cruelty.

we are all immigrants

Dumbo, New York

Fabulous local photographer Aldona Kmiec has nominated me to answer some questions about myself for the Leibster Award thing-a-ma-jig. There are lots of great creative folks in Ballarat and I love being part of that community. Here we go!

  1. Where were you born and why did you decide to establish your creative business in Ballarat?

I was born and grew up in Melbourne’s northern suburbs. After travels, a stint studying in London, and various sharehouses around Brunswick my man and I got fed up with rising rent (and rising damp!) and decided to buy a little place in Ballarat East.

At the time we were both doing postgrad research so it suited us perfectly to live quietly and build our lives here whilst travelling to Melbourne as we needed/felt.

Ballarat has been a great place to build on my studies and experience in cross-artform projects and to base my company Weave Length Productions.

  1. If you didn’t live in Australia, where would you live?

This is something I always think about when I’m travelling- could I live here? It’s a hard one. So many beautiful and interesting places- maybe Tuscany?

  1. Did you travel overseas in the last 10 years, where to and why?

I love exploring different places around the world and feel so lucky to be able to do this! I just got back from a short trip that included County Clare Ireland, New York, and Mexico City. Visiting friends overseas is the best, as well as wandering and discovering a place, and eating of course- one of my favourite pastimes.

Amy & ClareAmy & Sarah4. What’s the capital and population of Poland?

For someone that loves travelling my geography is terrible! I may have to google that, I’m sorry ; )

5. What’s the ONE best thing about Ballarat? (I know it’s hard.. because there are many!!!)

I love the laidback lifestyle in Ballarat and the awesome mix…. Right near our place we have a mini forest, an historic railway station, and an amazing café. I also love playing a role in the civic life of the city as it grows and develops.

  1. Who is your favourite photographer or filmmaker and why?

Artists inspire me so much so this is a hard one but I do love Krzysztof Keislowski (forgive me for googling the spelling!) who made the Three Colours Trilogy and The Double Life of Veronique. His films are so beautifully crafted and emotional.

I am also in love with Michel Gondry for his big hearted imagination and style.

veronique-1 Mood Indigo7. Tell me how did you start your career? Did you plan to be an artist?

I have always been an artist, alongside various dreams of being a baseball pitcher, scientist, etc etc. To me- ‘everything is interesting.’

  1. What challenges do you think artists face in Ballarat?

Arts funding can be an issue, also being felt more widely in the current political climate. There can also be the distance sometimes felt from cultural centres and activities but we’re not doing too bad here in Regional Victoria- I believe there is no reason why regional artists can’t be up there working on the same professional level as our city cousins.

  1. What is your favourite coffee shop where you work on your projects or have meetings with Clients?

I like to share the love around and depending on my culinary mood- my second home is Vegas & Rose, and I can also be seen around at the likes of the Unicorn, Harvest Café, and Boah Organic.

Vegas and Rose for The Space Between

Vegas & Rose Cafe for The Space Between

10. Can you share what you did today?

Today I did some housework, read a number of articles, played with my cat, had meetings and did research for a new project (this included doing a great podcast tour around the CBD– I recommend checking it out!), edited some photographs, and went for noodles with friends (the Vietnamese Noodle House is my other second home!). I also followed the process of my man throughout the day as he brewed a new batch of beer made with berries from our garden, yum!

Hope that was interesting. & Here are my questions for the amazing artist and blogger Lily Mae Martin and the divine Liana Skewes should they choose to accept:

Which things/people make you feel at home?

What do you love about making art?

What was your favourite meal in the last week and why?

Do you have a favourite book and memory of first reading it?

What is the funniest/weirdest thing a stranger has ever said to you?

Have you ever tried to learn another language? What did you love/hate about it?

What scares the shit out of you?

Can you share a recent artist discovery (music, writing, visual art…)?

Do you have a blog post you have written you are particularly proud of?

What is your most treasured thing you’ve found unexpectedly?

lily and amy

Lily & Amy

 

In other Amy news I also have a shiny new website for my work you can check out with some of Aldona’s great images on it. Look out for my New York pieces and stay tuned for more exciting 2015 adventures!

amytsilemanis.com.au

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Five years in Ballarat

It’s been a long time between posts and seems a good moment to take stock of the passing time… This month it will be 5 years since we bought our little place and moved from Brunswick to Ballarat.

In that time I have finished my Masters, wed and honeymooned in Europe, had my own arts & music radio program on Voice FM and reported on arts events in the region with Tinderbox Radio and Arts Atlas, been an artist in multiple cross-artform exhibitions with Weave Length Productions, worked on creative projects and programming on 4 Ballarat Heritage Weekend events, been an assistant producer at ABC Open, and part of setting up volunteer organisation Ballarat Arts Alive, curating 10 Art Sparks events featuring local artists, artforms and venues. It’s been busy!

After a good break to rest, reflect, reinvigorate, dream and plan, the big question is What next? Well more learning, fun, work, and exploration… Watch this space. Big love to all my supporters, especially this guy xo

Image

Happy after another big Heritage Weekend, 2014. Image by the fabulous Erin McCuskey

 

 

 

Pots of Gold

Training Rainbow

Train home to Ballarat

I am so incredibly inspired by my fellow artists, near and far. I am also endessly fascinated by the world, in all its beauty and horribleness. Hence the new name of this blog ‘Everything is Interesting.’ (I am totally bewildered by the fact that people can ever get bored!)

So yesterday I attended a forum for regionial artists put on by Regional Arts Victoria, themed ‘What’s Success Anyway?’ It was a great day, generating lots of new thoughts & connections and if I get a chance I will try to sort out my notes and write something cohesive up from them. But for now, just a few personal reflections I thought were worth sharing. So rarely as artists do we get the chance to reflect on our work and nourish oursleves through connecting with others in our field. Yesterday reminded me how important this is and that sometimes we don’t take the time, or have the space, to even recognise our successes.

When thinking about successes we might like to share I came to recognise my role with local group Ballarat Arts Alive, and their events I organise called Art Sparks. These aim to bring people together to celebrate different artists, artforms, and spaces and are a kind of extension of a casual event we used to hold at our house in Brunswick called Creative Dinners- a chance to meet people, share work (and cheese!) and discuss ideas and issues related to the creative life. Despite my stress sometimes associated with running Art Sparks (and self-care was an issue discussed yesterday too with one speaker mentioning the dangers of ‘worshipping your own ability’ at the cost of sleep, sanity etc) I am proud to say that this project that I got started in 2011- around notions of connectivity and inspiration- is going strong and now going into its third series. More here about the next one coming up soon!

Amie-and-Amy-1024x685

First Art Sparks. Image by Aldona Kmiec

Another thing that came up in the session was the enduring nature of artists (ability worship aside!) that linked in perfectly with a quote Erin at Yum Studio happened to share the same day, about ‘daring to do’ regardless of outcome, rendering concepts of failure and success irrelevant. We dig deeply, we persist, we keep throwing it out there. This is so important, as is the strength we draw from each other. In another serendipitous link, today I read a great discussion between artist and curator Kent Wilson and artist Anton Hasell on Kent’s blog Golden ArtNet.

There are so many beautiful parts to this interview and I highly recommend reading it but one is that need for artists to be bold in their thinking and to keep going despite difficulties. I was personally bolstered up by quotes like these:

“For an artist, one has to be on the edge of our seat in excitement and anticipation, seeing what’s needed, what’s important, before anyone else and feeling the frustration of trying to persuade recalcitrant others to the ‘rightness’ of the new vision, new forms, new processes and new feelings that lead to our better living.”

There is also the lovely image Anton conjures of art acting as a message in a bottle through time, a reaching out and I couldn’t agree more that “the embrace of loving hands by artists (and thinkers) from the past is reassuring. They are my friends and I connect with them through their works…Artwork is a portal through which the living meet their kind amongst the distant or dead.” Or with great events that bring artists together, we can find our kind close-by too.

Wandering/Wondering

Wandering/Wondering

And whilst recognising successes, no matter how small, a friend yesterday described me as one of the hardest arts workers and most creative minds he knew. Thank you for the kind words. I must be doing something right!

Ideas/Idears

Tuerong Ruined Piano Sanctuary

Tuerong Ruined Piano Sanctuary

I have always had an intense and intimate relationship with ideas. You can listen to an audio work I made here called Unrealised Ideas/They Keep me From my Sleep.

I recently watched a documentary about filmmakers where David Lynch spoke of ‘being in love with’ an idea. And the other day I found myself having an experience which I was later able to recognise as ‘grief for an idea.’

I realised it wasn’t to be then went through a process of grieving and letting go. How strange, but that’s what it was! I liked the idea, I was sad to let it pass (and there was some brooding and tears) but maybe I wasn’t in love with it? And then who really knows when and in what form it might re-emerge?

Below relates to one of my primary school projects or clubs. Apologies for the spelling! My favourite part is the ending: “Well there just a few idears. But you could do nothing. Maby you could think of some idears.”

Hilarious!

Idears

Idears

On being smart, sexy, and nervous as hell

Over the last two Saturdays I have been invited to be involved with events totally out of my comfort zone- modelling in a friend’s fashion show and speaking publicly as part of the Melbourne Writers Festival. I think it is so important and exciting to challenge ourselves and to try new things, but gee it’s nerve-wracking! It’s funny as in the past when I have said I’m nervous about doing something, people say- That’s crazy, you’re on the radio every week! But it’s not that simple, and speaking from a solitary studio is very different from facing a crowd- either on a catwalk or from a podium, and it’s a different way of engaging and creating repoire. So, managing my nerves is something I want to develop (if anyone has any tips) but it won’t stop me from doing things that scare the hell out of me!

Amy MWF

It was such a great day talking reading, writing, and ideas yesterday out at Ballarat’s M.A.D.E and I felt really chuffed to be involved. As one of the younger speakers, along with my Ballarat Writers compadre Melissa Watts, it was incredibly inspiring to hear from a wide range of strong females (as yes, looking around M.A.D.E and the event itself, women are playing a big and rich role. You can listen to my interview with M.A.D.E director Jane Smith– a good woman indeed.)

The event was also screened at Fed Square in Melbourne. My sweet mama went there to watch but unfortunately with my session being last, it didn’t make it to the screen- the footy had to come on! ah life, but she says she did see some shots of me in the audience of an earlier session. She and so many others are such good supporters of me and my adventures.

My involvement with these two particular events also fits with ongoing learning about it being ok to be both sexy and smart (and of course how these things are entwined). This is the kind of thing that you can be told many times but I think is something you have to find your own peace/style with.

Things are looking pretty bleak politically right now but it was great to see Greens leader Christine Milne speak in Ballarat during the week with a focus on the arts, so, as ever artists are vital both as the end of the world hurtles closer, and in helping to create better worlds, more ‘generous, thoughtful, and sexy’ (thank you Ashton/Chris Kutcher! Well worth watching this wise and honest speech).

And why not look good while we’re at it!

Amy and Liana

With the lovely Liana Skewes, dressed in Chitra’s Closet

Why We Create

Recently I changed my Facebook profile picture to a rather striking image of me in an amazing vintage dress taken by a very talented photographer friend of mine. I don’t believe I put it up out of vanity but because I thought people would like it, which they did. Based on this response, I then made a joke that perhaps I should dress like this in the gallery and more people might come see my exhibition. Hilarious aren’t I? Anyway there were two interesting comments in response that I felt were worth sharing.

First up, was my wise and awesome mother-in-law with the following:

“Amy, Courage, stamina, a vision to share, stick-to-it-ness, playfulness, and a generous, wholehearted compassion and understanding for all of life will ease an artist through the stark reality of exhibition of their art.”

At a quick first glance I thought she was listing my good qualities to bolster me up, but on closer inspection I saw some damn fine wisdom, and something solid to heed and aspire to as an artist. I don’t call her ‘Mother Mary’ for nothing! She is the best.

& Second was:

“Remember who you are doing your art for- first and foremost- you do it for yourself”

Now this is something I consider a lot- Why do I pursue a creative life? Obviously I am incredibly inspired and nourished by my creative work (and recognise my extreme privilege in this) but I also very much make it for others to enjoy and engage with in public showings of one kind or another. When I raised this issue in an arts forum recently the complexity of the creative life was explored a bit, but a strong response did seem to be that people make art for themselves because it makes them feel good, or because they are driven to, and that the other side of engagement is secondary.

Sometimes making art makes me feel amazing, rising above the mundane, losing myself to inspired moments, and making new connections with ideas, people and forms of expression. But a significant amount of time is also spent with uncertainty, sleeplessness, disappointment, and worry.

Perhaps the reality is that all lives feature these ups and downs, not only artistic ones. Anywho,  it is an issue of deep interest to me and would love to hear any other wise thoughts on the matter!

; )

P.S- they really are stunning dresses and their owner Dorothy Nicol is the sweetest woman in the world- you can check them out here

P.PS- despite my jokes and grumbling, so many lovely people (friends new and old) have visited me and explored ‘The Space Between’ and I have had the opportunity to delve into and spend time with a theme very close to my heart, and all this makes me very happy!

One small kind thing

Hello fellow people of the world,

There are some pretty crazy, horrible things going on around the globe (hell the Ballarat KFC was held up last night!) but I did a lovely interview with Melbourne musician Mikelangelo yesterday who reminded me how important a role art can play in offering moments of sweetness and beauty. I urge you all to engage in one small kind thing today. And maybe it could be this: As part of my current exhibition The Space Between I am working with a local book artist to create a collection of inscriptions. I am inviting visitors to bring in books with their favourite inscribed pages to be copied then added to the artist book of inscriptions. People in far away places could also send a jpg of your inscription to weavelength@gmail.com.

Here are some of my favourites so far:

x

My Book Project!

Wow, being an artist is such a mixture of joy and anxiety but I am very excited about my latest project! It also involves a bunch of fabulous people who are sharing their creativity, skills, and knowledge- something I am so enriched by and grateful for (big love to my mentors Erin McCuskey at Yum Studio and Barry Wemyss at Red Echidna Studios).

I have loved books, reading, and writing for as long as I can remember so in a way this is a very personal work, but I think the great thing is how universal the joy of reading is too. I will look forward to posting some more images and things when I get the chance but for now, here are the details, as well as a whole programme of events happening over the two week exhibition period you can check out on the Weave Length Productions site. Enjoy!

The Space Between Invite

Reading Books Makes Me Happy

Reading Books Makes Me Happy

Last week I was invited to speak to a great group of Year 9 students from Ballarat High about happiness and some of the things I do in the local arts community. An introductory exercise was run where everyone wrote down something that made them happy, put it in a balloon, blew it up, then passed along to someone else to pop. Imagine my joy when I received this!

Am working away on my next project- an exhibition/installation/extravaganza all about books and reading. Follow along here and as my childhood diary used to faithfully sign off- WML (wish me luck!) ; )