Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Nadine Kessler discusses book design

Nadine Kessler likes typography which is fortunate as she works with it daily as a typographer and designer, with a focus on publication design. She arrived in the studio armed with some very attractive books and was a fabulous guest to feature on episode 1 series 2, The Book Show on Edge Radio. You can listen to the full interview here.
Nadine talks about the beginning of books and the mass production that began after Gutenberg invented the letter press with moveable type and she talks about the days when scribes had to copy books by hand. We discuss the benefits of taking a knife to the spine of a book as well as the best ways to handle the object without cracking its spine or participating, unawares in other book torture.
Talking about the design of the recent Mona catalogue ‘Beam in Thine Own Eye,' the art work from which was really the result of work created in the viewer’s own mind, stimulated by the external “I found this really beautiful paper which is reflective, it is the play with whatever you
reflect in your mind.”
At the time of the interview Nadine was working on a new catalogue for Mona’s most recent exhibition.
For further information and too see Nadine’s work, check out her website.

P S a Big Thank You to Artifact in Swansea for sharing their wifi with me.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Family First discusses arts in Denison

Trevlyn McCallum, the candidate in Denison for Family First is a reader. You can listen to the full interview with him here.

Family First have developed 15 core policy areas but they have no specific policy about arts and culture. They do have, however a high regards for arts, literature and culture.
Literature and art comes out of a healthy culture and that society drives that.
They are there to give families and small businesses the opportunity to express themselves in a way that is wholesome and good for our culture and our society. “One of the key driving factors behind our cultural expressions in art and literature primarily sits elsewhere,
"Having the ability and resources to do poetry and to write literature, we need those resources,
"One of the first things Family First would be looking at would be tax complexity and tax rates across the Australia. We are looking at reducing tax making it easier to do business, be it a NFP art studio or any other small business across Australia we are looking to reduce the tax rate to 20% which will increase the resources to put into arts and culture and literature endeavurs.
"I think a healthy community will produce good wholesome, healthy art and the other way around too, good wholesome art and cul;ture and literature helps a society to grow and be more mature as a culture, as a civilisation.
"Family First is a family values driven party and the primary driver for policies is what is in the best interests of ‘the family’ and children in our society. 
"We certainly don’t want to have art that’s out in the public eye that is not for their (children's) eyes, so good wholesome art needs to consider the audience and who it is being presented to.
"We can get into it; what ‘good and wholesome’ is, I think there is objectivity to art and objectivity to culture and to literature as well and it gets down to the debate about what is good and what is not good.
As a Family First candidate, personally, I am a Christian I can take an objective stand and say something is right or wrong based on my world view and assumptions."
Trevlyn loves to read, though his time is squished, but he is ‘audio reading’ in the car on the way to work. His family is a one of readers and they encourage their children to read a lot of books across a lot of genres. His son read over 250 books last year!
He enjoys historical fiction and can’t go past  PG Wodehouse.
Again, the full interview here.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Debra Thurley for Palmer United discusses arts in Denison

Debra Thurley thinks the area encompassing arts and culture area is one where "Tasmania can really shine from a tourism perspective and that the value and arts and culture in a community can sometimes be understated. Listen to the full interview with her here.
   At the time this interview was conducted, Debra Thurley, the candidate for the House of Reps in Denison for the newly formed Palmer Untied Party hadn't had a chance to discuss arts and culture but they were heading into a discussion that weekend where it was hoped it would be put on the table. 
  Debra feels that art and culture is “vital” and it one of those glue factors that unite a community, "Denison is so exciting with such a tremendous mix of people. We are destined for being the place to be. "The times ahead are extremely exciting because I am sure this election, no matter who wins will bring about some positive change.
"We are very fortunate here in Denison to have the Mona effect.
"I would absolutely like to see more support for the arts. As I said before, I am a sports fan but I think the two absolutely run parallel with keeping people involved.
"It does stimulate the mood of a community so it is really really vital.
Debra would, if elected, seek to remedy the loss of funding for the Tasmanian Theatre Company. (who have finally been recognised again by the State government, with some funds for 2014).
  Debra agrees that the connection with art and health is vital. "Art is such a wonderful way of expressing what can be an internal emotion so there can be a massive connection between that area as we focus on health and preventative measures and proactive measures."
When it comes to reading at the pointy end of a campaing, "I don’t have any time to read I am also a student through Griffith University studying workplace relations so I do have a  very busy schedule."
She does really like Irish female writers and always tries to have some fiction on the go "but the trouble is by the time I get to bed I am asleep but I just adore reading.
"Of course I read newspapers front to back including some of the papers from the mainland and of course I am supportive of some Tasmanian literature as well. I have always been on the verge of enrolling myself in one of the writing clubs.
"If someone asked me what would be the ideal thing I would do in the years ahead I would like to go back to uni and do English lit. I am not writing anything at the moment but I do have this aim, they do say there’s a book in all of us and I go to start it and I realise it takes a lot of time and you do need to be free of all distractions. That, to me is one of my goals in later life."
She doesn’t have a favourite Tasmanian writer, but Rachael Treasure was a guest at one of their business meetings. “I bought three of her books and I must admit they are still sitting on the shelf as I haven’t got to read them yet. It was amazing to think she could incorporate her unique lifestyle into her books. I enjoyed her because she is an effervescent girl and she was a very interesting person and I enjoyed meeting her."
The full interview can be heard here.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Denison and Arts #4. Andrew Wilkie, independent.

Andrew Wilkie is the member for Denison in the House of Representatives. At this stage it looks like he will still be there after this election this Saturday, September 7th. You can listen to this interview on arts and culture in Denison in its entirety here.

“At this time of an election campaign you will find every candidate talking up up the wonderful arts and culture scene we have in Tasmania but it is at risk of sounding like a whole collection of clich├ęs. “Of course we have a rich scene and of course we are all in support of it but you have to contrast what people say about it with what people do with it.

“Regrettably, the arts and culture scene has, for many years been neglected.  I don’t know whether David Walsh is proud or sad of the fact that he has had no public assistance and in any case there is too much attention on Mona when there is a whole lot more going on out there which seems to be swamped by the Mona phenomenon.

“As a member of parliament my involvement inevitably is to do with money and I was proud to secure $4 million to build a new Moonah Arts Centre and very proud to get $1.65 million to save the old South Hobart primary school and turn that into a community and cultural hub but it is a fraction of what needs to be done.

“The state and federal governments need to look for clever ways to invest in arts and culture nationally including in Tasmania to genuinely promote it.

“I am attracted to the idea the Greens have to pay a living wage to artists. It seems to be a sensible way to go if you really want to encourage art at the grass roots level and that is the sort of innovative approach we need to see.
“I can see a real arts trail, it might start in Salamanca, and ideally on a light rail. You could get off at Moonah and wander to the new arts centre, get off at GASP when it is completed, back on the light rail, up to Mona.
“It could become one of the nation’s premier destinations for art and culture tourism, we’re on the cusp of cracking it.”

“Regrettably too many politicians and too many governments just think of art as just a painting or an installation.  I don’t know that any government in this country; certainly not in Tasmania, there doesn’t seem to be any understanding of the importance of art and culture in the community and the way it enriches and makes for a healthier community.

Andrew's favourite book is A Fortunate Life by AB Facey, but when it comes to Tasmanian books
“I like to read Tasmanian history and James Boyce is a towering  figure in that space. His acclaimed book Van Diemen’s Land brings history to life. Another local author I like reading is Richard Flanagan. He is another author that can bring history to life and in a book like Gould’s Book of Fish it becomes  a weird mishmash of fact and fiction; you don’t know where one ends and another starts and I find that quite fun.

When asked what he will do if reelected, he is clear:
“Two things: I will continue my efforts to secure investment in art in Tasmania and I think I have a good track record in that regard but I will also work harder to promote the arts as something that genuinely does enrich  the community and make it happier and healthier and look for ways to find money for that.”
Listen to the full interview here.


Denison and arts #4 Graeme Devlin from Rise Up Australia

 Graeme Devlin from Rise Up Australia Party has six daughters and has always had ballet, drama and music in the household. He sees art and culture as "lubrication for our society" and while Rise Up Australia support freedom of speech, he believes a line needs to be drawn somewhere and "art is art and smut is smut".
Listen to the full interview here.
Graeme notes that ‘arts and culture’ is a very wide spectrum that can even involve agriculture but  he presumes that it means the ways of living transmitted from generation to generation.
"The Australian culture is one we want to preserve. I like it and most of us live it happily. Over the years of course our culture has been modified a lot, some of our ethnic editions with people who have joined us. I see this as a lubrication of our society, it gives colour. Without it, it would be pretty black and white.
"The word comes to me; 'jackboots' but we don’t really want that. I personally don’t find it as a major item because we know that employment and things must come first, it gives us colour in our lives and makes us interesting people."
At the time of the interview, Rise Up Australia had not had any round table discussions regarding arts policy.

Graeme expounds freedom of speech. "Our leader has had ia time when he was taken before the racial vilification court in Victoria for exposing some of the words in the Koran.
We want to see truth as truth and opinion as opinion and maintaining freedom of speech."While Rise Up would like to see freedom of speech, censorship is a different matter. They would like to avoid gratuitous violence and socially degenerating themes.
Truth is truth, of course, but smut it smut.
I was young, you couldn’t imagine Spencer Tracey saying thle F word”
The Christian scriptures are the basic guideline for Rise Up Australia. "A lot of people may not like to hear that, I think our society has turned away from basic Christian principles. Henry Parkes, one of our founding fathers said that we were preeminately a Christian nation when they were founding  the nation and designing the constitution, but we have come a long way and we should start to turn back, it is time.

Graeme was not prepared for the question about community health and he finds arts and culture as a lubricant within society.
Our plan is to provide good roots for the nation and everybody gets a fair go and business wi'l just spring up naturally, we won’t have to force jobs."
While Graeme Is not familiar with Tasmanian authors, he is currently reading the constutuion to “find out what we’re on about.”
"Most of my reading is information reading, ifI have a problem I look up how to fix it. Arts in my life is not one of the prominent areas though I don’t disregard it. Being a slow reader I have to wisely choose what I read because it takes so much time, but as you can imagine I read the holy scriptures a fair bit.
The full interview can be heard here.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Denison and arts #3. Wayne Williams from the Democratic Labor Party

Wayne Williams is standing in Dension, for the Democratic Labor Party.
 Here, he discusses the DLP’s approach to arts and arts funding, his mentor the poet James McAuley and former Island editor Cassandra Pybus’ book about McAuley and where the DLP would take arts in Denison.
“I think you consider a nation great if it has achieved a high level of culture, “The artistic can be squeezed out of us through the pressures of time and work.
"If you look back through history, countries are less remembered for their military conquests than for their art. Flourishing civilisations are always those that have achieved a high level of culture.
“Art in its many forms may encourage joy, sadness, aesthetic appreciation through the beautiful and it may be through one line of verse that the soul finds consolation and courage to keep striving when perhaps faced with impossible odds.”

“The other thing is that we are handed God given talents that we should use to the best of our abilities. Our computer driven age and the pragmatic desire to consider what is useful in commercial terms often disadvantages the development of the arts.
The problem with most political parties is that they consider arts very much down the scale, especially if budgets are hard pressed. Certain sacred cows that the government are reluctant to cut; unfortunately the arts is not one of them.
The DLP proposes a tax deduction and incentives by government for the arts. They would also encourage greater regional development in the arts, promoting and encouraging art in local communities. They also oppose the selling of indigenous art overseas, “what is ours ought to not go over there, I just don’t think it should go.”
While the DLP approves of an increase in funding for the arts they are also critical of some of the spending that has been done in the arts field. Wayne feels that one of the classic mistakes made in arts funding in recent years resulted in the book The Devil and James McAuley by former Island editor, Cassandra Pybus.

“This was a book that was subsidised by $84 000 from the Australian Research Council and I do not know by how much by the Tasmanian Arts Advisory Board and by a visiting fellowship from LaTrobe University and the Australia Council also chipped in.
“What jumps immediately to the eye as you flick through is the slap dash research” Wayne goes on to elaborate on these mistakes.
It seems a strange book to generate a discussion around arts funding from, but  McAuley was a mentor to Wayne and “I am fairly criitical that a very large amount of money, nearly $100 000 was given to Cassandra to produce this work and it could have been more prudently done." James McAuley is Wayne’s favourite Tasmanian author – and he was also a good friend of his. He got him involved with the DLP by throwing him into a debate at the Hobart Town Hall when he was 21.
“I think the arts have to be very careful that they use the money wisely and in the public eye they are perceived that things are done well."

In terms of arts and health “If you look in the areas of mental health particularly, it is obviously an assistance issue but with pyschological counselling and with expressing themselves, the arts has always been a great contributor to mental health."
Wayne tends to read a lot of the political journals and tries to keep up to date with those things.  He also does a lot of spiritual reading.

Listen to the full interview here.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Arts and Culture in Denison #2 Jane Austin, ALP discusses Jane Austen

It's time for episode two! Here is Jane Austin, Denison candidate for the ALP talking about arts and culture and what Labor's approach may be. This episode also features 'When Atwood met Austin.'
You can listen to the full interview here.

Jane Austin has read some Jane Austen but she found herself wanting to give it a good hard edit. “I think she could have tightened that up a little bit,” – but a lovely moment arose on the campaign trail when she was door knocking, a little old lady in her eighties disappeared soon after she had opened the door and came back with a little purse. A donation, she said for the book club Jane Austin was raising money for.
    While she says she is a "bit of a sucker for a happy ending," her number one writing heroine is Margaret Atwood. "When I was at uni doing Women's Studies and I was lucky to be studying Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tail when Fullers, a local bookstore hosted an 'in conversation' with the Canadian author.
"There I was with a copy of The Handmaid’s Tale, which is a fantastic work, I’ll never forget, she looked at me, read the name on the sticky note 'sign this for Jane Austin' and she just looked straight up at me and said in a lovely Canadian drawl “oh my gawd, I’ve met the first Jane Austin," and I just blushed.”
  In terms of arts policies and Labor - Jane acknowledges that while the ALP have overseen the creation of the first National Cultural Policy in years, that there is not yet a clear arts mandate if Labor were to be elected. Jane sees the government as an enabler of the arts.
    "In terms of policies in my hip pocket, I can’t bring any out, but I think that, as Mona has shown, there is such interest and such diversity in terms of what art is and discussion around art. I have had a number of discussions with people about what it role is, it is obviously a great economic boost for Tasmania but what is it doing? We are sitting here arguing and debating art and isn’t that a great thing?" She feels that we could place more emphasis on writing and the industries around it.
    A frustrated writer herself, mainly of one act plays - and she does have a novel in her bottom drawer, Jane believes it is important that we use the written word to capture who we are.
     With Jane’s background in mental health, promotion, discussion and policy it was interesting to hear her thoughts on the importance of creative practice and health.
     She belives that with mental health, the arts should be a therapeutic mechanism to explore recovery. “There is a very strong connection between arts and health and when we are investing in the health sector and health interventions it is really important in mental health promotion and  prevention to use community art projects to bond communities, connect communities."

And again - here's the link for the podcasted interview

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Arts and culture in Denison (numero uno) Anna Reynolds

So who is actually talking arts and culture in the lead up to the election? Apart from a tired stoush (he said + she said + denial) I've heard very little about arts policy - and nothing from the local candidates in Denison. So, I set out to interview all of the House of Reps candidates for Denison - and  you can listen to the first of these discussions, with Anna Reynolds, Greens candidate here.

Anna saves novel reading for holidays, satisfied with the likes of Guardian Weekly, which offers her a good sense of what’s happening in the world, a fix of news, science and the arts, and something that there is actually time to read in a busy campaign.

Christine Milne, Green leader announced a regional arts initiative a few months ago. This would fund regional arts and cultural development officers in local councils in regional areas - and yes, Denison is considered regional. It is a $10 million per year policy and it would also assist artists to get fees to help stage their exhibitions  -and therefore to allow them to focus on their creative practice. The idea of a living wage provision for artists has been discussed but at this stage it is not clear how it would be administered.

There has been no discussion about the practice of writing within this policy (yet).

In Denison the Greens recognise the need for places for young people to do street art – Anna specifically mentioned the intercity cycleway that runs from the city of Hobart, around the water, through Moonah out to Mona. “a place for young people to do street art, we could have a bit of a hub".

"There is such potential in Hobart, not just to make the arts a fulfilling part of our lives but a big driver for the economy,
  "I think we need leadership to show people why and how this can happen.We should learn lessons from (the city of) Bilbao – and how it has thrived from their proximity to a great museum."

Regarding creativity and health policy – nothing has yet been set out by the Greens - Anna acknowledges that "there is an underrecognition of the great value of the creative arts for our comunities and a feeling of fulfilment and the Greens want to do what they can to support this."

Can you can guess who Anna's favourite Tasmanian writer is?

Again! The podcast link!
Anna's website is here.


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

James Boyce discusses 'Van Diemen's Land' 2008.

The full interview was first aired on Edge Radio on March 3, 2008. You can listen to it here.

'Van Diemen's Land' by James Boyce
9781863954914 pb
Black Inc, 2008

James won the Tasmanian Book Prize for Van Diemen's Land and again this year for '1835 The Founding of Melbourne and the Conquest of Australia'. He is erudite and thoughtful and the subject matter, the first 30 or so years of white settlement and the cultural exchanges that were occurring, is resonant in his hands.
  A few quotes below, but please listen to the interview, it is quite long - but I've also split it into two shorter parts, part one here and part two here.

"What I hope for with my book is that it is an aid to contemplation, where we can sit and wonder what it is to live here and that can enrich as we consider better ways of living in the future."

Henry Melville wrote 'The History of Van Diemen's Land' in the 1830s, pointed out that for the first two decades there was a surprising degree of co-existence.
    “Most people know about a bloke called George Augustus Robinson, who went around Van Diemen's Land, he was the ambassador for Governor George Arthur. He went around negotiating with the aborigines during the final year of the war and there was a negotiated settlement where the aborigines moved to Flinders Island. It was pretty clear that the aborigines understood that it would be a temporary removal and that they will return
“why, after the war has ended did removals continue from the West Coast?
“this was not a community in decline, why were they removed?
It’s a terrible, dark and largely unknown chapter in Tasmania’s history."

     "What we have at the Derwent site of settlement is that within 2 years of settlement we have convicts able to live free and independently in the bush all year around possessing nothing more than a hunting dog. Even guns were irrelevant to this. The key to survival was a hunting dog.
    "Forester kangaroo and emu – these two foods in particular became the staple diet of the early Britons - it was a time of Napoleonic wars in France and very few supply ships came to colony, Sydney didn’t have food to spare and it was really left to fend for itself.”

    “They soon turned to native animal skin for their clothing and pretty soon they adapted aboriginal designs and learnt how to build overnight shelters very quickly and later, stronger huts. So basically, all of the essentials of life they were able to access from the bush around them. If you think of the poor of Britain you can imagine how tough life was for them in the early 19th century. Fresh meat was a very occasional luxury and even wheat, bread was very expensive. Genuine material poverty - so for the convicts that came here to be able to access the essentials of life – food, clothing, shelter, independently was an enormous boon”

   "I don’t want Windshuttle, who clearly used this island, used it and manipulated it I believe, as part of their national political campaign about the present. He wasn’t really honouring Tasmania’s past he wasn’t really interested in defining the truth about here and I didn’t really want my book, or indeed Tasmanian historiography to be shaped by this, you know, I wanted us to  be able to reclaim the agenda. The history wars debate wasn’t helping us here, it was taking us back – not even back, but to places we’d never been…”
    "My understanding of what it means to really belong and have a depth of connection to a place and have a secure or mature sense of home is that we’re always more open, not less open to people from all over the world."

Paige Turner November

  Edging towards the end of the year and towards summer, towards Christmas and all it allows us to manifest. Good luck and good sleeps to ...