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PU BL IC 2015

Untitled, Phlegm, Fremantle. Photograph by Jean Paul Horre, 2015.

FORM Building a state of creativity 357 Murray Street Perth, Western Australia E T +61 8 9226 2799 W ISBN 978-0-9872624-2-4 Published by FORM Printed by Scott Print Š 2015. All rights reserved. Copyright for the written content and this publication are held by FORM unless otherwise noted. Copyright for the artworks are held with the artist. Copyright for the photographic images is held by the photographer. No part of this document may be produced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in and form without prior permission from the publisher.


Foreword­­­—Lynda dorrington, executive director, FORM 7 SPEAKERS & ARTIST MAP 8

Charles Landry: Symposium: a personal roundup




— Keynote: Enrique Penalosa: a lens for inventing a better city —


Public Space: Culture, Creativity & The People in City Making



Carol Coletta: PUBLIC Is About Us, For Us, By Us Thom Aussems: Smart Transformation: The Game Changers

Public Action: Inspired Leadership & Citizen Initiatives


Erma Ranieri: South Australia: The Turning Point Geeta Mehta: Creativity & Social Capital Timo Santala: A Menu For Bringing People Together — keynote: Theaster Gates: place over time —



Public Art: Art & The City 49 Hetti Perkins: Space Into Place John Bela: You Are The City, We Are The City

Public Culture: Powerful Collaborations & Blurred Boundaries


Paul Collard: Nurturing Creativity Alison Page: Cultural Narratives & Design


Public Art in Action 68 Nandita Kumar: Reacting To What The City Offers

— Creativity, democracy, uncertainty: dreaming a new cultural architecture — 72



Finding Our Place: Art, Artists and Citizens in Urban and Regional Ecologies Curating a Community: PUBLIC at 100 Hampton Road Artist interview: Moneyless Artist Interview: Pastel Artist interview: NeSpoon Homecoming But Not ‘Home’: The Aesthetic of Ian Strange Paints, Walls, Buckets and Socks: How the PUBLIC Murals Happen Monolithic Makeover: PUBLIC in the Wheatbelt PUBLIC Research: How the ‘Known’ Enriches the ‘Unknown’ Building a Sense of Community: How Public is Ultimately About Us Symposium speakers & moderators 102 Artists 108

FORM and PUBLIC: 'building a state of creativity' in action — 123

About FORM 126 Thank you & Acknowledgements 127


Praying Mantis, Amok Island, Fremantle. Photograph by Bewley Shaylor, 2015.








UNTITLED, HENSE, cbh AVON SILOS, NORTHAM. Photograph by Bewley Shaylor, 2015.


FOREWoRD Lynda Dorrington, Executive Director of FORM

How to capture the highlights from a celebration of urban art and ideas that spans Western Australia from Fremantle to Port Hedland, via the Wheatbelt? A series of events that encompasses many individual and collective acts of mark-making, be they in paint on the buildings (and grain silos) of our cities and towns, or in what is said at a Symposium or a workshop, or through the connections made (socially, artistically and emotionally) at the opening party of an exhibition? So many of the moments are ephemeral, so much is to do with the atmosphere, the electricity of immediacy. When people come together to think about and debate how culture and creativity enriches the way in which we live, and how we can improve our places, neighbourhoods and cities for the good of all, it is pretty much impossible to document all the conversations, ideas, and energy. During PUBLIC2015, these conversations and these ideas were bubbling up all over Perth and Fremantle, in Victoria Park, Leederville, Northbridge and Claremont. They were happening in Northam, and in the Pilbara. On street corners, road-sides, cafés and galleries; in the temporarily re-purposed exhibition spaces of a Murray Street op-shop and an Albany Highway motorbike showroom. In buses, on foot, on the way to these exhibitions. They were happening wherever there was a mural to look at, a survey to fill in, an artist to speak to, or an event which meant people got together because they wanted to engage with the art, with the ideas, and most importantly, with each other. In attempting to gather some of those moments so we can reflect on what PUBLIC was and will continue to be as it unfolds in 2016, we have put together a snapshot of the breadth of the delivery in this PUBLICation and through the release of the video content from the Symposium via PUBLIC 2016 [] We hope the imagery will transmit some of the wonder and excitement and sheer excellence of the artistic experience. And we hope the words and film footage from the Symposium speakers, participants, and artists, will engender some sense of what we were hoping to inspire: a recognition of the potential and responsibility we can all share in shaping equitable, caring, creative places in which to live and flourish; and how creativity and innovation are essential in helping us to do that. The PUBLIC 2016 program continues to mature, building greater variety and versatility into the public offering. We will welcome international artists and speakers to share their creativity and we introduce PUBLIC Platform, which will invite creatives, designers and makers of all kinds to participate in reshaping our community by submitting their ideas for installations, interactive works, artistic interventions or activations that can entice the public to rediscover their neighbourhood and come out to play. We’ll call out for your ideas in November. We hope you’ll join us for the next evolution of PUBLIC in 2016.







Speakers Artists





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PUBLIC2015 Symposium

C h a rl e s L a n dr y Symposium speaker, author and urban strategist

The Symposium: a personal roundup


There is a deep yearning for shared experiences and shared conversation as well as desire for projects, places and platforms where such encounters can unfold. It focuses our attention on the great virtues of ‘being public’.


‘Public’ is a rich concept with countless associations and numerous manifestations. It is ‘for the people, ‘by the people’ and ‘with the people’. Applied to cities it seeks to foster a social life conducted in an open, accessible public realm as a means of connecting communities of difference. Here is where a city comes together. This creates better cities, yet most of the cities we have do not meet this aspiration. There is a physical public sphere, which creates good conditions for encounter, gathering and exchange, but also an invisible one where the predominant culture of place is open, engaging, involving with a flourishing atmosphere for discussion. The PUBLIC Symposium dived into this complexity, bringing people together from across the continents who had made a difference to their city and cities in general. Be this establishing the idea of open data that has spread across the world like a rash, so helping to reinvent democracy; or dramatically shifting the city of the car to one of bikes, buses and walkability where provocateur projects like ‘parking day’ or ‘parklets’ recapture car-space as people-space, so helping shift our mindset by highlighting ‘what could be’; or ‘restaurant day’ where now thousands of self-made restaurants invade cities across the globe; or new forms of social housing agencies that understand what comprehensive regeneration means; or creative bureaucracy projects that remind us that public administrations and officials exist whose approach is ‘to allow, if’ rather than ‘forbid, because’. These enlightened officials are much-needed ‘guerrilla bureaucrats’.

We saw the triggers, the catalysts and the game changers that helped to shift communities. Standing back, a change makers’ ‘eco-system’ became apparent: at times an individual or smaller grouping; at others an advocate or organisation, even an imaginative bureaucracy. A future task is to explore how they can coalesce to accelerate change processes. Taking an eagle-eye view of the content of PUBLIC—whose speakers were global, national and local—we can detect a set of overarching threads and themes. Most significantly, PUBLIC explored, fostered exchanges, and allowed us to connect to an emergent, evolving and unfolding world. We’ve seen that periods of history involving rapid, mass transformation can produce confusion: a sense of liberation combined with a feeling of being swept along by events. It can create a heady giddiness and it takes a while for the contours of the new to take firmer shape, and ethical stances to take root or to establish a more coherent world view. For example, the link between the individual and the group, which together are ‘the public,’ is gradually being reconfigured as former bonds to traditional communities have been fractured by increasing mobility. Yet new communications can also counteract this. The old and the new worlds live side by side. There is resistance to this emergent, reshaped world, as new ideas never have majority support. With new ideas, there is less linear thinking, less rigidity, less pre-judging and prejudice, less reliance on the triedand-tested, and there is more openness to the underexplored possibilities, more believing in the potential of people and a willingness to harness that potential. There is more encouragement of a start-up culture, more change in education where the self is treated as a learning resource. There is a massive resource waiting to be unleashed if conditions are right. Here ordinary people can make the extra-ordinary happen if given the chance.

PUBLIC2015 Symposium

Symposium participant

The planner of the future will need different characteristics. To put this city together requires a different form of planning where traditional concerns like spatial configurations, mixed and functions are combined with more exploratory planning focused on prototyping and strong urban R&D initiatives. This makes planning more responsive, and in addition it requires new skills such as mediation and communication. In this evolving city, citizens demand more. This rich register of potential experience might be characterised as developing places of anchorage and thus belonging, the familiar, traditions and heritage, identity and distinctiveness; places of possibility, options, choices and ‘can do’; places of connections internally and to the wider world; places of learning that enable personal growth; and finally a place of inspiration. To make this happen means raising the quality bar of physical infrastructures as well as the cultural offer. Or, put another way, the challenge for every city maker and the goal of planning is to get people to fall in love with their city, and this could help make our cities ‘living works of art’. We need to switch the question. Rather than ‘what is the value of creativity, culture, design, or risk taking’ instead we must ask: what is the cost of not taking culture and creativity into account?

images courtesy of charles landry

This symposium was up there with the very best; the choice of speakers, the curation of the sessions and the level of conversation was truly inspirational

Symposium participant


When I got my hands on the program I knew that I had to be there

This world needs to be strategically principled and tactically flexible. The direction of travel is clear, although we are unsure how to get there. And this world is potentially exhilarating. It encourages ‘civic creativity’. Here individual self-interest is wrapped into a bigger public purpose and the private sector understands that public good activities can help their private interests; here the public sector understands that the bureaucracy can be more entrepreneurial within accountability principles and equity concerns. Overall this will create an atmosphere of civic generosity so encouraging a virtuous cycle of reciprocity. And to do this requires a reinvigorated democracy and it is struggling to burst through. The new bureaucracy and democracy can then create the conditions, the mechanisms, the regulations and incentives regime and the platforms for people and organisations to think, plan and act with imagination. ‘Place’ matters in this new context, as by living life in public you care more for it, you engage with it. What this demands is a different new-look city with an enhanced quality of place in order to foster talent attraction and retention, engagement and opportunity. This requires adopting a sensory perspective that understands the emotional effects of both the aesthetics of places as well as how the urban design is put together. The city is like a living organism that communicates through every fibre of its being: for good and for bad.




PUBLIC2015 Symposium PART ONE

CONVERSATIONS & IDEAS The PUBLIC Symposium featured an illustrious panel of speakers from Australia and all over the world. Innovators, entrepreneurs, artists, city experts and urban game changers drawn from diverse backgrounds and disciplines, they all share a passion for making our cities and neighbourhoods equitable and healthy places in which creativity and innovation can flourish. — A full list of the Symposium speakers and moderators is on page 102. In the following pages we share some highlights from the Symposium. These transcripts of selected presentations have been edited. To see videos of the full presentations, go to



Enrique Peñalosa—A Lens for Inventing a Better City

Enrique Peñalosa Keynote Speaker (Bogotá, Colombia)

Opening address, Day ONE

A Lens for Inventing a Better Cit y

I am extremely thankful to you, to FORM, to Perth for inviting me, it’s extremely generous that such an advanced, successful city invites somebody from a developing country such as Colombia. I have thought of presenting a lot of things relative to our experience in Bogotá but after a couple of days here, I think my function is also to present things that are relevant to here: debatable, controversial, different. One of the things that makes us different from other beings is that we do not have to accept our world as it is. We can dream and we can change it. But why would we change our city? I would say it’s not because we want to make it more sustainable; it’s basically because we want to be happier. And happiness of course is very difficult to define, but clearly is the only thing that really matters. And a city can be a very powerful means to provide happiness.


Many studies say beyond a certain point more income will not make us happier. But at any income, a good city can make people happier. A great city creates wellbeing, creates happiness, inclusion.


[How] can we propose transport solutions if we do not know what kind of city we want? Do we want Houston or do we want Amsterdam? Even before we know what kind of city model we want we need to know how we want to live, because a city is only a means to a way of life. Even if we are going to talk about something apparently technical such as transport it really has more to do with psychology or with religion than with engineering. How do we get new ideas for our cities? We get new ideas, themes, if we look through a lens. If we look through the lens of equity, of ideology. Ideology is axiomatic, it springs from our heart, our primordial being, it’s not something that can be discussed. It’s something we believe: that there should be more equality in society. As Jan Gehl says, a good city is one where we want to be outside, in the street, in public space, not inside homes or in a shopping mall. One where walking is not only safe, but it’s a pleasure to walk or to ride a bicycle (which is only a more efficient way of walking).

We are pedestrians, we are walking animals, we need to walk, not in order to survive; we could survive all our lives in an apartment, but we would feel different. In the same way we cannot measure how wide a footpath should be, it’s something we feel in our heart. We need to be with people, we need to walk to be happy just as birds need to fly or deer need to run. So a good city is a great city for walking, for seeing people. In a good city people do not feel inferior, rich and poor meet in public spaces. A good city’s good for the most vulnerable citizens, for the elderly, for children, for people with wheelchairs. If it’s good for them it tends to be good for everybody else. In a good city we have contact with nature—you have such amazing contact with nature in Perth—a good city is one where we tend to know our neighbours. But all of these are ideological objectives, this is not something that can be measured, or learned with technology. It’s not something legal, it’s something that simply reaches our heart and soul.

If we do not have our ideological lens it is very difficult to find what is wrong with cities, we tend to get used to things the way they are. I would say our cities are not just a little wrong. They are totally wrong, all our cities. And why are they wrong? Basically because we are in fear of getting killed, if we tell any three year old child anywhere in the world ‘Watch out! A car!’ the child will jump in fright and with good reason, because tens of thousands of children are killed by cars every year in the world. But what is amazing is that we think this is normal, that this is progress. I think we need a totally radical change of paradigm. Hopefully in 200 years, people will say how could people live in those horrible 2015 cities? The same way we think London in 1800 was horrible and yet at that time it was the most admired city on the planet. Let’s look at a city through the lens of equality. We cannot have income equality today, the whole world has accepted that the best way to manage most societies’ resources is private property and the market. But that necessarily generates inequality for

the market to work, some people make more money, others less, some companies succeed, others fail, so what kind of equality can we have today? I think it has a lot to do with cities.

We can have democratic equality. This means the first article of all constitutions say ‘all citizens are equal before the law’. If this is true, this is not just poetry. If this is true then it’s clear that a bus with 80 passengers has a right to 80 times more road space than a car with one. Or somebody on a bicycle has the same right to road space as somebody in a Rolls Royce. Also, if all citizens are equal then public good prevails over private interest. And so if something needs to be done which benefits the majority, even though it affects a few. Another kind of equality we can have is ‘quality of life’ equality. Especially for children, [so they] have access, beyond health or education, to green [spaces], to sports facilities, to swimming pools, music lessons. Much of this can be achieved by a great city. A good city can construct these new kinds of income equality. Out of the whole universe, the whole planet, the only microscopic piece of the world to which we have right of access is public pedestrian space in our city. This is an extremely important part of our world, and when we are talking about great cities, the most important thing we are talking about is public pedestrian space, how to make [it] better: safe, pleasant, comfortable, fun. But there is a big political debate about this, because [you] try to get more space for pedestrians and take some space away for cars and see if it’s easy. When shopping malls replace public pedestrian space as a meeting place for people, I would say it is a symptom that a city is ill. And unfortunately this is what is happening in many places all over the world, especially the developing world. People go to the mall not even to buy, they just go to walk, to have a coffee, to have an ice cream, because they are safe spaces with no risk of getting killed by a car. But even now, if you come to a new city and you ask the concierge of a hotel, ‘tell me, what is a nice place to go to’, the

Enrique Peñalosa—A Lens for Inventing a Better City

I never anticipated how much I would learn, grow, laugh, enjoy and simply be inspired by the days at the conference.

Symposium participant

concierge tells you go to the shopping mall. And because shopping malls are the same all over the world with globalisation, the shops are the same, the temperature is kept the same, you wouldn’t know if you are in Moscow winter or tropical Perth in the summer, you don’t see the vegetation, you don’t see anything, and clearly it is not a democratic place.

In pedestrian spaces it’s totally different because rich and poor meet as equals. One of the crucial ideological and political issues is how to distribute road space. Road space is the most valuable resource a city has. We could find oil or diamonds under Perth and it would not be as valuable as road space. The question is how to distribute this between pedestrians, cyclists, public transport and private cars? You will not find a law that tells you how to do it. There is nothing technical about it, you will not find some engineer who will tell you how to do it. This is an ideological and political decision. We should remember when distributing road space that a child has the same right to road space

as a Rolls Royce owner. Why not give pedestrians and cyclists space that is taken today by parked cars? Who decides to give these parked cars some space? Did somebody vote, did somebody decide or did we just assume? Parking is not a constitutional right in any country. The fact that you buy a car does not give the government any obligation to provide you with parking, in the same way that if you buy a refrigerator it does not give the government any obligation to provide you with an apartment.

Change is difficult. And politically costly. Footpaths are the most important infrastructure in a democratic city. What makes the difference between an advanced and a backward city is not subways or highways, it’s quality footpaths. Bogotá is, was, and still is to a large extent a mess, cars parked on sidewalks. When I became Mayor there was not a single block in the city where a person in a wheelchair could go from one corner to the other. So we took thousands of cars off the sidewalks.


Enrique Penalosa speaking at PUBLIC Symposium. Photograph by David Dare Parker, 2015.


Enrique Peñalosa—A Lens for Inventing a Better City

Even though we think footpaths are relatives of streets, because they live next to each other, in fact footpaths are not for getting from one place to another, they are for talking, for playing, for kissing, for doing business. Footpaths are really relatives of parks, or of plazas. We are into something very subjective, something you feel with your heart, not something that you can measure. I was almost impeached for getting cars off footpaths. Happily I ended up with a very high positive image, but all these things are very difficult everywhere in the world. Of course we have to persuade, to convince; but in the end, if government wants to change we must assume political cost. New ideas are never born with majority support. Are protected bikeways a cute architectural feature? Or are they a right? I think today we agree that a footpath is a right. The question is, are protected bikeways in every street a right? I would say so, unless we think only those with access to a motor vehicle have a right to individual mobility without the risk of getting killed. For example [for] a 12 year old, the only possible individual mobility they have besides walking is a bicycle. So I hope in the future we will get to the concept that a protected bikeway in a street is as much a right as a footpath. But of course bicycles need infrastructure to use. [Bogotá] went from almost zero bikers [in 1998] to almost 700,000 today, which is still only seven percent (our city is eight million inhabitants). In developing countries, a protected bikeway is a symbol which shows that a person on a $30 bicycle is as important to one in a $30,000 car. It raises the social status of the cyclist, because otherwise poor people feel ashamed to use a bicycle, because it’s like a symbol of being the poorest of the poor. In very advanced societies, this doesn’t happen.


Is there any democratic justification to have roads in any city allowing cars to travel from A to B on a shorter route than a bicycle?


When we do highways, we make the shortest way from A to B. But bicycles, they think they are going for the fun of it so you can [makes zig-zag gesture]. This is again a question of democracy, a matter of principles. Cyclists should have the shortest distance as well. At least as short, if not shorter. In Bogotá, every Sunday we have an interesting experiment. Bogotá is a very dense city, one of the densest cities in the world. We close more than 120 km of main arteries, we call it CICLOVÍA and we get a million and a half people every Sunday, riding bicycles, jogging. It’s a beautiful ritual of citizens reconquering the city for human beings. It’s an exercise that doesn’t cost much at all. In a referendum we held in October 2000, we asked people to vote to have a car-free day every year. So the first Thursday of every February in Bogotá we have this eight million-inhabitant city with

Image courtesy of Enrique Penalosa.

no private cars. Zero. Only taxis, of course, trucks, buses, we don’t want the city to collapse, which is why we put it on a Thursday and not Friday so it would not turn into a long weekend. Nearly 100% of the people get to work and to study as usual, and the majority of people goes by public transport anyway, and they have shorter journey times. It’s a very interesting experiment. Since it was voted by the people themselves, it cannot be changed by the President, it cannot be changed by Congress. The only way to change it again is to do another referendum. The next step is to ban car use during an hour and a half or two [in] the morning and the afternoon, so during those peak hours people in public transport or on buses or on bicycles will be able to travel very safely and very fast. And then people in cars, if they want to go later or before, is OK.

Mobility solutions are not a question of money or technology, but of equity. In any developing world city, is there any rational or democratic reason not to have exclusive bus ways on these roads? Less than 90 years ago women could not vote, not just in Australia or Colombia, they could not vote in France, or in Britain or in the United States. And it was not Nazis who thought women should not vote, everybody thought it was perfectly normal, poets, artists thought it was fine that women should not vote. A bus in traffic is almost as absurd, because clearly if we have a democracy a bus should never be stuck in traffic. A bus should always have an exclusive lane. It doesn’t take a PhD from MIT. A committee of 12 year old children would find

Enrique Peñalosa—A Lens for Inventing a Better City

for transport is that we have compact cities. With a compact city, everything works well: trams, buses, subways, bicycles, taxis, everything. High density. Efficient mobility. Clearly more road infrastructure will not solve traffic jams but however some people must think it does because they are making bigger highways here in Perth at this moment. What creates traffic is not the number of cars, it’s the number of trips and the length of trips. If you make more roads, bigger roads, people will make longer trips and more trips. Also, people will go live farther, work farther and so you have longer trips and more traffic, so clearly the city will expand.

in 20 minutes that an efficient way to use scarce road space is with exclusive lanes for buses. Of course, we needed mass transit for our system, but rail systems were very expensive. We copied a system they had invented in the small Brazilian city of Curitiba. This system is moving more passengers in all directions than all subways in the world except for five or six, almost 50,000 passengers [per] hour [per] direction. One of these bus lanes moves as much as 40 car lanes. A BRT [Bus Rapid Transit] is a totally different animal than an ordinary bus service. The capacity, everything, is the difference between a mouse and a kangaroo. A BRT is more like a subway with buses. The Transmilenio in Bogotá moves more passengers per hour per direction than all subway lines in China or in Europe. Most people who want underground subways have not the slightest intention of using them. Especially in the developing world. They just want all the people to

use them so they think they will have less traffic. Even if you have an underground subway you should have a BRT on top, it’s a right for you to be able to have the fastest possible transport on the surface. Trams are very cute as long as you know you are paying a lot more money for something that does basically the same thing. You like to buy a Lamborghini, is OK, fine, I respect that very much, as much as you know it does basically the same thing as a Hyundai, and even less people can fit into it. We should remember that what gives speed and capacity to transport systems is not whether their wheels are rubber or steel, but exclusive, obstaclefree corridors. This bus here [slide of a PerthCAT bus] is waiting at a traffic light. Of course, it cannot have the same speed and capacity as rail [with] no obstacles, so what gives [it] capacity is exclusive right of way. More important than whether you have buses or trains or trams is density. So much more important

Traffic is not such a bad thing. We don’t have to go rushing to solve traffic jams if we want cities to be more compact. For people to use more public transport, traffic may be a great thing, if people can go much faster by public transport. People will want to live closer to work. Australia’s greatest challenge in the 21st century is to turn the inner suburbs into high density environments. To have denser cities. But then, you may have to demolish houses to make higher rise buildings and of course this is sacrilege. The issue is: why do people go to the suburbs? It is not because they are dumb. They are seeking things they like. I think this is a great chance to create dense cities which will provide people with what they like in the suburbs: lower cost houses, a lot of green, 100s of km of streets for bicycles. You could demolish all of these houses, and then put up buildings. A park is much better if it has 15-storey buildings around it than if it has houses. More important than the height of buildings is what happens when they reach the ground. Clearly this is a very famous architect, you know Frank Gehry [slide], but it’s not a pleasant thing to walk next to these windows, maybe from inside they are watching you, but from the outside you cannot see anything. I don’t think this is very good for the street. This is more fun [slide]. How high is this building? Three storeys high or 40 storeys high? Who cares? The fact is that it’s a great footpath, has shops, trees.

Everything about cities is ideological. Anything we do in a city—a building, a road—the measure of whether it is good or bad is: how much does it improve pedestrian


Everybody since I came here said, oh, it’s a bad problem, Perth is so extended, 100km, 120km, but those who are deciding whether Perth expands more in low density is not the planning officers. It’s the people who make the roads. As you make bigger roads, you are making Perth even lower density, spread farther away.


Enrique Peñalosa—A Lens for Inventing a Better City

space around it? If we make a new road, a new building, does it become more attractive, more fun to be next to it, to talk there, to play there, to kiss there? That’s the measure, how much more pleasant to be around it does it become? Waterfronts provide so much joy and are such a unique treasure that they should never be private and exclusive, and Perth is wonderful in this. In New York City, Long Island Sound, for example, is totally private. Private, expensive houses. Here [Perth] I see something very democratic, beautiful. Very generous, even in the richest neighbourhoods, a lot of public space, public waterfront, public access. This is democracy at work, $20million houses, and the public pedestrian walkway right next to them. This is very unique in the world. My respects. In Bogotá we don’t have a lake or anything. We have drainage canals, that’s our waterfront. And still, people love to ride bicycles and so we made a pedestrian spaces along the drainage canal as our ocean. Architects can do wonderful things, they can transform a drainage canal in a very poor neighbourhood into a nice, pedestrian promenade. We even created some lakes, from a swamp or a wetland. How about if Perth had 50km of pedestrian street next to the water without cars, and cars one or two blocks behind? But you have a lot of cars on the beach, parking lots on the beach, when I see this I say ‘I wish we had 500m of what they have.’ But you have 100km of this and then you have roads and parking lots…so, anyway.


We have to think of totally different cities. So I will propose two little ingredients for the future of cities.


Why not a city with 100s of km of roads only for buses? And bicycles. Pedestrians, only. No cars. [For] new areas of the city it would be so easy to incorporate things like this. Or greenways, crisscrossing the city, with bus lanes or trams, 100s of km, doesn’t cost anything, fantastic public transport, very low cost. A bicycle highway, across the city. How about a city where every other street would be pedestrian? One [street] pedestrian, the next street for cars? When cars appeared, cities totally changed. There is a wonderful book by Peter Norton called Fighting Traffic: [the Dawn of the Motor Age in the American City]. In 1900 nobody was killed by cars in the United States. There were no cars. Only 20 years later, between 1920 and 1930, more than 200,000 people were killed by cars in the United States. In 1925 more than 8,000 children were killed by cars. We should have done completely different cities. But no, we just continue as if nothing had happened, we just make bigger roads, and that’s it.

[Shows several slides of greenways crossing Bogotá]. This is a bicycle highway where the city [Bogotá] is growing. This is another one which is about 24km long in a very poor neighbourhood, there was not even sewage. We put sewage [and] water in, schools, community centres, parks. No paving in the streets, we didn’t have money for that, but for the pedestrian highway we did, even underground cables for the lights, trees. It’s a totally different way of structuring the city. Of course, we should do more and better than this but we only had three years in City Hall. We did this, and then the city grows around it. You can go faster by bicycle than by car. Very poor people, but this shows respect for citizens, it says you are important, not because you have money or a PhD, but because you have a Colombian identity card in your pocket, or because you are a human being. Fifteen years ago no one used a bicycle [shows film of people cycling in Bogotá] and now there is traffic on this bicycle highway. In some of the poorest areas, I mean, it’s a different planet that we’re talking from Perth to this, and still it’s a high quality bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. Most of those bicycles are not even worth $40. And most of the streets around there are not even paved: yet. This is a different way of organising cities, and doesn’t cost anything, it’s just a little bit of imagination and political decision and planning, and then life is organised in a totally different way. Because we didn’t spend money on [road] highways so we had a lot of money to do libraries, schools, and parks.

That Symposium saved my mind, in my current job. Honest. It gave me hope

Symposium participant

So I will say to you who are creators, who are imagining, who are here because every time you see something in the city that you like, it was never ‘the city’ that did it. Cities don’t do anything. It was somebody who imagined it, a group of people who worked maybe six months, years, decades [who] were able to achieve that. You will have to have many difficult battles for anything that is really worthwhile. Very difficult. I end with this phrase by Gandhi which I love because he says ‘first they ignore you-when you are saying different, crazy things-then they laugh at you, they mock you. Then they fight you. And then, you win. Thank you.

Untitled, Curiot, Perth. Photograph by Bewley Shaylor, 2015

Enrique Peñalosa—A SECTION Lens for HEADING Inventing a Better City






session one

PUBLIC SPACE: Culture, Creativity & the People in City Making This Symposium session explored the role of creativity in the public realm. Why is creativity important in the making of a city? How does it bring together our communities, cities and regions? What are the conditions that nurture courage and risk, entrepreneurship and innovation? The speakers were Carol Coletta, Charles Landry, Thom Aussems, and the moderator was Geoff Warn.

PUBLIC closing party, Nicks Lane, Chinatown. Photograph by Shu Daniels, 2015.


PUBLIC SPACE: Culture, Creativity & the People in City Making

C a r o l C o l e t ta Vice-President, Community & National Initiatives, The Knight Foundation (Miami, US)

PUB L IC i s A b o u t U s , F o r U s , B y U s


I want to assert that PUBLIC is not only about us, and for us, but it is by us.


Let me start by offering five broad propositions that form, I believe, a strong rationale for your placemaking work and for ours at the Knight Foundation. The percentage of college-educated people in your population explains 58% of success, if you measure success by per capita income. It also turns out that college educated 25 to 34 year olds are the most mobile people in our society. Once you pass 34 you tend to form a lot of roots in your community and don’t move nearly as often. Two thirds of college graduates, 25 to 34 year olds say first they choose the city they want to live in, then they look for a job. So if college educated 25 to 34 year olds play an outsized role in your economy, and they choose first the place they want to live, then they look for a job, the appeal, the attraction of your place plays an outsize role in your economy. Quality of place also plays an outsize role in creating opportunities for people who are not college-educated, because research shows that people with less education and less income do better when they live in close proximity to people with more education and more income. It simply creates more opportunity. Poverty is bad, but living in concentrated poverty is far worse. The new research shows that intergenerational economic mobility—the ability of someone who is born in a poor neighbourhood to transcend those circumstances and gain additional income—is very much favoured by the ability of that poorer person to live, again, in close proximity to people with more income. I haven’t studied Australian cities, but in the US we’re beginning to talk about this as an urgent imperative, because it turns out that there are twice as many census tracks in the US where high poverty is concentrated than in the 1970s. So in the past 40 years we have barely flipped any neighbourhoods in the US from high poverty to below average poverty. Where that’s occurred generally has been in the central business districts or the neighbourhoods that are immediately adjacent to central business districts. Then finally: getting more people to live life in public.

Living life in public and civic engagement is fundamental to city making.

I think the time has passed when you could get the right ten guys in a room and decide the future of a city. When I started in this business you could actually do that. But today the future of a city really depends on thousands of people making hundreds of decisions every day about what they believe about the future of a city and their role in it. And if people can regularly occupy public space together, pleasantly with strangers, they are more likely to see what they have in common as a community. I could summarise this as talent, opportunity and engagement. Those are the building blocks I believe for a successful city and then ‘place’, done well, done right, done thoughtfully, can turbo-charge all three of those things. How do we make those kinds of places, how do we make those kinds of opportunities that will indeed turbo-charge talent opportunity and engagement that are so fundamental to the success of our communities? I’ve just come from the Market Street Prototyping Festival in San Francisco. Market Street is the city’s best known street. It cuts across three miles of the city from the water to the hills of Twin Peaks. Unfortunately it’s also unrelentingly the same for three miles and in many cases it’s pretty tired, its last redesign was in the 70s. So after three years and a whole lot of money to engage a paltry number of citizens to come up with a plan for a redesign of Market Street, the City of San Francisco did a major pivot. Instead of trying to do it all, trying to do it top down and do it traditionally, the city decided to remake itself as a platform for action, deciding that good government actually means more collaboration. The city planning department turned to the Gehl Studios and the Yerba Buena Centre for the Arts, a hotbed of contemporary art in San Francisco and civic activity, to develop a new approach to redesigning Market Street. Something that would forgo top down, forgo government doing it all, forgo the traditional civic participation methods. They would invite, they would nurture and they would harvest good ideas from the community, with a very big focus on artists and designers, prototyping 50 different ideas to enliven Market Street over three days. It was a huge success. The Festival produces this diversity of ideas that a single planning agency would never have imagined. Fifty designers built their projects and stayed to talk to thousands of visitors,

while hundreds of research volunteers followed their every move. The eventual plan for Market Street is going to derive [from] those 50 projects and the reactions that citizens had.

I think it proved so clearly that streets and sidewalks can engage people more fully in the life of their city, and the strangers with whom they share public space. Those projects had strangers talking at every turn, playing ping pong with one another, pushing these oversized wonderful chimes, sunning themselves on climbing structures, synchronising stomping on structures while people sitting on a bench across from them had to make fountains appear. People chalked the place up and they peed in a garden. Yes. Really. It was quite a scene. But just important (I think) as the ‘what’ of this Festival was the ‘how’. The Festival was produced jointly by the city and its arts partner. The partnership was so seamless that staff were spending half of their time at Yerba Buena and half at City Hall. They agreed that the collective intelligence of this cross-sector partnership inspired them all, and they swear this now will become the way they do business in the future. This will become normal. Imagine that. I think that’s pretty extraordinary. We imagine creative place making as having a big impact on cities and the way people experience cities. We didn’t anticipate that kind of partnership that is now deeply influencing the way the city thinks of itself and its role. That’s pretty exciting. And what they just demonstrated at Market Street is just so far beyond what we know as creative place-making or what we know as Percent for Art or public art. This is something very different in terms of a ‘how’. I think it’s the kind of collaboration that could really change everything, because providing solutions to the community doesn’t galvanise support in the same way as inviting people to remake their own community.

Prototyping inverts the traditional planning model. The public defined its priorities, government then provided a platform for ideation around the priorities, the public was invited to lead the design process by

Carol Coletta speaking at the PUBLIC Symposium Labs. Photograph by Jarrad Seng, 2015.


PUBLIC SPACE: Culture, Creativity & the People in City Making


HEADING PUBLIC SPACE: Culture,SECTION Creativity & the People in City Making


PUBLIC SPACE: Culture, Creativity & the People in City Making

Open cities are all about sourcing new ideas, new tools, new markets and new money and making them available to everybody.

Carol Coletta speaking at the PUBLIC Symposium Labs. Photograph by Jarrad Seng, 2015.

Think about the possibility of opening up resources and tools and money and markets to everybody; providing that access very broadly and not just thinking about it as rich/poor, but about opening it up to cities that are not experiencing the vortex of a London or a San Francisco where so much talent is going. Talent is flocking to a few places in America. Part of our challenge is to figure out how do we use our latent talent? How do we equip it with markets and tools and money? There’s so much to be learnt from the open cities movement because in open cities having everybody participate is actually good for everybody because the hallmark of a good open city platform—or any platform, think about Facebook— is that when more people participate, new value is generated.

When more people participate, new value is generated. It’s a fundamental shift from our scarcity mindset to an abundance mindset. If you think about the past 40 years, one sign of success was that you didn’t need to be in a relationship with anyone you didn’t choose to be in a relationship with. You could live in a gated community, you could enjoy your own private pool in your own backyard, you can enjoy a private gym membership and send your kids to private schools, you could drive your car to work in the morning and drive it home again in the evening straight into your private garage. But the vast majority of the sharing economy requires us to be in some kind of relationship with others. It also requires an enormous amount of trust among strangers and it feels like the beginning of a very different way to relate to others and to our community. I hope so because I think we’ll all be stronger for it and that just brings me to one final initiative and that’s one we call Reimagining the Civic Commons. It’s an $ 11 million demonstration project that Knight is funding in Philadelphia in collaboration with the William Penn Foundation, and its premise is very simple. The original democratising spaces in our communities—libraries, parks, schoolyards, recreation centres—are today for the most part, disinvested, misaligned with today’s consumer interest, and they are disconnected from one another. They increasingly serve a slice of the public that cannot afford to opt out of private alternatives. There’s nothing healthy about this when you consider that economic integration is a key ingredient in upward mobility, and that services that only serve the poor unfortunately usually turn out to be poor services. As Enrique [Peñalosa] said, in a good city, no one should feel inferior. So we’re conducting this experiment to see if we can return civic assets to their original role of serving the broadest spectrum of the community and in so doing, return them to their original purpose as democratising spaces. We believe our best hope for

doing this is to connect those assets into what we’re calling a ‘civic commons’ that operates beyond the silos of any one city department, of any one speciality, and of any one market. There are some few occasions where my job is actually thrilling and this attempt to reimagine the civic commons is one of those, because every single community in the US and in many countries around the world possess this same collection of civic assets and in many cities they are just as beleaguered as those in Philadelphia.

The point is that we have a vast collection of assets. Our libraries and parks and recreation centres, our automobiles and our extra bedrooms, our ingenuity and our creativity. Our people and their talent that are today underused. It’s latent potential. Now, imagine what our communities would be like if we could develop all of those assets and put them to work. Charles [Landry] in his book The Creative City wrote that our cities don’t need a few extraordinary creative people, they need 10,000 creative people. I think Charles was way ahead of his time when he wrote that and I think the world is finally catching up to that wisdom. Enrique said new ideas are never born with majority support. They take work. And I hope that PUBLIC2015 will advance this idea of the power of broadly held opportunity, democratically shared assets, and broadly shared rewards. Not just for Western Australia, but for the world. Thanks.

It all starts with that conversation and sharing of ideas and the Symposium was like a theme park of that in a way

Symposium participant


submitting ideas, then together the government and public (represented by those with winning project ideas and those who attended the Festival) tested the designs at the Festival. Then together they will evaluate the results, thanks to the observations and interviews done at the Festival, and define its success, and then government will execute. In other cases it could just as easily be the public that executes. Now I must say parenthetically there’s something that gives me hives a little bit about talking about government (separate to) the public because government is the public, right? Government is simply a reflection of what we choose, what we can’t do alone and we choose to do together, that’s what government is but in this case the formal government and the bureaucracy and the public working together is, I think, changed forever in San Francisco. We’re building a network of civic innovators across our cities in the US, both with and through the challenge we sponsor for city officials, NGO leaders and artists and designers to share learning events together, which brought us to the Institute for the Futures Open Cities conference. Open cities are those that create new forms of participation so that more people can participate in both commercial and civic life. They are designed for sharing, they inspire creativity by their openness and invitation and they stimulate the imagination. They create adaptable public space and they strive to crate equitable access across the population so think participation, imagination, adaptability, share-ability, equity. Think Uber or AirBnB or Sharetribe: platforms that are used to orchestrate urban life, or non-digital platforms like free libraries, an exchange of books that people put in unusual places, or the platforms such as Kickstarter and IOBI that harness crowds and micro-contribution. These are being expanded upon all over the world, fostering learning globally while prototyping locally.


PUBLIC SPACE: Culture, Creativity & the People in City Making

Thom aussems CEO, Trudo Housing Association and consultancy (Eindhoven, The Netherlands)


Sm a r t Tr a n s f o rm at i o n : T h e G a m e C h a n g e r s


PUBLIC SPACE: Culture, Creativity & the People in City Making

We have to do something else. I have more than 30 years’ experience with transformation, more than 50 big projects. I am CEO for [Trudo] an NGO not-for-profit and we have a very strange organisation. This is what we did last year [slide]. A lot of physical activities but much more social activities. We were investing the last eight years in our town about 500 million US $. We were transforming the last seven years 12 million square feet. It’s a big challenge, it’s a nice job but it’s a hard job. I want to tell something about a new way of transforming. Some projects: •

The most important building in our town… an icon of the industrial revolution. We call it the light tower, built in 1911. We transformed it. It’s about 50 thousand square metres, it’s about $100 million.

 monastery, built in 1920, a school for girls and A we transformed it [into] a centre for homeless people.

 oensel- West – an old neighbourhood built in W the 1920s with the worst reputation I think for 40 years.

 religious monument, built in 1894, a boarding A school for boys for more than 100 years and we transformed it to dwellings for lower income earning people.

 pilot project, 300 thousand square metres [in A the countryside]. There were only pigs, and we transformed it to dwellings for experts in the high tech industry.

T he former headquarters of [technical company] Philips. In Eindhoven [this is an] area more than 100 thousand square metres offices, and we transformed it to an urban area for young people. These kids, they can develop and build their own houses.

The Bennekel, a no-go area from the 50s.

Strijp-S, the biggest plot of Philips in Eindhoven

Untitled, Phlegm, CBH Avon grain silos, Northam. Photograph by Bewley Shaylor, 2015.

I want to talk about three cases. Let’s start with the Bennekel. It’s an old neighbourhood built in the 50s, about 2,700 dwellings. Seventy-five percent are family houses and in 2007 there were about 6000 people [living there]. When you are looking at these pictures you are saying ‘well, there’s nothing wrong’ but in the 70s the area was changing a lot. A concentration of poverty, a lot of crime, a lack of social cohesion, urban ebb and flow. The promising political people were going out and the underprivileged and disadvantaged people were going in. There were about 40% non-western families [living there]. So [it was in] decline. This area is an official urban renewal area from the government and they started in 1991. They’re busy for 25 years, they spent a lot of time, money, and the result [is] nothing at all.

Talking, talking, talking, plan, plan, plan, more plans, more plans, I think there were 18 plans in 25 years. In Holland when you have an old neighbourhood with a lot of problems then the classical approach [is] first remove the people, let’s say 40% [of them]. Then demolish the houses, and build new [ones] for the middle classes, then you get a differentiation. Statistically the average is going up, problem solved. And that’s what we are doing everywhere.

But we [Trudo] want to do it in a different way. So we were looking for a game changer. My definition of a game changer is organising and activity of a project or a process that’s changing the atmosphere in the neighbourhood dramatically. The game changing element in this neighbourhood was a new product we developed and we called it slimmer kopen. It’s difficult to translate but something like ‘smart buying’ and it’s really a paradigmashift in the Netherlands because we make it possible for lower-income earners to buy a house. Normally it’s not affordable, so when you discuss it everybody is saying ‘it’s not possible, they don’t have enough income’ but of course the solution is very simple: give a discount. It took us two weeks to develop the idea, then afterwards two years for the implementation. In this neighbourhood the discount started at 50%. After 15 years we sold more than 4000 houses. The average age of the people is 32 years. In the Bennekel within seven years we were selling 61% of all the houses and 72% of the tenants are saying it’s a marvelous idea. The liveability of the neighbourhood is going up and up and up, and we have already improved the houses and public spaces. So that’s the Bennekel. With a different strategy it would costs us millions. [Yet with] this slimmer kopen strategy we created a revolving fund for the next project.

The next case [is] Woensel West, an old neighbourhood built in the 1920s, when Philips was expanding. Blue-collar, about 4000 inhabitants. Big problems. We started talking with people, talking, talking, talking, two months. Game changer number one was Baekelandplein [which had] a concentration of prostitution in one square.

It was the most difficult project I did in my life, it was unbelievable. We had a big fight with the police to relocate the heroin, prostitution. To close a lot of pubs, the centres [for] organised crime. To take away the junkies. It was a really big fight but after five years it was safe again for women and children. But in the meanwhile [there was] concentration of poverty, unemployment, lack of social cohesion, reputation, unskilled people, the worst reputation, those kind of things. What [had to happen] next? Normally in Holland we would do something physical, public spaces, houses. We didn’t. In 2006 we had a lot of meetings with our customers and stakeholders. And the result was a new vision, a new dream we called ‘supporting people’.

The most important thing of ‘supporting people’ was to give them a chance for improvement on the social ladder. So it was social; that was the issue. The second game changer is the kids’ project. We stopped renting houses in a normal way, we only rented houses to young people and they got a discount of €100 a month. [In return] they were supporting [local] kids for 10 hours a month. In 18 months we had 860 young people. So we had 1,860 hours a month, 18,600 hours a year with a budget of €225K and [the young people] supporting the kids all the way: school, sport facilities, culture, everything. When we started, the government wanted to close the school because it was too bad and nobody wanted to be there. After four years it was the best school of the south Netherlands, the average from the kids was 9.1, the average in the town was 7.7, and in the region 6.8. Can you imagine the kids? Normally they were walking like this [hunched-over walk] and after four years they are the best. The combination of young people with the 350 kids changed the atmosphere in the neighbourhood dramatically. Creativity. It’s the crazy design students in our town doing the most creative things. This guy was born in the neighbourhood [referring to movie]. He is now one of the most famous rappers in Holland and he is taking all the kids with him.


Thank you very much, it’s a great honour to be here. Transformation. It’s physical, it’s top-down, it is for profit, short term. We have been doing this from the 50s, 60s, all over the world. So I am saying good bye.

Now the same neighbourhood is really popular for young people, they all want to live there.


PUBLIC SPACE: Culture, Creativity & the People in City Making

Strijp-S [slide] was Philips’ most important plot, developed in the 1920s, 300 thousand square metres. Manufacturing lamps, radios, televisions. In the same area was Philips’ physics labs [where] they invented a lot of things, Einstein was working there, Millersburg. Twenty-eight acres. After 1974 there was a decline in the company. It took til October 1990 and then there was a big re-organisation. More than 40,000 [left] the company, and more than 10,000 people [left] Eindhoven. The result was that they sold more than 1.5 million square metres of real estate in 15 years, can you imagine? That’s a lot. More than 10,000 blue-collar workers and more than 2,000 engineers were working here in this plot [slide]. There was a tender in 2001 and Philips sold it. [Trudo] had a really good relationship with the building company / co-developer. We made an agreement in 2002 to transform the area. We started with a lot of people thinking about what’s good, what are we going to do? The result was very simple.


Normally we make a plan. I don’t like plans. You need two things: a dream—not a vision—a dream, and some starting points, that’s all.


[The site] was industrial and we wanted to create an urban area: urban-industrial. The starting points were [it had] to be different, and [we had to attract] the innovators, the early adopters, the pioneers. The game changer here was leisure. Normally it’s a process starting with research and ending with a plan. This was the map of all the Philips buildings. And [local government] started with making a plan and the result after five years: it’s exactly the same. We did something completely different. Repeating, repeating, activities, activities, repeating; and suddenly there is an urban area. The strategy was really simple. First opening the ‘Forbidden City’ because for 50 years it was not possible to go [there], it was a Philips area with police. Secondly, introducing the pioneers, innovators, ‘look, come, come!’ Organising activities in the beginning, especially cultural activities. The pioneers [said] ‘this is amazing, this is crazy, can you rent it?’ [We said] ‘Of course.’ You have to [be accommodating] when people want to do their own thing, [which] can be very different, cultural, working, drinking, sport, all kinds. In the beginning it was sequential but after six years it was simultaneous. At the same time the local government was [still] talking, talking, talking about the plan and we were busy acting, doing all the things. Paradigmashift. The end of the story is, I think, we have to change the transformation paradigm, what I would call smart transformation.

Not physical transformation, but social, cultural, economic, it’s co-creation, it’s bottom up, it’s small scale, it’s imagination, it’s trial and error, it’s public support, it’s intimacy, it’s acupuncture, it’s adaptive.

In my opinion [that’s what] smart transformation [is]. When you want to organise this, there are two things. The first is creativity, because creativity is thinking about everything: new ideas. The Bennekel ‘smart buying’ took us two weeks [to think up] but to make a product for selling it took us two years. So the difference is innovation. Doing these things [is innovation]. You need the skills to organise it in the right way. Thank you very much.

Pastel, Chinatown, Northbridge. Photography by Luke Shirlaw, 2015.



session two

PUB L IC ACTION : Be the Change – Inspired Leadership & C i t i z e n I n i t i at i v e s This session explored the design and implementation of creative initiatives to energise city and community, solve problems and offer opportunities for innovation. The speakers were Erma Ranieri, Timo Santala, Peter Corbett, Geeta Mehta, and the session was moderated by Alison Page.

NeSpoon, South Hedland Senior High School. Photograph by Bewley Shaylor, 2015.





Erm a R a n i e r i Commissioner for Public Sector Employment, Government of South Australia (Adelaide, Australia)

I’m going to tell you my personal story and why I think people might identify with it. My parents migrated to Australia, I wasn’t born here, they settled. The public sector was really important to them. They were primary producers. The agriculture department had staff who helped them, came and visited them. The local public hospital did some great things for people that couldn’t afford it, which made me realise that I was really passionate about helping those that are marginalised. Appreciation for the sector is one thing, but it is something else to get ‘the institution’ to change, and create systemic change for the long term. That’s hard in the public sector because, in fact, you work in election cycles. If you don’t like that or find that difficult, you’re in the wrong industry. So what are we doing in South Australia that’s a little different? I was asked by the current Premier to run a reform program. He said; I want you to change the culture of the public service and I thought; Why did you pick me? I’ve been a change maker since I was very young; defying what was happening at school, gender issues, and how diversity was managed. That has carried through my whole life. I’ve been a passionate believer in making a difference and really working towards equality.

The Premier said: let’s change the public sector. That’s 100,000 people. I made a plan on one page. I thought, what is it that we can do that we haven’t done in the past? I decided to go with my instinct, and say well we’re on a journey.

It was actually high risk, it made me very vulnerable. We decided to get a bunch of people together, with very little money, to create what we call Change@SouthAustralia. What we did was start a conversation about how the public sector needs to go back to what it’s there for, to have a greater engagement with its citizens. We have to challenge our own institutional arrangements, the way we regulate, and the way we engage, and the way we assume that the policies that we develop are what citizens now want. We didn’t want to get rid of what was really good. We wanted to find success, and we wanted to prototype and replicate that. There were really good pockets of excellence [so] we asked: How are some places doing so well and others are just not getting it? Why do some people or some groups collaborate and others don’t? Why do some impose red tape and others don’t? It came down to a passionate leader and individuals [who] believed in engaging with the people they served. So instead of making those a fluke, we decided to say ‘this is the reform program for the public sector, we will all go on this journey.’ Easier said than done. We had a steering committee, the Premier chaired that, which is key in any transformation, and we had a task force. We picked people who would be our champions, not the people that were logically in the positions that would help, but the people that could transform, and we asked for volunteers.


South Austr alia : the turning point

Erma Ranieri speaking at PUBLIC Symposium, Perth. Photograph by David Dare Parker, 2015.



[We created] the 90-day project [scheme]: our version of prototyping. From all the learning, we created a toolkit for people to use. So we had one language, one level of change across the sector, and a massive engagement and communications strategy. For the first time, I went on to social media and on Twitter.


Never underestimate—even in the public sector—the value of social media and finding that 40 or 50% who are on that journey with you. I let go of institutional arrangements in terms of my role. I didn’t even have a title, they were worried about what to call me. I said: I don’t really care but I did have permission from the highest level to disrupt as much as I could. And then we had a conversation around values and behaviours. We talk about values in action: what is it to collaborate? What does it mean when we talk about tenacity or courage? I engaged about 3,000 people who became the champions; they’re the ones that started to create the values. Let me talk about the bits that really worked. We decided to do 90-day projects, so we found projects that spoke to the priorities of the public service and of government. We designed them around systems and design thinking. We developed skills for people. The 90-day projects were a way of actually demonstrating values in action. So: collaboration, pushing through, taking risks. A 90-day project had to [involve] multiple departments. It had to be a ‘wicked problem’ that needed to be solved. We needed to consult with industry, with NGOs, to get citizens involved. We started to ask citizens what they wanted fixed by the government. We started to build people’s skills in terms of how to do reform. We used what we called ‘best practice change management,’ but it was really about finding those people that were the change makers: they’re worth their weight in gold! So, it was a fantastic way of approaching it. For 18 months, we’ve been working on 90-day projects, and we’ve had about 60.


Some of the first projects we had with multiple agencies involved were able to achieve things before 90 days. For example: say someone had a speeding fine, police would go to your house, serve the summons, and there’s a court date. We had a project where they decided we will text people their court date, let them know what the fine was, and they saved 27 minutes per summons and the resolutions were reduced by 37 days. We had processes between forensics, the police and corrections reduced from six weeks to about five days. Which made a massive difference to the courts. We reduced red tape for the tuna industry. The issue was the primary industries department wasn’t talking to the environment protection authority, and each was doing a different job. [We asked]

the industry, ‘what is it that actually hinders you from taking the tuna out to market?’ Everyone got together and in 90 days, they reduced a process from six weeks to five days; the tuna industry is now saving over a million dollars per year and guess what, they’re getting more tuna. It’s even more sustainable because the scientists in the environment protection authority and primary industries have worked out the best way for licensing and fishing to occur. The South Australian public sector, like any public sector, has to change. It’s costing a lot, and we need to move to citizen solutions: in hospitals, nurses weren’t discharging patients in South Australia. Doctors, nurses, ambulance workers, everyone got together and worked out a way that nurses could discharge healthy patients, which is now working across every hospital. It is saving doctors 30 minutes per day and millions of dollars in productivity. As each project happened, there were more and more articles in the paper around every single thing that government’s achieving. They’d say: well, this was a 90-day project. It’s become part of the language and we’ve a got a framework on how we might actually consider, rather than jumping to a solution—‘we like to help citizens and we’ll give them what we think they need’ —instead we’re actually working on defining what the problem is and getting citizens involved in that. Citizens, not-for-profits, businesses sit with us on those 90-day projects. They are part of what we’re now calling ‘debate and decide.’ We’re now engaging citizens’ juries on many topics: cycling lanes, liquorlicensing. Citizens decide on what we would do to solve those problems. Over 18 months, around 20,000 people in the public sector have been involved. All of the projects have had external partners, every single government agency and non-government, not-for-profit agencies, and local councils are involved. It’s a huge movement and we didn’t need a government department to do it. It was happening on the edges. We created a change toolkit. Everything we learnt from those 90-day projects is available to the 100,000 public service employees. We’re saying: we are one government and we want to engage with citizens. We communicate to our sector as a whole: doctors, nurses, teachers, all of them are engaged in this process. It can be used for projects of any size. So it’s about how you go out there and give people permission to start to change at their local level. We needed to prototype and allow them to take some risks, but also give them some tools to work with.

I opened the door for a lot of people in business, citizens, and not-for-profits but I didn’t do the work. People within the public sector did the work and now we’ve got multiple partnerships happening and a change in how we’re delivering our services. We are transforming health, we are transforming the justice system and transforming education. We have a long way to go but we have a language that we can use to start talking to each other.

If you’d asked me: what would you be doing in two years’ time, I would not have told you that I would be the Commissioner for Public Sector Employment. I remember saying the one issue stopping us from becoming one government is that there is an institutional arrangement here that works against innovation, it works against creativity. We need to break down those institutional barriers or sooner or later it will go back to what it was, and you have to work at changing that. I said the change had to happen at the core. And then I was appointed to the role of Commissioner and told: now you need to fix it. Manufacturing is dying in South Australia, what are we going to do about that? Well, why do we as government have the answer? We don’t. We need to find the answer through the kind of programs that you’ve heard about today. We want to be a worldleading public sector which means we need to get out of most of the businesses that we’re in and do things differently. We’re looking at things like social investment bonds and other things. We’ve got a new approach to engaging communities: we call it ‘Better Together’ and citizens’ juries come from that and it’s growing. We’re looking at it in the form of a new democracy. We are simplifying regulation, which is about everyone in the system removing what they’ve got and only by default should we reinstate it. It’s turning regulation and what we do on its head. I want to finish by talking about a few things that Charles Landry and I have been working on. Charles mentioned creative bureaucracy. Creativity and a bureaucratic process don’t sit well together, but we’re actually prepared to have that conversation. Economically we have some significant challenges in South Australia, so sometimes that burning platform, or crisis, is there: manufacturing is closing and we need to work out [what] we need together. But the ‘we’ is not the public sector, nor the not-forprofits on their own. It’s the citizens, not-for-profits, public sector, and the whole lot looking at solutions and [they] may come not from any of the natural, previous places, but a new space.

We want to explore how we can make ‘the institution’ more creative. One of the things that holds us back from innovation is that we often beat ourselves up. We don’t believe that we can actually make that change. So we’ve started up HackSA, we’ve had some interesting discussions with private sector investing in what we need to do. Everyone in this space is trying to work together. We’re starting to have some really interesting conversations about how do we do this for South Australia and its citizens. The Adelaide innovation system can’t evolve unless the public sector changes. We have a hundred thousand public servants, most of them in the city centre. If the public sector doesn’t evolve and change the way it works with business, then I can’t see how a city can be economically viable to begin with, and secondly, grow. I think that sustainable cities have to


involve the people that are in them each day. In South Australia, a lot of those people work in the public sector. We need to change ourselves, to shift the city to where we want to go. In terms of the creative bureaucracy, we’re starting to partner, we think we’ve got some interesting prototypes, the 90-day projects are happening and it’s exploded. So it’s possible it doesn’t need me.

If you’re the person that started the change you need to look at yourself and go, ‘who else can actually take the next phase?’ And that can be difficult, so it becomes a strong leadership challenge. We’re looking at a pilot project over the next year or so. We are partnering with state and local government to work together at all levels. We want to look at new ways for meeting targets for our economy and how we can encourage employees to be creative. Those of you who work in that system know there are lots of things stopping us from doing that, lots of leadership challenges, and a lot of development of where we need to go. So the next phase of our project is to look at the conditions to make a creative public sector, which is going to be challenging in any environment. And then, as Commissioner, I’ve made a statement to the public sector regarding the values I talked about. I’m in the process of embedding them in our Code of Ethics. Every public servant will be held accountable for those values and behaviours and that’s a first for South Australia. Not only have we engaged in discussion, we will hold people accountable and make sure they’re the sorts of people we want to employ and keep for the future.

We need to have people who believe in the change, who we can invest in, and who we can allow to take risks. And we will provide those opportunities for our people. In this tight fiscal environment we need to work out how we do that with very little money. I didn’t have any money to run the 90-day projects. I just found really interesting, excited, creative people who were already there and they are already there in your institutions. Mostly, we changed attitudes, expectations, and outcomes through Change@SouthAustralia. So if you work in a public institution, not only are you responsible for making sure that you use your money wisely, but also that you create a city and a state that helps everyone reach their maximum potential; and most of us are happy and healthy in an environment we helped create. Thank you very much.



We’re talking about shifting the foundations, cutting the red tape, and acting as one government, which is very difficult. Now people need to be leaders, not managers.



D r G e e ta M e h ta President of Asia Initiatives, co-founder URBZ (Mumbai, India)

Cr e at i v i t y & S o c i a l C a p i ta l

I call this talk ‘Creativity and Social Capital’ because I want to challenge the fact that we are beginning to measure everything in money. I think that’s a problem.


A lot of my work relates to what I call ‘social capital’ because I believe communities have these amazing strengths and assets that we tend to overlook.


How can cities promote individual and collective creativity? Enrique, the keynote speaker, talked about the public realm and I want to reinforce that the density of interactions in public spaces is also important and is part of the social capital. Let us take the example of the Garment District in New York, or Wall Street, or Silicon Valley, or other such places around the world, known for being creative. Why are they creative? They’re creative because diverse people can freely interact in these places, which helps create networks and hence ‘capital’. So, the density of intersections, which lead to interactions is very important. How do we design cities for that? Let me take you back to the hight of Modernism. People like Corbusier said the street is a bad thing for us, it is an ‘urban enemy.’ This anti-street utopia was envisioned for cars and machines, not people, but the whole world actually bought in to that. Every school of architecture was creating Modernist, mega projects and when I went to school to study architecture. It took the world nearly 50 years to recover from that. Corbusier proposed of Paris, that bombs be dropped on the centre of Paris to clean it all up and build tall concrete buildings, towers in the park, that would be fed by cars. It sounds like such a counterintuitive thing, but such ideas kept recurring through three quarters of the last century, and it’s again happening today in many, many countries, particularly India, China, Brazil: countries that are building up very fast.

Image courtesy of Dr. Geeta Mehta.

When people live together and the public realm is active, wonderful things happen. This picture [slide] is of young men climbing on each other to break a pot at a festival in Mumbai where they invoke Lord Krishna breaking a buttermilk pot that his mother puts at a high spot beyond his reach. This can only happen if there is a public realm, but the public realm is missing here [slide] in Mumbai today becuase the developer gets a bonus for providing public space. But the public space is on the sixth floor. He got the bonus, but the street died and the public realm suffered. This is happening ad nauseam in many developing countries. It’s not just in India, this is Nanjing Street in Shanghai [slide]. It’s full of life and vibrancy but what is getting built in China today is this [slide of Pudong]. Great buildings, nice picture postcard, but if you look on the ground floor it’s very difficult to even walk from one building to another. This is called Central Park, but there are six fast lanes cutting it off from the buildings, so people do not actually get to the Central Park. These are the kind of cities we are building. Why are these projects happening? This is a picture of the part of Tokyo where the streets are marvelous.

We must remember that the street is the ultimate public space. But that’s not the sort of street that is being built today in most new developments. So the question is, why is this happening if this people friendly urban development is so intuitive and if we all love the public realm and the streets? Why are these faceless housing developments, like on the outskirts of Mumbai or Delhi, as far as the eye can see, being built? It’s because of money. [For] the developer, it’s fastest and quickest. The neoliberal economy knows how to make housing in a most efficient way, but it doesn’t know how to make housing that can help nurture people and communities. That is a problem, but these things keep on getting built because there is money to be made.

The bigger question is why are we measuring everything in terms of money? We need to have more parameters—like social capital. URBZ is one of the two non-profits that I co‑founded and I head. URBZ develops methodologies that can support ‘User-Generated Cities’. Our office is in Mumbai. Seven hundred new migrants arrive in Mumbai every single day. Every month about 600 new cars come on the road. The government is ill-equipped and under-resourced to manage this influx. There is no way that a ‘top down’ solution can work so it has to be something ‘bottom up,’ so the cities have to be user-generated. This is the concept we started with, and we have worked in Mumbai, as also in Tokyo. This [slide] was a workshop we held in Tokyo’s Shimokitazawa ward. After the

war the Japanese government didn’t have the money to bulldoze many areas that were almost slum-like to build new ones, but they had the money to provide infrastructure, [and] people fixed up their own homes. These areas have became nice neighborhoods now. Thom [Aussems] talked about redevelopment where you saw these big buildings falling down. That’s what developers like to do because there’s more money in that, but actually, there is a gentler, nicer way of improving the neighbourhoods in an incremental manner without destroying the networks and social capital that residents have built over decades, which is what we promoted in Tokyo. In workshops like this [slide], people come from around the world, and we help the communities re-envision their neighbourhoods, usually with incremental and user-led development. We’ve also had the opportunity to work in Istanbul trying to engage local people with universities. But most of our work has been in Dharavi which is a very big informal settlement in Mumbai. If any of you saw Slumdog Millionaire, you probably saw parts of that. From the top, it looks a little bit dismal, but let me take you inside and I’ll show you that it is a really vibrant community of craftsmen. It’s really not a slum, but gets called a slum because then the government has a right to bulldoze and redevelop it. URBZ created website. Local people used it extensively and it became one of the most reliable sources of information of Dharavi. So, Dharavi may look shabby but that’s primarily because the government has not provided infrastructure to it. The reason is that it’s very valuable real estate right in the heart of the city, and every developer and government dreams of developing it for higher income and commercial use. But what does development really mean in Dharavi? This [slide] was taken on Friday evening. People close one lane or half the street and it becomes a wonderful mosque every Friday night. Dharavi also has a large Christian community and a Hindu community. They all organise and coordinate beautiful festivals with each other that deliver joy, hope, happiness in the neighbourhood. I call that social capital. The question is how can you leverage social capital and help user-generated development rather than saying ‘let’s bring in the bulldozers’ so some developer can make a lot of money? The community will be broken and its members probably sent far away from the city from which they’ll have to commute for two or three hours to employment. Their trade networks that allow them to survive will be disrupted. That is what we don’t want in a places like Mumbai.

Cities must be inclusive, they must be for everybody, and the public realm must be for everybody. Dharavi is made up of about 80 distinct communities. This slide shows the Dharavi fish market that’s completely run by women. When the fish is done, they clean up the place, it becomes like a social space. [In] one of our workshops, one participant compared the streets of Koliwads in

Dharavi with Naples [slide]. You go to Naples for tourism, but the urban fabric in Dharavi is very similar because it’s a 400 year old fishing village that actually grew to be the heart of Dharavi. Dharavi actually contributes over a billion dollars to Mumbai’s economy every year and yet it gets called a slum and every developer dreams of tearing it down and putting up skyscrapers. We did a lot of user-based research using visual narratives, involving children, and local people who were willing to work with us, and we created a body of research which has actually helped to resist the redevelopment plans that a big developer had recently proposed under the Slum Redevelopment Authority’s mandate. There have been so many development plans but the people of Dharavi have now learned to resist them very effectively with [the help of] URBZ and many other NGOs working there. This developer would have liked to come in, just bulldoze the whole thing, divide it up in to those neat looking coloured blocks, and sell them to different builders to construct high end housing and commercial developments here. Under this scheme, all the current residents would be pushed in to tall rehab buildings, and the rest would be market rate real estate [sic]. On the surface it may seem like a good idea for redevelopment, but the thing is that people in Dharavi are craftsmen such as potters and they use the street for setting up their work processes, and for storing their raw materials. So how is that going to happen in an apartment? Also, in an apartment you don’t really get to see each other. Once the street is lost, which is the primary public space, then people will lose touch with each other. So if I can now watch somebody’s child when they go to work or they go to a doctor, that’s not going to happen anymore. So people have realised that and therefore this redevelopment plan did not happen. Now there is a possibility of a Dharavi Self-Development Corporation. Why should an outside developer come and develop this prime piece of land in the middle of Mumbai and make lots of money by pushing out the current residents? People should be able to do it on their terms when they want. Another non-profit I founded and head is called Asia Initiatives, which tries to do in rural areas also what URBZ does in urban areas; and we have a big focus on women, because if you help women you help the whole family and then the community. So it seems to be the most efficient way to work.

SoCCs are social capital credits. It’s a transformative community currency for leveraging social capital for creativity and social good. We have created a SoCC Market. If it sounds like ‘stock market,’ it’s not just a coincidence, it’s very much that we do want to challenge that everything should be measured only in money. We go into communities and conduct SoCCratic dialogues. With this input from the community we create ‘SoCC earning’ and ‘SoCC spending’ menus that for every community are different. We help people to realise





what their strengths are, what they are willing to do for the projects they would like to see in the community, and what these efforts need to be worth to incentivise social good. For example, care of the community commons is a really big issue now. Traditionally people just took care of common resources like the village pond or the urban commons, but that’s not happening anymore because everybody is busy in their own life and is measuring everything in terms of money. Who’s going to watch the community commons? And the global commons? We are on the edge of severe climate change problems and the governments are simply not able to deal with the water scarcity and other emergencies without the help of people. We hope that SoCCs can help with care of the common resources such as village ponds, parks, and community kitchen gardens, etc. SoCCs can also help people organise community events, like the type you are doing here. Every community has different menu items that they set up. Happiness is about people interacting with each other and you don’t want to lose that, you want to encourage that. Right now we are implementing SoCCs in Costa Rica, Ghana, Kenya, and several places in India. I’m just going to give you a few quick examples. This [slide] is in Ghana, it is in Bantama Market in Kumasi. It is a market completely run by women who were not even taking time to get their own health checks, including HIV/AIDS tests etc. They didn’t realise how vulnerable they were and used to say, ‘No, no I don’t want to take time for a health check as I need to sell these tomatoes.’ So, now they are getting SoCCs for getting their own health checks, and for sending daughters to school, and planting trees. Because in poor areas people use wood for firewood, they had cut down the trees that they actually needed for shade. So we are encouraging people to plant trees and nurture them.


The SoCCs earned can be spent on school fees, joining a microcredit group, or telephone talk time. A lot of these women had cheap phones but they did not have money to put talk time in to that.


In poor communities where we work, what is on the spending menu is usually healthcare, education, skill empowerment and other urgent things like telephone talk time. This is a beautiful project in South India to revive wells that have gotten silted. Once the wells get silted you can only get one crop. But these are community wells and so we are encouraging people to desilt them so they could get two or three crops in a year which doubles or triples their income. So then the big question is: if those same people came and desilted a well, why didn’t they do that before? What were they waiting for? There wasn’t a system that could say: OK, if you did ten hours of work and you did twenty hours of work, this is what it is worth. So now that SoCC system is there, people are actually doing it quite nicely by themselves.

This [slide] is in Rajasthan in India where people are earning SoCCs for waste management, tutoring children, and for planting kitchen gardens; and in turn they can take computer training and other skill building classes. We were doing all this recording on SoCC passbooks, but now we have it an online system. We also fund SoCC-preneurs, who are young entrepreneurs starting for-profit businesses, but their business has to have a social component and part of the funds have to go in to a community SoCC pool to fund items on the SoCC Redeeming menu. The beautiful young lady on this picture has started a business in Dharavi, because Dharavi as I told you, is really not a slum, it’s a village of craftsmen and a lot of them create leather goods that actually sell in Neiman Marcus and other big stores around the world, in big cities. She has set up an online marketing system that is a for-profit business, but then part of the profit goes in to a SoCC pool for the community, and if the craftsmen earn SoCCs, they can use the SoCCs to put in an exhaust fan in their workshop so they’re not having to smell the leather glue, or have another window so there’s crossbreeze, or improve their home or their workshop. This [slide] is another project in South India, in Madurai. Here there is a huge tradition of community creativity. They do a big festival in April/May. I don’t know if you’ve heard about Lord Shiva, but the marriage of Lord Shiva and Parvati is celebrated for about a month every year. At the end of the marriage a priest sneezes and that means the marriage is not complete. That means it has to be done again next year. So they’ve been actually doing it for about 2000 years. Citizens get together and there’s dancing, crafts, theatre and every sort of art you can think about. But in the middle of this town, there’s a river called Vaigai River, it’s still a nice river but it’s quite polluted now. Of course the government built a dam for drinking water but that meant that now the river is really marginalised, but it is still a sacred river. So we are working with the community on this big festival they call Chaturai festival, to add a component of river restoration awareness. We have divided the length of the river that goes through the city into small portions and are incentivising the poor communities that live on the side of the river, to become custodians of it. For making sure that there’s no raw sewage coming in, there’s no dumping, and there is no construction debris put in the river, people will earn SoCCs which you can then trade for healthcare, education, and getting a rainwater harvesting system built on their roof, and also toilets. This slide shows the large number of people who come on the river. It is such an important part of their lives. But who’s going to take care of the river restoration? The government cannot do it, as the government really doesn’t have the resources, especially if everybody else is polluting it. So it has to be a community-led project, and that is what we are trying to do now with SoCCs. This project [slide] is in Costa Rica. This is not a poor community, but a middle-income community. The issue here is the community commons. Children are not safe playing outside in the playgrounds because they might get kidnapped. They were not

even safe walking to school, and the public spaces were getting derelict and sometimes there would be drug issues. So these women have formed a group [to] take turns to sit outside their homes at the time the children are walking to school, to make sure that they are safe. They have been also taking care of the public spaces. With the SoCCs earned they can get internet time.

The SoCC System endeavours to bring communities together. It promotes care of the community commons, and strengthens social capital which is the critical part of every city. Cities are about social capital, they are not about buildings, and they are not about streets. So cities have to be built to encourage and nurture that social capital. SoCCs work a little bit like carbon credits or like airline loyalty points. We don’t [put] staff in locations, we always work with local government or a local partner. Somebody from the community is trained as a community manager, but the community itself is the biggest piece. We have sample menus that we present to communities and people choose or create their own in several dialogue sessions. People are very creative: they know what their issues are and they know how they’re going to solve them. For this reason, ground-up projects that have community buy-in work well. Every time somebody earns what we call i-SoCCs (individual SoCCs), then a fifth of that goes into the Comm-SoCCs (Community SoCCs) pool. The reason to do that is to create social pressure for doing social good. In the case of Ghana, [if the] women get their health check, their community is also earning points with which they can perhaps build a childcare centre, or the streets can be repaired. So there is social pressure of people telling each other ‘Why don’t you also do it?’ People feel very proud that they are doing something that’s good for their community. We have a system of SoCCs Stars, so people who earn a lot of SoCCs are acknowledged. In Ghana, because it’s such a singing and dancing culture, you can’t actually have a meeting without every half an hour or so everybody getting up and doing a little dance, and then sitting down for the rest of the meeting. Maybe we should have done that here today as well.

So, celebrating community good, celebrating social good, celebrating people’s propensity to help in the social good, is really important. This shows our SoCC Market, the digital SoCC platform we have created. It has a local partner interface, so the local partner can create menus, monitor who’s earning how many points. There is a SoCC manager interface, so when somebody earns points they log them in and the manager approves the points so the person can redeem them at school where they might pay school fees, or at a health clinic where they might get health checks. The new


community members are registered on this platform. In some of our projects, this was the first time that people got their picture taken and they were so proud of being part of a community that can work and do something good together. We have just created the beta version and are expecting to create the bigger platform in the next few months. Many people in our project cannot even read and write so we had to think about creating a voice-based system so people would be able to call on the telephone and the voice would say: ‘If you’re earning SoCCs, press 1; or if you planted a tree, press this number etc.’ These are some of the ways that we are trying to challenge the paradigm that everything should be measured in money, and with some success so far. We also look forward to crowdsourcing new ideas. Thank you.

Brenton See’s littlest fans in Mt Lawley. Photograph by Bewley Shaylor, 2015.




copyright Lauri Rotko


TI M O SANTA L A Founder, We Love Helsinki & Restaurant Day (Helsinki, Finland)

A M e n u f o r Br i n g i n g P e o p l e T o g e t h e r

I’m a dreamer. I believe we shape the world through our own actions. I really believe in open cities where the public space belongs to us, the people. I believe that we should actively shape the living environments where we are and the neighbourhoods where we live.

If you’re going to live somewhere, you should make the place look like yours and you should show some love for your city. My weapon of choice is events. What I usually do is rethink, redesign and recreate the feeling and purpose of urban places through positive actions like urban interventions, flash mobs and different kinds of happenings. Most of the events I organise are all about participation and interaction: about bringing people together and about connecting people. In the events I organise there are no performers, instead the people come together in public space,

take over something and create something new, fun and surprising. You’ll get the idea when you think of 100 people having a water fight on the beach or a huge tag game or hide and seek at a department store or 300 people singing a group karaoke together in public or a samba flash mob where the dancers control the percussionists with different kinds of colour codes or dancing tango on a ferry crossing the river.

The events I organise are all about creative place making and exploring the new possibilities of using public space. Through that we are building a relationship to the public space. The more you feel the city and public space is yours, the more you’ll spend time in it and the more you’ll take care of it. One of the often-ignored key factors of a welldesigned and successful public space is liveability. One of the ways I measure it is with the ‘hanging out factor,’ how much you want to spend time in a

place and how much it encourages interaction with the space and especially with other people. My main interest in events is all about interaction. The traditional kind of culture whether they are concerts, theatre, arts or talks are based on a top-down model where someone on a stage transmits something to an audience and you just passively receive. I’m much more interested in the events that create the right type of atmosphere that enable us to really communicate, to meet and to really talk to each other. It’s simple things like a shared watergun fight that make previously unknown people suddenly friends. You’ve shared a moment—10 minutes of a water fight—and suddenly you feel like you know everybody. It’s so easy to go and talk to people after that. Being an important part of doing something together makes it a more powerful experience when we are the events ourselves. I use events because they let you try out new and bold things, it’s much easier to do a temporary experiment than something permanent in the city. Events also let you gather a big group of people behind a unified theme without an overwhelming commitment for the participants so it’s much easier.







The biggest and the most influential event I have done is Restaurant Day, a food carnival where anyone can set up a pop-up restaurant, a café or a bar anywhere they want. In the beginning we were frustrated with the red tape, bureaucracy, regulations and everything that is related to opening a food business. We thought that this shouldn’t be so difficult; after all it’s about sensible people serving food to other sensible people. But I don’t believe in protesting. Usually if you protest there is much more confrontation and the ones who agree with you will stick with you, but those who disagree with you probably won’t be convinced. What you need to offer in order to change something is options and solutions, and instead of just talking about it, what we wanted to do with Restaurant Day was make it happen and show a positive Utopia of a different world. What would happen if for one day we changed the status quo and there were no limitations, no regulations, but instead complete freedom to do and realise [your] dream? What happened was quite marvelous. The creative madness that was unleashed when the people were given the possibility to actually realise their wildest ideas was amazing. There were Russian blinis coming down in a basket from a third-storey window, there was a sushi auction where you had to bid to get food, there was champagne tasting on a hot air balloon flight, there was a tea party at a women’s underwear shop, there was an ambulance bar where doctors were examining you and giving you a drinks prescription. There was a pie café two girls did that was serving dirty jokes alongside the pies and they had a slogan ‘Tonight everybody is going to get some pie’. There was a Viking menu at a tattoo shop and there was a Lord Of The Rings restaurant where the waiters where dressed up as orcs and elves. There was a finger food restaurant for babies where all the food was displayed on the table and the babies could pick up what they wanted and eat, and if they didn’t want something they could toss it out. There was an 80s restaurant done by a wannabe ballerina group, there was a restaurant serving hangover pizzas with painkillers and everyone watching MacGyver together. There was a guy who was mocking the whole concept of opening up a restaurant and he opened a pop-up called The Frozen Pizzeria where he was serving the most beloved Dr Oetker frozen pizza straight from your local supermarket, heated up in an original electric oven, served with the candies of the season and the cheapest wine available. The guy was featured in the main newspaper in Helsinki and sold out 200 pizzas with a good profit.

Most of the people who participate in Restaurant Day are not food professionals. They are normal people just like you and me who have no experience with running a restaurant, they just want to have a fun experience and offer a fun experience for others. So in just two years, Restaurant Day grew to become the world’s biggest food carnival and it happens four times a year. Over 17,400 pop-

up restaurants opened by over 70,000 one-day restaurateurs who have catered for over two million customers in 70 different countries. I’m waiting for you, Perth! All this has been done without any budget, any funding, completely based on voluntary work. Last August we had 780 pop-ups in Helsinki alone for one day only and Helsinki has about 680,000 inhabitants. If we scale that to the size of Perth it’s about the same as 2,500 pop-up restaurants open for one day. You can imagine how that changes the whole city for a day and the next day it is all gone. The atmosphere that we have in Helsinki on Restaurant Day is just amazing. People are so open towards other people. I always say that Restaurant Day is not really a food event. Food is just the perfect medium to bring people together and there is no better way of meeting people than over a shared dinner table. Restaurant Day is really a social community event bringing people together. But most importantly it has made people feel that they actually own their own city and that anything can be done in public space. And that doing it together we can achieve something very beautiful and empowering that makes cities better places to live for all of us. The perception that you as a citizen are welcome to act in public space without asking someone for permission or a license has led to a huge wave of citizen activism and different kinds of grassroots actions and community events in Helsinki. The Mayor of Helsinki stated in Monocle Magazine that: Restaurant Day is exactly the sort of project that will define our future. Restaurant Day has inspired the city’s population to question how things are run and to experiment and put forward new ideas of how daily life might be improved in the future.

The more you give people freedom and trust, the more they will also assume responsibility and will want to contribute to the society and the city they live in. We should move from a control-based society with heavy bureaucracy and red-tape regulation that doesn’t show trust towards the citizen into a trustbased society where you really don’t have to prove yourself not guilty before doing something. Why do we have to justify ourselves before we act? That creates an atmosphere where people are let down, they don’t believe in themselves. That kills innovation, that kills risk-taking and it kills change: and those are lethal for a city and for an economy. I believe that a true democracy should be built through participation and interaction. So how does it actually happen? How do you get people along and involved, how do you get them excited and participating? How do you actually make an idea like Restaurant Day grow to be a global movement without any budget? Those are questions that a lot of NGOs and collectives are struggling with, and for that matter a lot of companies and brands are doing the same. How do you actually engage people and build a community around it and get people involved? Here are a few thoughts and some advice based on my experience of actually getting people along.

Firstly, do what you love. You’re the first person that has to believe in what you do and be excited about it. If you don’t, how will anyone else get excited about it? It’s your own passion and your own commitment that will attract others to join in. Whatever you do, you must give your heart and soul to it. If everyone does what they are really passionate about, not only will we have purely motivated people, but the end results are better and all of society wins. When I have an idea for an event usually one of the first questions I ask myself is: ‘Is this better than sex?’ If the answer is even close to possibly maybe, then I know I am onto something. The second question is ‘would I join this myself if I heard it from a friend?’ The event really has to sound and feel exciting and fun so that there is no question that the answer is yes and you’ll want to join. So do what you love and love what you do. Don’t do something for other people, do it together with other people. Everything I do springs out from what I personally enjoy whether it be pop-up restaurants or dancing or sipping sparkling wine on the river.

Just do it. Actions always speak louder than intentions. My friends are very creative and they have a lot of good ideas and people get excited when they get a good idea. But usually the second thought is ‘no it’s probably not allowed, it won’t work’. Don’t limit yourself, don’t think about what is possible but think instead what should be possible. It took only one month from the idea to the execution for the first Restaurant Day. There was no pondering, no budgets, no grant applications, no thinking of what is allowed and what is not; we went just straight to action. Usually the biggest obstacles and barriers that prevent good things from happening are not really real. They are inside our own heads and overcoming the mental barriers and the fear of failure and just trying it out is the most important thing you have to do. Not everything works or is a success but if we don’t even try we will never know. The Mayor of Helsinki himself said to me: it’s good that you didn’t seek out the permissions and licences because if you would have you never would have got them and the whole event wouldn’t have happened. But now that you have done it, please continue because everybody loves it.

Remember to share your ideas, talk about your dreams even when they are not ready. In service design, software development and programming it is important to release the first version as soon as possible and then improve it along the way according to the feedback. In urban planning and events this is even more vital and important. So you need to really engage the people, include them in the planning process to enable them to build a co-ownership because that results in higher engagement and a more loyal following. The desire to participate and the commitment is built around the feeling that if you’re being an important part of the event and having a real possibility to influence both


Timo Santala speaking at PUBLIC Symposium, Perth. Photograph by David Dare Parker, 2015.

Whatever you do, do it together. Everyone craves to be a part of something and to belong to a group. Co-planning and the possibility of active involvement build a community around the event. Doing things together also unites people and the community and creates the right feeling and atmosphere. It grows the audience organically even

before the event happens. You need also to leave space for people. Don’t present something too ready or something too polished expecting other people to engage and participate. Nobody wants to be fed. Remember that most people are not really interested in your brand, in your product, in whatever you do or sell. They’re interested in what you can offer and enable for them. Each person has a different motivation to participate and get involved. There has to be space for everyone to leave their own mark on it. On Restaurant Day we give complete freedom to people and they do whatever they do. While being passionate about your project don’t become blind to the interests and motivations of other people. Then you need to make it fun. The way we participate has really changed. I’m not into politics, I’m not into traditional involvement in NGOs or governmental organisations. Light activism and temporary participation is what drives people in nowadays so they can control the level of commitment themselves. The participation itself needs to be fun. You really need to inspire and encourage people, tell a story, paint a picture of a common goal. You need to set your goals very high, look to the future and go after the impossible. My goal with Restaurant Day is world domination. I want to establish it as an international holiday like Christmas or Easter when everybody knows what to do and everyone can participate and nobody needs to organise the whole thing anymore.

Finally, lead the way. Your own passion and enthusiasm pulls others in. People rarely want to be the first ones on the dancefloor. When there are 10 people on it having a good time they usually want to join but you need to be prepared to lead the way, getting out of your comfort zone. Make yourself ridiculous. You are the one who sets the tone that others follow. On the first Restaurant Day I explicitly broke the law and sold illegal gin and tonics and rum and cokes on the TV news just to make the point that it doesn’t harm anyone. I’ll end with this: ‘one has a moral responsibility to disobey not only unjust laws but also to break those rules and regulations that don’t work and don’t achieve what they are meant for in order to change them.’


in the planning process and the end result, you will want to get involved. The more people can influence what they are participating in, the more motivating it becomes for them and the more they will do for it. Then you must share the ownership, and when you are thinking about small things and scaling them, don’t scale up or don’t scale top-down. Don’t scale bigger, scale wider instead. Sharing the ownership also has other benefits. The responsibility over the project you are doing spreads over a wider group of people and it doesn’t load such a heavy burden on anyone’s shoulders. The more you involve people and share the ownership with them, the less you have to worry about marketing. Restaurant Day is not really an event or a festival, it’s a movement of people. It’s an event that nobody and yet everybody owns. All those thousands of people who open a pop-up restaurant [represent] Restaurant Day. It’s a common cause that unites us and belongs to anyone who wants to participate. If you want to do it, join us.




Trickle Down, Hosae, Leederville. Photograph by Bewley Shaylor, 2015.



place over time

T h e a s t e r G at e s Founder, Rebuild Foundation, Director of Arts & Public Life, University of Chicago (Chicago, US)

Opening address, Day Two

Pl a c e o v e r t i m e

I’m going to talk about place, and I’m going to talk about it in the context of time. So much of what we have been talking about this week has been about how all of us creative people have the capacity to do great things. But we fail to talk sometimes about how when we do great things it means that things change around us. That we do something great today and ten years later, all of a sudden the city looks different.


How do you continue to do great things when the city is changing around you?


[Underneath] my conversation will be the word: indeterminate. Most of the work I do in Chicago [is] without a clear understanding of its end game. There is no goal, I’m doing it because I love doing it, because I feel called to do it, because I feel quite passionate about a thing, and the passion I feel is the impulse to make something happen: an act of creation. I’m clearer about the beginning than I am about the middle or the end. Sometimes the challenge I feel when I’m talking about cities is that people so often want us to have the master plan that has an end goal and then you work yourself back. Sometimes I think the way artists and creators work is from a spirit of: oh that’s a real nice building, I should do something with that. And then people are like: what are you going to do with that? and it’s like: I don’t know, I’m going to do something. I’ll do something today and something tomorrow, and then I’ll do something else. That feels like good planning to me. We don’t know what tomorrow looks like, we don’t know what Perth will look like in ten years, but we know that we are doing things every day. We could have a plan that helps to order a set of steps, but often those plans fail and they give way to the things that people do. We plan a path. People don’t walk on the path, they just don’t. They walk where they walk, so we try to usurp the path that they walk and then they don’t want to walk on it anymore because it’s too formal.

These ideas we have been talking about regarding ‘public process’ [they] can actually happen in a lot of ways, maybe ways that we don’t imagine all the time. Maybe we can start to glean new kinds of information that we don’t glean when it is done by City Hall or done by our municipalities. I’ve been trying lately to allow the city to influence the work that I make. I’m thinking about concrete all the time, I’m thinking about history of the civil rights, I’m thinking about how cities work for some people and not others. I’m sometimes trying to grapple with that poetically and pragmatically.

When I look at buildings I try to reimagine what they could be. Not only to beautify them but also to make them anchoring spaces in our cities. The neighbourhood where I live in Chicago is still a rough neighbourhood. How do you both deal with the aesthetic piece and create opportunities where people feel like when they come in they have a break from the violent world outside? That there is a way in which maybe they’re willing to do things because you’ve shifted how a place looks, or you’ve shifted how space looks and that they’re actually willing to spend more time there because it’s so different from anything that they normally live in, right next door. So in thinking about place in this more complicated way we can interrupt how people perceive themselves by changing the conditions of their daily activity. The work we have been doing is a very humble work: we find amazing builders, we try to use the materials and resources that are around. We’ve been trying to think hard about how we can use these spaces in interesting ways, how we start to work with cities and other public institutions to think about how building can be used. When the City of Chicago asked me how I would use a particular building, I had an indeterminate response. They said I had five days to give them my thoughts on what I would like to see there and I said I don’t know if I can do that, and I don’t know if I can

make that decision by myself, I think that the building has to be an iterative space. Like we have to try something, we have to talk to the aldermen. They say I need a youth centre, so I say okay – we’ll try to get a youth centre. I talk to the minsters and they need a prayer room and I say okay I’ll get you a prayer room. The dancers need a dance studio with a spring floor … and so there are all these things that are happening and all these needs that I am trying to address in a neighbourhood.

What I tried to do with this City of Chicago space was to say: can we land on the fact that culture is important, that the thing that I do best is I think about cultural space? If there is a way that cultural space could be useful in this neighbourhood where there is not a whole lot going on, could culture be a contributing factor? The challenge that I had with some of my colleagues, who believe that the arts are a tool for economic development, is that when we no longer need the cultural space and there’s the possibility of getting a higher rent for that space, they’re ready to take the higher risk. So how do you start to instil a set of beliefs that culture matters all the time and for all people? If you can arrest space soon enough, if you can stop time around a certain amount of space, then you can ensure there’s a more complex and rich environment over time. When suburbanites want to move back to the city because the city is hip again, there is this free zone where normal people can continue to do free things. Space has been made over time for lots of different kinds of people. It took us about a year to 16 months to get the space built up. Initially the neighbours were sceptical, the aldermen were sceptical, the University was sceptical. The University thought that there might be a lot of violence that would happen because it was a largely white institution in a largely black environment. The aldermen were really nervous

place over time

People would say: Theaster, what is the project going to be? and I would say: I don’t know, maybe it’s 32 units, maybe people can live in it, maybe we can build some space? I try to keep some artist’s perspective but I know that there has to be a plan, I know that there has to be construction documents, I know that I have to hire an architect to help me think through some things, I know that we have to determine where the bathrooms are going to go. But I think if we can suspend our knowing a little bit longer and ask a little bit longer, if we can make the redevelopment process a question: a pedagogical moment. We can invite our neighbours in to look at space with us, and we can see things that I would never think about, like it would be cool if we could cook together and maybe in the mornings we could make all of our kids sandwiches for school across the street because the lunch meals really suck. By

building into the project a $75,000 kitchen we might reduce obesity in my neighbourhood. Then you start to find that even though I’m not fishing for solutions or outcomes or impact analysis projects, as a result of allowing projects to unfold, asking over and over again a neighbourhood what it needs, you’ll find that some of those things start to answer themselves. My appetite is growing as a developer. You become a deal junkie. But really I am most interested how allowing the question to linger just a little bit longer allows us to come up with better solutions. Because I didn’t know what the bank would be, I bought the bank building, then my bank that was loaning me money said: Theaster, we need you to know what every square foot is and we need you to have leases in advance of us giving you money. I said: alright, I got your pro forma – the basement is going to be a 3 star Michelin restaurant for 60 people, the first floor is going to be an exhibition space with an international gallery renting a portion of the space, we’re going to have artist studios as leasable space, the second floor is going to be dedicated to a not-forprofit and we’ll get a lease for that, and the third floor will be traditional commercial offices. In our study, we’ve noticed that the South side is without adequate commercial rental space. We had to do that: 17,000 square feet at $32 a square foot, and a not-for-profit that helps with the structure. [That allowed] me to dream for the next two years about what the real uses should be. There was this tension between having to know things and choosing to know that I don’t want to know, wanting to not know so once we really know what the first floor is that might give us clues to what the second floor is. When we have a sense of what the second floor is, it will absolutely determine what happens on the third floor and the basement.

below stony island arts bank , chicago. IMAGE courtesy of THEASTER GATES

If you never allow for those to be indeterminate ever, if it’s always absolutely planned it takes away some of the sexiness of it. The bank allowed me to ask questions like: how could we allow the four million dollars that we had to spend on this building become a revenue stream for the men and women that lived in that neighbourhood? How could the bank’s decay become a conversation around conservation and historic preservation? How could the things that I needed to learn from our bankers and our loan officers help people understand how to get bank loans for their houses? How could they go from renters to buyers? At every point it was a question and a class. We didn’t know how we were going to pay for the bank so I created a bank bond because that’s what cities do, they don’t have any money, they need to get things done, they create a bond. It’s a piece of paper that they may or may not make good on; they’re also indeterminate. We made this bond and then we took all of the marble that had fallen in the bathrooms of the bank and made these water jet bonds and sold them for $5,000 each. We sold 100 of them for $5,000, we sold 10 of them at $50,000 each and raised one million of the four million based on the narrative of the bank. It was a really sweet project and now we are at 80% in terms of the rehab on the bank but it’s really pretty. When I started and people had found out that I had bought the bank they were like: Theaster, you may have bitten off more than you can chew and this is an albatross, you don’t want to sink yourself. And I was like: is there one indeterminate bone in your body? Over time, especially once the windows were in and people would drive past the building, I would get these phone calls like: Hey Theaster, I was with you from the beginning! Our bank’s looking great. There is so much devastation in some of our neighbourhoods, and so many ways in which people who have a lot can shelter themselves from seeing the things that are right around the corner. How do you get people to be more empathic around those things? Art is this wonderful kind of mediator, I create opportunities where people not only feel like they have access to some of the complicated challenges but also there is an aggressive give-back somewhere in there. There is a way in which people become curious about my neighbourhood and they come visit and ask how they can be useful. They share their professional skills sets, they share their family foundations, they share their time with young people because they can see this indeterminate affect happen over and over again.


because [they] felt like the University was going to move into this neighbourhood and use it as a foothold to increase the amount of property they had in this struggling community. Community members were sceptical because anytime a big institution has offered them things in the past, that thing was rarely realised fully. It was always more of a taking then a giving. So who would want to take on the politics of this kind of place? It seemed like culture was the only thing that could act as an arbiter of these varying scepticisms. And then we needed time. I couldn’t convince my aldermen enough that the University had goodwill for this project. I couldn’t convince community members fast enough that I wasn’t a Trojan horse who was setting them up. It really took time for people to recognise that.


place over time


This thing that wasn’t so absolutely sure of itself was still producing an affect that made sense in the world. Eventually a series of indeterminate things start to seem quite determined. The ‘nowhere nothing’ becomes the ‘somewhere’ and things start to make a lot more sense. We created a Black Cinema House and people like it because we created a living room, we would try to connect ‘need’ with ‘space’. And understanding that need would change over time, and as a result space would have to change over time and be flexible and nimble. At the studio we often say yes to things without knowing what we’re going to do with them. We try to work ourselves out from loose magazines that were from the Johnson publishing corporation into things that look like a formal library. The Johnson Library at White Cube in London in 2012 migrated back to Chicago to Black Cinema House. This idea that ideas can migrate, materials can migrate, people migrate and sometimes the best thing we can do is accept that places change over time, they change when new ideas come. In my neighbourhood there was a tremendous need for the Catholic Church, these Irish folk needed Jesus really badly at the turn of the century. [The church building’s] value had passed and there was no one creative enough, wealthy enough, visioned enough, courageous enough, politically connected enough, nobody looking fast enough, no group collaborative enough, no partnership able enough to think about what else could happen in this building. People felt it was an eyesore and there was no ambition, resources, connections or program partners so things didn’t happen. We found ourselves still trying to make meaning and act as if the future of that space was still quite indeterminate. I have a small band called the Black Monk of Mississippi and as the building was being torn down we were trying to offer the last sermons, offer the last prayers, the last songs. Trying in some way to not let it go. We became super cool with the contractors and the demolition folk, they were doing their job so we started saying: the roof is coming down, can we get all the slate? and: the marble is coming out of the alter, can we salvage the marble? They were excited to make money so they let us have anything we wanted. I thought if St. Laurence has to pass, then is there a way that we can reimagine what those materials do? Could we create another kind of sacred space with those materials? We were thinking about materials in that way, that this building that had been a great monumental work of architecture, it was also changing in its determinism and could we leverage that to make something else happen?

I always ask: how can I learn from these moments that are complicated moments?


When I went from doing small single family homes to thinking about a 100,000 square foot building, how do I at each moment look at it dead in the eye and say: I don’t know if I can do this, I don’t know if I have a solution and that’s ok? I’m going to start creating. I’m going to start thinking, I’m going to start asking hard questions, I’m going to start asking where resources come from, I’m going to ask for friends and partners. It gets to a point where people want information and there are big questions to ask because things get to a scale where you need to know things from your audience. As the scale changes, these things that have been indeterminate are now becoming clearer, and I have to ask new kinds of questions of myself even though I want to be the quirky artist all the time I find myself making graphs. I’m finding questionnaires very useful as it allows me to imagine that all of this time I have been indeterminate and unwilling to make a decision, but in fact it was all of this real information coming into me that felt intuitive but in fact was real information. It was real content but I didn’t know how to codify it, I didn’t know how to own it. I knew I had 15 friends who were dancers who needed a dance space because they were always asking to use my basement, but I didn’t write a survey for that. I was caught up with this relationship between the thing that I think is intuitive (which is actually learned from real information) and the need to write it down and code it. I initially thought that the coding was just for them, but actually that information is for me. It helps me a lot to know how many people use a train right next to my barber shop, or how many people before they go to work are interested in a cup of coffee. That’s super important stuff. At first I wasn’t interested in collecting that kind of information but I’ve had to ask other friends and funders to help me get this information because I would hate to build a café when what is really needed is a barber shop. We’re looking at lots of different cities now, asking how can we be useful? We have people joining us and imagining with us, we’re trying to bridge very complicated racial divides. We’re thinking about how our in-between black and white spaces become the right kind of place for making new conversations happen. Aside from the building and the program, can we get people comfortable enough that they are willing to say very hard things to each other about class, about race, about preconceptions?

I was much younger there was a fancy family that lived there and they moved. Over time, the house was never bought, nothing ever happened in it and eventually it became a crack house. Nowadays [with] my sensitivity around drug abuse and alcohol abuse, it’s so much more complicated than just that word. Now I understand that there are a lot of things that would drive a person to measures of escape and that those houses of escape are no different from the club; they’re just stigmatised. I remember that there was a moment when I was coming home from school and my dad said to be careful and that I might have to wear a dust mask as they are going to be tearing down the building across the street. There was a policy in Chicago where if bad things were happening in the building, rather than addressing the bad thing we just tear the building down. I think that in many ways those early architectural traumas made me want to study planning and made me want to be a creator and what made me want to be a potter so that I could make things faster. I remember as a kid feeling like I had the capacity to make change, and now even though it is always still a question,

I hope everyone has that question too: are we doing enough in our neighbourhoods to change the world?

Just because you put people in the same room doesn’t mean they are going to talk to each other or that they even feel like they have shared values. So how do you create a platform for that? Building isn’t enough, making the program isn’t enough. There has to be real care and real empathy. When I was about 12 years old I remember there was a really beautiful building across the street from my house, we called it a mini-mansion. It was a yellow brick, super-sweet building and I remember when







D A L EAST I really liked [painting] the mural [at the Water Corporation] in Perth. It’s quite an emotional piece. The water is a wave, but the wave is coming from the sky and is upside down and it’s hanging in a way you can’t really see in reality. But it is water, an element that the building is working for, the people there are working for. Everybody who sees an image has different ideas, maybe I’d see it differently to how you’d see it. For art, especially public art, people come to see these. Actually I just want to project or present a picture that people can pick up their own ideas. That’s more interesting for me. I think Australia is a really special country and it’s really important to have an organisation like FORM organise a PUBLIC project here because I think Australia should have more public art happen so people can enjoy it and also join the global movement. I had such a good experience. In two weeks I had all this and I feel like everybody is really helpful and the festival is amazing.

Untitled, DALeast, Leederville. Photograph by JARRAD SENG, 2015.

DAY two

session one

P U B L I C A R T: Ar t & t h e C i t y This Symposium session debated how art can transform the public sphere and promote social justice, and how curators, creative directors and designers are pushing art beyond aesthetics into a new urban paradigm. The speakers were Dr Kenson Quok, Hetti Perkins, and John Bela. Fenella Kernebone was the session’s moderator.



Hetti Perkins Writer, Curator & Creative Director (Sydney, Australia)

S p a c e i n t o Pl a c e

‘If I don’t paint this story some whitefella might come steal my country’


Charlie Terawa Tjungurrayi


As an Eastern Arrernte and Kalkadoon person I’d like to respectfully acknowledge the traditional custodians of this country and thank Aunty May McGuire for the Welcome to Country yesterday. I pay my respects to all of our elders past and present. I wanted to talk about the importance of this protocol of acknowledging Country. It occurred to me that I might use this quote [above] while I’m saying some general comments because it refers to Country, and [also] for Tjungurrayi there was a very clear creative impulse. So in considering how artists and curators enliven the landscape, I think it’s important to remember that for us Indigenous people or Aboriginal people, the landscape is already enlivened. It is corporeal. It’s sentient with the spirit of our ancestors who created this Country and this applies in cities as much as it does in rural or remote areas. But it is particularly in the context of urban environments that the concept of Welcome to Country or an acknowledgement of country become highly pertinent in reiterating our enduring connection, serving as a reminder that the urban landscape is still country. It’s particularly important for members of Aboriginal communities as visitors to someone else’s Country to observe this protocol but it is also important for non-Indigenous people to recognise that we retain and maintain the connection to Country that is our inheritance as the First People of this land. This inheritance of the oldest continuous cultural tradition is something that we as a nation cannot take for granted. Often it appears there’s a lot of people who are stubbornly ignorant of that fact.

So, with these thoughts about Country and in thinking about how art can, and I quote: transform our environments and how we use them, we’re thinking about art that is beyond art for art’s sake, and beyond transforming a space by, say, switching on a few colourful lights.

The objective for this art is to transform not only how we use the environment but how we understand it. I was recently at Tarrawarra and the director of the museum there described it as not just admiring the view, it’s about understanding the view. Or, to quote Lucy Lippard when she says we understand landscape not just as space but as place. And she says space defines landscape, while space combined with memory defines place. So cities are not the only places where memory has often been eroded or fragmented, usually through the purposeful act of attempted erosion or cultural genocide, but [they are] often where it is most evident. However it is also evident in these environments that new cultures grow and flourish, so while we celebrate the new or the contemporary, it should not have to be while mourning what was before, despite the significant impact of colonisation on communities in what are today’s metropolises. As we move toward a more environmentally and spiritually sustainable way of life, the living memory of country in the broader sense of the term needs to be a part of the journey to remind us all that our country is more than a space for commercial exploitation, it is a place for us and for future generations to call home. Art or cultural activity in an urban landscape is a mechanism by which this living memory can be maintained or amplified to embrace contemporary experience, often in stark relief to what often appears an utterly colonised space.

Art transforms space into place. But while being an agent and driver of change it can’t and doesn’t perform this task single handedly.

Here’s a statement which could well be applied to urban environments in the present day, pointing to the inextricability of cultural and political agency whether it be acknowledgement of country, constitutional change or public art in striving for recognition. It’s from Julian Leeser, a former executive director of the Menzies Research Centre, who is proposing as an alternative to constitutional change ‘a Declaration of Recognition’. He says it’s a heavily contested space, and the best thing that the Declaration of Recognition does, through repetition at those great national events, is place Indigenous people at the front of our thoughts and at the centre of our policy-making. This is what I hope and think that cultural projects should do. So forms of social activation or activism, such as Welcome to Country, the Recognise campaign and indeed the demonstrations against the closure of West Australian [remote] communities, while arguably not conventionally art per se, are still a key means of activating the public realm. In tandem with what we might think of as more traditional works of art or artistic programs, they serve to make us ‘understand the view’ and particularly in city environments: which are of course the known habitats of the opinion or change makers of this country. A couple of projects that I have been involved with in Sydney are Corroboree Sydney, which is an annual festival, and Eora Journey, which is a City of Sydney project. The fundamental intention of both of these is to transform the urban landscape of Sydney City and the CBD, and to recognise the traditional custodianship of the Gadigal people, one of the Eora Nations that comprise the greater Sydney region, and also the contemporary community that call Sydney home today. Needless to say the heart of Sydney City is a contested site, in one of the most beautiful harbours in the world is the cove where the first fleeters landed.

I was reminded of Malcolm X’s great quote about Plymouth Rock, not landing on Plymouth Rock, having the rock land on his people and I think that’s a really similar experience to ours.

The city of Sydney is now prime Australian real estate and home to world-renowned architectural icons. The suburb of Redfern has continued to be a prominent stage for contesting claims between Aboriginal people and the newcomers, right from the guerrilla campaign led by Pemulwuy in the late 18th century, throughout the social politics of the 20th century which has resulted in some significant firsts in housing, legal aid, childcare and health services. Despite this, or perhaps because of this, our people have remained largely socially and culturally disenfranchised in this city. Because of this lack of visibility, this lack of recognition, Corroboree Sydney began with the collective desire of a group of colleagues working in the cultural industry who collaborate and showcase heritage and dynamic cultural expression that is part of Sydney today, and by extension New South Wales Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander communities within the national context. We felt we lacked the opportunity to present a more holistic perspective in terms of the multi-artform practice of Indigenous artists in Australia’s gateway city, especially given that Sydney is now home to the largest population of Aboriginal people in Australia. We also felt there was this perception, especially among visitors coming to Australia but also many Australians, that Aboriginal art is dot painting or bark painting from further north. Corroboree is very much about the culture of Sydney and New South Wales communities. When people look at Sydney and don’t see much evidence of Indigenous culture, that’s what Corroboree is about, it’s about drawing that up from the ground. One of the best examples is that corroboree is a Sydney word, first heard by Europeans at a ceremonial site which is now the Royal Botanical Gardens. So the idea took shape as an annual festival with the participation of the organisations that the Aboriginal staff represented. We decided that for partner institutions to be in the festival, they either had to be Indigenous organisations or have a demonstrated commitment to Indigenous arts, evidenced by their employment and their programming record. So big institutions that don’t employ blackfellas or don’t have regular programs that showcase our arts are not part of Corroboree Sydney. The initial membership of nine partners was founded for the festival’s first year in 2013 and that included the Art Gallery of NSW, the Australia Museum, Bangarra Dance Theatre Australia, Blackfella Films, Koori Radio 93.7FM, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney, State Library of New South Wales and the Sydney Opera House. In 2014 the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority and the Australian National Maritime Museum joined the group and we have strong interest from many organisations to be part of the formal alliance of Corroboree Sydney institutions.



TOP Hetti Perkins speaking at PUBLIC Symposium, Perth. Photograph by David Dare Parker, 2015. LEFT Art Games, PUBLIC Salon opening, Victoria Park. Photograph by JEAN PAUL HORRE, 2015.




An artist in the making, Chinatown. Photograph by Jarrad Seng, 2015.

I don’t know why I love it, I just do

Matthew age 7 (Chinatown, Northbridge)


One of the principles established from the outset was that the program of presenting the festival was truly collaborative and participatory between the partner organisations. One of the key things was to really acknowledge Sydney people and Sydney culture, and to recognise the contribution that our people have made in this major city in Australia. We also wanted to make sure that the local community were really engaged, so not only as the presenters of the work but also as the audience for the work. We’ve kept it in a fairly tight footprint, obviously it’s a very significant site for all Australians and we wanted to give the ‘before and after’ view of that particular site. In order to ensure cultural protocols had been maintained to the highest standard we also invited a council of elders to be the patrons and guides and supporters of the festival, and so respected elders who either were or are practising artists, who have a particular experience working with the elder community were invited to be members of that council. We also chose those elders from outer CBD suburbs like Woolloomooloo, Glebe, Redfern, Waterloo and further out La Perouse where there are significant local city-suburban Indigenous communities. Our five elders are Ms Millie Ingram, Mr Charles Madden, Ms Elaine Russell, Ms Esme Timbery and Mr Roy Kennedy.


It’s more about how we are investing in the future of this city and literally changing the shape of the city culturally. This firelight [slide image] symbolises the ceremonial fire of a traditional Corroboree. It’s designed by a contemporary artist from New South Wales, Jonathan Jones, so that it embraces in a contemporary way the elements of water and earth. What we’re trying to do is express that connection to country in a broader sense of country; the earth, the water and the sky that is still the bedrock of our people’s existence and in Sydney as much as anywhere else. Bangarra Dance’s Steve Page choreographs this wonderful ceremonial performance where the elders light this cauldron to begin the festival. As someone said to me: oh it’s just like the Olympics and I was like: well we’ve been doing this for a lot longer than the Olympics, the Olympics are like us, ok? One of the things that we developed is the Gurung Parade and it’s the key symbolic event for Corroboree as it’s all about children being the torchbearers, the future generations who will be proud to be part of this. Gurung means child in the Sydney language and one of the things we do is we invite schools to participate. The first year we had about 1,500 children and last year well over 2,000. The schools that register their interest get an education kit and make this waratah, which is a very significant cultural symbol for the Indigenous community. The waratah story is a story of undying love about these two wonga pigeons and how the white waratah becomes red. The children learn this story in school, they get a video of one of our south coast elders, Ms Julie Freeman telling that story, they hear a Welcome to Country, they get the resources to make these waratahs and then they parade them from Hyde

Park down Macquarie Street (not incidentally) right past Parliament House and then they go into the Botanic Gardens where they have a wonderful picnic and a performance by some of the Indigenous high school arts students, so it’s a fantastic, wonderful moment when you see all of these thousands of schoolchildren. You would think that arming children with sticks would result in a million sword fights but they all carry them so respectfully and so proudly. It’s just great to see these kids of all these backgrounds who are learning about the significance of the city they call home. In 2007 and 2008 the City of Sydney embarked on this really major consultation program called 2030 Green Global and Connected. One of the outcomes of that consultation was 84% of city residents believe a diverse mix of culture and diversity in the city is important, and 87% highly valued and respected Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture. Lord Mayor Clover Moore released an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander statement where she used the ‘i’ word—invaded—when she said British outposts were established. This had far-reaching and devastating impacts on the Eora Nation, including the occupation and appropriation of their traditional lands. Despite the destructive impact of this invasion, Aboriginal culture endured. That’s the word that needs to be used, that’s what happened and so it was fantastic that the City of Sydney endorsed that and paved the way for the Eora Journey, which includes a number of different elements, one of them being recognition in the public domain. This is a little terrace [slide image], in Redfern at a site called The Block. It’s an Aboriginal community and it’s been the site of amazing firsts in achieving fantastic social outcomes, but it is more widely known around Australia as some kind of place that is on permanent riot watch. I live just down the road and it’s not the case. The Pemulwuy Project is rolling out there now. They’re looking for affordable housing for Indigenous people as well as commercial activity. There’s this one little corner terrace, which has remained standing even if abandoned, very close to the actual block [which] could be used to become a site of memory to become a place for people to remember Redfern and to share those stories with their children. Reko Rennie is a Kamilaroi artist who lives in Melbourne but he’s a New South Wales fellow, [he] was asked to bring people’s eyes to the building, to get people to start thinking. Some of the local young people who are engaged in the tribal warrior program do workshops with Reko and they learn all these skills in stencilling and spray painting and they effectively designed the façade of the building and painted it themselves.

So that was great because one of the ways to engage a community is that if you get the kids involved then you get the mums and dads, aunties, uncles but particularly the grandparents all coming along and having a watch and obviously (which is very welcome) giving you their two cents’ worth.

It’s something that will be driven primarily from the community and be this place for stories and for sharing, it’s just about a place for people to sit down together and have a yarn, talk about the grandkids, talk about the weather, talk about whatever they want but it’s just a place for people to connect hopefully. Yininmadyemi – Thou didst let fall is Tony Albert’s tribute to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander servicemen and servicewomen who have defended our country. This work is located in Hyde Park in Sydney. These bullets are almost eight metres high made of metal and marble and on this boomerang relief stage there’s a coolamon type receptacle that is for smoking ceremonies. The city commissioned this work in response to the community calling for something to honour Indigenous diggers so this was very much a community-driven project which eventually had the support of the RSL, and the Veterans’ Association. NSW governor David Hurley, who spoke at the launch and who is the former defence force chief, said that the work restores Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander heroes to their rightful place in the canon of Australian war history from which they have vanished. So I think that’s great that idea of recognition. The four bullets are a story of Tony’s grandfather, he used a personal story to talk more broadly about Indigenous community. They were captured in Italy, prisoners of war who escaped, they were lined up and three of them were executed before the commanding officer stopped and said, you know, they’re British allies we have to send them to Germany. So this is the story of remembering those who survived but also those who fell. It’s also, Thou didn’t let fall a Gadigal word about the idea of soldiers serving their country and then coming back to find that camaraderie the mateship they experienced as members of the armed forces had changed nothing, they couldn’t get into the RSL, they couldn’t get armed forces soldier settlements. I just thought it might be good to finish with this slide of Tony talking about his work. It’s ostensibly about honouring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander servicewomen who have defended and protected our country, as our people always have. But it’s also about gaining recognition on the national stage and it’s a message which has to be continually reiterated: lest we forget. Thank you very much.


One of the key objectives also of Corroboree Sydney was to create a distinctive presence within the range of festivals and major events that are often in Sydney and around the nation. The curated collaboration of the partners is central to realising this, but we also developed a number of signature events that try and give the festival a bit of an umbrella feel to offer participation on a large scale. One of the challenges that we’ve had in order to facilitate that opportunity for our people to be the audience for the work and to participate many of the events and to encourage the participation of the wider community is that many of the events have to be free. So as we think about the last couple of years and where we might go in the future, one of the challenges we’re facing is how we can create a financially sustainable model. We’ve got a culturally sustainable model but there is a tension certainly [with] what funding agencies require, what their idea of a successful festival is and what ours might be. One of the terms that I’ve learnt in the last few years is this thing called ‘bed nights’ which I didn’t realise were such a vital aspect of our economy—it basically means hotels getting people staying there—but of course for us it’s not really about that.



John Bela Urban Designer, Landscape Architect, Gehl Studio (San Francisco, USA)

Y o u Ar e t h e C i t y, W e Ar e t h e C i t y


Image courtesy of John Bela

Ten years ago some friends and I in San Francisco started an experiment. We thought what if we could reshape a tiny part of San Francisco? Studying the city we learnt that a quarter of the city’s land area is streets and public right of way and yet 70% of that space was dedicated to moving or storing cars. We thought that’s not right and maybe we can change the equation a little bit: let’s put some coins in the parking meter, let’s lease this space that is heavily subsidised in San Francisco (as it is in many parts of the world). Just for a couple of dollars an hour we can lease this space to do whatever we want to do. Why don’t we roll out some grass and put up a bench and tree and set up a mini park? We withdrew to see what would happen. And lo and behold, a gentleman came and sat down and was having a piece of pizza on the park bench and then someone came up and they started having a conversation. I thought: great, the project is a success.

We created an invitation for a social activation where as previously it was just storing a big chunk of metal. 54

We posted a picture of the space on a friend’s website and it circulated around the world in 2005 and we started getting calls from people in other cities saying: Hey, this is such a cool idea! Can you come and create this parking project in Santa Monica, or in Italy? Inspired by the simplicity of the IKEA manual, we took our guerrilla art intervention (which we had never gotten permission from the City by the way) and turned it into this ‘How To’ manual and posted that on our website. People from around the world started taking the idea and making it their own. The project grew way beyond what we ever anticipated and in order to guide its growth as an open-source project and impart those values of generosity and a public offering, we created a website where people could meet from all over the world to come up with ideas for installing something other than a car in a parking space. People take this idea and use it for whatever their political will or objective is. The project started to spread around the world like Seoul, South Korea and Tehran, Iran and Sacramento, California. It seems like parking is the gateway drug for urban transformation, like bacon

is to vegetarians. In a few short years our $200 guerrilla art intervention has become a global public participatory art project called PARKing Day. It’s far exceeded our expectations. In 2011 when we stopped counting there was about 1,000 parks, 162 cities, 35 countries and six continents, all except Antarctica.

The first experiment of PARKing Day in 2005 was about learning how to take action and just get out there and do it with this attitude of experimentation, not asking for permission but asking for forgiveness after. A few years after the first PARKing Day installation we were approached by City Hall. I thought they were finally going to fine us and shut this thing down. Instead they said it was a great idea. We asked to make it a citywide program and they said: No way, don’t do it. If you make it a city project it will totally kill its creativity. Don’t even try. So we kept going and formed a group called ‘REBAR’ and we continued to experiment in cities and public spaces to try and fulfil unmet needs. We set


These are all examples of Tactical Urbanism. It’s about how short term and temporary solutions can influence long term change. It’s about starting now, it’s about doing less planning and taking more action and being uncertain about what the outcome is. Meanwhile New York was taking it a bit further with the NYC Plaza Program. It started with a strategic objective: we want a high quality open space within a ten-minute walk from every New Yorker. They worked out that if they tried to do this the typical way—five years of planning, 2.5 million dollar capital campaign, build the park and then evaluate it—they would never reach that objective. So using a tactical approach they learned that in a fraction of the time and money you could achieve that objective by doing a pilot project. By calling something a ‘pilot’, New York City was able to install literally dozens of the little plazas all around the city and achieve their longer term strategic objectives for a fraction of the cost and time. There are dozens of these plazas across all boroughs in New York and my firm now is doing a social impact study to understand what they have meant in terms of the social life of the neighbourhoods. Inspired by what was happening in New York, San Francisco tried a few pop-up plazas and they turned out to be complicated to build but one of my heroes in San Francisco, Andres Power, was appointed by the Mayor’s office to try some of the stuff New York was doing—they call it the ‘Pavement to Parks’ program.

I call Andres Power a ‘guerrilla bureaucrat’. They are totally crucial for having anything innovative happen in cities and I really want to applaud them for doing the hard work they do and changing the culture of the machine.

They should be honoured in the same way that we honour our sports stars and our basketball players. These for me are the stars of the city. Andres Power said why don’t we take your parking project and turn it into a city policy: a Parklet Program. We tried a couple pilots in San Francisco and our first approach was called a ‘Walklet’. We extended the sidewalk out onto the street. These are public spaces as much as they are public-private partnerships. The Parklet Program in San Francisco has 30 to 40 around the city. Individually maybe they are not that significant but what is cool about them is that they are individual, highly nuanced expressions of the public realm. It is very different from a City-led sidewalk widening or an improvement project in that these reflect the character and identity of the people who create them. The way it works is the City issues the permit, the project sponsor designs, builds and maintains the parklet. If you don’t care for it the City revokes the permit and they take it away. It’s an example of a tactical approach to trying to expand the character and quality of the public realm in the city. It’s about average citizens being capable of shaping the public realm. We are seeing Parklet programs popping up all over the United States and all over the world. In my local community in San Francisco they don’t want parklets: they represent gentrification. Improvements in public space in general are seen as unwanted change and displacement in my neighbourhood. From an equity perspective it is important to talk about equitable geographic distribution. It’s not just about the neighbourhoods who are politically savvy but distributing the benefit to where the benefits are really needed.

A city for people is one where people count. How do you make people count? By counting people!

For example in New York City, we went to Times Square and we noticed that when we started counting people, 90% of the people in Times Square were on foot. But 90% of the space in Times Square was allocated for moving or storing cars. That is not a balanced equation. So it was pretty easy with this kind of data to convince the Bloomberg administration to try something. Literally overnight we shut down portions of Times Square to private vehicles and we went to Costco and bought cheap lawn chairs. People came out to the space and totally enjoyed it and instead of New Yorkers saying ‘why have we shut down Times Square to cars?’ they said ‘hey, we need better furniture’. We transformed the iconic image of Times Square from one of cars and traffic and hustle and bustle to thousands of people doing yoga. It was a total change of mindset for the city and if you had asked New Yorkers five years ago about shutting down Times Square to cars they would have said ‘No way!’ but when you demonstrate full-scale with a pilot project and show people the results and actually capture the data of a reduction in pedestrian fatalities and faster moving traffic, more social life and activity, it makes a big difference; whether you are a bureaucrat or a politician or a funder or a citizen wanting to know how can I be a part of making a better city?

The point is that you—whether you are a designer, an architect, an artist or an urban resident— you are the city, we are the city. You have a responsibility and an opportunity to make the city great. How do you start? If you’re just starting out, it doesn’t take a multimillion-dollar investment to change your city. It can start with a couple hundred dollars. Start with a parking spot, create an innovation zone or project, do a community garden, or start a prototyping festival. The point is that whether you are an artist or a designer or an architect, you have the power to make your city great.

PUBLIC closing party, Nicks Lane, Chinatown. Photograph by Luke Shirlaw, 2015.


up an event called ‘Nappening’: a free facility to take a nap. We scheduled 15-minute naps, we woke you with a nice bell, we served milk and cookies and it was booked solid all day. We tried to soften the urban landscape with a project called ‘Bush Waffle’ – a vending machine of inflatable furniture so you can create your own urban architecture. The idea was to put the tools of shaping the city into the hands of residents so we can create our own environment and atmosphere and soften the urban landscape. In thinking about the role of urban agriculture in cities we created ‘Victory Garden’. We convinced the Mayor to tear up his lawn; we planted organic seedlings and started growing food. For a period of six months we grew food in front of City Hall, we grew about 1,000 pounds of food that was donated to local food banks and distributed to the poor and needy in San Francisco. An example where a temporary public art project influenced public policy. Now in City of San Francisco it is legal to use areas under an acre of land to grow, produce and sell food. It’s changing the role of young urban agriculturists in the city.





Untitled, Nespoon, Chinatown, Northbridge. Photograph by Bewley Shaylor, 2015. 57




DAY two

session two

P U B L I C C U LT U R E : P o w e rf u l C o ll a b o r at i o n s & Bl u rr e d B o u n d a r i e s This session focused on examples of creative crossovers and hybrid practices making an innovative response to a range of challenges, and generating new products, services, financial models. The speakers were Paul Collard, Dr Jesper Christiansen, Alison Page, and Leo van Loon. The moderator was Fenella Kernebone

Untitled, Phlegm, CBH Avon grain silos, Northam. Photograph by Bewley Shaylor, 2015.


PUBLIC CULTURE: Powerful Collaborations & Blurred Boundaries

P a u l c o ll a rd CEO, Creativity, Culture & Education (Newcastle, UK)

N u r t u r i n g Cr e at i v i t y

The most important resources you have in developing a creative city are the people themselves. Part of what you have to do to realise their potential is to invest in them, and part of what you need to do is to develop mediators, people who open the doors for the community to come in and to enable the community to make its own contribution and the people within the community to be creative in their own right.


You have to start by ensuring that you are nurturing the creativity of the community. And this has to start in schools with children and young people because without developing their creativity, your biggest resource is never going to be realised. Without developing them, you run the risk that you create this fabulous creative city, which provides all these creative opportunities for all sorts of people, but your own people don’t have, or don’t feel they feel they have, the capacity to make the most of these opportunities and end up even more marginalised and more isolated than before you started. We began in 2002, with the launch of a program in England called Creative Partnerships. We were given a big grant by the Government to make young people in school more creative. With the funding came no definition of creativity, no theory of learning, just the instruction to go out and do it. For almost a decade we had a wonderful time, learnt a huge amount and during that time the program grew and soon we were working in about two and a half thousand schools a year. So it quickly became a very extensive program.

We began by asking ourselves what we meant by creativity. We spent time reading, or commissioning other people to read, a mountain of books about creativity and talking to lots of eminent professors. From this process we derived a definition of creativity, which we call the five habits of mind: being inquisitive, being persistent, being imaginative, being disciplined, and being collaborative. And so, for me, it has been really interesting listening to the debates over the last two days which explored the same ideas. For instance, somebody yesterday [Thom Aussems] talked about creativity being about having the idea but innovation being about making it happen. In my view there’s no point being creative if you don’t then don’t have the ability to make it happen. Creativity is about bringing both together.

In my view there’s no point being creative if you don’t have the ability to make it happen. I also think that with ‘persistence’ this whole notion of the indeterminate—another word that has cropped up during our discussion and which we would call a capacity to manage uncertainty—is a fundamental skill. Now a lot of people can’t start task until every aspect is certain. and that’s a real hindrance. What you need to go on these creative journeys is the ability to be able to say: I’m going to start but I don’t know where this is taking me and to be able to hold that inside yourself. I was talking to some museum curators in Edinburgh the other day and they had been doing this project with kids, which involved some surprise

The Symposium shifted my thinking

Symposium participant 60

PUBLIC CULTURE: Powerful Collaborations & Blurred Boundaries

visitors arriving in the classroom. The curators told me the kids would ask: is this real, is this real? and I said: well, what do you say? and curators said the teachers say to us: you have got to tell them it is not real and I go: I think you’re short-changing the children because actually you have got to say: well, what do you think? And you have got to get them to hold that uncertainty, because learning to hold that uncertainty is fundamental to them being able to cope with life afterwards. If you grow up to be the person who always require certainty before you can begin you’re going nowhere. The world isn’t organised like that. The world is a place of deep uncertainty. What’s interesting about these five habits of mind, is that they are all non-compliant behaviours. For instance, collaboration is not about compliance. Collaboration is being able to work with your ideas and be able to assert your ideas but be able to negotiate. It’s much more complex. Sticking with difficulty isn’t a compliant behaviour, compliant behaviour is ‘it’s difficult, so I give up.’ So this is about non-compliance, and teaching young people how to be non-compliant is at the heart of developing them to work effectively in the world. We also did lots of research about the learning contexts in which creativity is developed and we’ve came up with this concept of the high-functioning

classroom. Now it’s very important to say right from the start that this doesn’t mean low-functioning is ‘bad’, and high-functioning is ‘good’. It’s about teachers being able to develop an approach to learning which varies their the across the scale appropriately. The low-functioning way of learning is a much more traditional style: teacher at the front, talks a lot, you take notes, memorise everything and go do an exam. You do well, go to university and do a degree and one of the problems is [you] come back as a teacher and say: I can’t see what the problem is.

But a lot of people need a different way of learning, one which is a lot more challenging. The teacher creates challenges which force you to go find the answer; it’s a way of learning that’s very authentic, connected to real life in the perception of the young people. Time is used much more effectively, it’s more a workshop environment, and it’s a very social activity. The learning processes are also very visible. Researchers observed that a lot of the time the learning in class is invisible. The teacher is talking,

you’re writing notes, nobody ever sees your notes. The teacher sets an assignment, you hand it into the teacher, the teacher reads the assignment, the teacher maybe gives you a grade. Nobody else knows what happened. However, if you’re working in a Creative Partnerships project you might be doing maths, but what you’re actually doing is building a huge wooden structure in the middle of the school playground and if you get the maths wrong the whole structure is going to collapse. Not only your class but the whole school and community is going to see the disaster. What the researchers argued is that high visibility equals high risk, so once it becomes highly visible you’re really exposed to the possibility of failure. But young people really like risk, that’s really exciting for them and it engenders a level of engagement and motivation which otherwise is quite hard to get into school. Overall, Creative Partnerships is also very mobile way of learning. You move around a great deal. In addition, the self is a learning resource, so your questions, your history, your background and your experiences are all shaping your learning. This makes it all about how you teach not what you teach. These principles are applicable to every subject and we encourage teachers to use these across the curriculum. The theory behind


Image courtesy of Paul Collard.



PUBLIC CULTURE: Powerful Collaborations & Blurred Boundaries


the concept of the ‘high-functioning classroom’ is self-determination theory. It argues that when young people are physically, socially, emotionally and intellectually engaged they are at their most alive. Where we’re really struggling with engagement and educational progression is that even if the child is in the class, they’re not really present. But when you’re physically socially and emotionally engaged you are 100% there, you are at your most alive. In this environment, the pupils feel really good, they feel very confident, and as a result you get high performance out of them. So this way of teaching actually delivers better test results, better attendance, and better motivation. I’ll give you a quick example. This is a photograph of a high-functioning classroom in Lithuania where we’ve just come to the end of a three-year program in schools. We train artists to go into the classroom to work with teachers and children to reimagine education. [Image shows students apparently napping on a classroom floor]. The school said that they were really struggling in this class with literacy, the kids were not learning their letters. The artist working with the teachers said: I think that it’s because they’re not listening and if we got them to listen they’d hear letters and they’d come to understand them much more quickly. So what they’re doing in this photograph is listening to their school and they follow this with a long discussion about everything that they heard. Then they go out about town. Here they are at the railway station and they’re having to listen to all the sounds they can hear and use letters to invent words which reproduce the sounds that they’ve just heard. Here they’re doing it in a subway, here in an open market and what you can really clearly see is the intense concentration on their faces as they’re doing this. Suddenly, learning your letters been transformed into a really engaging activity. Here they are listening to a sculpture. Then the teachers took the students to a Turkish University in the town. None of the kids were Turkish so they had never spoken Turkish in their lives before, but they had to sit there and they had to write Turkish just by listening to what the lecturer was saying. Then they come back into class with their notebooks. Working in groups, they look at each other’s ideas and discuss them, crafting and improving them until they become really great ideas. Each group puts their best ideas on a single sheet of paper. On this one you can see that the word at the top of the sheet is stotis, the Lithuanian word for station. Underneath that is the word cektikas which is the word that one group of children came up with to represent the sound of a train coming in to the station. All are onomatopoeic words. But I want to give you four examples of how what we do goes way beyond getting children better test results and getting them to turn up in school.

What we try and do is design a space in which the learning takes place but also where children can explore those creative habits of mind. In the space they are able to be inquisitive, disciplined, persistent, collaborative and imaginative. I’m going to go back to the same Lithuanian classroom but we’re now going to look at it from a different angle. In this class there is a boy who is really struggling. For a whole series of reasons he is not engaging. His parents make sure he turns up to class, but once there he does absolutely nothing. In this photograph you can see he is just sitting in the distance. When the teacher begins to introduce these different ways of learning, he doesn’t start joining in immediately, but he begins to observe more closely and when some of the exercises are given he won’t join the groups but he begins to try out some of the ideas in his own little space. Then when the class goes out on their little trips around the town, the boy really gets into the process of listening to the sounds and inventing his words. You can see him absolutely riveted. This is the first time he’d really engaged in a task set by the teacher. By the time he comes back from the excursions, he’s actively participates in the group discussions, because what he’s done out there is develop some ideas, his own ideas, which he now wants to share. When you develop your own ideas, you want to share them. So he’s coming back into the group with something to offer—an asset for his group—whilst the traditional lesson defined the child as a deficit right from the start.

So the first stage in this process is engagement. It’s not enough just to open the door. You’ve got to think about the mechanisms you’ve got to devise which makes learning attractive and indeed low-risk, so that the person you want to come through the door now you’ve opened it begins to engage. The second stage in the process is about enablement, helping people find voice. This photograph shows an exercise we did in Austria which again was a literacy project. What the artist does here is arrives with a lot of posters and magazines and children cut out faces and stick them to boards and wear them as masks. They create a monologue which they perform based around this character they’ve just created by wearing the mask. After creating and performing the monologue they have to write it down—because it’s a literacy project and it is designed to encourage them to write extensively, stretch their vocabulary and think in different ways. In the class was a boy whose parents had just gone through a really messy divorce. The father had moved out, the mother couldn’t afford the apartment

anymore so the mother had moved to a different part of town. So from the boy’s point of view he’d lost his father, he had lost his house and then he’d had to move to a different school and so he’d lost all his friends. Life was a complete disaster. So when it’s his turn to tell his story he gets up and he says: I’m a man and last night I was in a bar and I had too much to drink and I know I shouldn’t have done it but I drove home and on the way home accidentally I ran over and killed my parents. But nobody saw me do it so I put their bodies in the back of the car and I took them home and I buried them at the bottom of the garden. Now everybody is being very worried because my parents have disappeared and they are being very nice to me because they think I must be upset but they don’t realise I’ve murdered them. Now what the high functioning classroom allows the child to do is to express the way they are feeling—but as a metaphor. He is not having to say: I’m feeling really rubbish on the inside and really guilty about my parents. Instead he tells this story.

From my experience, one of the extraordinary things about young people is that they are able to live in this ambiguous zone between truth and reality. A lot of the projects that we have been exploring during this Symposium are made possible by existing for long periods of time in that ambiguous zone between truth and reality. So being able to manage that is a really important skill to have. And for this boy the same ability is being developed. He has told you how he is feeling it, and he knows he has told you and he knows you heard. But it is still a metaphor, so simultaneously nothing has been said. What’s really important about this in terms of education is that kids arrive in school with all sorts of shit inside themselves which they’re not given any opportunity in school to deal with. So in opening that door and allowing people to come through you have created mechanisms for them to deal with where they’re coming from. And this is important because until that’s out of the way, no learning is going to take place. The next stage in our process is about empowerment. At this stage we say: OK, you’re now engaged and interested in this process and we’ve created space for you to be able to develop your own voice. Now we have got to put you in charge of the learning process so that you feel really important and valued. This is well illustrated by a project we did last year in Karachi. The school we worked in was based in a neighbourhood called Lyari which is one of the most dangerous places in the world. Most Pakistanis wouldn’t visit Lyari. This particular school is truly remarkable. It’s run by a small NGO. It takes children in for free and raises the money privately in order to be able to educate them. It takes children at the age of three and if you want to be able to register your child, two things

PUBLIC CULTURE: Powerful Collaborations & Blurred Boundaries

I felt I was in the company of likeminded thinkers. I want to contribute – make cities better places for pedestrians, healthier places for people to live and love life

have to happen. Firstly, the mother has to sign up for learning at the school, because the chances are the mother is illiterate and therefore she has to join the education process and learn to read and write. Secondly, the father has to go out and get a job. In Liyari, I was told the women do everything. They have the babies, look after the house, do the work, and the men do nothing. I asked why the school insisted on these conditions. The head teacher simply replied that: settled employment and an educated mother are the foundations of a successful education. Unless you build that into your education process you’re probably not going to make much progress with it. So what happens at the school is that the head teacher keeps the children until they are about eight or nine, getting all their basics in place. Then she finds scholarships for them to go to the private middle class schools in Karachi of which there are a huge number. She explained that while she was able to teach the basics to these children, what she was really struggling to do was to build a sense of belief and confidence in their own identity. So we put in an artist in to work with this small group of children, in order to build their sense of selfworth, because when they go to the private schools that weak and gentle identity they have formed gets crushed. The artist we hired for the school has a fantastic practice in which she gives members of a community mobile phones which they use to document aspects of their community. Then she edits these elements together into a film. Finally she brings a big digital projector mounted onto a mechanised rickshaw into that community, and projects the film they’ve made against a wall. So this group of pupils in the school in Liyari used mobile phones to record scenes which were then edited by the artist into a film about their community. The pupils then issued invitations to a screening. They cleaned the street, put down lots of blankets and carpets for people to sit on and the artists brought in her digital projector lashed to a rickshaw. Even the popcorn wallah turned up because obviously you can’t have a movie without popcorn. And then the kids involved in this project had to get up and explain why they had made the film, how

it related to what they were doing in school and why this supported learning. Getting up in front of their community and celebrating their own learning in this way was really scary for them especially as about 350 people came to see this screening.

But the experience that came from standing up in front of that crowd and going ‘this is my learning and it is of real value and importance’ was absolutely empowering. It made them able to understand their right to an education—a view which is particularly important to instil in Pakistan. My final example is this. We were working in a school in Norway - a residential centre for young teenagers with psychological problems so intense that they had to come out of home or away from school for a few months to be in this place. We put a filmmaker and screen director in there to make a film with the residents. The project proceeded smoothly and the process of making the film had a powerful and beneficial impact on those involved. At the end of the project a 14-year-old girl with really severe social anxiety disorder came to the cultural department of the local municipality who had commissioned the project, and asked if she could borrow the film making equipment so that she could make a film of her own. This is what she made: [Film voiceover] In the world today about seven per cent of the population suffers from social anxiety. That's millions. So how can it be that I am completely alone? On the list, one of the most common fears in the world, the fear of death, came in second. What conquered the top of the list was public speaking. In conclusion, according to the statistics, attending a funeral, you'd be better off laying in the coffin then making the speech. That is indeed a dreadful conclusion, that some would rather die than feel exposed and judged by other people. People with whom we share this very planet. People who walk amongst us. Wonderful, interesting,

intelligent people reduced to a pair of judgemental eyes staring mockingly at the back of your neck. They assume you're just a bit shy. Known as the one who never raises their voice, that it will pass. But what they didn't notice was the trembling of your hands. The way your head spun in utter chaos. How the bitter taste of chaos was welling up in your throat. They don't understand, no one does. The outside world is such a scary place. Not tornadoes and firearms and raging wars. It's the crowds, it's the sweaty handshakes, the insecurity of looking someone in the eye and telling them your name. And so is the conclusion that some would rather be hit by a car then shake hands with a stranger. As humans, we all crave attention. To be heard, seen, cared for, accepted. The anxiety does not take that away, if anything, it only serves to increase it. But it will also fill you with fear, fear of being heard. Of being seen, of being cared for. Fear of not being accepted. Attention becomes overwhelming and terrifying so you run away from it. You cover your face. You close your mouth and you hide. There is nothing you want more, yet there is nothing you fear more. Than attention. Why can't I just be like everyone else? You feel excluded, different. It is the most common anxiety disorder in the world. The third most common mental disorder, yet it seems never to be spoken of. Never to be explained nor understood. What it means to be terrified of the world around you and not getting the slightest recognition for walking out the door and facing it every single day.

Engaged, enabled, empowered, transformed. Thank you very much.


Symposium participant


PUBLIC CULTURE: Powerful Collaborations & Blurred Boundaries

Al i s o n P a g e Designer (Sydney, Australia)


C u lt u r a l N a rr at i v e s & D e s i g n

[The Symposium] is the ultimate in energising, engrossing thought provoking...magic! My brain is getting a total mind massage, and the day is not even halfway through.

Symposium participant 64

PUBLIC CULTURE: Powerful Collaborations & Blurred Boundaries

I’d like to acknowledge the Whadjuk Noongar people and to acknowledge elders past and present. I’m looking at that nexus of how cultural narratives can intersect with design to create a more meaningful world and connect us all.

The first thing I’d like to say is that Australian design is over 40 000 years old.

Storytelling is vital to life and is at the heart of our culture. Art is not a nice to have; it’s a must have. In our culture, art has two functions: revealing our cultural values and showing them to young people to teach them how to live in the world. The second function is to bring people together and connect us. Aboriginal cultural values are about Country, connection to Country. In your world that may mean sustainability and living sustainably with the planet. In the Aboriginal world-view it’s about the connectedness between all things; the sea, the stars, the sky, water and land; all of it. Our culture also values kinship and the importance of family. This means nurturing our elders and our young and the relationship between those generations is incredibly important. We don’t farm our elders off into aged care facilities with no recognition. What we’re about is about drawing on their wisdom and passing it to young people. We take that responsibility very, very seriously. So they’re important cultural values and we use storytelling as a means for all of that to occur. And our culture is living, so that it’s not just about freezing our culture in showcases in museums. We have to keep writing new legends. We have to keep working

Power of Place exhibition, Northbridge. Photograph by Jean Paul Horre, 2015.

with elders to write new stories and tell them in new languages like hip-hop, music, design and the built environment.

We call ourselves the world’s oldest living culture and the word ‘living’ is the important part of that. But art is also about human connection, not just in the product, but the process. To do this, we need a new way of working and this diagram [slide] was actually drawn for me by an Aboriginal educator, Bob Morgan many years ago when I was at university. He was talking about the Indigenous ways of learning and knowing and how it is different to the western way. He described it to me in terms of making bread. He said: well you can always do it the Western way: grab a recipe, get yeast, get some flour and follow the recipe and make a perfectly good loaf of bread and that’s what I think that straight line from A to B is all about. But in the Indigenous way it’s actually the jokes and the stories that you tell and the relationships that you forge while you’re making the bread with others, that make it taste good. That is what we place the value in. But maybe there is no B. Maybe we start making bread with the ingredients and end up making pizza. We don’t know what the outcome is, we don’t have to make bread, we can make something else. We could burn the bread really. It doesn’t really matter because we come out of it with a deeper connection; with deeper relationships and with learning. I want to talk a little bit with my ‘brother from another mother’ Kevin O’ Brien [and] his project

Sep Yama which he presented at the 2012 Venice Biennale for architecture. It’s the idea that [with regard to] Country, every moment within the land— the sea and the sky and its particles and its prompts and its potential, enable life—is only revealed to you by camping in it, by spending time in it. That is his way to architecture. That’s his way to understanding what belonging really means. At the moment I’m working with the Barangaroo Development Authority on a large-scale development in Sydney. What Kevin is suggesting is that the Development Authority should encourage a process whereby we all go down to that land and camp together. We take the architects, the artists and the decision-makers to connect to that Country. Day one of the project is we all go down there and we stay there, we sleep there and we feel the land and we feel what it’s like there, and we allow that land to speak to us. I think that’s quite a transformational concept. We need to start thinking: what should we be doing on day one? Barangaroo Development Authority is not yet camping on the site however they are creating a committee of Traditional Owners that answers directly to the CEO of the Development Authority, and people like Hetti Perkins and I are involved throughout the process of the development. That is a start, but Sep Yama is asking us to take it further. But we can start to build cultural narratives into these developments and I want to unpack two tangible ways. I’ve been thinking about what to do on day one of a project and I’ve come to the conclusion that I’d like to be in the space of ‘writing the brief’ and I want to collaborate with artists and elders to do it.


If you look at the design of the boomerang or the woomera or this beautiful shield, which is from WA here [slide], there are some really beautiful principles that sit behind this Australian design. They are objects of sophisticated function, they’re absolutely beautiful, they’re highly sustainable (in that they’re made of readily made materials) and they also have a story to them. That story may be something that’s carved into the object or painted onto the object; but it goes further than that. Objects are actually injected with life stories. According to Senior Indigenous Curator at the National Museum of Australia, Margo Neale, in the Aboriginal world-view everything is living, even objects. [They are] injected with the Ancestors that have come before, so the maker or the artist is just a channel the Ancestors are coming through. When that object becomes part of ceremony, that object becomes completely vitalised. That object becomes completely alive. So can we start to think about the built environment in the same way? Can we start to think about the buildings that we walk though, this material world, as living entities that are injected with this life force? I would say yes: we could start to think about the built environment and think about objects as mediums for cultural narratives to come through.



PUBLIC CULTURE: Powerful Collaborations & Blurred Boundaries

So picture this. We’re all camping together around the campfire and we’re going to write the brief for the project together. I will do it in the form of film, not only to set the values for the project in a beautiful way, but to recognise the elders. By using film you’re creating an on-going legacy. You’re using urban development to play a role—as it should—in cultural maintenance. So those films are there forever, those films are there as a legacy. Those films live on. In three minutes, they communicate the history and significance of the site, or in the case of Barangaroo, it is about the importance of women. In the case of the video that I’m going to show you, it’s about how we actually need to take our shoes off to walk the land. These are place-based films, and you might have a collection of five or six of them could be given to every architect, every designer and every artist that works on the project. This ensures that they understand the cultural framework for the entire project; that these are the beliefs that follow through. As an example, I’ll just play Uncle Larry Kelly from Nambucca for you. [Film Voiceover] Being connected spiritually and culturally is very, very important. Reconnecting with our culture and life and spirituality is part of our journey in life through our connection with the land. It is healthy for their wellbeing to understand that they receive that energy from the land. For people to connect with Country and for their health reasons and for healing purposes, they have to connect with Country and the only way they can connect with Country is to walk on the land and stand with their bare feet and feel the energy from mother earth that creates their energy that comes up through the earth and through your body, so that you realise who you are and where you are, and give you self-respect and dignity as an Aboriginal person. Aboriginal people need more respect for themselves and more love to share with their cultural belief in our creator. And pass all that love around as much as they can. We have to do that because that's our legacy that was left to us by our Ancestors, my grandfather and my fathers and uncles. The spirit is unbreakable because it's a gift of life. Darrundaygam yaam jagun – healing from the land.1 So very simple and powerful, and by using film, it’s in a language that is not only easy for everybody to understand but is there as a form of on-going cultural sustainability. So why can’t these huge developments with huge amounts of money attached to them do that on day one? They could create a new type of briefing to define the values, to tell the story of the country, and foster meaningful engagement. This is about the big end of town playing a role in recognising the elders and cultural maintenance and not just leaving that responsibility to small arts organisations that are under-resourced.

Gumbaynggirr elder Uncle Larry Kelly. Produced by Galambila Aboriginal Health Service Coffs Harbour.

I’d like to talk a little bit about place-based design. I’ve worked in this space for 15 years or longer in various mediums. This is Wilcannia Hospital [slide]. Architecture is a really powerful medium for placebased design. On this project, we truly engaged the elders who were involved all the way through the process to the end. So this design tells a traditional story of ‘Pardi’ the River Cod.

So when we talked to people about this building, we weren’t talking about walls and roofs and windows, we talked about skins and fins and gills and so the building became a living entity. The community started an earth brick company for the building of the structure, so they were able, through a $3 million building process, to support a social enterprise. Place-based design can also be achieved through public art. Just south of Sydney, in my traditional country I worked with Aboriginal women on top of Mount Keira to mark a traditional women’s site and to heal a massacre site. It tells the story of the six daughters of the west wind, which was close to my heart because I’m from a family of six daughters and I built the work with my sister Tina Lee. We collected wood from this site and we stacked them into six gunyas, and we individually cast each of those sticks in bronze. The work took nine months to build and now, as one of the Aunties says, they have become part of the mountain forever. And I think that is really important for work to acknowledge that you’re marking sites but you’re also healing sites. That history is really important. The week before we started that project a woman committed suicide with her son, she’d jumped off the cliff of the mountain. Those stories can’t be ignored; they become part of the work. I want to talk about collaboration. Working with artists does help to embed meaning into the project and it is very important because of their sensibilities. But I want to say that it’s also a chance for large-scale developments to engage with the little guy to help stimulate them as businesses. All of these artists here are sole traders and a small commission from them is just a massive difference in their lives. I want to talk about Brentyn Lugnan, an incredibly talented artist that I work with. He’s a single dad with a 10 year old daughter. I was approached by Westpac, one of the big tenants on Barangaroo, and they wanted to do some custom rugs and textiles for their fit-out and it was a $60,000 project for us. Brentyn is a guy who is on a disability pension and this was a huge commission for a guy like him. One of his designs is going to be on a seven-metre wall telling a story of the hunting of the site, so it’s created a deeper level of meaning within those interiors for Westpac.

Economic independence for Aboriginal people is social justice. This really only means $30,000 a year for a lot of artists living in regional NSW. So in the context of these large developments, we’ve got to really start thinking about innovative ways in which to give employment and create micro jobs. I created this lounge room called ‘the sit place’. It’s a place of contemplation and reflection and I worked with an Aboriginal elder and poet, Bea Ballangarry two artists, local furniture makers, lighting manufacturers and lace-makers in Scotland. With this type of collaboration, the designer actually becomes more like a curator who just brings people together. And we say alright, well what are we going to do? This lace, which is Brentyn’s design talks about kinship. They’re seed pods and it’s all about lineage. The sit place is accompanied by three poems by Auntie Bea Ballangarry and you can sit on the chair and listen to the poetry. The space literally speaks to you. Perhaps one day I’d love for you to be able to roll your smart phone over these designs and through augmented reality, films play and reveal the layers of meaning in the space. That’s really when we’ll start to do some exciting things because the art and the makers have stories to tell. It was what Theaster Gates was saying about how materials actually have stories. It comes layered with meaning. I’m working with a private developer called LIDIS Group who are doing a cultural precinct out in Parramatta in Western Sydney. It’s really good that we’re working early in the process because we’re starting to look at opportunities for us to embed cultural narrative into every aspect of the development. There’s a conference centre, there might be a hotel so we’re looking at an Aboriginal art hotel. But what I think is innovative and what I would really like to achieve with this project is that the built environment becomes a retail outlet, so that the cups you drink out of, the chairs you sit on, the light you turn on, the clock that you read; all those things are products that you can actually buy. And that money goes back to networks of small-scale creators that have made those things so that we can start to rejuvenate local manufacturing, small businesses and micro jobs. And these large spaces, the environments we are creating, start to support small business. The only thing I really want to finish on is that when I talk about social justice, cultural narrative, cultural values and about the connectedness of all of us; these are not just Aboriginal ideas, they are human concepts. So the Western world needs to learn more from Indigenous people who understand how to be better humans.

Aden Ridgeway always says that when Australians can look themselves in the mirror and find their own Aboriginality that’s when we’ll have truly matured as a nation.



I think that’s a beautiful way to finish. Thanks.

PUBLIC CULTURE: Powerful Collaborations & Blurred Boundaries

Cultural tour guide Clinton Walker and PUBLIC artists in the Pilbara. Photograph by Bewley Shaylor, 2015.


Untitled, DALeast PAINTING AT South Hedland Senior High School. Photograph by Bewley Shaylor, 2015.



NA n d i ta k u mAr Artist (Mauritius, New Zealand, India)


R e a c t i n g t o W h at T h e C i t y Off e r s Today I’m going to take you on a journey [about] how I choose to connect with [a larger] community. All of this has come through this huge journey I’ve taken across the planet Earth, right from when I was born in Africa and I lived in different parts of India, migrated to New Zealand, lived in the States, I lived on an organic farm in Austria, and then Bombay. So it was like a slow turn of planet Earth.


I don’t really feel I honestly belong anywhere, but I also belong everywhere.


I’m going to start with that first community art project which I did in Delhi, and this was post me migrating to New Zealand. I travelled for four months not really knowing what I was looking [for], a bit [disillusioned] from art school. I landed up doing this project in Delhi, in a small village, Hauz Khas village. It was called the Gali Art Project. Gali is a term in Hindi which means ‘a very small street.’ I hadn’t really planned on doing this as a community art project. My father had a little shop there, lying empty for seven years and I thought I’d convert it into a studio. I had street children coming in and peeping. Indian kids are really, really curious. And after two days, three days they were like: Could we also come and paint? I started thinking I might get 15 students but it became a project of 65 students, completely unplanned. I decided to approach all the local stores, [saying]: Give me all your broken stuff, all the recycled stuff. The first exercise was with cardboard and colourful papers where everyone started sticking, and then we went and hung it on the street. The children felt they were important and a part of the street. Every day after all the classes, we would walk and claim the street. Hauz Khas village is a very interesting space: one part’s been taken over by the elite and it’s got these high end boutiques, the other half is completely abandoned and it has these village streets, and if you go further down, there are slums. So I went down to the slums and invited them to come over and the next day I had around 45 kids pop in from that side. Now what happened was the village kids didn’t want to sit with the slum kids. So I started doing these projects with drawings where I made each

one sit with one another and do portraits and draw what they liked and didn’t like. That sort of broke the ice. I had only one student leave. We did further small projects, picking up objects from the garden. They found a lot of garbage in the Reserve, even dry plants, leaves, ice cream candies. There were galleries around and I started taking their rubbish, the artists gave me their beer bottles, the hotels gave me broken cutlery and dishes—and I was running out of paper—I let [the children] just go free on the wall in the shop, mosaicked with paper.

because there were no trees on the street. I even managed to organise a small picnic and take [the children] out on the last day and leave them with sketchbooks and coloured pens. I then came back to Bombay after nearly fifteen years and at that point, I didn’t have a studio. I was really broke. My father had just sort of given me bare minimum sustainment.

The first three weeks, we just did a lot of exercises, collected a lot of images and then the last week I decided to go out on the streets. And that’s where the real change actually started.

[I worked with] a group called SNEHA, which is an NGO, funded by the Wellcome Trust to work with women of all ages in Dharavi, one of the largest slums in India. Because I work in a lot of materials, they wanted me to coordinate three different workshops [in] photography, clay, and textile. There were different women upscaling themselves simultaneously while [using] art making as a medium to discuss important issues. Their focus was supposed to be on health and nutrition.

Because I’d already been working with all these children, the parents had started getting involved. One of the mothers used to sweep the streets. So everyday, she would get me these little used plastic cups I could use in my studio, because I just didn’t have anything but this broken stuff and I started using all of that. The guy who was constructing the building on the side said: Oh, if you’re coming out on the wall, I’m going to cement it for you free, and prepared the wall for me. He gave me free scaffolding. I had parents who were electricians doing odd jobs in the room and the community started coming in. I let all of them be free, and let them scratch the walls, draw what they needed to draw. The empty beer bottles became a big joke among the men in the community. We did three big murals. While in the process of painting all of this, I had a cop come up and say: Madam, are you making a Bollywood set? So I was like: uh, no [giggles], I’m doing an art class for free. Free? But why? Because you know, look at the amount of happiness it is bringing along. He just didn’t get it. Then another lady approached me: You’re doing this for votes, aren’t you? And I was like: No, I’m not doing this for a vote, I just want to do it. This was one of the first moments in my life where I felt like I was involved with something and this really shaped my art practice. There was this big crazy storm and the trees fell and I brought some trees

Because I couldn’t have a studio I decided I [would] just react to what the city offers me.

If I am really trying to generate a conversation, it has to be something simple that a large mass of people can connect with. They’re simple topics, common things. I said everyone has a house, some physical space that they can claim up to. I invited all the women for a combined workshop where we mapped everyone’s houses and then we pulled out all these common objects, and from the objects I asked them to narrate a story from their life. So, this is in a giant installation [slide], which was around 60x80 feet, in Dharavi, in a community art centre, which we fully refurbished. And each object in there became a conversation: like the bed became a conversation about contraceptives to—what is rape? Can a husband rape?—to homelessness, caste systems in Dharavi, to the [cooker] gas becoming the symbol of domestic violence where the first day is like a happy day, the second day everyone ate the food, [then] when the food got rotted away because of domestic violence.

And different ladies started picking up different topics. Like the chapatis became little stories which one 18 year old collected with different ladies in Dharavi. We also had good foods to bad foods, to what sweet[ness] did because Indians are real sweet drinkers. The women decided they would title it under Bollywood names. So this [slide] was ‘Cheeni Kum’ which is a Bollywood film but it means ‘less sugar.’ This [slide] became ‘The Dirty Picture,’ which is another Bollywood film. This is about all the epidemics, the water-borne diseases: so there were different photographs which were pasted on to utensils and it was interactive so everyone could pull out, have a look at the photographs, put them in. The women also did their portraits while stitching it was about pre-natal health so a lot of them spoke about nutrients, good food. A lot of them are bound by these responsibilities and they don’t want to try out new things. So I told them:

Ok, these are slippers and you can dream whatever you want to be in these slippers. You have to imagine you don’t have a family. You don’t have any responsibilities, you’re not bound by anything. You just feel free to imagine what you want to be. So [with] these dream slippers somebody wanted to learn to use a laptop, somebody wanted to travel the world, so she chose those Google slippers. Somebody just wanted to go and ride on a plane, she’d never been on a plane; to a lot of gardens, there were no gardens in Dharavi. We had a turnout of nearly 4,000 people in two weeks and people travelled from the borders of Maharashtra, almost four hours away. It was very, very inspiring. I think these two projects have played a major role in how my personal work as an artist went in a different direction.

Element: Earth, Nandita Kumar. Photograph by Bewley Shaylor, 2015.





10 70



launch party nespoon at brookfield place northam silos victoria park laneyway project art battles & PUBLIC SALON OPENING SHADOW OPENING PUBLIC symposium & OPENING art in the city art in china town chinatown closing party



7 6 labs


converge: beastman & vans the omega recrafted: nespoon & nandita kumar PUBLIC SALON: west australian artists power of place: aboriginal artists shadow: ian strange

5 fremantle victoria park claremont leederville perth & northbridge pilbara wheatbelt

community builders: carol colletta & CHARLES LANDRY COLLECTIVES TALK: TIMO SANTALA RESTAURANT DAY: timo santala public playoffs workshop: john bela innovators lab: peter corbett CIVIC INNOVATION making 1+3=5: jesper christiansen 71


Cr e at i v i t y, d e m o c r a c y, u n c e r ta i n t y: dr e a m i n g a n e w c u lt u r a l a r c h i t e c t u r e Dreams. Change. Difference. What if these were the mandatory starting points for urban and master planning for cities and communities? Or what if— initially—there were no plans at all; just uncertainty and possibility, a sense of adventure and enterprise? What if we trusted one of our most precious and often undervalued attributes—our innate creativity— to lead us towards being able ‘to think, plan and act with imagination’ 1 and shape neighbourhoods and cities with social conscience as well as soul? Time and again, the speakers at the PUBLIC Symposium talked about community and citymaking from the perspective of equity rather than economics. That how we creatively share and care for public space is expressive of democracy and social justice. That even technical things like transport and roads are ultimately more to do with ideology and psychology than with engineering. And that better and more ambitious outcomes result more often from uncertainty, and trying things out, than from planning.

author—mags webster

If there was one thing that PUBLIC2015 — the art, Symposium, workshops, exhibitions and conversations — demonstrated, it was that true community-making is best enacted on cycle paths and streets, in parks and laneways; at the intersection of people with buildings, and people with people.

One thing that makes us different from other beings is that we do not have to accept our world as we receive it. We can dream. And we can change it

Keynote speaker Enrique Peñalosa’s opening statement at the PUBLIC Symposium 72

PUBLIC invited us to think about responsibility, ambition, creativity and innovation, and explore how they combine to make healthier, happier, smarter neighbourhoods, towns and cities. The urban artworks—70 of them, by 60 local, national and international artists across nine metropolitan and regional locations—offered the starting point for a wider conversation about how we value our public places and how we want to nurture our communities. Even a simple thing like pausing to watch the murals take shape made people of all ages stop, observe, react, reconsider, relate. What PUBLIC also explored was a moral dimension: the notion of creativity and innovation as a common good; as a means of making something happen in the public realm which benefits human interaction and coexistence whatever the size of the community. Creating great places not only demands the altruism of policy makers and civic leaders, but also the commitment of ordinary citizens, and the acknowledgement from all of us that a city or town, even a street, should feel as open to the most vulnerable members of society as it does to the most privileged. Human habitat is changing. As the world’s population becomes increasingly urbanised, and our lives overlap with the lives of yet more and more people, there’s a need for us to ask more than ever before of the communities and public spaces we share. And what we ask of them, now and for the future, goes further than the basic provision of accommodation, amenity and sustenance. We are looking for environments which respond to our desire to ‘belong’ and also to lead positive, productive lives. And if we want to give back to our communities, we are recognising that we also need to share responsibility for creating them.

Pride of place stems from the investment that we are willing to put into our environs in terms of cooperation, innovation and courage; an eagerness to share common ground and values while resisting sameness. Yet so often the temptation is to think of ‘community’ as someone else’s job, and that’s a shame, because by taking that approach we lose something unique. As distinguished anthropologist and social theorist David Harvey has remarked, ‘the freedom to make and remake our cities and ourselves is…one of the most precious yet most neglected of our human rights.’ 2 Those rights don’t need to be neglected here in Western Australia. Environments where we understand, as people in this country have understood for tens of thousands of years that ‘the landscape is already ‘enlivened’. It is corporeal, it is sentient with the spirit of [the] ancestors who created this country, and this applies as much in cities as it does in rural or remote areas.’3 What if all of these elements were a true expression of the contradictions of the people who lived and worked and played in these places, their strengths and vulnerabilities, joys and heartaches, restlessness and constancy. That they showed more of the indomitability, generosity and confidence of the human spirit, and less of its meanness. What would these places look like, how would they feel? Could they be our cities, our neighbourhoods? Are we ready to turn ‘there’ into ‘here’, ‘then’ into ‘now’?

Charles Landry David Harvey ‘The Right to the City’ 3 Hetti Perkins 1


author—mags webster


Untitled, Phlegm, Fremantle. Photograph by Bewley Shaylor, 2015.




Memory of the Land, AEC, Northbridge. Photograph by Bewley Shaylor, 2015.



ART & COMMUNITY: PUBLIC IN ACTION This session, moderated by art collector and curator Andrew King, featured three leading artists, Stormie Mills, Nandita Kumar and Ian Strange, who each talked about the relationship between their art practice, community and environment.

Memory of the Land, DETAIL, AEC, Northbridge. Photograph by Bewley Shaylor, 2015.



F i n d i n g o u r Pl a c e : a r t, a r t i s t s a n d citizens in urban and regional ecologies

author—sharmila wood

No matter how long or short a time we live in a place, we inherit the responsibility for knowing about it, valuing it, working to keep it viable, and illuminating our dynamic cultural spaces and their underlying, often invisible meanings and uses. Lucy Lippard, Lure of the Local (1997) The idea of ‘Perth’ is constantly changing and expanding. In the brief history of Australia since colonisation the concept of Perth is still new, continuing to be contested and negotiated, imagined and shaped. Currently, there is a particularly fervent sense of development as the city undergoes visible physical change through large-scale infrastructure and capital projects. Of course buildings matter, but as the city’s urban and suburban landscape is reshaped, and the State’s regional dynamic becomes increasingly relevant, PUBLIC examines the role of art, artists and citizens in the development of a flourishing urban and regional ecology for Western Australia. Offering a platform for art and citizen-led engagement, PUBLIC tenders an antidote to the monumentality of the built environment, providing our city and its places with a skin that adds texture, colour and a renewed intimacy with the local environment. During the 2015 program, the deployment of artists across the neighbourhoods of Victoria Park, Leederville, Claremont, Fremantle and Northbridge transformed previously non-art territories into spaces for visual culture.

This artistic activity was a way to reimagine spaces not zoned for creative expression, claiming sites for artists and offering an alternative to the control exerted by private bodies, government and corporations. Although most of the PUBLIC artists are commonly affiliated with the muralist movement and urban art, they embraced the opportunity to create artwork in regional Western Australia. At various sites in the Pilbara, including, most significantly, the High School in Port Hedland, and silos in the Wheatbelt, PUBLIC artists were united by a community of practice that takes a raw, blank or abandoned site and transforms this into a work of art for the public realm. As artists think, see, and feel situations differently from architects, real estate developers, designers, or planners this offers another element in how we shape and imagine the function of public space. The UN-HABITAT Sustainable Urban Development and Project for Public Spaces Place Making and the Future of Cities report identifies that an interdisciplinary and multi-sectoral approach to public space is valuable in thinking about how to maximise the ripple effect of good public space across many different facets of the social fabric. ‘Healthy public spaces are the springboard for revitalizing communities, whatever they are and wherever they are. That an attractive, active, wellfunctioning public space can jumpstart economic development in a community – from a small rural town to a big city – is being recognized increasingly around the world.’

PUBLIC values public space as a platform for creativity and for a sensorial human experience of the street. Many PUBLIC artists emerged from the ethos of graffiti and anarchistic creative expression, which had its own set of codes, hierarchies and rules, but most have now entered the expanded discourse of art history and institutions. Rather than an illegal


hi-jacking of public space, earning the right to a wall in PUBLIC requires curatorial selection and a strong history of professional experience and detailed brokerage including permissions from regulatory bodies, insurance policies, adherence to occupational health and safety rules, and approval from business owners. This system of legitimacy reveals that urban space is never neutral and its ownership involves entering into often timely negotiation with the regulated and legislated city. However, compared to gallery, studio or museum practice, artists operate on refreshing frontiers. Placing art into everyday life sparks conversation and commentary, ranging from criticism to enchantment. During PUBLIC there is a constant flow of interaction between artists and people, this immediate and practical engagement reveals how the act of painting is in itself a catalyst that can energise and transform. The legacy of the art which remains may receive different receptions, and whether positive or antagonistic, the discussion is valuable because it brings renewed focus to public space. PUBLIC orients people towards thinking more critically about their shared, communal environments. For Amanda Burden, who was New York’s Chief Urban Planner and fought to ensure the High Line and Brooklyn waterfront were green and non-commercial, public spaces are what make cities work. ‘Even more important than buildings in a city are the public spaces in between them. And today, some of the most transformative changes in cities are happening in these public spaces,’ she asserts.

As PUBLIC shows, it is in these crevices of the city that imagination, creativity and the citizen can begin to shape a place in fresh ways. This sense of co-creation ensures our environment reflects a glorious multiplicity of visions that in turn can strengthen a sense of community belonging and social cohesion. While Perth is blessed with accessible public space—in particularly essential green space—as our city fills in, champions are required to advocate the need for these areas, and in turn the design of a public realm that can respond to people’s usage, needs and desires. At the same time as bringing focus to the importance of public space, artists in PUBLIC and speakers at the collateral Symposium event highlighted the need for place to reflect and refract the distinctiveness of local character, culture, landscape, nature and community. During PUBLIC, many artists were sensitive to capturing a distinctive sense of place in their art pieces and working with the context of the surrounding environs. Yet, in Perth as many cities, place is difficult to define, and can mean different things to different people. Perhaps it’s the landscape and nature of Western Australia, the lifestyle or the community and culture which could be identified as defining a sense of place.


In The Lure of the Local, Lucy Lippard explores the multi-centredness of place: ‘Place is latitudinal and longitudinal within the map of a person’s life,’ she writes, ‘it is temporal and spatial, personal and political. A layered location replete with human histories and memories, place has width as well as depth. It is about connections, what surrounds it, what formed it, what happened there, what will happen there.’ In seeking to express place in their artwork, many of the artists travelling from abroad to participate in PUBLIC over both 2014 and 2015 turned to Aboriginal culture as a way to understand somewhere strange and unfamiliar. It is easy to understand this appeal, as Aboriginal heritage has deep rootedness and lineage whilst expressing a sensual and kinaesthetically rich understanding and idea of place that offers multiple worlds and possibilities, yet is firmly connected to locations, sites and land. The visiting artists’ interest in Aboriginal culture and heritage raises important questions about how Aboriginal cultural expression finds a platform in Perth.

When we survey our built landscape, the absence and silences around Aboriginal history, heritage and cultural expression are telling.

Within our existing environment, PUBLIC highlights how a cultural dimension can be reinstated into our surroundings, wedging open the possibilities for conceptualising how we use and reclaim our public spaces for creative expression and civic engagement.

Husband and Wife Story (detail), Ginger Wikilyiri and Iyawi Wikilyiri. Tjunga Palya. Photograph by Bewley Shaylor, 2015.

Through aesthetics we can beautify our built environment, but more than this we can add depth, explore identity and celebrate the multiplicity of place in a way that shows the evolution of our society. PUBLIC artists transforming public space in the city and in the regions reveal how imagination can stretch the possibilities of thinking about place and its meanings, as well as revealing our own place in the world.

Living art is not a nice to have, it’s a must have

Alison Page (Symposium speaker, designer, Sydney)

author—sharmila wood

This invisibility reflects the displacement of culture and people. It furthermore suggests an approach to shaping our city that has missed the opportunity to create a rich, multi-layered and complex reflection of place that gives our city more soul, heals the past and builds distinct cultural character. Similarly, celebrating Perth’s internationalism and global connections through migration, our rich diaspora and history of multiculturalism could only enhance the city’s appeal and combat its provincial reputation. Numerous studies point to how cities that nurture their heritage, creative and cultural assets stimulate growth, renewal, interest and investment, as well as making them more dynamic, interesting and inclusive places to live. As our city and our State enters a new stage of growth there is a tremendous opportunity to integrate a representation of place into the fabric of our built environment reflecting the hybridity, complexity and sophistication of the community.




100 Hampton Road resident Kym preparing lunch for Christmas, Fremantle. Photograph by Bewley Shaylor, 2014.


C u r at i n g a c o mm u n i t y: PUB L IC i n a c t i o n at 1 0 0 H a m p t o n R o a d

The 100 Hampton Road project in Fremantle is PUBLIC in action: a curated community engagement process which uses creativity for the common good. In April 2014, FORM embarked on a two-year program of putting PUBLIC into action at Western Australia’s largest lodging house, through social engagement (shared weekly lunches, furnituremaking sessions, art workshops and bike restoration) and environmental improvements (interior makeovers, garden landscaping, and artist residencies). It’s a collaboration with the site manager Foundation Housing and also with local chefs, artists and designer-makers; but the biggest collaboration by far is with the people who live at 100 Hampton Road and in the surrounding Fremantle community. This is theory fully carried through into practice. The aim is to show how much difference the application of creativity can make to quality of life, social relationships, community cohesion, and the confidence and wellbeing of individuals. Coupled with imaginative interventions to improve the physical appearance of 100 Hampton Road – murals, landscaping, upgrades to the common areas – the program encourages inhabitants not only to get together but also make something together. Stools from the furniture sessions have sold out at local fairs. The weekly shared lunches have expanded into making delicatessen products. Late in 2014, the 100 Hampton Road project was awarded Fremantle’s annual Impact100 grant, comprising donations of $1000 from a total of one hundred members of the local community. The money is paying for the equipment and fit-out of an on-site commercial kitchen, where 100 Hampton Road residents will produce a line of chutneys, preserves and more for sale in local outlets and potentially, a self-managed micro-enterprise. These shared experiences have been observed to make a difference in several really important ways, the combination of personal growth and collective responsibility seeding the conditions for stability and aspiration. For some people living at Hampton Road, the lunches have been the catalyst to venturing out of their rooms, and talking to their neighbours. Others have used the activities as a springboard to greater participation, a stepping stone out of social housing, increased earning prospects, employment.

When PUBLIC2015 happened, 100 Hampton Road was fully on board. Residents stepped up to volunteer, and became involved in everything from envelope stuffing to traffic and people management around the sites where PUBLIC’s artists were painting in Fremantle. The Hampton Road building itself became the focus of a PUBLIC intervention. John Bela (read more about him on page 54) of the Gehl Studio in San Francisco, day-long masterclass, challenging teams of landscape architects to design prototype schemes or installations which would activate the lodging house site, and engage and connect both residents and the surrounding community. All this activity is having a direct and positive effect on residents’ perceptions of themselves, their fellow residents and their home, and this more optimistic mindset is transmitting outward to the surrounding community. From being a metaphorical blind spot, 100 Hampton Road is transitioning to a valued, important and integral component of Fremantle’s diversity. It’s helping people to emerge from invisibility to visibility, for the right reasons. FORM’s involvement with the 100 Hampton Road project has a further year to run. Every stage of the process is documented to provide the basis for ongoing research and evaluation. Testing the success of this model—a curated process, using all forms of creativity for the public good—is important because of its potential and adaptability for different types of communities. So as FORM looks towards PUBLIC2016, it is with the ambition to trial something like the 100 Hampton Road project elsewhere.

This will show Fremantle that 100 Hampton Road is a place we can be proud of.

My initial dealings with this property were partly due to the more negative effects on the local community but FORM have been instrumental in turning that around both in creating a sense of community within the development and but also reaching out to nearby residents

Cr Rachel Pemberton, City of Fremantle

The verb ‘curate’ comes from the Latin curare ‘to care,’ and this project encompasses the many meanings of care and caring. Care from the perspective of personal responsibility and concern. Caring for and caring about. Carefulness in attention to detail. Caring in the sense of safekeeping. Care when it is about stewardship of a physical environment, caring also about how that environment looks. And at its most fundamental level it’s about caring in the sense of consideration and respect for fellow human beings, and people being able to care about and respect themselves.

Tim, 100 Hampton Road resident





Hippocampus subelongatus, Amok Island, 100 Hampton Road, Fremantle. Photograph by Bewley Shaylor, 2015.

Thanks very much … for fixing up the garden out the front and putting the murals up. [It’s] given the place a bit of colour, bit of character. Before it was just bland and pretty boring. But now it’s more active, more people orientated. It’s definitely changed for the better.

Rae, 100 Hampton Road resident



Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt with 100 Hampton Road residents, Cat and John and FORM staff member Rebecca at the Garage Sale Trail. Photograph by Jean Paul Horre, 2014.



moneyless I love cities like Perth because it’s totally different if you compare to the Italian ones. I love the idea that it’s so easy to find a wall to paint. [In Italy] there is a lot of restriction for historical buildings. Here, everything its new so it’s easier. Maybe certain kinds of paintings fit also, especially mine. It’s the first time that I work on big surfaces like that [in Perth]. I have done a lot of big walls but the height. My standard is 15-20. This is almost 30. The first wall I love it for the dimensions of the project. And the second one because it’s the first time that I’ve tried this new style on the wall. Also, I’m so proud to work on the walls of the State Theatre. It was incredible.

I have started to break the sign of the circle and I am focusing more on intersection of lines. All this work is about fragmentation. It’s something that I’ve been wanting to do for a long time but everybody asks me always to draw circles because it’s the style that made me famous around the world. I feel that it’s the time to change a little bit and evolve into this kind of thing. I hope I bring something new. Something that is not usual for the people here, because I saw most of the artists here work with figurative [style] or characters, stuff like that. So maybe my abstract style can inspire someone. This is an edited extract of an interview with Italian artist, Moneyless.


Untitled, Moneyless, Northbridge. Photograph by Jarrad Seng, 2015.


I came late and everyone was already here and I didn’t know the wall so I have to make a really hard work in a really short period of time. I liked it. It was super-good. When I paint outside, it’s super different painting on a canvas or indoors. I always work with the relation of the geography, the history and the social meanings of the local place where I am because it’s where I take care of it. It’s a way to work on something that is super gentrificated [sic], like street art. You can find the same wall here or in New York or in Brazil and Argentina. For me it’s important to think that when you finish a painting on the streets it’s not yours anymore. It’s the people’s now. They can do what they want. I really don’t care about the finished image of the wall, only the knowledge behind, it’s what I most take care of. That’s maybe in my personal self, but also it’s a different way painting on the streets. For me, it’s not just to make art. It’s to make something like architecture, because with a very small act like painting on the streets, you can change a place. Maybe the wall I was painting in Chinatown was on a very small street where nothing was, and [with] painting you can change the place and also make the local people feel some identity of the spot, and restart the city and the community, and make the people take care of the city. I don’t know how it works here but in Buenos Aries almost no one takes care of what’s going on outdoors.

[Perth] is like a very strong point in the world with very good street art quality. There are many paintings, very good ones. Also the walls are quite big and they are very visible from the streets. It’s a super-young city. It’s very important for a new city like Perth to integrate with a new contemporary art that can be street art because it’s what’s going on right now. It’s super-present everywhere. Maybe in old cities street art is covering empty spaces and non-functional places, and I don’t know, painting under a highway. Here, it’s being a part of the real city. It’s not behind the city. That’s quite important for the city and for us too. I really want to come back. I think it was one of the best festivals I ever visited. This is an edited extract of an interview with Argentinian artist, Pastel.

pa s te l

Untitled, Pastel, Northbridge. Photograph by LUKE SHIRLAW, 2015.





I started to make ceramics, and when I started to make ceramics I stopped painting for two years. From the ceramics came the lace. Because everywhere you had ceramics, people used lace for the tableware. It was so simple to take the lace. The lace is so beautiful that you don’t need the function like a cup or a plate. Why? It’s so beautiful alone. What is nice is the structure. In tableware, usually they put it flat, totally flat, but I don’t have to. And I can be totally free because I can choose lace from all over the world. It’s a special project, a very emotional project, to show the way how I’m working since three years and to show the process. I said: ok one day one gallery will find me. And then one day it came: the perfect gallery in the perfect place. I really, all the time feel so thankful because you know, [FORM] invites artists from Poland. When you have so many great artists [here] outside. For me it’s amazing.


I fell in love with the wall when I saw the pictures. Before that I had another wall. They gave me another wall and I was sitting and no, I don’t feel the wall and I was going around in circles and looking on the wall 1000 times and no. Not for me. And when they sent me the second picture I said yes, that’s it. This is the perfect wall. The inspiration is always the wall. The walls says to me how it has to be. What I can say what for me in Perth was nice; it’s a city which is nice because it is more human. Hong Kong has high buildings and it’s very powerful but it’s hard to live. Ok you have some high buildings but you have different buildings with different harmony. Here you have everything.

This is an edited extract of an interview with Polish Artist NeSpoon


Entanglement, NeSpoon, light panel and installation. Photograph by Bewley Shaylor, 2015.



Homecoming b u t n o t ‘ h o m e ’:

ian strange—edited presentation

the aesthetic of Ian Str ange


The artworks and exhibitions which featured during PUBLIC connected to the idea of place in a variety of ways. They included a gallery-based examination of the relationship between city design and aesthetic structure (Recrafted, with Nandita Kumar & NesPoon); place as a network of kin, land and relationships (Power of Place); a commercial salon-style survey linking street and fine art techniques by over 100 West Australian artists (PUBLIC SALON); and of course the massive openair ‘gallery’ of urban art and murals which spanned several neighbourhoods and regions and reached as far as the Pilbara. But of all these installations and artworks, perhaps the most unusual, challenging and intriguing was a meditation on suburbia, conceived and executed by Perth-born, New York-based artist Ian Strange. SHADOW, presented in almost black-out conditions inside a customised venue in Perth’s city centre, took ordinary 1950s suburban homes and depicted them as the negative—or (in Jungian terms) ‘shadow’—of themselves, in a series of haunting images, soundscape and a film work. Strange had caused these houses, real places in Perth, to be painted pitch black and then to be exquisitely photographed. In the brooding intensity of the exhibition’s darkness, the images had the viewer wondering whether these houses actually were still solid buildings. Or were they house-shaped absences in the middle of each softly-lit frame? Walking into the exhibition felt like entering an immersive theatre experience, Hotel California-style, so that when emerging from SHADOW, you didn’t exactly feel like you were leaving it behind. The powerful aura created by the soundscape and the visuals, combined with the subject matter— ordinary family homes recast as the inverse of themselves—created something deeply uncanny, a true evocation of Freud’s unheimlich (literally,

unhomely). As Strange himself has said, the shadow is what remains unseen, unspoken: it’s the unknown. Though some visitors found this unsettling paradox somewhat confronting—‘terrifying,’ said one—others were drawn to Strange’s underbelly perspective and the slightly claustrophobic sensation it evoked. ‘Ian explores an aspect of suburban life that has been ever present and at the same time ambiguous’, one visitor noted. ‘Having grown up in the northern suburbs…it was very familiar [to me].’

Amid all of PUBLIC’s conversations about connection, happiness, neighbourhoods, and belonging, SHADOW felt like an important and necessary counterweight. Aside from being a major new work by a significant West Australian artist who is fast building an international reputation, SHADOW served as a perhaps not altogether comfortable reminder of the darkness which is part of us, and also a part of home. The disorienting nature of this neighbourhood dystopia is central to Strange’s thesis, one which he has been exploring for some years in site-specific work in the USA, New Zealand and South Australia. What is suburbia after all, if not the ‘otherworld’ of cities? Strange says that growing up as a creative kid in the Perth suburbs in the pre-Internet age was an isolating and alienating experience. His school-teacher parents always encouraged him to explore his creativity, however, so he spent ‘a lot of time making film and art projects with friends.’ This developed into a street art practice, and in the early stages of his career, Strange was better known by the pseudonym Kidzoom. His eventual relocation to New York City pushed him into different realms artistically as well as geographically, realms where he could recalibrate his perspective on his upbringing, and the effect of its setting on his psyche.

‘I needed to leave Perth to make the kind of work I now make,’ Strange observes. ‘It’s a place I simultaneously find fascinating and also [needed] to escape from when I was younger.’ Strange draws inspiration from Chris McAuliffe’s Art and Suburbia and Australian Ugliness by Robin Boyd. McAuliffe suggests that suburbia can be viewed through an apophatic lens, namely ‘by saying what it is not (not city, not country, not centre) rather than what it is’ and argues that this allows the suburbs to be spoken of ‘in metaphorical as well as material terms’. SHADOW is a direct progression from Landed (Art Gallery of South Australia 2014), where Strange installed an all-black house which appeared to be sinking into the gallery forecourt. In the latest iteration of this theme, Strange’s apparent erasure of the Perth houses creates a dialogue between presence and absence, and pushes the subject towards the ‘denial’ of place examined by Boyd. Developing work of this scale and nature, which involves large crews of filmmakers and technicians who (in the case of SHADOW) took over a fortnight to landscape, restore and paint and then film each individual house, is a marathon undertaking. For each project, Strange’s partner, Darwin-born, Perthraised producer and project manager Jedda Andrews controls the production and facilitates Strange’s artistic vision. Andrews, who met Strange nearly a decade ago, also comes from a creative family, with parents involved in design and performing arts, and a brother who is an artist. She has an independent production company, JMA Projects, which supports artist development. ‘I am passionate about younger artists getting the right advice and access to facilities early on in their careers,’ she says. ‘I have a lot of friends in creative


fields who are just starting their professional careers, so I have started to work with them on some smaller projects as well as basic business development.’ For now, she concentrates on the visual arts, but hopes to expand her portfolio to artists working in performing arts and other creative fields.

As well as being a sounding board for her partner while he is developing his ideas, Andrews’ role in smoothing the way for Strange’s projects cannot be underestimated. His work is often ‘logistically difficult to manage’ in unfamiliar cities, so Andrews sources local producers or arts organisations with whom to collaborate. Often she will arrive ahead of Strange and work with a local producer on securing locations and facilities.

Once the local team has been established, Andrews is responsible for the day-to-day supervision of the project, and when the crew’s work is done, she and Strange continue to organise the exhibition or display of the work. ‘We are often in various stages of anywhere up to five projects at any given time, so there’s always something to do.’ It’s safe to say that those projects will involve further ‘house interventions’ and explorations on the nature of suburbia. While Strange has appreciated coming back to his place of origin to make work, he doesn’t see this ‘homecoming’ as the culmination of this artistic line of enquiry. ‘While making SHADOW I have also used the opportunity of a residency to develop further work and it is very much my intention to continue making work on the same theme. As with most of these projects, one idea leads to the next.’

The great thing about street art is that you know an individual’s stood there against that wall and made that work, and it makes the city feel more human

Ian Strange (Symposium speaker, artist, Perth & New York City)

ian strange—edited presentatioN

Shadow, Ian Strange, Perth. Photograph by Bewley Shaylor, 2015.


author—sharmila wood



Phlegm sketches, Fremantle. Photograph by JEAN PAUL HORRE. 2015.


P a i n t s , W a ll s , Buckets and Socks: how the PUB L IC m u r a l s happen FORM’s Rhianna Pezzaniti is project manager of PUBLIC’s urban art program. As she reveals, she’s also travel agent, visa advisor, taxi, chef, logistics coordinator, paint estimator, artist tamer and all-round trouble-shooter… Q: How does FORM choose the artists?

Q: Where are they from? The artists are a mix of local, national and international talent. Having international artists as part of PUBLIC really puts Perth and Western Australia on the map as far as urban art is concerned. These artists have a large fan-base and a worldwide following. Most will not have been to Australia before. As far as PUBLIC2015 was concerned, many had heard good reports from the 2014 artists (a global, select and highly talkative community) and were eager to come. Another attraction for some of the 2015 artists was the dialogue we were proposing to create around PUBLIC through the Symposium. These guys are often city-based, not only in terms of where they live but also where they typically work, so the idea of Australia and its expansive landscape

Untitled (detail), Phlegm, Fremantle. Photograph by JEAN PAUL HORRE. 2015.

seems very alluring to them. Plus the kangaroos, definitely the kangaroos. The artists are also interested in working in a city context they perceive as still developing its own character. For example Pastel from Argentina notes that Perth, in contrast to ‘older’ cities, seems (from an outsider’s perspective) to have integrated art into the visible fabric of the city rather than tucking it ‘behind’ things or in ‘empty spaces and non-functional places’. Logistically it is much easier to organise artists already based here, so conversations with the Australian artists focus mainly on the walls and their specific requirements. In 2014 we worked with 22 Western Australian and seven national artists. This year we doubled the number of Western Australian artists to 40 (and seven national). It was a good choice, as we were stoked to work with some brilliant new artists and the quality of work blew us away. Bruno Booth, James Giddy, Brenton See and Hosae were among some of our ‘local heroes.’


A year in advance, we research, select and approach prospective artists. We do this in stages as the number we can invite is largely dependent on the number of walls we obtain permission for, and the overall budget. Potential artists are sourced from various outlets including street art blogs, magazines, social media accounts and word-of-mouth. We’re increasingly inundated with requests from artists all over the world who have heard about PUBLIC and are keen to be involved. Once we have developed a diverse database, we then shortlist a selection for discussion with FORM’s curatorial team. We base our final selection on a number of factors, including style and aesthetic, characteristics of the potential locations, and recommendations from other artists. With all the truly talented artists out there it can be difficult. We have to make some tough decisions— but someone’s got to do it! Once we’ve made our choice, we initiate a conversation via email.



Q: What locations and which walls? Around six months out we begin our campaign for walls. While we are perpetually on the hunt, it isn’t until we determine which location/s we will be working in that we actually can begin canvassing the streets. This year, our funding partners and the level of interest from various community groups guided our choice of locations. We also encouraged the general public to write in and suggest walls in their neighbourhoods they thought were long overdue for attention. We complete wall audits down the main drag of each location taking photos and notes of our top choices: the dimensions, lift requirements, footpath obstructions, and services. Then we begin the long process of obtaining permissions from the relevant parties and submitting the required paperwork to council. This part takes the longest but once locked in it allows the other elements like artist and wall allocations, equipment and logistics to fall into place.


Q: What else is essential in pulling off an event like this?

There’s a widespread perception that artists do what they do for the love of it; that the promotional and reputational benefits in having work on a public wall is of itself enough. Through PUBLIC, FORM is trying to change these misconceptions, to remind people that artists in fact do eat, pay rent, and have the same strains and stresses that we ‘non-artists’ have, often with much less financial security. There has been a significant surge in the number of walls as well as private commissions being offered up for PUBLIC, but few of them come with any financial support or understanding of the actual costs. To realise an artwork requires a considerable amount of planning. Permissions need to be signed; equipment to be booked; paint ordered; traffic management planned; councils negotiated with. It involves a lot more paperwork than one might think. So while muralism is becoming an increasingly popular method for local governments and organisations like FORM to make a statement about the importance of arts and creativity to our public spaces, there’s work still to be done in educating everyone about the value this can bring to our cities. That it’s more than paint on a wall and free promotion for the artist.

Community support is essential to any significant festival or program, as is the ability to raise funding. Throughout the planning and development process, we’re unwavering in our efforts to raise money for this highly ambitious project. Encouragement and support is relatively easy to come by. There’s an obvious appetite for this kind of program, which is indeed heartening and helps to reinforce FORM’s commitment. This backing is reflected by the foot traffic at the walls across the event and every weekend since; the audience attendance and participation across the Symposium and exhibitions; and in more subtle ways through survey feedback. Financial support however continues to be the biggest challenge in the whole process. Paint is also essential, obviously. It helps to have incredibly flexible and accommodating suppliers like The Butcher Shop and Belmont Inspirations. The litres of paint used during PUBLIC 2015 would be in the thousands, spray cans in the hundreds, and as for the dollar amount, let’s not even go there. Volunteers are also worth their weight in gold. This year we had over 25 committed volunteers— emerging artists, lovers of street art, and lovers of Perth—helping at each artwork site. They supplied water, took photos, carried out surveying, ‘spotted’ for the artists and lift operators (to make sure they avoided obstacles and hazards) and chatted to the public about the artists and artworks. We cannot thank them enough. One final element that is essential to any good street art festival is tradie discounts. Because at this scale, ladders, paint, brushes, bollards, tape, rollers and buckets are not cheap.

Q: What makes a great wall and why?

Q: What is it like working with the artists?

Hmmm, a great wall. Something I am constantly on the lookout for. It can be entirely dependent on the artist; with walls, different people see something completely unique, and specifically suited to their style. In broad terms though, ideal walls are prominent and accessible, rendered, and free from too many services like pipes or AC units. Size (the bigger the better) matters too. Some artists (like Elian from Argentina) seek out walls with interesting architectural characteristics, allowing different textures, materials and features to be as much a part of the work as how he uses colour. He’s pioneered a new technique in Chinatown, focusing on the negative space to allow the different textures of the building materials to shine through so that we now

The best thing in a festival environment like PUBLIC is you make great friends, really quickly. While we have spent months communicating online, it isn’t until the painting starts that you really get to know the artists. You eat with them, ferry them to and from their walls, do Bunnings runs at 7am for more paint and buy them socks. Working with 60 artists means that day-to-day management is a mammoth undertaking and a scheduling nightmare, but that’s balanced by how constantly inspiring it is to work with such a bunch of talented humans. Learning how their process unfolds is incredibly interesting as each practice is unique, and watching them interact with the public about their work and lives is brilliant (and amusing at times)

Q: Is it easy to get walls?


see the building in a completely different light. There are also artists like NeSpoon (Poland), who prefers older walls with a slightly weathered character, to contrast with her delicate doily-inspired creations. Above all, we strive to find walls which offer an interesting opportunity for the artist to reflect on or respond to their surroundings or themselves. Whether we succeed every time is difficult to say, all I know is I will never again look at a blank wall in the same way.

but it shows that they ‘get’ what PUBLIC is about. Witnessing the unique way in which they see their surroundings and their ability to translate that onto a surface with little more than a brush and some paint, is indeed a privilege. This year, despite moments of desperation caused by walls being withdrawn lastminute, or unrelenting rain, the artists maintained good humour and produced works of incredible scale and beauty, for which FORM—and Perth—will be forever grateful. Q: Who are the unsung heroes of PUBLIC? The men and women behind the scenes, or more accurately, the ‘buckets’ or operators. Australian law requires that any wall exceeding 11m in height must have a qualified operator driving the elevated work platforms. Most artists, particularly from countries in Europe or South America, don’t have tickets so FORM was obliged to hire operators for


Q: What was one of the most rewarding experiences of PUBLIC2015? Watching the public engage with the art happening on the 38-metre-high CBH grain silos in Northam. Two awesome artists, Phlegm (UK) and Hense (Atlanta, USA), were entrusted with these massive structures. The scale was immense, the project logistically challenging and we had to resolve anxieties around the safety of working at such heights on such an active worksite. With a lot of preparation, training and with the firm support from the CBH staff, the artists along with four support staff managed to pull off a feat of epic proportions. Spending time on and off the silos with the artists was a privilege, as was getting to know the onsite staff who told us stories of their lives in the Wheatbelt and what this project meant for them. Daily, hundreds of truckies unloading their cargo asked us what on earth we were doing, but as the artworks progressed, those

questions turned into murmurs of appreciation through the truck windows; and by the end of the fortnight they were getting out of their cabins to take progress shots on their phones. The response from the Northam community was just as significant, with passing carloads of people stopping or honking every day. The project was so successful that a dedicated viewing platform is now being planned; and hopefully more arts activity in the Wheatbelt

Untitled, Curiot, Perth. Photograph by Jarrad Seng, 2015.


almost 75% of the 70 walls. These operators not only manoeuvred heavy duty machinery for hours on end each day, sometimes having to negotiate incredibly tight spaces and busy intersections, but were also the artist’s personal sounding board for many of the installations. More accustomed to working on mining and construction sites, these operators suddenly found themselves debating colour palettes, fetching lunches, and picking up paint rollers to help the artists prime the basecoat of their walls. These were special people without whom many of the most epic works, like the CBH grain silos in Northam or the TAFE walls in Northbridge, would not have been possible.



Monolithic Makeover: PUB L IC i n t h e W h e at b e lt

left Untitled, Phlegm, CBH Avon grain silos, Northam. Photograph by Bewley Shaylor, 2015.


RIGHT Untitled, DETAIL, Hense, CBH Avon grain silos, Northam. Photograph by Bewley Shaylor, 2015.


Painting the grain silos in Northam was amazing, one of the most interesting structures and projects I’ve worked on: an interesting location and landscape as well as scale, surface and function. This was also my first trip to Australia and I truly can say that it was a once in a lifetime experience.

HENSE (Atlanta, USA), participating artist

In 2015 PUBLIC pressed north of the city into the Wheatbelt’s heartland of patchwork fields, russetblond hills and unhurried charm. Here, a project of monumental scale awaited internationally acclaimed London artist Phlegm and American HENSE, fresh from California where he was working on an installation for the Gehry-designed global Facebook HQ. With boom lifts, aerosols and enamel, the artists splashed a series of 10-storey murals across eight huge storage towers belonging the State’s grain handler, CBH. Phlegm painted intricate, black and white storybook characters, all long-limbed and whimsical, manning impossible flying machines with wings and wheels, baskets and balloons, anchors and drop weights. HENSE made dizzying colours, patterns and designs dance on epic blocks of blue, purple and yellow. The silos have become a vivid landmark visible from the vast curving stretch of highway connecting Northam to Perth, a playful honouring of the town’s mainstay agricultural industry inscribed across its most iconic architectural forms, a 38-metre-tall Wheatbelt welcome beacon and the most unlikely of tourist attractions. Meanwhile, on a wall off Northam’s main street, Perth lad Chris Nixon’s orange vintage mini careens off the pavement, passing a drifting blue hot air balloon as it roars toward the Avon River. Nixon painted the Flying 50, a joyful take on the town’s history and attractions, on the weekend of the eponymous old-school car rally, and his work drew knots of onlookers to witness art imitating life. The shared experience became a connection point, a source of vibrancy, giving people reason to pause on their familiar sidewalks and take delighted ownership of their walls.





How the ‘known ’ enriches the ‘ unknown:’ PUB L IC r e s e a r c h


PUBLIC’s main aim is expressed in FORM’s full name: FORM building a state of creativity. The double meaning, referring both to the ‘State’ of Western Australia and to ‘state’ as in ‘the condition of’, signals FORM’s conviction that good things happen in communities when being in a ‘state of creativity’ is encouraged and developed: challenges suddenly have more solutions, self-reflection is fostered, and a community’s vision of itself enlarges and becomes more inclusive. Yet as we advance towards a state of creativity, we move further into the unknown. How do we know if we’ve moved closer to our vision? What impact does our programming actually have on people? Do we succeed in promoting artistic excellence while bringing art and people together for the public good? During PUBLIC2015, FORM asked people to share their experiences of the program’s art, exhibitions, conversations and ideas. Sensitive, engaging measurement allows people crucial time for reflection, it can cement the relationship between audience and artist or organisation, and it can deepen and consolidate the cultural experience. Measurement also functions as an extra touch point with the public, who are after all, along with artists, the main reason that we do what we do. These infographics represent some of the more straightforward results, like attendance and what people did after visiting the murals. The research also asked more complex questions, however, both in terms of their qualitative nature and the actual meaning of the responses. We asked if people agreed with the statement, ‘It [the arts experience] could engage people from

different backgrounds’. This statement connects to the extent to which programming (like PUBLIC) reaches out to people in ways that embrace a diversity of cultural experience. 90% of people agreed that it could. There is something quite powerful in this response, as it appears to acknowledge not only the international diversity of PUBLIC’s artists but also perhaps the essentially ‘open’ gesture of the artworks in public spaces, their intrinsically charitable nature, their function as a ‘gift’ to anyone who might want to pause and look at them. There is also something of both a deeper and higher order at work, as responding to this statement required people to consider the artwork from the way it might appear and have meaning to others. FORM is effectively asking the audience to ‘think in the place of another’, to temporarily inhabit another’s viewpoint. When considering that ninety percent of people agreed that PUBLIC could engage a diverse audience, it says something about the ethical dimensions of both the artwork itself and people’s openness to being asked about it. Another statement was ‘It helped me feel connected to my community’. It’s worth pausing to consider just how high this statement sets the bar. Given that many people encountered the artwork surrounded by people they didn’t know, it’s almost audacious to ask this question. Yet 83% agreed that it helped them feel more connected to their community. Perhaps getting closer to building a state of creativity also means getting closer (collectively) to building a sense of community.




40 13

Up to 15m high

Western Australian artists

i n t e r n at i o n a l a rt i s t s


i n t e r stat e a rt i st s



artworks created


artist residencies to the Pilbara

Estimated attendance of

exhibitions & opening events


EQUIPMENT/ machinery

20 Scissor Lifts




Knuckle Booms

Elevated Work Platforms Across 9 precints

60ft Knuckle Booms




Trailer Mounted Booms


Knuckle Boom






80% of people stayed in the area to do other things



thought it was important that PUBLIC was happening in the place it was.


would come to something like PUBLIC again.

89% thought PUBLIC could engage people from different backgrounds.







Work-related task

14% gallery visit

Food / Drink

18% Shopping


Symposium Estimated attendance of 750 over the three days from survey responses











29% 31-40


thought it was absorbing and held their attention


thought it could engage people from different backgrounds


countries 88% Female

11% Male

agreement that events like the PUBLIC Symposium are important for WA



twitter @formwa tagged



763 Favourites


Total Interactions on Twitter Generated From 10-19 April 2015

Total FACEBOOK likes





Total Comments


Total Interactions on Facebook Generated From 10-19 April 2015


Total Shares


13,425 Reach



Increase in instagram followers (Since PUBLIC2014)

Start to Finish 10-19 April 97


Untitled, James Giddy, Leederville. Photograph by Jarrad Seng, 2015.





B u i ld i n g a s e n s e o f c o mm u n i t y h o w PUB L IC i s u lt i m at e ly a b o u t u s

Untitled, Elian, Chinatown. Photograph by Luke Shirlaw, 2015.

Community champions, local authorities, artists, volunteers, local community collectives. Children and families, visitors and city-workers. Truckies and business owners. Aspiring and practising planners, artists, architects. Western Australians, by birth, happenstance, lineage or choice. PUBLIC brought these connections alive. Street art creates conversations. Even if we just spend some time standing and watching an artist at work on a wall, and then tell our friends and colleagues to go take a look, we’re participating in that conversation. Even if we don’t like the artwork, and are vocal about our preference to another casual observer standing next to us, that’s also being part of the conversation. We don’t have to ‘know’ about art or culture to have an opinion about them, or about the places in which we live. We don’t even have to like the art. All we need to do is allow it to lead us into the conversation. 100

Judging from the feedback FORM has received to date, which has ranged from the entire Facebook community in the Wheatbelt shire of Trayning pleading for art on their silos to seven-year-old Matthew saying of Mexican artist Curiot’s mural in Chinatown ‘I don’t know why I love it, I just do’, the PUBLIC art not only made conversations, it also made conversions.

We are the ones we’ve been waiting for... the talent in the audience is approaching that on stage Symposium participant


Untitled, Anya Brock, Perth. Photograph by BEWLEY SHAYLOR, 2015.


SECTION HEADING speakers & moderators

S p e a k e r s & M o d e r at o r s


timo santala, speaking at public symposium, perth. Photograph by david dare parker, 2015.

SECTION HEADING speakers & moderators

images are courtesy of the speakers

Alison Page (moderator & speaker, award-winning design innovator, Sydney)

Brodie McCulloch (managing director, Spacecubed, Perth)

Carly Barrett (award-winning architect, Perth)

‘Collaborating is an invaluable tool …around inspirational people you are able to get things done much quicker’

‘If people come together, if they collaborate, if they talk and if they have a true desire to make something happen in Perth, anything’s possible’

Enabling over 550 entrepreneurs, innovators and change makers to take their ideas to the next level, Spacecubed is a co-working, collaboration and innovation community and space.

Founder, chair and creative director of Open House Perth, a not-for-profit organisation that promotes West Australian architectural projects on a local, national and international stage.

Carol Coletta (writer, strategist, urban thinker, Miami)

Charles Landry (author, urban strategist, UK)

Enrique Peñalosa (keynote speaker, mayor-elect, Bogotá)

‘PUBLIC is not only about us and for us, but it is by us.’

‘Culture is the invisible hand of the city, it’s the DNA that can either be an obstacle or an opportunity depending on whether that city, the people, are inward looking or outward looking’

‘Even if we are going to talk about something technical like transport, it almost has something more to do with psychology or with religion than with engineering’

An international authority on culture and urban change, Charles triggered a global movement with the concept of the creative city, enriching how we think about our cities and their capabilities.

While mayor of Bogotá (1998-2001), Enrique proved that a focus on the most vulnerable citizens could mean good city and transport design for everyone. He believes that pedestrian access to safe streets and green spaces is a basic human right.

‘Australian design is over 40,000 years old’ A descendant of the Walbanga and Wadi Wadi people of the Yuin nation, Alison champions the contemporary creative expression of Aboriginal identity, especially through interiors, public art, installations and film.

An expert on the future of cities, Carol is frequently listed as one of the world’s 50 most important urban thinkers. She is The Knight Foundation’s VicePresident of Community and National Initiatives.


speakers SECTION & moderators HEADING

Erma Ranieri (guerilla bureaucrat & change agent, Adelaide)

Fenella Kernebone (moderator, writer & broadcaster, Melbourne)

Dr Geeta Mehta (academic, social activist, New York & Mumbai)

‘You’ve got to be an authentic leader with all the vulnerabilities that others have.’

‘It really is a much bigger picture. We’re talking about how we live and how we sustain ourselves within our cities.’

‘Once the street is lost, which is the primary public space, then people will lose touch with each other’

Erma manages Change@SouthAustralia, and is leading a cultural shift in the State’s public sector towards a more collaborative and innovative connection to the community.

Geoff Warn (moderator, Government Architect, Perth) ‘We need to be open and confident enough to absorb … artistic ideas and hold them in balance to science and engineering. It builds a richer society.’ Geoff established the award-winning Donaldson and Warn Architects with Richard Donaldson in 1985. He is the founding chairman of international art space and gallery IASKA. 104

Fenella has worked across arts, film, music, design and culture as a radio and television presenter, host and producer. She is also an MC, interviewer, facilitator and writer.

Columbia University’s Professor in Architecture and Urban Design, and founder of Asia Initiatives and URBZ: User Generated Cities, Geeta devised social capital credits, a ‘virtual currency’ for social good.

Hetti Perkins (social & cultural commentator, creative director, Sydney)

Ian Strange (artist, New York & Perth)

‘Our country is more than a space for commercial exploitation, it is a place for us and for future generations to call home.’ A member of the northern Arrernte and Kalkadoon Aboriginal communities, Hettie is a broadcaster, art expert, creative director and also curatorial advisor  to the City of Sydney on the Eora Journey.

‘Things change when you leave the comfort of the studio and go into the real world and start interacting with communities’ Ian’s work investigates the home in suburbia as a social and psychological construct. His practice includes painting, film, photography, sculpture, installation and site-specific interventions.

speakers SECTION & moderators HEADING

Dr Jesper Christiansen (researcher, public sector innovator, Copenhagen)

John Bela (public space designer, San Francisco)

Dr Kenson Kwok (museum director & ‘cultural asset’, Singapore)

‘[Let’s] abolish any perceived distinction between what is now thought of as a bureaucrat and what we can think of as a creative public servant’

‘What do we value in cities? Do we value people crammed on the sidewalks? Or do we value creating generous spaces for people?’

‘You can have aspirations to be a global city, but you also have to be a local city at the same time.’

Jesper directs research and learning at humancentred design unit MindLab, leading the unit’s collaboration with the Danish Ministry of Employment in transforming approaches to policy making.

The man behind pop-up parks in parking bays, John is now based at Gehl Studio. He combines a background in art, science and environmental design to create dynamic and resilient urban habitats.

Founding director of the Peranakan Museum and Asian Civilisations Museum, Kenson is an authority on Asian culture and history, and the relationship between curatorial practice and communities.

Leo van Loon (entrepreneur, people connector, Rotterdam) ‘Culture has the potential to speed up transitions and to bring people together.’ Co-founder and leader of incubator Creative Factory and the European Creative Business Network, Leo’s major areas of interest are talent development, entrepreneurship and the creative industries.

Mat Lewis (founder, Emergence Creative Festival, Margaret River) ‘It’s no longer about where you work; it’s all about who are you, how you think and what you can offer. Emergence is about networking with like-minded creative and tech professionals’ TradeStart Advisor for the South West Development Commission, Mat is responsible for export market development for the wine, food, tourism and creative sectors.

Nandita Kumar (self-described situationist, Mumbai & Auckland) ‘Because I couldn’t have a studio I decided that I would just react to what the city offers me’ Nandita is a new-media artist who creates sensory narratives through sound, video/animation and performance, or smartphone apps, customised motherboards and solar/microwave sensors. 105

speakers PUBLIC2015 SECTION & moderators Symposium HEADING


Paul Collard (educator, enquiring mind, Newcastle upon Tyne)

Peter Corbett (digital entrepreneur, Washington DC)

Andrew King (collector, Melbourne)

‘For every community, the biggest potential resource you’ve got are the people themselves. You’ve got to invest in them, to develop them’

‘People who have some form of civic pride … have a boundless amount of energy and capacity to do great things’

‘The creative talent in Perth is amazing’

Paul leads Creativity, Culture and Education, an international foundation dedicated to unlocking the creativity of children and young people both in and out of formal education.

Peter founded digital solution business iStrategyLabs, and created Apps for Democracy, a technology innovation contest encouraging talented citizens to devise apps for community benefit.

Senator Scott Ludlam (politician, environmentalist, Perth)

Stormie Mills (artist, Perth)

Theaster Gates (artist, urban visionary, Chicago)

‘Perth is now a global city, the command and control centre of an export-led economy. Decisions in Beijing, Seoul and Tokyo one day affect what happens in Perth the next.’

‘I think PUBLIC is an amazing project…what I wanted when I was a kid was for things to happen here, and I firmly believe that things really are happening here.’

‘People so often want us to have the master plan [but] artists and creatives work from a spirit of ‘ohthat’s a really nice building-I should do something with that’’

Scott is the Greens’ spokesperson for Sustainable Cities, Communications, Broadband and the Digital Economy, Housing, Nuclear Issues, and Defence in the federal Senate.

Stormie has an international following for his iconic, character-based work. Taking his work from the streets and into the gallery, he has held solo exhibitions in London, New York, Tokyo, and Miami.

Theaster’s art sits at the intersection of aesthetic excellence and urban development, stemming from a belief that art and creativity can transform spaces and the communities that live in them.

Andrew is a collector, curator and street art patron. He and wife Sandra Powell work to connect grass roots artistic projects with the traditional fine art world of collectors, galleries and museums.

speakers SECTION & moderators HEADING

Thom Aussems (urban & social game changer, Eindhoven) ‘Creativity is thinking up new things, innovation is doing new things’ CEO of housing association Trudo, Thom is an authority in urban renewal and city transformation. He leads the renewal of declining urban neighbourhoods, notably the former Phillips industrial site. http://www.trudo/nl/

Timo Santala (creative spark, urban imagineer, Helsinki) ‘I’m the kind of guy who believes we shape the world through our own actions, and I believe in open cities: that the space really belongs to us, the public’ Timo founded global food festival Restaurant Day and the We Love Helsinki movement. He’s a specialist in communal event planning, as well as a food, travel and wine writer. 107




Rainbow Serpent, Waone, Northbridge. Photograph by jarrad seng 2015.


images courtesy of photographers: Bewley Shaylor, John Paul Horre, Luke Shirlaw, Jarrad Seng, 2015.


AEC Kiev, Ukraine

AMOK ISLAND Perth, Australia


AEC is part of the Kiev based artist duo better known as Interesni Kazki. The duo are known for their surreal and poetic imagery. They began their artistic careers as some of the earliest eastern European street artists, painting walls across the Ukraine and Russia for more than ten years. Today their works appear in India, Mexico and across Europe and the United States.

Amok Island is a Dutch artist based in Fremantle widely known for his murals, canvases and handmade screenprints that depict nature and marine life. His large scale public murals can be found on walls worldwide, including The Netherlands, Japan, Germany, Portugal, Indonesia, Thailand, Greece, Egypt, Papua and across Australia. Amok Island has recently created a series of murals in tsunami-torn Banda Aceh in Sumatra, the Maluku Province in Indonesia and in Sorong, Papua.

Born during his parents' flight from Cambodia in the wake of the Khmer Rouge genocide, Andrew Hem grew up equally influenced by the rural animistic culture of his Khmer ancestors, and the dynamic urban arts of Los Angeles where his family eventually settled. Fascinated by graffiti at an early age, he honed his art practice on city walls before studying at the Art Center College of Design. He now exhibits and lectures across the world, including solo and group exhibitions in Canada, Italy, Switzerland and cities across the United States.

ANYA BROCK Perth, Australia

AYRES Perth, Australia

Baby Guerilla Melbourne, Australia

A painter and illustrator from Perth, Anya Brock started out in the fashion industry. Her love of painting blossomed after working with internationally recognised artists Christopher Kane and Richard Nicoll in the United Kingdom. She has since established a large and dedicated fan base, exhibiting her work in solo and group exhibitions and decorating the walls and windows of some of Perth’s most popular urban locations with bright murals.

Ayres is an aerosol artist with near on 25 years experience within graffiti art. Working strictly with a spray can, Ayres mixes traditional structured letter styles with new school painting techniques.

Baby Guerrilla is a Melbourne artist, whose powerful figurative works are designed to inspire and provoke. The artist graduated from the Victorian College of The Arts in 2002, during which time she won several art prizes and, shortly after, The Leader Art Prize in the Toorak Village Festival of Sculpture. Since then, she has exhibited widely with both solo and group shows in commercial and artist-run spaces including Platform, Melbourne City Library and Trocadero Artspace as well as The Melbourne Art Fair, and many others.



BEASTMAN Sydney, Australia

BrENTON SEE Perth, Australia

BRETT CHAN Sydney, Australia

Influenced by the beauty and symbolism behind nature’s repetitive geometric patterns and organic lines, Beastman’s tightly detailed, often symmetrical paintings depict a parallel world of new life, hope and survival. Beastman’s large mural works can be found all over Australia and in the UK, USA, Germany, Israel, Hong Kong and New Zealand.

Brenton See is a Perth based artist inspired by the day to day struggles of the everyday person. The stories of happiness and sadness and life and death. David Attenborough’s documentaries have been a big influence on Brenton’s work and is the main reason he chooses to use animals in his work. Brenton enjoys using animals and objects rather than the human form to express himself and the stories he wants to tell. His constantly focusing on the topic of ‘predator and prey’ and ‘life and death’ as these as well as in the animal kingdom are very relevant to the lives we as humans live.

Brett Chan is a Sydney based artist, skateboarder, photographer and filmmaker. His murals have appeared in such luminary taste-makers as the Sydney Theatre Company, Neild Avenue and Ministry of Sound and Chan was recently commissioned to create a custom entryway mural at Foster Street in Sydney. As a documentarian Chan has traveled the globe for Vice magazine, and created various cult Australian skateboarding DVD’s.

Chris nixon Perth, Australia

CURIOT Mexico City, Mexico

DAEK William Perth, Australia

Chris Nixon is an illustrator, designer and art director. Inspired by the West Coast and classic surf culture with an emphasis on the handmade and crafted, his textured work and direction spreads across a wide range of media from children’s books to film and fashion.

Mexican artist Curiot was raised in the United States, moving to Mexico a decade ago to reconnect with his family heritage. His wall works draw upon traditional elements from South American culture including Mayan and Aztec folklore and Mexican handcrafts. His work appears in galleries and on walls in countries including Beirut, Germany, Mexico, Tunisia and the United States.

Daek William is an Australian painter, muralist and illustration artist based in Perth. He has had extensive practice in large-scale outdoor street art exhibited throughout Australia and internationally, including New Zealand, London, New York, Detroit and Indonesia. His artwork conveys imagery and stories of the world he is inspired by.



DALeast South Africa/China


ELIAN Argentina

Chinese-born DALeast is a prolific street artist and accomplished painter, sculptor, and digital artist, currently based in South Africa. He has participated in exhibitions and projects in China, as well as in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, the United States and numerous countries throughout Europe and Africa. He has held solo exhibitions in Australia, Italy, the UK and the United States.

Eko Nugroho is an internationally acclaimed contemporary artist from Yogjakarta, Indonesia. He is one of the most successful members of the young generation of Indonesian artists who emerged during the period of upheaval and reform that occurred in the wake of the 1997 Asian financial crisis, the subsequent fall of the Suharto regime, and Indonesia‘s transition to democracy. Nugroho‘s practice incorporates drawings and painting, murals, sculpture, animation, tapestry and self-published zines.

Elian is a street artist based in Córdoba, Argentina, who creates vivid abstract compositions in direct response to architectural sites. He has participated in group exhibitions and festivals across Argentina, in France, Peru, Poland, Russia and the United States, and undertaken residency projects in Argentina, Miami and Mexico.

E.L.K Melbourne

FECKS Perth, Australia

Fudge Perth, Australia

E.L.K is an Australian artist creating unique, powerful images from handmade stencils. His rise within the contemporary art world has been meteoric, becoming the first artist to be nominated for the Archibald Prize with a portrait created entirely out of stencils. A former blue-collar worker from Canberra, Cornish’s apathy and boredom during his midtwenties encouraged him to start experimenting with stanley knives and spraypaint cans. Nearly ten years later, Cornish has literally carved his name into the public’s mind.

Fecks is an Australian contemporary artist renowned for his ability to mash rendered and graphic styles into a seamless artwork. He specialised in aerosol art murals and urban art projects. With a high technical ability and attention to solid letter structure Fecks is one of the leaders in the Australian movement. An insatiable appetite for improvement and self development has seen him steadily progress.

Fudge began as a writer in the Perth suburbs in the early 90’s. Through graffiti he met creative and inspiring people and was a founding member of the influential graffiti collective the A.M crew (the Ayems). Fudge continued to work throughout the 2000s on mural projects and has exhibited in various solo and group shows throughout Australia.  He works mainly in spray paint and acrylic.



FIELDEY Perth, Australia

Fintan Magee Sydney, Australia

Ghost Illustrations Perth, Australia

Hailing from Norfolk Island, Fieldey is a Perth based urban, surf, skate and street artist. Fieldey’s mix of bad puns, vulgarity and bright pop tattoo inspired art cleverly obscures themes of feminism, objectification and religion.

Born in Lismore NSW, Fintan Magee moved to Brisbane as a child and began drawing shortly after. In his early teens he was exposed to Brisbane’s graffiti culture and began to scrawl his name across the city with large vibrant letter forms. Moving away from traditional graffiti in recent years his guerilla murals often inhabit the isolated, abandoned and broken corners of the city. Mixing surreal and figurative imagery his paintings are deeply integrated with the urban environment and explore themes of waste, consumption, loss and transition and contain a sentimentality and softness influenced by children’s books.

Ghost Illustrations, is a Graphic Designer and Illustrator from the UK. Having completed a number of commissions in the UK, Ghost is now living and working in Perth. His work is inspired by his everyday life, things that trigger his emotions. Whilst his work is mainly character based he is recently exploring more meaningful and symbolic works, referencing his original home in the UK and the home he is now building in Perth.

Hannah Atcheson Perth, Australia

Hawk Winston Hawk Perth, Australia

Hayley Welsh Perth, Australia

Hannah Atcheson has been painting since she was five years old and has demonstrated a fondness for Japanese art and culture since such age. Her artistic endeavours lead her to study Fine Arts at the University of Western Australia and more recently, Animation at Qantm SAE College. She has been a part of several exhibitions and manages her online store on both Facebook and artist website.

Bruno Booth is a talented local Perth artist who studied Graphic Design and naturally found himself drawn to the Perth art scene. Artistically, Bruno employs a diverse range of techniques on a variety of mediums working with (but not limited to) walls, sculptures, illustrations, painting’s and even animation.

Hayley Welsh has established herself as one of the newest creatives in the Western Australian art scene, having made the move to Australia from the UK in 2009. She has previously exhibited in London and New York and is quickly becoming recognised for her surreal, wide-eyed creatures and street art.



HENSE Atlanta, USA

HOSAE Perth, Australia

HURBEN Perth, Australia

Internationally acclaimed abstract artist HENSE has been combining techniques of graffiti and abstract painting for nearly two decades. HENSE developed a love of art in public spaces as a graffiti artist during the early ‘90s, before undertaking formal education and gaining experience in the design industry. He has since undertaken numerous public art projects and large-scale commissions across the United States and internationally, including his largest work, a 40 x 50 meter mural for the ISIL Institute in Lima, Peru, in 2013.

Hosae is a Perth based visual artist with a background in graffiti writing and murals. Hosae has started to develop work over the past year, which explores the conflict between uncontrollable natural forces and the imagined permanence of human order. traditions and global popular culture. In particular, he has cited the influence of traditional batik and embroidery styles, Javanese wayang kulitshadow puppetry, street art, graffiti and comics.

Well known within the West Australian arts community, Hurben is one of the 3 founders of the infamous Ololo Collective whose credits include orchestrating the legendary Condor Car Park project and ReFace 2009 – both of which were highly influential in contributing to Perth’s evolving attitude toward street art. Making an impression upon untold city spaces over the years, Hurben’s work is bold, challenging and reflective.

IAN MUTCH Perth, Australia

iDOL MOTIONS Perth, Australia

Jarrad Martyn Perth, Australia

Ian Mutch is an Australian artist exploring beauty through nature, narrative and details. Mutch creates work on a variety of scales using acrylics, aerosol, and inks. Wild brushstrokes and layered backgrounds are detailed with entertaining illustrations, whimsical characters, trees, birds, animals, pop culture, colliding universes and patterns. Born in South Africa, Ian Mutch draws a great deal from his upbringing surrounded by wild landscapes, animals and patterns.

Idol Motions is a local legend having risen through the ranks of the graffiti and urban art scene in Perth. He is well known for his skilled lettering and has been heavily influenced by underground hip hop and growing up in a dysfunctional environment.

Jarrad Martyn is a Perth based figurative painter, his practice explores how to create a deeper engagement with meaning/s to encourage an expanded understanding of the representation of found media based imagery, often choosing motifs that are marked by a sense of dread during or in the immediate aftermath of a life affirming act. Martyn’s working methodology involves collapsing the distinctions between figuration and expressionism to ‘suspend’ the sense of dread in a real and imagined space to create a visually less factual surface representation of the spaces and situations.



JAMES COOPER Perth, Australia

james giddy Perth, Australia

KAB101 Adelaide, Australia

James Cooper is a Perth based artist, focusing on low brow illustration. He is interested in conveying good-bad-creepy-cute work depicting imagery of characters and landscapes that are an amalgamation of everything hyper-dumb. James Cooper has a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Curtin University, and is involved with local art collective ‘Loser Unit’.

Perth artist James Giddy’s public art hobby became a career after he began landing commissions through Instagram, the largest of which was to paint murals at Cottesloe’s Ocean Beach Hotel. Giddy is currently completing a Fine Arts degree at Curtin University and has painted 19 murals in houses, shops and streets across Perth. His art is inspired by photography and a passion for the aesthetics of animals and people. While his work is delicate and refined on paper, Giddy’s real passion is for the freedom and lucidity of mural painting. 

Street-writing since the early eighties, KAB101 has developed a marking style reflective of his personality. His work is based on calligraphic signature markings and mechanical type styles. His studio paintings consist of these same styles. They tell stories of identity, his emotions and experiences related to his past and present affinity with writing his name and taking space. Utilising spray paint, inks, markers and brushes he constantly finds himself exploring new mediums to produce works that reflect the beauty and sadness of life.


Kalem Bruce Perth, Australia

Kyle Hughes Odgers Perth, Australia

Sammy bats Perth, Australia

Kalem is a self-taught artist who explores political and social issues through imagery strongly influenced by his roots in punk, heavy metal and skate culture. Whilst his artwork can be bold his technique is subtle and nuanced. After an active role in Perth’s graffiti and street art scene Kalem has spent the last 6 years exploring visual arts and design, he has produced artwork for local bands and businesses including merchandise and album artwork. Working with local, interstate and international artists Kalem has produced murals, exhibitions, and ‘zines.

Kyle Hughes-Odgers is an Australian visual artist. For over a decade he has exhibited and created artwork throughout Australia and internationally in New York, Washington DC, Los Angeles, London, Hong Kong, Singapore, Berlin and Cambodia.

Sammy Bats is a Perth based artist, focusing on low brow street and design work. Her work involves cute characters inspired by early 3D video games and kawaii sensibilities. She refers to herself as ‘currently an anti-style painter’ but wishes to explore alt-comics and magical-pop in the future. She is one of the cofounders of local art collective ‘Loser Unit’.


Marina Lommerse Perth, Australia

Martin E Wills Perth, Australia

Melski Perth, Australia

Marina Lommerse is an adventurer, an artist, a gypsy. She has practised in the international arts, culture and design arena for over thirty years. In concert with her individual arts practice, she mobilises creative projects that promote positive change in communities. Most of all, her work is about releasing the adventurous and creative self and having fun.

Martin E Wills is a Perth based visual artist, originally from the United Kingdom. At first a response to, and escape from, the boredom of the classroom and workplace, his work features disaffected aliens, desolate landscapes and naive anatomical crosssections. His works vary between highly rendered tableaux and flat works concerned more with shape, colour and composition. He draws inspiration from science fiction narratives of extraterrestrial encounters, environmental cataclysm and paranoid capitalist conspiracy.

Melski is a part time sculptor, map maker and mural artist. Inspired by automons, inventions and colourful creations – her work is a whimsical wonderland of creatures and nature. Born and bred in Perth, she has been inspired to create The Laneway Collective, a group of dedicated artists that run community street art projects to bring life and colour to underutilised spaces.


Nandita Kumar India

NeSpoon Warsaw, Poland

Born in Milan and raised in Tuscany, Moneyless graduated from Carrara Fine Arts Academy, and undertook postgraduate studies in Communication Design at Isia, Florence. He forged his art practice as a graffiti writer during the 1990s, but has since evolved beyond the written word. His current practice represents a ‘platonic vision’ that celebrates geometry as the foundation of the natural world. Moneyless exhibits his works in various galleries, on walls, and in natural and abandoned sites across the world.

Nandita Kumar is a new-media artist who creates immersive environmental spaces. She explores the process through which human beings construct meaning from their experiences, by creating sensory narratives through the use of sound, video/animation and performance, or through smartphone apps, customised motherboards and solar/microwave sensors.

NeSpoon is a street artist from Warsaw, Poland who uses ornate lace patterns in the creation of ‘public jewellery’. She makes use of stenciling and painting, textile installation and ceramics, often intervening in the urban and natural landscapes in order to draw attention to the beauty of commonly-overlooked sites. She has shown work in galleries and public sites across her native Poland, as well as in Austria, Croatia, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden, Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates, and has collaborated with local lace-makers in a number of these countries in the creation of her works.



NICK ZAFIR Perth, Australia

PASTEL Buenos Aires, Argentina

PAUL DEEJ Perth, Australia

Zafir is a contemporary painter with a background in street art, based out of Perth and with a passion for large scale mural work. With a Bachelor of Fine Art from Curtin University his work employs grimey street techniques mixed with a smoother studio style painting techniques. His current work focuses on the reconstruction of past human artifacts/ cultural elements and memories as a way of preservation. He has work overseas and locally, and is currently involved with Local collectives Loser Unit and Keep Up.

Pastel is a painter and architect. His work is rooted in historic events and the physical places where they unfolded, developing these as themes through the lens of personal experience and interpretation. In his compositions flora, fauna and natural landscapes are both descriptive and conceptual tools that represent a place and symbolize the events that marked it, resulting in artworks that stand as contemplations of the dialogue between mankind and space, and the confrontation between industry and the natural world.

Paul Deej aka El Deejo has been a professional artist and illustrator since 2002. Inspired by popular cultures of movies, comics, hip hop & graffiti art, his bold colourful work explores the duelling themes of beauty and the grotesque.


Robert Jenkins Perth, Australia

Sarah McCloskey Perth, Australia

London-based artist Phlegm views himself as a self-publishing, underground cartoonist. The artist enjoys the ephemeral nature that painting public walls provides, along with the individual control offered through self-publishing his hand-drawn comics. Since beginning to paint murals on abandoned buildings and objects in Sheffield, UK, Phlegm’s detailed characters, animals and fantastical scenes have appeared throughout Australasia, Europe, the UK and the United States.

Originally from the Black Mountains of rural Wales, self taught artist Robert Jenkins has taken part in many group shows both in Perth, which he currently resides, Melbourne and Sydney and has been published in and illustrated for different magazines. ‘Dreams and Nightmares’ was his first Perth solo show in 2010, followed by ‘Creatures and our Masks’ in 2012.

Sarah McCloskey is an emerging artist and illustrator from Perth, who works mostly in graphite and ink drawing along with various forms of painting. 116


SAZAR Perth, Australia

SHRINK Perth, Australia

Steve Browne Perth, Australia

Sazar is an urban artist born and residing in Perth. He started dabbling in graffiti and mural art around 2003. Sazar works with spray paint on walls and canvases. After keeping his work to himself for many years, Sazar curated and was part of a group show ‘Variations of Style’, where he launched his work to the public.

Perth based, Dutch born artist Shrink has a background in graphic design and illustration. His heavily character-based and often vibrant psychedelically coloured designs intended to transport the viewer on a continuous journey of rediscovery and adventure.

Steve Browne merges the idea of past, present and future into a single moment, each work telling a story from beginning to end and doesn’t believe in ‘time’ as a line but more as an overall event. Steve travels internationally painting murals when he isn’t at home, in Perth, working on commissioned illustrations or attempting to be as cryptic as he can.

STORMIE MILLS Perth, Australia

STRAKER Perth, Australia

TOM ROGERS Perth, Australia

Stormie Mills began painting in 1984, and has since established an international following for his iconic, character-based work. Taking his work off the streets and into the gallery, he has held solo exhibitions in London, New York, Tokyo, and Miami. His work explores the human condition and the notion of isolation, working in a restricted palette of black (representing dirt), white (the attempt to remove dirt), grey (as a metaphor for the cityscape), and silver (for dreams).

Straker’s wall painting skills were developed under the cover of darkness as a young graffiti artist in the mid 1990s. Throughout these years and beyond he has developed fast paced mural painting techniques that enable a variety of effects in a multitude of styles, the most current of which are his ‘neon signs’

Tom Rogers is a self-taught multidisciplinary artist currently residing in Perth, WA. Through detailed drawing and the dynamic moving image, Rogers’ has and continues to explore themes of nature, personal affirmation, kinetic anesthesia and the divine or surreal in everyday life. 117


Too Much Colour Perth, Australia

TWOONE Berlin/ Japan

VANS THE OMEGA Adelaide, Australia

Too Much Colour work in contemporary graffiti and urban art and are influenced by patterns and forms in nature, motion, comic and graphic novel design and illustration and the historic graphic art styles of the psychedelic and mid-century modern eras. Their work conveys a distinct West Coast vibe, through the strong use of colour, flowing forms and sense of fun. Too Much Colour are Darren Hutchens, Dan Duggan and Lawry Holden.

TWOONE was born in Yokohama, Japan. In 2004 he moved to Melbourne, Australia and at the end of 2013 he left Melbourne for Europe, and currently resides in Berlin, Germany. As an outsider in each of these countries, where language has always been an obstacle, TWOONE has turned his art practice into his voice. Drawing and crafting have been a part of his life for as long as he can remember. He gained an early interest in art through skateboard graphics and graffiti culture.

Based in Adelaide, Vans the Omega has been creating and painting letterforms for over two decades, which has seen him travel around the globe consistently since 2010. Most of his influences have come from ancient script, architecture, engineering, nature and the idea of movement or balance. Recently Vans curated and managed Wonderwalls Festival in Port Adelaide.

WAONE Kiev, Ukraine

Yok & Sheryo Perth, Australia/ Singapore

Andrew Frazer Bunbury, Australia

Waone is part of the Kiev based artist duo better known as Interesni Kazki. The duo are known for their surreal and poetic imagery. They began their artistic careers as some of the earliest eastern European street artists, painting walls across the Ukraine and Russia for more than ten years. Today their works appear in India, Mexico and across Europe and the United States.

The Yok and Sheryo are one the best-known collaborative duos working in the street art medium. Their characters can be found on walls all over the world. Their individual styles complement each other and their work evidences how two artists can evolve together and influence one another through ongoing collaboration.

Andrew Frazer is a full time illustrator, hand letterer, designer & artist that ignites the imagination through his thought provoking characters & narrative based art. Based in Bunbury, Western Australia, Andrew has been a key member in the delivery of FORM’s PUBLIC programs in 2014 and 2015 and is also the Founder and Creative Director of Six Two Three Zero that runs the annual Bunbury street art festival – Re.Discover.




Untitled, Twoone, Fremantle. Photograph by luke shirlaw, 2015. 119











F O R M a n d PUB L IC : B u i ld i n g a s tat e o f c r e at i v i t y i n a c t i o n

Recrafted, exhibition opening, FORM Gallery. Photograph by LUKE SHIRLAW, 2015.



The power of ‘we’ is becoming ever more important. Over the last decade, consultation has given way to collaboration and co-creation; concepts like ‘We-Think’ and mass innovation emerged; the tidal wave of social media took hold; a more connected online generation is a growing proportion of the workforce. Yet while this potential is recognised for what it can do or achieve economically, consumeristically, we have barely stopped to think about the potential in moving from a culture of ‘I’ to ‘we’ for enriching our places and communities, and how we reinvigorate those connections. As author and social researcher Hugh Mackay asks: ‘Who are we, and what kind of society do we want to create?’

Building a state of creativity is an aim founded on recognition of the importance of shaping our State and future for the best legacy we can. It drives the desire to develop the capacity for creativity in our citizens as well as leading artistic talent, but also in us as a society, a connected community co-creating our State. If we return to basics, ‘public’ is all about the things we have in common, what we can do together, and how. The original Latin definition’of the people; of or done for the state’ encapsulates two dimensions. It refers both to a community of people; as Carol Coletta puts it with, by and for the people and the entity that represents it: government. The principle of government is to do the things that serve us all which we need to do together and cannot do alone, managed for the greater good. Both elements are guided by culture.

Culture is an assertion of the values that define us, with arts enabling exploration and expression of where those values and boundaries lie.

Those values and principles guide the investments we make in what we deem important and where we channel resources, effort, focus: what and how we build, how we budget, what services are critical, who we provide for, how we move around our cities, the policy we shape, how we develop and position our State. Culture and creativity are central to our success: socially, culturally, economically, environmentally. Yet, where creativity and the arts can play a role in enabling human potential, inspiring the ideas that feed our economy and can keep it agile, expanding our capacity, provoking new solutions to intractable challenges, how is it that we still neglect this area of development in our investment and policy, relegating it to the dispensable realms of frivolity? Culture matters. All the time. FORM believes culture and creativity are vital contributors to a ‘theory of change’, so to speak, an understanding of our place ecosystem, whereby individuals and communities can also participate and extend their innovative, entrepreneurial and artistic capacities for the benefit of the whole State. Western Australia will be a better place if all kinds of people are empowered to bring ideas and abilities together for the common good. FORM’s projects (PUBLIC being but one example) aims to put theory into practice, creating space and opportunity for spontaneity and collaborative innovation.

PUBLIC seeks to bring visibility to these intangible, yet very real, ways in which culture and the arts can fundamentally shape us. It brings together community, creativity and place in celebration, and enlists arts and ideas to enliven and enrich public spaces and public life. PUBLIC’s focus on place, community and creativity is important for two reasons. First, because

Allowing the question to linger just a little bit longer allows us to come up with better solutions

Theaster Gates (Symposium speaker, artist & urban innovator, Chicago)

culture is the set of shared values and understandings that bind people together as societies and communities. And second, because creativity is inherent in everybody, and is ultimately how we generate meaning in our lives and communities. We use creativity to negotiate and express those shared values and our understanding of the world around us. It’s also how we forge the new ideas that drive our economy and our State’s success: enriching our own talent, supporting their success, and attracting more talent to contribute to that success. Ultimately, it’s the quality and diversity of the people who make the quality of the place. But it’s also the quality of the place which draws the talent. When these elements are in harmony, that’s a result that sparks a little bit of magic. After all, as Theaster Gates articulates so well:

‘Sometimes the creating we do is about creating a platform for others to create.’


Creating a city where you can say‘I helped with that’, ‘I am a part of that’that’s a better WA. Our cities need not be created by a handful of experts- why not all of us? Symposium participant

S h ape m eanin g , aspirations, PEOPLE FIRST


Authenticity legacy intent

Q uality

C onnect &

o f place

en g a g e people





T alent C ity & S tate success ATTACHMENT



W h at ’ s F O R M ?

FORM is an independent organisation which for the past ten years has been working to build ‘a state of creativity’ in Western Australia. We’ve created platforms for debate and action on culture and art and the essential role they play in enhancing everyone’s quality of life. However it is manifested, whether as a huge mural or an inspiring talk, we believe that everyone responds to creativity; it sparks further conversation, learning and connection, and often significant economic return. We know this because we’ve introduced creative people from Australia and all over the world into communities where there has been a hunger not only for self-expression but also for social bonding. We’ve seen the difference creativity can make, how people and places can flourish, how government and business can be influenced by the results it can achieve. From making a neighbourhood feel welcoming and distinctive to finding our own aptitude and ambitions, creativity allows us to demand more of our relationships with our environments, our communities, ourselves and each other. That’s why FORM devises programs like PUBLIC: simply, creativity for the public good.



th a nk yo u to o u r sponsors who’ ve made public 2015 possible Principal Partner

Major Partners:

Supporting Partners:

y the Visual Ar ts and Crafts Strategy, an initiative of the Australian State and Territor y Governments. the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its ar ts funding and advisor y body. Government Support

FORM is supported by the Visual Arts and Crafts Strategy, an initiative of the Australian State and Territory Governments. FORM is assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.

Digital partner

FORM Gallery Partners






Inspiring presentations from PUBLIC 2015 Symposium speakers, a showcase of local, national and international street art and discussions on c...


Inspiring presentations from PUBLIC 2015 Symposium speakers, a showcase of local, national and international street art and discussions on c...