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Agency ISSUE 01


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mid 17th century: from medieval Latin agentia, from agent — ‘doing’

Š TheFulcrum.Agency 2019 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be produced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publishers and copyright holders. TheFulcrum.Agency PO Box 671 Fremantle 6959 Western Australia ISBN 978-0-6485481-1-9 Printed in Australia by Discus on Demand TheFulcrum.Agency Team Emma Williamson Co-Founder / Principal Kieran Wong Co-Founder / Principal Nick Juniper Associate Principal Emma Brain Head of Communications Sarah Besly Associate Heather MacRae Associate Akira Monaghan Brad Wetherall Claire White Michael Gay Samantha Bosward Betty Richards Creative Direction & Design Mark Braddock Project Manager Jessica Richings Photo: Bo Wong


HAVING AGENCY Starting a new practice and launching a journal has made for an exciting twelve months. Like most big moves these two things are the result of a combination of circumstance, timing and the (naïve) feeling that it was the right thing to do. Early on we created a framework for ourselves: we would produce two journals per year, with each issue focussing on a particular word, and we would describe our business as an agency. For an architecture practice this has been relatively controversial — or at least unsettling — and has generated lots of questions in our direction. So, what better word than agency to focus the second edition of our journal around. As with PIVOT, we started with our own loose meaning, have delved deeper and learned so much through the contribution of others. Agency is both a noun and a verb. To be an agency and to have agency are two quite distinct things, yet we are interested in what it might mean to be and do both. Architects are the ultimate problem solvers. We are trained to look to the future, to ask questions and to find solutions that will endure. It makes sense then, that we should use our professional agency to advocate for things that we think are important and create impact for our futures. In our experience, this is not always in places where we wear the ‘architect’ badge, but rather when we use our skills to seek solutions to problems that are not answered in buildings.

And this brings us to the allure of ‘the agency’. We have always loved the dynamic and collaborative nature of the advertising agency model. It is a world of structured pairings, of freelancers, networks and teams. There is a generosity in the development of ideas and a freedom that comes from being part of a flexible and dynamic team. As an agency, we are creative thinkers, but we also make a declaration to be part of a team. Sometimes we might take the lead, sometimes we create a team, and sometimes we are part of something greater than ourselves. With each arrangement, we find energy from working with others. To have agency is to find a kernel of power, to pair this with opportunity, to find a way to move (sometimes by stealth) towards a better outcome. It is a way of seeing things differently, of interpreting our past and influencing a better future. So far so good on TheFulcrum.AGENCY front — we thank you all for your support.

Kieran Wong and Emma Williamson Co-Founders, TheFulcrum.Agency


Opening 03


On ‘AGENCY’ 01 of 07

02 of 07







08—19 Country Corpus Recently, there’s been a renewed interest in Australia in the creation of a First Nation’s museum. In Corpus Country, TheFulcrum.Agency Principal, Kieran Wong, considers the role of museums in contemporary Australian society, and the way in which we present and engage with First Nations Culture.



Op Art Last year, TheFulcrum.Agency co-founder, Emma Williamson, set herself the challenge to see how long she could go without purchasing any new clothing. Out of the experiment emerged a revived passion for second-hand and a new fashion-label, Monster Alphabets x Dilemma, with Sarah Watanabe. In a piece that shifts between fashion-editorial and social commentary, Emma and Sarah explore the ethics of consumption in the fashion industry and reveal their most joyous op-shop discovery.

Together Again We encountered Michi Main and Michael deRoos through TheFulcrum.Agency’s work on the new Western Australian Museum and we’ve been fascinated ever since. Michi and Michael travel the world doing every kid’s dream job — they describe themselves as ‘skeleton articulators’ and are in Perth to hang a blue whale skeleton. In conversation with Emma Brain, Michi and Michael describe the privilege of their work, and the joy that comes with sharing something about the life of an animal through its skeleton.

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Ground Work Ground Work is Bo Wong and Rose Megirian’s second collaboration for our series of journals. These images provide insight into the depth and breadth of practice of this select group of Western Australian artists who uniquely pair their creative process with commercial capacity.

Mama Can Danielle Caruana is known for herMaMa epic voice KiN and songwriting ability, and her honesty in expressing her own vulnerabilities. In conversation with Meri Fatin, Danielle explores the connection between a childhood spent in a generous and community-focused household, and her adult desire to be generous and to uplift others through her work on the The Seed Fund.



The Art of Survival Trevor Richard’s confident approach to colour and pattern has become an intrinsic part of Fremantle’s visual identity. Trevor describes his career as, ‘like stumbling into situations you hadn’t anticipated, being offered opportunities you’re not sure you’re ready for, and wondering if there’s anything around the next corner.’ In The Art of Survival, Trevor describes the evolution of his career from art teacher and private practice through to enormous public commissions.

Fare ‘n’ Square Yagan Square is a new public space in the heart of Perth’s CBD and is the result of a collaboration between Lyons, Iredale Pedersen Hook Architects and Aspect Studios. In a critique first published in Architecture AU, Emma Williamson reveals the inspired briefing process that underpinned the design of this project. The result is a project that integrates ‘the wisdom of the custodians of our land into the fabric of our growing cities.’

Most often ‘agency’ is spoken of as something that resides in an individual, but if putting together the second issue of TF.A Journal has taught us anything, it is that many hands make Agency happen. From skeleton articulators to fashion designers, it wouldn’t have been possible without this diverse crew of contributors.

EMMA williamson

Architect Emma has a broad interest in the world, turning her hand from architecture to interiors, fashion and writing. Op Art (p44) Fare ‘n’ Square (p62)

michael deroos & Michi main


Skeleton Articulators Michael and Michi are ‘creating awareness and building a better world, one skeleton at a time.’ Together they hope that their skeletons will contribute toward a legacy of lifelong learning, inspiring children and adults to live with a real awareness of the natural world and a passion for protecting it. Together Again (p50)

Comms Director Emma leads communications at TheFulcrum.Agency working behind the scenes to develop each issue of this journal.

Together Again (p50)

Kieran wong

Architect Kieran is a critical thinker. In this issue he tackles the complex issues around Indigenous participation in contemporary museums. Country Corpus (p08)

sarah watanabe

Fashion Designer Sarah is the designer behind Monster Alphabets and one-half of emerging label, Monster Alphabets x Dilemma alongside Emma Williamson. Op Art (p44)


betty richards

Graphic Designer Betty is the in-house designer at TheFulcrum.Agency. Having grown up in an artistic family, she has always been drawn towards design and the arts.

joana partyka

Ceramicist & Illustrator Interestingly, Joana’s work appears twice in this journal: the illustrations on this page and some of her ceramics are featured in the story Ground Work.

Jessica richings

Project Manager Jessica’s advanced cat herding skills ensured that this issue of the journal actually exists.

Bo Wong Photographer & ROSE MEGIRIAN Designer In this issue, Bo and Rose have combined their skills in photography and styling to create exquisite images of Western Australian art and craft, exploring the notion of agency. Ground Work (p20)

adrian du buisson

trevor richards

MARK braddock


Illustrator Adrian is an artist and graphic designer, better known by the pseudonym, Wildergram. He loves creating unique characters and imaginary worlds.

Mama Can (p30)

Artist An established West Australian artist, Trevor’s body of work is marked by a formalist approach, repetitive patterning and confident use of colour.

The Art of Survival (p56)

Creative Director Mark is the critical eye that takes each issue of our journal from good to great. He’s a champion for Western Australian commercial creativity in all its forms.

Journalist Bringing her enthusiasm and curious nature, Meri’s now a regular contributor to our journal through her conversations with extra-special people. Mama Can (p30)

Coun Coun corp

ntry us Words by Kieran Wong

In response to a renewed call in Australia for the development of a First Nations museum Kieran Wong asks: Can a new type of museum be created where Indigenous people are not exhibits but curators, storytellers and visitors?


his year, I was invited by Cox Architecture to contribute to the design of a new cultural and knowledge centre, community space and contemporary art museum on Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island) led by the Quandamooka people to celebrate their culture and share it with non-Indigenous visitors. The Quandamooka Art, Museum and Performance Institute (QUAMPI) is supported by the Queensland State Government and imagined as a collection of Country, a space for the uniquely Quandamooka experience of land and sea, seasons, knowledge of the earth, animals, plants and people. Importantly, QUAMPI is framed as a place of engagement and discussion, where the First Nations


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Quandamooka Art, Museum and Performance Institute Architect: Cox Architecture

The historical relationship between Australian museums and First Nations people is disturbing

people are not exhibits but curators, guides, storytellers and visitors. Up until this point, my museum expertise had centred around our practice role as State Advisor to Western Australia’s $400 million New Museum project. Designed by Hassell and OMA, it is one of the largest museums currently under construction globally. From the outset, and to the credit of the State and design team, an Indigenous working group contributed to every aspect of the museum design and function, from the larger planning moves through to the detail of the exhibition design. My close involvement in these two projects has caused me to consider and question the role of museums in contemporary Australian society, particularly the way in which PIVOT

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Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture, Washington DC Architect: Adjaye Associates Photo: Brad Feinknopf

Many museums are grappling with how to handle collections built through theft we present and engage with First Nation culture. The historical relationship between Australian museums and First Nations people is disturbing; marked by thievery, a desire to view Indigenous culture as distinct from ‘civilised society’ and an object of curiosity and collectability. As Gemmia Burden writes, ‘Taking materials from country also served Europeans in claiming possession, both emotional and physical, of the land … As settler colonies were built on the dispossession of Indigenous people, the removal of cultural materials became part of the appropriation of land.’ Today, many museums are grappling with how to

handle collections built through theft, and how to position themselves in a vastly changed socio-political landscape. This is an interesting phenomenon and raises the question, could the museum of the future be an enabling space, culturally dynamic and future focussed, rather than categorising First Nations’ ‘culture’ as a relic of our Colonial-Settler past? Could such a radically re-thought museum become a place for genuine exchange, reconciliation and restitution? Under the direction of CEO, Cameron Costello and the QYAC Board, QUAMPI is to be located on Quandamooka Country, in a place with indisputable links


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01 of 07 Claire McGowan Director Detail Marketing Communications Fremantle

On ‘Agency’

Agency unites. Communication and the exchange of ideas are key to modern working. With fluidity and flexibility at its heart, an agency environment nurtures creativity and freedom. The opportunity to collaborate with multiple disciplines and organisations allows fresh ideas to not only exist in thought but come into being.

to its community. Critically, it will sit on land previously used by mining company Sibelco for worker accommodation, and the project aspires to recover the landscape and connections to water that the previous barracks dislodged. In contemplating his design of the National Museum of African American History & Culture at the Smithsonian, architect David Adjaye describes the experience of visiting a traditional museum as a bit like a cinema, ‘you go into a different world and you go back out.’ Much like Adjaye rejected this idea in his design of the Washington DC museum, QUAMPI is also rejecting this idea; in form and function, the museum will challenge the static ‘black box’ approach to museum design, opening itself to community and embracing a distinctly Quandamooka approach to space. Here, contemporary art and living ceremony will act as conduits for the sharing of Indigenous knowledge and as means to interrogate the PIVOT

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Bringing together creatives and collaborators from all walks of life results in outcomes for clients and their audiences that couldn’t be achieved when working in a silo. Being nurtured within an agency creates a space where ideas and relationships flourish. A moment. Working with clients after leaving my ‘traditional’ corporate life, I was able to spend time immersing myself and indulging in time. I was able to bring a group of individuals together, who best suited the project execution. The results were rewarding and exciting to work on. Delivering more than could have been done solo or within an organisation. We were all better for the experience. Agency is uniting.

Could a m become a genuine e reconcilia and restit PIVOT

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useum place for xchange, tion ution? PIVOT

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A First Nations museum must be foremost an act of co-creation irrevocable impact of colonisation. Clearly, the formation of a First Nations Museum is not just a ‘bricks and mortar’ issue. In fact, it’s reasonable to suggest that the idea of a building as a vessel, or singular object for collections is incongruous with an Indigenous experience of knowledge and living cultural practice grounded in Country. Rather, the issue of ‘engagement’ — a contemporary catch phrase used by all institutions (with differing degrees of success and meaning) — is key here. A First Nations museum must be foremost an act of co-creation, a place in which traditional cultural custodians have a voice and are heard first (not just ‘listened to’ as is the contemporary

jargon for consultation). Cultural agency is foundational here; elders and their communities must be central to real decision-making processes, beyond simply a protocol, their agency must lead all aspects of delivery. How else could a museum be reconfigured from a non-Indigenous construct to one centred on Indigenous knowledge, lore, law and ceremony? How else could a museum be reconfigured to be embraced by First Nations people whose experience of the built environment over the last two centuries is one of exclusion, assimilation and annihilation?


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Stamping Ground Bangarra Dance Theatre Photo: Daniel Boud


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02 of 07 Nic Brunsdon Director Design WA Perth

The process would not be easy — the controversy over the proposed National Indigenous Art Gallery in Mparntwe (Alice Springs) highlights the complexities involved — but it would be worth it. One of the most unique aspects of Indigenous culture, and possible sources of frustration to a curator, is the secret nature of many ceremonies and business. Imagine the challenge and joy in finding ways to reveal to a wide audience, without sacrificing secrecy, the oral, sung and painted traditions of our First Nations people? Recently, I had the pleasure of seeing Bangarra Dance Theatre perform Stamping Ground, a piece composed in 1983 by Jiří Kylián of the famed Nederlands Dans Theater. The work is based on Kylián’s viewing of a corrobboree on Groote Eylandt and is evidence of art’s power to connect ancient ceremony with a contemporary audience. Similarly, I am encouraged by Quandamooka artist Megan Cope’s appointment as the first Indigenous woman to act as an official War Artist by the Australian Defence Forces. Her work provides an opportunity to talk about history, culture and country, and place Indigenous stories of war in the global context. All Australian museums, with a stated focus on First Nations culture or not, must place Indigenous people in the centre of planning, at the heart of conversation and behind the steering wheel. Moreover, they must shift our engagement with First Nations culture from something of the past, to something contemporary and continuous. Hybrid centres such a QUAMPI have the potential to reposition First Nation stories within Australian museums and to help shape a more inclusive and rich understanding of our country. It’s time to shift our focus towards the creation of spaces that act as a Corpus of Country: dynamic, interactive and ever-changing collections of stories, knowledge and culture.


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On ‘Agency’

To me, it’s one of those words that gets appended to things; collective, personal, federal, media, creative, and in being so prevalent has had its meaning diluted. However, as a standalone, it’s a wonderful word; one of my favourites. It’s the realisation that you are in control and you can decide the direction and shape of your circumstance. It’s the secret to a meaningful life. It’s personal power. Personally, as a white Anglo male, agency is all around me. I have always had access to support and the levers of personal progression, but not always the realisation that they were there. That came with self-reflection and maturity. My story of personal realisation was probably on the commencement of this phase of my life in Perth. Understanding that I had to be an active part of the betterment of the city I live in.



Bo Wong and Rose Megirian’s second collaboration for our journal, Ground Work, provides insight into the depth and breadth of practice of a select group of multi-disciplinary Western Australian artists who have paired their creative process with commercial capacity.



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Previous spread:

Left (l to r):


Kate Weedon-Jones, 2019, Shibori Silk Scarf (182×1080mm) Itajime clamp-resist Shibori Acid Milling dyes on Silk Habotai

Joana Partyka, 2019 White vase with handles glazed dark stoneware

Rose Megirian, 2019 Chain Link Earrings (60×32×1mm) oxidised sterling silver, laminate

Joana Partyka, 2019 White amphora vase glazed dark stoneware Joana Partyka, 2019 Slip-covered vase slip-coated dark stoneware


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Model: Christina Chau


Ground Work 24


Above (l to r):

Rose Megirian, 2017 Perforated Discs (70×120×0.3mm) oxidised sterling silver

Siân Boucherd, 2018 Shale (170×150×150mm) raw hemp, wool, sisal, hand-dyed raffia

Siân Boucherd, 2018 Quartz (250×150×150mm) raw hemp, wool, sisal, hand-dyed raffia


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Siân Boucherd, 2018 Clayrock (450×180×180mm) raw hemp, wool, sisal, hand-dyed raffia


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Left (l to r): Peter Milligan, 2017, Rest Collection I (275×225×225mm), terracotta clay Peter Milligan, 2017, Rest Collection IV (155×135×135mm), terracotta clay Peter Milligan, 2017, Rest Collection V (310×245×245mm), terracotta clay

Below: Jae Criddle, 2019, Lumpy Dish (105×250×170mm), rock, wire, paper, glue, plaster, acrylic


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Jae Criddle, 2019, Candlestick II (70×80×70mm), coral, paper, glue, plaster, acrylic, candles

Joana Partyka, 2019, Speckled Bowl, shino glazed buff raku trachyte

There’s a proposition (not a new one) that crops up on social media every year or so; when you buy an artist’s work you also buy the artist space and time (literally and metaphorically) to explore, experiment, test, push boundaries and ideate. As Weintraub would have it, ‘production and consumption comprise complementary aspects of art’s cultural course’1. A purchase provides agency and this agency allows an artist to act and work independently; to contribute to a cultural landscape, shift ideas and create discussion. Economic stability allows an artist to thrive as a citizen and to participate in political, social and cultural debate. As an audience, and as members of a democratic and diverse society, we have a vested interest in supporting artists who observe, critique and provide us with an alternative view of ourselves.


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We showcase here a selection of artists we view as straddling the creative and the commercial. Simultaneously, they challenge our paradoxically limited ideas about whether something should or shouldn’t be considered art. Unique, hand-crafted objects are made by professional artists. When these objects have a function, they are sometimes described as design or decorative or craft. The necessity to designate oneself can be limiting and impacts on an artist’s agency. Let’s celebrate the artists who broaden the definitions of their creative practice. Let’s offer them an opportunity to explore a diversity of mediums and make a decent living. Let’s remove the obstacles to their agency for expression. 1

Weintraub, L. 2003. Making Contemporary Art: How Modern Artists Think and Work. PIVOT

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MaMa MaMa KiNKiN


SUCCESS COMMERCIAL Words by Meri Fatin Illustration by Adrian du Buisson

Mama Can

In 2005, Danielle Caruana and her husband, John Butler, established The Seed Fund — a philanthropic organisation born from countless conversations on the road in the early days of touring. Meri Fatin spoke to Danielle about her childhood experience, the impetus behind the fund and the importance of celebrating tiny wins.

_____ Meri Fatin [00:01:41] The first time I spoke with Danielle Caruana was around 2005 when The Seed Fund first began and I was struck immediately by her presence. When she launched her first album Beat and Holler in 2010, I chatted to her at the RTRFM studios. I’ve thought about that conversation a lot and I’ve listened and sung along to the anthemic You Tore My Heart Out a stupid amount of times. In 2014 Danielle ran a session at the School of Life called How to be Confident. I heard she demurred at the initial invitation to present that course. I was bemused by that, but I should not have been. Danielle has made no secret of her vulnerabilities and it’s interesting to see how much more powerful she seems with every admission she makes about her limitations. When The Seed Fund was set up by Danielle and her husband John Butler it was a wild Medusa of a thing; the initial scope sent sprawling by the beautiful grandeur of their wish to make good of all the injustices that they saw. Now, The Seed Fund is a refined concept designed to make good by creating strong community in the music industry. Danielle’s sense of direct responsibility to make a difference still pervades every aspect of her life. (to DC) I heard you laughing! _____ Danielle Caruana [00:02:56] No, no it’s good (laughs). _____ Meri Fatin [00:02:58] So, let me ask you about a recent Instagram post you wrote celebrating your dad and his generosity with strangers because I have wondered about where your awareness of social justice and of ‘other people’ germinated. _____ Danielle Caruana [00:03:14] To be really honest, it’s less about an awareness

of social justice and more around the idea that as a community, we are completely accountable to each other and responsible for each other. I think that experience came early on in life as my family learned to survive as immigrants and the way they banded together with the community of Maltese immigrants. My parents came over with four kids and then had my sister and I in Australia. My mum ran a daycare at home. My dad did several jobs; he was a door to door salesman, worked in concrete and then eventually built up his own business. They started from scratch and were amidst a community of people who were also doing it really hard, raising kids, learning a new language, trying to assimilate and dealing with constant racism. They took great relief in coming together at least once a week, and our family, the Caruanas, were responsible in those gatherings for bringing the joy. We brought the music. We were the music at every christening, wedding, dinner dance, baptism, Holy Communion, confirmation and everyone came to everything. It wasn’t like, ‘So-and-so’s second cousin is having a confirmation, surely I don’t have to go?’ No. You went to everything that was happening and it was all like a life raft. _____ Meri Fatin [00:07:22] So where did the strangers come from? Because it’s one thing to be kind and inclusive in a community, but what you are saying is that there were other people? _____ Danielle Caruana [00:07:30] There were always other people in our house. We always had someone who was in the middle of a divorce living there or my brothers’ friends who couldn’t live with their folks, or so-and-so who’d lost their job. I loved that


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about our home. It was open. And then the stranger’s thing. I don’t know where that came from, other than I think my dad felt that if he took care of people then maybe he and his family would be taken care of when in need. He actually takes great pride in being charitable. I think he looks for opportunities to be kind and helpful. _____ Meri Fatin [00:08:47] And yet that’s exactly what you came up with as the original idea for The Seed Fund. _____ Danielle Caruana [00:08:53] I know! (laughs) Yes totally. I see that now! And you know, I’ve never connected the idea of my dad’s generosity to what we created at The Seed but that is a beautiful link and I’m really grateful that you’ve put that there because I do have that real deep sense of — what are we doing for each other? How can we make it better for everybody? I often feel PIVOT

Life hack #357: LITTLE WINS. One of my most effective mental health/life hack strategies is ‘little wins’. When I start feeling like I’m dragging my ass up the mountain of the insurmountable I try and focus on the small things that are working. I cheer for them like a cheer leader’s mum at the cheerleading grand finals. Here is one such little win. In the bath last night I had drunk just the perfect amount of tea so that my cup was able to bob around of its own volition, my remaining tea safe in the balance! I felt a profound “all is well” ness as I witnessed this little win. I mean look at that guy, just bobbing about, having a great old time! Tell me about a little win. It can be so tiny. It’s still a win!

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@mamakinpics Hey Dad. I know you don’t do insta but here is where I tell people about what’s important to me ... and you’re really important to me. Knowing you at this stage of your life, as a tender, loving, patient (mostly) and gracious being is one of the greatest gifts in my life. I love so many things about you.

overwhelmed by ‘the fight’, ‘the struggle’. I am so terrible at conflict and so terrible at fighting back, but I’m good at making good. _____ Meri Fatin [00:10:46] As you started to see injustices out in the world, was the teenage or early twenties version of you a protester? Were you angry? What were you like? _____ Danielle Caruana [00:11:03] I’m not a very good protester. I’m not someone who is very good at fighting bad. I am someone who is overwhelmed and bewildered by acts of meanness or malice. I’m always looking for how I can be kind and how to make good. Sometimes I wish I was a better fighter! _____ Meri Fatin [00:11:44] Well, you come at it from a different angle. PIVOT

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03 of 07 Kate Hulett General Manager, Space Market Shop Owner, Kate & Abel Fremantle |

_____ Danielle Caruana [00:11:46] I come at it from a different angle. Even if I only can make tiny, tiny good. Like last night I got my teacup to float in the bath, and considering how I’ve been feeling lately, that little moment of beauty spoke volumes to me. _____ Meri Fatin [00:12:00] I saw that post! That was so great. Looking for the tiny wins. _____ Danielle Caruana [00:12:10] I wish I was better at fighting for social justice. That’s why John (Butler, Danielle’s husband) is a great match for me because he’s absolutely a justice-minded person and I’m a kindness-minded person and that’s why I think The Seed idea came to fruition, because he was wanting to make it right and I was wanting to make it good. _____ Meri Fatin [00:12:39] Tell me about how you came up with the original idea of The Seed Fund because it’s a cool story. _____ Danielle Caruana [00:12:56] The first ramblings came on tour. We were in the van doing long drives and we were like, hey, there’s so many great Australian bands out there, how can they not be getting played on radio … if we ever get money we should set up a fund. Like as if we’re ever gonna get out of this van, playing, driving from festival to festival. And then Sunrise Over Sea happened (John Butler Trio’s third studio album debuted at number one in March 2004 and went gold in its first week of release) just after the birth of our first child, and because we had released it independently in Australia, we did have money. So, we were in this dingy hotel room somewhere in middle America trying to make a career in that massive market, and we thought maybe we should do that thing we had spoken about many moons ago on those long drives. And literally as our daughter Banjo crawled around on the disgusting sticky motel room floor, the idea flowered … we would create a fund for artists by artists. Who knows better what an artist needs than artists? I made two phone calls. One to a woman named Jacqui Geia, she PIVOT

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On ‘Agency’

How many of us are seeking our purpose, and moreover, trying to muster up the motivation (or perhaps, courage) to pursue that purpose? It’s strange that from a young age, we’re taught to conform with social norms that follow a prescriptive path (school → uni → career → house → marriage → kids → retire) BUT ALSO, we’re told to follow our hearts and dreams. That ambition, that self-awarded freedom to pursue dreams, that execution of freewill — that’s what I think of as agency. My life has been an enmeshment of the very traditional and the completely unbelievable. I guess it’s a mix of personalityplus-circumstance that has forced my living with agency. Because of my ‘fuck it’ attitude, that acceptance of the inevitability of failures (and associated shame), and the search for fulfilment (don’t get me started about that trap) I try a lot of things. OR, is it that I’ve rebranded ‘commitment issues’ as ‘agency’; ‘I live independently with free choice’?

As a community, we are completely accountable to each other


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and responsible for each other.


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was the only person I knew in the arts community who was a grant writer — a connector and a total maverick thinker. And the other call to Carlo Santone from Blue King Brown, who was someone we had been friends with for years and would constantly call and brainstorm ideas with. It was a two-minute conversation, ‘Hey we’ve got this idea and you’re the first person we would want to do it with,’ and they were both like, ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah’. We got back to Australia, sat in Jacqui’s backyard and in that one meeting came up with the categories that we were going to have the first year: Professional Development, Social Activism through the Arts, Music Marketing, Music Workshops, Art by Refugees — which was only open to artists awaiting their asylum application. It was ridiculous how broad the categories were in hindsight. Our naïvety was really something to behold! _____ Meri Fatin [00:16:14] But was the impetus for each of them the fact that you’d actually seen that need in the community in your own personal experience? _____ Danielle Caruana [00:16:22] We’d seen and experienced the need in the very recent establishment phase of our own careers. That was our strength I think — we were only one step beyond being emerging and having that perspective of what it really is like in the trenches. John had received a couple of pivotal grants from the government and they had helped to get him into the right place at the right time. But there’s just not enough of those. Our naïvety was that money was the best thing we could offer. It was only after the first year of giving away money to stop gap people’s shortfall in projects that we got to thinking about what was needed outside of funding. We thought back to how often people would ask us about

our management set up, or team set up, or advice on publicity, and we realised that what we were all missing was an opportunity to brainstorm with each other. So, the management workshop was born out of, ‘Let’s think of something that we can do that is more about learning and connecting than giving money.’ _____ Meri Fatin [00:17:37] And what did you realise your strong suit was? _____ Danielle Caruana [00:17:39] Our strong suit was we could pull the people who we already worked with into a workshop space for three days. It’s a crazy idea. Pulling together thirty emerging managers and self-managed artists and workshopping, What is it to be self-managed? What is it to manage? What are the skillsets required? What are we responsible for and how can we support each other? What are some examples of pathways which are a little more off the beaten track? We’re now about to deliver the twelfth one — three hundred emerging managers later. And what happens in that space every year has been an ever-evolving thing. We want to be speaking with people and empowering people who are right on the edge of the industry, who are creating the industry right now. We want to connect maverick thinkers to become each other’s support network. We’ve renamed the workshop The Future Makers because we want to do everything we can to empower them to create the industry that we all want to see. _____ Meri Fatin [00:18:48] I was really interested that one of the previous participants talked about the extreme sense of relief from being able to have those conversations. I’d love to know a bit more about what happens here. _____ Danielle Caruana [00:19:13] They’re conversations around the idea that there


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04 of 07 Peter Bennetts Architectural Photographer Melbourne

Let’s think of something that we can do that is more about learning and connecting than giving money

is not only one way to do this. Management is a creative endeavour and art is a creative endeavour. The mixture of the two should be a mixture of identifying a vision and then creating a great roadmap to get there that is absolutely of your making. We also try and do as much uncoupling between the artist and the manager as far as understanding that people often get into management as, ‘I just love this music SO MUCH, I have to work with you,’ passion play. Eventually, you have to recognise that you are running a management business. We lose so many great management operators from sheer burn out — financially and energetically. We also try and place the artist in the centre of the industry. What is the industry if the primary producer of the art and their manager get paid the least up until the point where it becomes unviable? So, how do we position the artist to be at the centre of their own industry and value them a bit better? You know the workshop is a little bit academic and a little bit philosophical. The amazing thing is that thirty participants walk away each year with a network of peers from all around Australia. I think they come in thinking that the biggest deal they’re going to get is hearing from industry professionals and they leave realising that they have a community. _____ Meri Fatin [00:24:08] And do you challenge the participants to really reflect on their sense of who they are and what they represent and how they want to be in the world? _____ Danielle Caruana [00:24:18] And why. Do you know why you’re doing this because that’s what you’re going to have to return to every time you hit a roadblock. And that’s what’s going to help you inform what your next step is. A small step towards your actual ‘why’ rather than what you think the industry’s imposed ‘why’ is. Because what is the industry, if it is not us? We are the industry. We’re making it on the daily. So, what are we making? What standards do we assume are being placed upon us, that we are complaining about, yet PIVOT

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On ‘Agency’

Agency stems from being in the moment and acting on that moment, but also all that went before, and a consideration of the future. Agency means listening, learning, and actively employing that knowledge. Sometimes it takes sheer force of will, other times it’s about what you don’t do that brings about change. Agency is a commitment for bringing about positive change, being brave and taking the path least travelled. I always feel agency! As a photographer it’s about the moment and one’s best effort to bring about the positive in that moment. Putting yourself in the right place at the right time — it’s a relationship with the instant. The photographer’s particular mission is to understand the life of things, to be curious, tell the story, and suggest unimagined possibilities.

It just keeps showing me the power of connection and how important it is to break the myth of isolation perpetuating by our daily practices? So we’re sort of taking the lid off the idea that the industry happens to us and we need to reshape ourselves to fit it, rather than we are it. _____ Meri Fatin [00:25:32] I wonder how having these conversations year-onyear and building a community of which you are like the centrifuge, fuels your recognition every year of why you’re doing this. Why do you do The Seed Fund now in 2019? _____ Danielle Caruana [00:25:59] Because it just keeps showing me the power of connection and how important it is to break the myth of isolation and I need that as much as every participant needs that. I do it as much for myself and for my own remembrance that I am part of the community. I get a double kick back when people are like, ‘Yes, we’re in this together!’ I feel just as vulnerable. I subscribe to just as many of the myths of isolation as every other manager and self-managed artist and emerging manager does in that room. And I think that’s why I can keep the conversation at its edge because I’m at the edge myself. _____ Meri Fatin [00:27:04] But it is the strangeness of being a creative person as well isn’t it? A lot of what you develop is done in isolation but then you deliver it, and it is such an extraordinarily different space from whence it came. _____ Danielle Caruana [00:27:21] It is so tricky; moving between those two spaces with fluidity takes a lot of organisation and requires a lot of structure and a maverick mindset. And that’s why I think every person in that room is a hero. The thing is how not to let it slip because whatever that spark was that got you

from your bedroom to your first gig or from being able to write your first press release or to book your mates’ band because you really believed in them or whatever that thing was still lives inside you. So, let’s actually go back and remember what that thing was. The real reward comes from actually carving a path of your own making. That’s where the real reward is. _____ Meri Fatin [00:29:15] And also knowing that as an artist you can be in an industry and be truly excellent in your product and be critically acclaimed, be decades into what you’re doing and still be living hand-to-mouth. _____ Danielle Caruana [00:29:31] This is why I’m constantly saying ARTISTS you are the CEO. You have to make sure you are the CEO of your business. When you get a manager, you don’t resign from the CEO position. Yet so many in the music industry do this. And then we blame the manager. No, no, no — don’t blame the managers. You checked out. The manager is a navigator. You’re the driver. _____ Meri Fatin [00:31:07] You must get a lot of feedback from the people who’ve had the privilege of coming to a Seed Fund workshop. Is there something that someone said to you that’s stuck in your mind, something that spoke to you deep down? _____ Danielle Caruana [00:31:39] You know what, it’s actually the unspoken. It’s the hugs on the way out. That last day when everyone’s leaving and they’re mostly speechless and there’s tears and there’s this feeling of connection and relief and, ‘Oh my God maybe I can but, holy fuck, I’m so overwhelmed. But oh my God, maybe there is a way.’ That is huge for me. And then the other thing is seeing them out in the world.


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Bumping into them at conferences, at festivals. To be like, ‘Hey! Hi! I was at the workshop!’, ‘Oh my God, what year?’ That is the best for me, actually watching them out in the world doing it. You know what or choosing not to do it; going, ‘Yeah, I just realised that I wasn’t really much of a manager’. Like, thank God you realised and didn’t waste the next four years of that artist’s career! _____ Meri Fatin [00:33:13] I want to ask you a little bit about your own music because you are still very much a happening thing with Mama Kin Spender. I read that you were filled with doubt about your own musical ability because of how many gifted musicians there were in your family. It amazed me because I mean, you know that I’m a huge fan of yours. So, I want to ask you about the sense of being good enough, as a musician, because I remember being deeply moved the first time PIVOT

Check this seedy bunch of Future Makers: 2019 Management Workshop participants — An AMAZING group of individuals, feeling inspired and connected, not only to each other but to the other 10 years of Seed Alumni. What a SQUAD.

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someone looked me in the eye and said, ‘You are enough exactly as you are’. And I wondered how that statement makes you feel? _____ Danielle Caruana [00:35:35] It feels like a statement I would like to believe, and I believe it when I’m in the space that things are going the way that I think they should. However, I probably can’t hear it when I’m struggling or frustrated with how things are or rather aren’t progressing. At those times I try to remember to believe my own advice, which is that a block is an opportunity to create a career that’s of my own making. But that’s hard. And so, one of the biggest things to me is how important it is to build a network of peers and associates. Vested interest partners - and also non-vested interest people ­— who you can call on, unpack things with. Because that support network ­— meticulously created and taken care of ­— it’s just vital. PIVOT

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@mamakinpics So I had a slump. Put a post up on insta about it, and a lot of people got in touch with me on the DMs to check if I was OK. So beautiful. So much love in the face of vulnerability. Never ceases to amaze me. A few friends even said ‘Just let me know if there is anything I can do!’ A familiar phrase right? One I often say when a friend is in a time of need. However, here’s the thing; When I’m down or slipping, or anxious, or depressed, as much as I am in need of support, I can’t think of one way that anyone can help me. That’s part of the condition of the isolation of the whole fkn thing: “no one can reach me/ help me/hear me/support me ... I AM THAT I AM ALONE” Then, something a bit radical happened yesterday:

1. A friend came over unannounced and lit my fire to warm my neglected house, and then left.

I have learnt how to be a better friend through these simple but very powerful gestures. I am reminded that sometimes I have to gently shoulder my way in when someone is struggling and perform an act of uninvited kindness, rather than asking them to guide me from their already overwhelmed state, in how I can help them.

2. Another friend came over and put a load of unasked for shopping on my bench and some home made pasta, passata and hummus. Quick cuppa, and then left. 3. Another friend put 2 frozen meals into my freezer. I didn’t even see her. She came in while I was out, put them in my freezer, instructed my sick kid who was coughing and spluttering on the couch to let me know they were there, and left.

Thank you to all of the people who have been reaching out. All of you generous souls who offered help. I feel very loved by my community near and far. To those who elbowed in yesterday, and then graciously exited, your intuition was profound and I am your humbled and grateful recipient and student.

My state is mercurial at the moment. Flashes of panic, bliss, exhaustion, calm, love, grief, isolation and connection. I try to let each of them pass, and not grip at the ‘good’ ones and reject the ‘bad’ ones. I can feel a strobing return.

So, I feel just as vulnerable now as I did when I released Beat and Holler. I feel just as vulnerable as I did the first time I hopped on stage and did our first gig. We opened for John. Just my brother and me. And even that, the fact we were opening for John, made me feel like a complete fraud. There’s times when I feel just as vulnerable and there are times when I feel totally on top of it. So, do I feel like I am ‘exactly enough’? I suppose that depends on which lens I am wearing and how hard I am being on myself, and how realistic and flexible my expectations are. I keep trying to remind myself to live with an attitude of high optimism and low expectation! That helps. _____ Meri Fatin [00:38:06] I hear you. I just want to ask you one last thing. To me it seems that one of the great things that you have done up until this point is your work with The Seed Fund. Creating this strong community for musicians and I wonder at this point how you reflect on that as an achievement, as a legacy. _____ Danielle Caruana [00:38:50] I’m so proud of the work we’ve done. It is still John and I, and Carlo is still involved and Stacia, who came on in the first year of the fund. Jacqui passed away shortly after realising the first Management workshop, but her legacy is still alive. I couldn’t do it without them. So, I feel proud of us, of who we are as people, as friends, as colleagues. I am proud of who we are in our community, and the way we keep pushing the envelope. And, what I’m most proud of is the fact that we’re still willing for it to change year after year and to not become comfortable — because the thing we delivered in the first year would actually be still fun to deliver now. But it wouldn’t put us at the edge of the industry and the edge of what we want to

create in the industry. I’m most proud of the fact that we’ve been so brave. _____ Meri Fatin [00:39:59] I don’t know if you remember that after our preliminary chat prior to this conversation I emailed you to say that I’m always amazed at how I go away from our conversations feeling like you throw me a ball of wisdom that I’m only just strong enough to catch. I go away grappling with our conversations and I always feel like it’s been a privilege to have some of your time. Thank you so much for today. _____ Danielle Caruana [00:40:30] That’s very, very generous. And thank you for that beautiful intro you wrote. I was laughing. I was like oh my god someone actually sees me like this! I don’t see myself like that today Meri so thanks for holding up a mirror.


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OP ART Some things I’ve been thinking about ‌ About eighteen months ago, I had started to talk to my friend and colleague, Sarah Watanabe about the impacts of fashion on the environment. Through these conversations, I began to feel increasingly uncomfortable with the culture of excess and consumption generated by the fashion industry. As well as working in an architecture practice, Sarah has her own fashion label, Monster Alphabets. Together, we lamented everything from inefficient production processes through to the increasing dominance of cheap, high street clothing stores.

Words by Emma Williamson Images by Sarah Watanabe Model Lili McAuliffe


Determined to take a personal stand, I set myself a challenge to see how long I could go without purchasing anything new. I managed to make it to ten months and in the process, totally transformed my relationship to fashion and consumption. This challenge has made me much more mindful of my actions, has seen me spend a lot more time in op-shops and unexpectedly, ended up with Sarah and I collaborating on a sustainable fashion project, which we’ve named @monster_alphabets _dilemma These are some of the things I learnt during my ten month fashion sabbatical:

The fashion industry creates so much waste — from the process of producing fabric, through cutting and offcuts, items made and not sold, items bought and not worn.

So many of the clothes that we purchase are made by people — mostly women — working in poor and often dangerous conditions and for extremely low wages. This is despite the global attention given to disasters such as the collapse of the Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh in which 1,134 garment workers died.

A recent article in Vogue by fashion journalist and sustainability advocate, Clare Press, summarised a lot of what I had read. Press describes how many labels destroy unsold goods, and that at home in Australia we dispose of 6,000 kilos of fashion and textile waste every 10 minutes. The bulk becomes landfill, and the rest heads to op-shops — but even then there are unintended consequences.

Clothes continue to get cheaper and we continue our disconnection from the efforts made to produce these garments. Our expectations for increasing levels of finish and finesse at a low price fail to acknowledge the effort of low paid workers.

According to Press, Oxfam estimates that 70 percent of donations to op-shops end up in Africa, where ‘mountains of cheap old clothes are killing local textile industries.’

To address this is tricky. Production by major chains is often outsourced and as a consumer it is difficult to know exactly what the production chain looks like. It’s fair to say that a t-shirt that costs five dollars was probably produced by someone who was not paid much. Unfortunately, we still have these issues on clothing sold for a lot more.

Mark Liu’s article, Time to make fashion a problem for its makers, not charities suggests that, if we carry on the way we are, by 2030 the fashion industry will consume two Earth’s worth of resources per year.


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There is also the lingering question around the impact of fast fashion and the suffocation of individual expression. Fashion houses that once delivered two collections per year are now expected to produce four, six or even monthly capsule collections in order to maintain a position in the market. The cycle of consumption is like a treadmill moving faster and faster and insatiable for the fashion follower. Oddly, through all this output there is a growing homogeneity on the street as clothes barely worn are discarded in order to keep up with the latest look. When we combine this trend with cheap fabrics, we are faced with pieces destined for landfill and fabrics that do not break down over time.


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The combination of these three concerns saw me spending more and more time in the op-shop where I made my final and most joyous discovery — that all the good fabrics are found in the men’s business shirt section! I was drawn to the largely monochromatic colour palettes, patterning, finishing details and fabric quality — things glaringly absent from the rows and rows of clothing on offer for women.

Sarah and I started to experiment transforming men’s cotton business shirts into something we could wear. By creating a set of repeated moves, we have reworked the humble business shirt into an entirely unique item of clothing for women. Despite the standardised construction method, each shirt feels bespoke, celebrating clashing patterns, pleating or frayed ends.

The garment cost reflects a reasonable labour rate for the time spent making them. We have created a type of tailoring that opportunistically preserves many of the time-consuming finishing details on the existing shirts, altering the final shirt through addition and subtraction. Importantly, the making of these shirts has almost zero impact, has minimal waste and we’ve saved a garment from landfill.


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In summary, there are ways that we can reduce the impact of fashion on the world and its people, and they are simple. We need to consume less, keep things for longer and make sure that what we buy has been made ethically.

Together Again I’ve heard you described as skeleton articulators. Can you explain what that means?

Collectively, Michi Main and Michael deRoos are the company Cetacea. The Canadians are experts in the field of skeleton assembly and are in town to re-hang Perth’s iconic blue whale for the new Western Australian Museum. They caught up for a chat with TF.A’s, Emma Brain, and this is what they had to say.

We met at university, in Canada. Yeah, in biology class, actually. Oddly enough!

Yeah, that’s an interesting term. I guess articulating a skeleton means to put it together. So, you’re joining the bones to create a fully assembled skeleton.

The Cast Emma Brain = Underline Michi Main = Italics Mike deRoos = Roman

So, we’re basically really, really excited about biology and puzzles. We’re puzzle makers! We’re both trained biologists. I have a Bachelor’s in biology and I specialised in marine biology and the biology of marine mammals: whales, and seals, and sea lions. And Michi has her Masters in ... I actually specialised in Marine ecology and conservation, but then Mike sort of directed me into this world and it was so captivating that I kind of just dove in and never looked back.


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I guess to get back to your question, what is a skeleton articulator? Our jobs have developed into this thing where we go to a dead whale that’s washed up on a beach. We take it apart and clean all the bones. It’s a big process. I do quite a bit of marine mammal fieldwork out on boats, watching whales swim around and do what they do. And so, we integrate the latest scientific research on whale behaviour and movements, we use drone footage and underwater photography of whales swimming around. And we take all of that knowledge and come up with a story that we want to tell with the bones.


Every display is unique and it depends on where the skeleton is going, the size and shape of the museum, and the display space, and how people are going to be interacting with it. You bring all of that information together. The first few skeletons I did really looked like dead animals. And that’s what conventionally has been done, because people experience these animals dead on the beach. And other than that, they’re really elusive. Our view of them is this dorsal fin sticking out of the water or occasionally breached. We haven’t really had a real window into what they’re actually doing in their life.

And so, we have this opportunity with our work to share with people what their life actually looks like based on the research that’s being done. A lot of the animals are tagged now. For this blue whale project that we’re working on, there’s amazing research available. They have tagged blue whales and modelled their underwater movements; it turns out that they’re acrobats.

As well as evidence of how it died?

Sometimes that too. That’s an interesting one because often we want to share with people what destroyed the animal’s life. And so, part of that is that any trauma that happened to their skeleton, including their death, and so often we won’t fully repair that kind of damage.

These animals are very large, and their bodies are designed to be in the water floating. And so usually when they come on shore, there’s some amounts of trauma to the skeleton just by the sheer bulk of it being moved around and experiencing gravity.

We feel such connection with animals, particularly big ones, there must be a deeply emotional aspect to you work as well as it being a privilege?

We spend hours, like hundreds and hundreds of hours with this individual animal. We kind of get to know it. It’s really a connective personal experience. That’s one thing I really love about it. It’s such a privilege to work with the animal and then to get to the point where you can share that with a greater audience is joyous. I mean, the story, and like I say, we try to keep the animal’s death part of the entire story because there is a lot that’s really sad. A lot of the deaths are toxin overloading or related to ship strikes and other human influences. And so that part of it is really, really sad. And yet it feels really good to be able to share that with people too so that we know.


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And there’s many times where we’re like, what are we doing? It’s just like, get normal jobs. But that time when you have installed a skeleton and you see people coming in and you start to see this gut reaction that people have. You even see people moved to tears or kids come in and be like, what is this thing, I’m just so curious, I need to know everything I can about killer whales or whatever. And that is the part of it that really, really feels amazing. It keeps us wanting to do this weird job.

Kieran mentioned a project that you did with the Shíshálh Nation near where you live in Canada. Can you tell me about that?

We live on a small island and then we had to go to the big island and drive and then take another ferry and another ferry over to Shíshálh, which is part of the mainland, but on this big remote section. I was on my way over to help an old school friend inspect a house he was thinking of buying …

Yeah, I called my biologist friends at the biological station. I said, ‘You should come to check out these whales,’ because they keep tabs on which whales are around and stuff. I couldn’t get a hold of anyone, but...

This was like a day before Christmas and so Mike went on his own and I stayed at home with the kids. And then he’s going across on the ferry and he’s like, ‘There’s whales.’ And there were whales bow riding on the ferry. Killer whales.

The next day, I just finished crawling through the attic and I said, ‘Don’t buy this place.’ It’s full of work. And we get a text saying there’s a dead killer whale on the beach. Like, 15 minutes from where we were.


To make the story short …

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Mike calls me and he’s like, ‘So there’s a dead whale, should I go check it out?’ And I was like, ‘It’s Christmas, please don’t go, but yes, I guess, go’.

Photo supplied by Michi Main / Mike deRoos

Do they have a particular spiritual connection to the killer whale? So, I drove down to the beach and the fisheries guy was there and the veterinary pathologist had just shown up to do the necropsy, which is basically an autopsy on the animal. And he looks over at me, ‘Mike, what are you doing here? This is great. We have a team.’ We only have a couple of hours to get all this work done. And then he said, ‘This is Sid from the Shíshálh Nation and they’re really interested in this animal and maybe you can help them preserve the skull.’

Very much so. The killer whale is their family totem. So this is like a deceased family member that’s come back to the family. And there were all these crazy coincidences with elders who had passed within this period and ideas that maybe the spirit of the whales have come in because of a connection to that. So I threw on a spare pair of boots and rain gear and Sid said, ‘Yeah, can you help us keep not just a skull but the whole skeleton? We have a museum here that would be perfect for …’


How big is this thing? How big is a killer whale?

A truck. Twenty-five feet. A lot of flesh and big heavy pieces. Sid called his road maintenance crew down with the backhoe. Thank goodness. That was the only way ... it ended up being two of us finishing at like 11 at night. The fire department brought lights down for us.

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How long does that process take?


It depends

Very messy. It’s a bit of a learned skill, how to take one of these animals apart to pieces that you can move and get the bones out. So yeah, we did that. And then the very next day, the First Nations mentioned that one of their members had started this composting facility where they do all sorts of composting, including municipal marine waste and dead fish from fish farms. It’s like the size of a football field. A football field in a tent. It was a perfect facility to put the fleshy whale bones into and have all the meat removed …

Normally we leave skeletons in for about six months. And we monitor them. It depends on the composition of the compost because as you probably know, composts get really hot. It’s a bit of a balance between cleaning off the flesh and cooking the skeleton, which isn’t optimal. Far from optimal actually.

And where was it installed?

They have a museum, a First Nations museum in Shíshálh.

We explained to them how to monitor it and so they did that composting piece of the puzzle. And then they collaborated on design and were heavily involved in the installation part of it.


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And it was an amazing project just because … this one was just held by the community in different ways. It just feels like that skeleton is where it was meant to be.

Photo supplied by Michi Main / Mike deRoos

There’s a lot of heart to it. They had this big, huge, sort of grand opening ceremony and served 200 people this amazing feast of salmon and elk meat. We have also run community-based projects where we organise everything and set things up. And that means you put the tools into the hands of interns or community members, who have maybe never even held a drill before. And that’s also another really meaningful thing. Because there’s so much to learn in a project like this. A project like that brings tons of people out of the woodwork. Retired machinists and high school students ...

That’s brilliant. Thank you. Did we answer all of your questions? Totally misfit high school student who like just struggled her way through school and nobody could connect with her. But she just blossomed in our workshop and was amazingly artistic. There’s this level of connecting with the skeleton, as we talked about before, but also in these projects, a chance and opportunity to connect with people in a really unique way.


Yeah. You did, and more. I feel like we just talked. That’s what I wanted. I’m really happy with that. Thank you, that was very good.

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An Index of Possibilities (details) 2016 Photo: Bo Wong


The Art of Survival Words by Trevor Richards

Western Australian artist Trevor Richards reflects on a career spent balancing creative ambition and financial imperative, private practice and a desire to share his passion for the artistic process. It’s been an exciting ride from canvas to streetscape.

Top Finishing touches on The Rocks Warehouse. Project Wildflower, Geraldton 2019

My art practice shifted from a representational basis in early years to one where the artwork had its own presence and autonomy

Bottom The first paint going onto the Telstra Laneway. Project Wildflower, Geraldton 2019 Photos: Betty Richards

When reflecting on my career progression the temptation is to summarise it as a series of conscious choices, logical steps and selfmotivated moves. However, it’s not like that at all — more like stumbling into situations you hadn’t anticipated, being offered opportunities you’re not sure you’re ready for, and wondering if there’s anything around the next corner. What makes this journey interesting however is knowing that you’re involved in doing something you love.

surfaces, patterns, colour and geometry drew me towards a more minimal, concrete approach to making artworks. My art practice shifted from a representational basis in early years to one where the artwork had its own presence and autonomy. These ideas have characterised my work over the past thirty years.

My mother has always been a keen and talented artist who sparked my interest in art. Also, the way time seemed to magically disappear when I was drawing, or painting made me want to keep doing it. Mum’s encouragement made it easy for me to see a path towards tertiary study and subsequent early steps as an artist. I later realised that while making art was totally absorbing, fun and exciting, it wasn’t possible to generate a steady income on which to survive, so I returned to university to get a teaching qualification.

Being involved in public art demands many new skills unfamiliar to the studio-based artist. Insurance, a construction white card, interpreting building plans, PPE, EWP, health and safety, keeping to budgets and working to deadlines are some of the unavoidable demands of making art in public spaces. Being responsible to and reliant on your trusty team as well as other trades and professions, forces you to work with individuals, companies and organisations to successfully complete the project. I feel the need to try harder, be more professional, to counteract the false impression held by many in the public art sphere that artists are lazy, naïve and unreliable.

When I stopped teaching, I was able to devote more time to my studio practice. There have also been some exciting opportunities to collaborate in public commissions, to enjoy the thrill of seeing an idea become reality in a public arena.

Apart from paying the bills, I learnt on the job about a wide range of different art media and techniques. I also developed strategies for keeping large groups of restless adolescent boys and girls interested in projects, whilst sharing my passion for the mysterious process of turning ideas into artworks. Since retiring from teaching fifteen years ago I still bump into former students and proudly follow the progress of those who have ventured into the art world with success, and who have also become close friends.

The recent Wildflower Project for the City of Greater Geraldton was a huge challenge, painting a massive meta graphic pattern through the centre of the city. Eighteen hundred square-metres of hand painted road, laneway and walls, 600 litres of paint and 12 kilometres of masking tape gives an indication of the scale.

Despite these challenges public art has its financial rewards and allows me the opportunity to contribute to the aesthetics of shared spaces. I hope that my interventions into public areas are appropriately useful, giving energy and providing a positive experience to those who pass through them.

Throughout my teaching career I managed to find time to develop my own art practice and exhibit in group and solo shows. Moving into a part time teaching role was an important step, as well as adopting a more organised approach. I needed to be more disciplined, to know what I was doing before I arrived in the studio, rather than sitting around waiting for inspiration to strike. My observations of how our built environment is constructed of


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Project Wildflower: Before, during and after Photos: James Thompson and Betty Richards


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05 of 07 Renee Pettitt-Schipp Writer Denmark, WA

‘Richards’ interests in architectural interiors, colour relationships, pattern and perception are constants in his 30 year practice although the outcomes of his investigations range playfully in form.’ _____ Louise Morrison on Trevor Richards, Artlink, 2012


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On ‘Agency’

When thinking of the term ‘agency’, I remembered a quote by Jean-Paul Sartre. Sartre wrote that when we act, we modify the shape of the world. To an extent we already know this when we protest and lobby governments. These actions help shape the societies we live in. But I believe when we are authentic, when we speak our truth, learn how to love, these acts also mold how our world becomes. I felt like I had agency when I won the Premier’s Literary Award. When I returned to Perth from Christmas Island, the Border Force Act came into place, so I risked a two year jail term if I spoke about Australia’s detention system. At the award ceremony, in front of several hundred people including government ministers, I told the story of Ali Reza who had his childhood stolen by mandatory detention. It was one of the most important moments in my life.

Fare ‘n’ Water features prominently throughout the development, with a series of connected experiences reflecting the site’s past. AGENCY

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In a review first published in Architecture Australia, Emma Williamson uncovers the collaborative process between the design team and Indigenous representatives that has seen the site return to its origins as a community meeting place. Words by Emma Williamson Images by Peter Bennetts

Square This review first appeared in the Sept/Oct 2019 edition of Architecture Australia.


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Previously separated by railway lines, the Perth CBD and Northbridge are now connected by the multi-level development.


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ow a city develops and engages with its key civic spaces says a lot about its own aspirations for the future. Perth has recently gone through a process of repositioning itself through several key infrastructure projects that will ready it to shift from a small city to one with an expected population of up to four million people by 2050. These projects include Elizabeth Quay (ARM Architecture and TCL), the RAC Arena (ARM Architecture and CCN), Optus Stadium (Hassell, Cox and HKS), Fiona Stanley Hospital (Hassell, Hames Sharley and Silver Thomas Hanley), the New Museum (Hassell and OMA) and Yagan Square (Lyons in collaboration with Iredale Pedersen Hook Architects and Aspect Studios). As the smallest of the projects listed, Yagan Square would be easy to overlook. Yet it sits in the heart of the city, over and adjacent to Perth Railway Station, and at the intersection of architecture, infrastructure and public space.


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A floating metal canopy shades the amphitheatre during the day; after dark, it becomes a screen for digital projections.

Yagan Square’s intrigue lies in its engagement with the site’s future and its past. It is named for Yagan, an Indigenous warrior from the Nyoongar Nation who was murdered in 1833. He was key in the resistance movement against white settlement along the Swan River colony and his killing has come to symbolise the brutal way in which Indigenous people were treated by the early settlers. At the heart of the design, which emerged from a competition overseen by the Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority, lies a rich and layered narrative that comes from the close working relationship between the architects, landscape architects and public artists. Where the Elizabeth Quay development (also led by the Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority) has more of an ‘if you build it, they will come’ feel and, in reality requires extensive programming for activation, Yagan Square sits at the city centre, navigating the space between the CBD and the night life of Northbridge. While the project benefits from some programming, the design has focused on the creation of spaces that are naturally attractive to people. Nowhere is this seen more strongly than in the integration of landscape, architecture and public art as it moves across the upper-level meeting space down toward the City Link. Yagan Square gives us previously unrealised access to views of the city’s PIVOT

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06 of 07 Nick Juniper Associate Principal TheFulcrum.Agency Perth

On ‘Agency’

A word describing change through action, and with a growing importance in a world where there is an increasing awareness that our actions or inactions have real consequences ... or an Ad Agency — and Don Draper ‘suaving’ through his day, with a whiskey before lunch. Beyond my work at TF.A, where we are engaged in projects seeking to create enduring social returns, my ‘hobby’ as a volunteer presenter on Local Community Radio RTRFM connects me to an organisation dedicated to promoting a strong, diverse, and local voice in the Perth media landscape. Despite the early morning (Snoozebutton 4am!!), I enjoy contributing to the station and the important social impact that they create.


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Water features prominently throughout the development, with a series of connected experiences reflecting the site’s past.

elevation. It navigates the combined challenge of changes in level and disability access through a cleverly crafted landscape that is both engaging and robust. Importantly, it challenges our post-colonial relationship to the land by placing the building under the landscape and privileging an Indigenous narrative. Because the Square invites passage from so many directions into and through it, it is both dynamic and vibrant. Its level changes create connections within the site and views into and across the Market Hall, as well as connecting to the broader urban realm through long views out to the city and beyond. In recent months, there has been much public debate about the sacrosanct nature of public spaces during negotiations for the now-defunct plan to establish an Apple Store at Federation Square in Melbourne. For Yagan Square, the project brief demanded a commercial component: the Market Hall is a largely internal space that sits under the topography as it descends from the Horseshoe Bridge to the lower-level City Link. Along the perimeter, small cafés and food vendors selling unique local produce offer a dual aspect to service patrons who access the train station through the square. Yagan Square has not been designed as a single, totalising gesture. Rather it invites curiosity and exploration, revealing PIVOT

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A digital tower at the entrance to Yagan Square includes fourteen ‘reeds’ that represent the site’s original wetlands and the 14 language groups of the Nyoongar Nation.


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stories over time. In this project, we see the value of the combined project team listening closely and working collaboratively with members of the Nyoongar Whadjuk Working Party to understand their stories and develop ways to embed them deeply within contemporary architecture. Aboriginal Elder Richard Walley worked as a liaison between the Nyoongar Whadjyuk Working Party and the design team on behalf of the Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority to ensure that the stories were told and understood. In his capacity to move from words to drawings, he was able to capture and diagram stories from both stories, creating a feedback loop that everyone could understand. Rather than creating an iconic singular object, the project team has developed a space of deep and layered memory, with each element having symbolic significance in the narrative. It is a place that can be returned to, time and again. At the heart of the project sits the Meeting Place that, over time, will come to hold the memory of informal and formal events. It speaks to the individual, to small groups and to larger gatherings. There is a genuine invitation for the Nyoongar community to occupy this constructed landscape — and it has been warmly embraced. With the exception of a single stone (the Pilbara red), all of the landscape PIVOT

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On the upper level, children’s play area celebrates the geological rock formations of regional Western Australia.

materials were sourced from Nyoongar land. This made the material palette integral to the success of the project, embedding meaning and creating something that is genuinely of this place. Even challenges such as the demand for digital screens became design triumphs through the combined efforts of design and research. The resultant forty-five-meter-high digital tower is an important beacon in the city, reflects the fourteen Nyoongar nations and combines culturally rich programming with commercial intent. Yagan Square is a public space that will continue to evolve. The forest of trees will grow over the coming decades to become an important native canopy within our city centre. It will become a breathing space and living room that breaks down the barrier between the CBD and Northbridge and allows both flexibility and intimacy as the population grows. As a patron, it has made me feel more hopeful about the capacity to create public spaces that are genuinely inclusive. PIVOT

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07 of 07 Monique Woodward Director WOWOWA Carlton North, Victoria

On ‘Agency’

As an architect obsessed with entrepreneurs, marketing and ethical business, the politics of space and the machinations of power behind architecture, I see, advocacy and agency rolled in together. Political and social capital are key drivers in understanding one’s own sense of agency. To achieve an outcome, I first decide whether to leverage either my personal brand, as an emerging female architect, or WOWOWA’s might as a medium size practice capable of producing sexy colourful architecture. They are one in the same but are deployed with a degree of nuance. With over 1,000 delegates, the Australian Institute of Architects National Conference called Collective Agency, that I cocurated with Stephen Choi, was an incredible platform for change. Contending aesthetics with ethics, we said beautiful work is the price of entry to broader discussions. For too long good architecture has been silently complicit in upholding the status quo — time for broader diversity, generosity, new kinds of leaders and louder voices.


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The Market Hall, a largely internal space that sits under the topography, is the project’s commercial component.

As an architect, it has made me feel hopeful about the rich outcomes that can come from bringing the stories of our First Nations people into a contemporary context. It is a new type of space that comes from looking at our past — it is complete, yet evolving, inviting our future history to imprint on its surface and tell the story of this important shift in Australian history. It integrates the wisdom of the custodians of our land into the fabric of our growing cities.


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Next, Issue 02 Leverage Due Mid-2020


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TheFulcrum.Agency is an architectural consultancy that leverages community and social outcomes through evidencebased design thinking. TheFulcrum.Agency works across Australia and is born from decades in practice.

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