2017 Sabbatical Year

At the end of 2016 we decided to sell all of our belongings, cuts all of the needless ties and travel for a year. We joined WWOOF organisation in Italy. For those who don't know about WWOOFing it's an amazing world wide organisation - WWOOFers’ spend about half a day helping out on a host farm, learn about the organic movement and sustainable agriculture, and receive room and board during their visit – with no money exchanged between hosts and WWOOFers.
We spend few months WWOOFing  in Italy and the rest of the time traveling and freelancing. It was an inspiring year! 


This time working on a project for the Georgetown Festival!  It's a collaborative project between Tutti from Adelaide and Stepping Stone from Penang. My role is co-curating / creating art installation / project managing. It's a big challenge and I'm loving it. Here is a little blurb from BEASTLY booklet:

BEASTLY is the first fruit of a growing relationship between learning disabled artists and their supporters in Australia, Malaysia and Indonesia. In the last year this has grown into a collaboration, which seeks to democratise art further through including work driven by learning disabled artists in international festivals.

Beastly grew from conversations with artists about their real, mythological and imaginative relationships with the animal world. These are the relationships all cultures experience which give depth and nuance to our view of nature. Artists decided they wanted to transform an ordinary everyday built environment into a series of small, secret places where audiences can experience short beastly themed performances, which invite deeper reflection about how we as human beings relate to the animal world.

Beastly aims to be free and accessible to the widest possible audience – disabled and non-disabled, children through to festival connoisseurs - and for everyone to be invited to participate in the evolution of the work through photos, drawings and posting online.
I am staying at Stepping Stone art residency. Love it.

To see more photos check my collaboration page


Great fun, great feedback from the community and lots of love for Jane and Trevor! The couple I got to know over the last few weeks and whose drawn portrait you can see here. You can find out a bit about them in the last post. It is such a privilege for me to meet people this way and get to know them. They loved seeing their portraits 5X3 meters on the wall! 
Little Rundle St is full of amazing street art. Artists and local community got together and transformed the back lane from a dark alleyway to a place you need to visit next time you're in Adelaide! Amazing to see what can be done when people come together. Click on the link to find out more about Little Rundle St art project.  


Jane and Trevor are a couple in their eighties. I got introduced to them by Claire Graham who started Little Rundle St art project. Jane is a musician and Trevor is a Historian and a Uni Lecturer.
The project was a part of Fringe Festival and I chose to do their portraits because older generations have so much to offer and are often left out from the mainstream culture.
I drew the paste up in my 3x3m studio. Here it is in the common area - first time I'm seeing the rolls connected. Love drawing on such a big scale.


Soon after coming back to Australia I was offered a job in Penang. I flew back to do 2 custom mural paintings on the ceiling of this amazing private residence. It took 2 weeks, each mural is around 5 meters in diameter. It was a big job, I was standing on a scaffolding and painting detailed clouds on a ceiling for a whole 10 days without much of a break! Loved it though!!


After 3 months at Hotel Penaga I got an opportunity to spend a week and to paint a mural at this incredible garden. Art in Garden is set on the hill and surrounded by rain forest. Fuan Wong, glass artist from Georgetown spent years working on his glass sculptures, commissioning other artists and landscaping. He created this incredible otherworldly place that is full of amazing colourful dragonflies, exotic plants and beautiful art.  

Short video of the work in progress. Mural done on 140 x 280 cm cement board, painted with Murobond exterior paint. 


Beautiful Georgetown


Event organised by Backyard, a community organisation that supports creative industries in Penang. It was a night of great music, live drawing and interactive performances. I exhibited my Face It portraits and held Harts, Flaws and All workshop. 


Owners of Hotel Penaga run Rimbun Dahan art residencies. I went to visit them and met the artists there. Inspiring place. 


Stepping Stone is an amazing organisation in the small town of Balik Pulau. They are a part of Asian Community Services organisation and they create job opportunities for people with disabilities. They do batik painting, waving, soap making, pottery, cooking and baking. They reuse and recycle their materials and create beautiful products. I loved the place and I hope to do a project with them in the future... They thought me how to do batik painting and I held a workshop there. Can't wait to go back there and spend more time with the guys.


Ulumuda rain forest in the Malaysian State of Kedah is a protected area rich with wild life. I got to see a wild elephant and other amazing animals and birds. We stayed there for five days exploring forest, caves, saltlicks...


I had one week in Yogyakarta and although it felt like I haven't even scratched the surface, it was enough to fall in love with the city. It is so rich with culture, traditional, contemporary and street art, passionate people, magnificent nature and breathtaking temples... I was there for a workshop and to help promote the work of Tutti Organisation I worked with on Their Shadows in Us project. They are starting a collaboration with a group of artists and children with disabilities from Yogyakarta. 


I'm starting Face it project in Georgetown! I'm here alone and I need an excuse to talk to people. So here it is. The idea is to draw portraits of people and get them to answer a question. It's an ongoing project and question might change, but for now it's - what do you wish you'd known when you were younger? I intend to approach hotel guests, employees, food vendors, trishaw drivers.. I'll try to get a wide range of social groups. Then I plan to post the drawings online and here are the links:


This is my home for the next three months! Hotel Penaga, a heritage boutique hotel is set in the historic colonial Georgetown, a UNESCO world heritage site. The owners of the hotel architect Hijjas and enviromentalist Angela Kasturi also run Rimbyn Dahan residencies. I am forever grateful to them for the opportunity to spend 3 months here, only concentrating on art.


Anna Asz came to me with an idea for a project and got me so excited! It was to be an art director for a photo shoot and with the team of photographers and stylists to challenge the mainstream depiction of beauty. So in an artistic collaboration, we presented the stunning beauty of our models, all of whom are living with Down’s syndrome. Our project challenges viewers to question why people with disabilities are so rarely seen in the mainstream fashion industry, and asks them to reassess their own definition of who is beautiful. Photos by Alex Gardener. 


It seems like we need a reason or at least an excuse to look into someone else’s eyes… Well, we found the excuse! Let’s draw each other. Let’s look deeply into each others’ eyes and observe what makes us different but more importantly what makes us the same. Let’s examine how do we share this condition of being human and how can we fight disengagement.
Come, put your guards down and be prepared to draw badly and honestly. The plan is to pair up on the day and each person gets around 10 to 20 min to draw the other person. 
 It doesn’t matter if you have never drawn a portrait in your life or if you are a passionate drawer. It’s more about the process than about the end result. So let’s be human together, let’s draw badly and flaunt our insecurities!

Project is part of Dagmara Gieysztor’s ‘Contain Yourself!’ art residency. Which is held in a shipping container on the Footscray Riviera, just down from Footscray Community Arts Centre

Photos by Paul Atkinson