Following a week of interviews in Sydney and Melbourne, 10 young Australian creatives have been chosen to be in the running to win one of three Realise Your Dream awards - $10,000 and a trip to the UK, where they will meet, work with and learn from their professional heroes.
Three panels of judges, featuring leading academics, arts managers and practitioners, were given the tremendously difficult task of choosing the 10 from over 650 applications, representing a huge range of art forms. Applications came from all over Australia this year, most markedly from Queensland, from which two of the finalists hail.
British Council Australia says, "Realise Your Dream gives us an incredible snapshot of both the Australian creative industries and the potential partnership opportunities in the UK. The sheer talent, motivation and breadth of this year's finalists means the biggest hurdle we face is whittling down exactly which opportunities to support. Frankly, I pity the judges - it's an almost impossible task this year!"
The 2012 Realise Your Dream finalists are:
Jolie Herzberg (festival director and artistic producer, QLD)
Saskia Moore (producer and artist, VIC)
Kate Just (visual artist, VIC)
Frankie Snowdon (dancer and choreographer, VIC)
Phong Chi Lai (shoe maker, VIC)
Emma Swift (radio announcer and producer, NSW)
Sukhdeep Boghal (rapper and educator, NSW)
Et Al (photojournalism collective, QLD)
Sam Hodge (photographer, NSW)
Elmo Keep (writer and broadcaster, VIC)
The top 10 will travel to Sydney to participate in a knock-out round of interviews, and to attend the 10th Anniversary Realise Your Dream awards ceremony at the newly refurbished Museum of Contemporary Art on 22 August, where the three winners of the programme will be announced. Realise Your Dream is a British Council initiative, in association with Virgin Atlantic, BBC Knowledge, triple j, NIX Co, Boccalatte and Show Group.
For more interviews see:
Jolie Herzberg Interview: www.girl.com.au/jodie-herzberg-2012-realise-your-dream-interview
Frankie Snowdon interview: www.girl.com.au/kate-just-2012-realise-your-dream-interview
Emma Swift interview: www.girl.com.au/emma-swift-2012-realise-your-dream-interview
Kate Just is an American-born Australian artist, well known for her knitted and mixed media installations. In works which re-imagine a relationship between historic, cultural or iconographic accounts of femininity and her own autobiographic narratives, Kate Just foregrounds the power and materiality of the body as an identifying site.
Kate Just was born in Hartford, Connecticut in 1974 and moved to Melbourne permanently in 1996. Kate holds a Master of Arts from RMIT, a Bachelor of Fine Arts from VCA and a Bachelor of Science from Boston University. She is a Lecturer in Art at VCA. Just has exhibited extensively including at Auckland Art Fair, AC Institute New York, Craft Victoria, Gertrude Contemporary, Centre for Contemporary Photography, Melbourne Art Fair, Contemporary Art Space of Tasmania, Chalk Horse Gallery, Nellie Castan Gallery, First Draft, MOP, Perth Institute of Contemporary Art, Canberra Contemporary Art Space and Daine Singer. Recently a major survey exhibition Kate Just: The Knitted Work 2004 - 2011 was held at Ararat Regional Gallery. In 2011 Just was International Artist in Residence at KREMS Kunsthalle, Austria, where she held the solo exhibition VENUS Was Her Name. In 2012 Just undertook an Australia Council Residency in Barcelona. Just is a finalist in the 2012 Hobart Prize and her work will be featured in the major exhibition at Heide opening in October 2012 entitled Louise Bourgeois and Australian Artists. Just's work is held in collections including Artbank, Ergas Collection, City of Port Phillip, Ararat Regional Art Gallery and Proclaim Management Collection.
Question: Why did you decide to enter Realise Your Dream?
Kate Just: I have been watching Realise Your Dream for a couple of years and an artist from the UK came to speak at VCA, where I work and teach, and they promoted Realise Your Dream and what it represented and I decided I really wanted to apply for it. I couldn't that year due to a residency in Austria but I applied this time.
Every year I choose three or four things to apply for and Realise Your Dream is a very exciting opportunity because in the UK, particularly places like London and Edinburgh, there are major centres for contemporary art and I'm an artist. There is a huge community of artists, feminists and crafters and they are all things I'm looking at in my own art practice which is why I am desperate to get over to the UK.
Question: What is your UK dream?
Kate Just: I have devised this monstrous project titled Women Hope involving all my great heroes there and they've all agreed to participate and all I need is Realise Your Dream! I have the monstrous dream of a project which has begun to take great shape in terms of shortlisting and it has become more specific. Women Hope involves working with women around the UK who are knitters with a variety of different backgrounds including craft activists, artists, refugees, migrants, mothers, grandmothers, school children and people who would contribute to this art project with a square that represents their hope for her future. The outcome would be dependent on the number of squares received.
If I am successful I am asking for The British Council to try and help me get residency at the Victoria and Albert Museum as it's one of the world's best museums for art and design.
Question: What's a typical day like, for you?
Kate Just: At the moment I am focusing on finishing my PhD, I'm writing around the clock. A typical day for Kate Just is three days in the studio, two focusing on my project and two teaching at the VCA in Fine Arts. Weekends are a mix of everything although generally more time with my daughter and partner. I work lots of evenings until 1am in the morning because of my family commitments which I reserve for weekends; I fit a whole weekend's work into the evenings.
Question: You've achieved so much - do you have a highlight?
Kate Just: There is a highlight coming up for me, it hasn't happened yet but it's already a highlight! I have been selected to be one of six women in a show at Heide Museum of Modern Art called Louise Bourgeois and Other Artists. Louise Bourgeois is my art grandmother, or I wish she was (laughing) I love her; she is hugely influential to me, especially when I was just starting out in my mind, when I was imagining what I could do as an artist, as a women and as a parent she is it - Louise Bourgeois! Her work is incredible and the themes in her work really speak to me and to be chosen to be in an exhibition that relates in some way to her work and her ideas is a huge honour. Each artist got to write their own essays and I wrote about how Louise Bourgeois' art practice really came around through her relation to her mother in needlework and I wrote how that was the case for me, as well.
Question: Can you tell us about Kate Just: The Knitted Work 2004 - 2011?
Kate Just: Kate Just: The Knitted Work 2004 - 2011 was an exhibition of my artwork from those eight years and most of those works relate broadly to how women have been represented in art and how I see myself. Each artwork in the exhibition responds to a historical image; for example, the work Paradise is a modern day interpretation of the Myth of Persephone being dragged underground, it's an image of a woman on her suburban lawn thinking into the night, it's also a personal image that relates to how I felt at the time my brother died; the image represents my mother and I in one person and is an image of grief. Each work in the exhibition has a historical relationship to women in the present day, in a personal way.
Question: Where do you find inspiration?
Kate Just: I wouldn't say inspired, it's embedded. My personal life and response to what's happening is embedded in and driving the work. A recent show that I did looked at the relationship that I have to my adopted daughter named Hope; it came through an experience when I first met her as I thought she was strong, as if she was wearing armour. Years later after seeing art that related to woman historically and their skin, I created an entire show around our skin and armour; I knitted a soft armour and took photos of Hope wearing it.
There is no moment; it's embedded in the materiality of art, my own life and relationships in the world and especially the way women are represented in art, in the world.
Question: Where do you see yourself in five years?
Kate Just: Wow! I tend to ask myself every couple of years 'what are you going to focus on next'? The answer to that is 'I'm going to take my work internationally and expand my own deeply personal practice and involve other people in my work'.
This began with a trip to Austria where I involved a range of knitters from around the country in the knitting of a sculptural work which continued as I went to Spain and made the show about Hope and her armour. The focus is continuing in my application to Realise Your Dream which will potentially involve thousands of women in a much more public sphere.
My aim for the next five years is to really become more internationally present but to also push my own work which in itself is focused on women's presence, their concerns and the presence of craft and I'm already doing it and I am going to keep doing it! Obviously this opportunity is so unique because it's not just money it's the support of an institution that will allow you to more.
Question: Do you have a website?
Kate Just: www.katejust.com
Interview by Brooke Hunter