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QA with our Judges

In an attempt to get to know our Biblio Art Prize 2019 judges before their onerous judging tasks this Saturday, we asked them a few questions.

Introducing first, Tamsien West of Babbling Books

You are the judge who leans more to books, what kind of books do you generally read?

I try and read pretty widely, usually choosing something depending on my mood. So in a single month I might read essays, poetry, literary fiction, classics, fantasy, sci-fi, crime and even romance sometimes. For the last few years I have been challenging myself to read books from around the world, particularly translations of work not first published in English. That's been a wonderful experience and the books I have chosen so far have been spread across genres too.

Could you tell us some of your favourite recent reads?

It's always so difficult to choose favourite books amongst all the terrific things I read. But a couple, coincidentally all but Australian authors, that really stand out recently are:

- The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling by Wai Chim. Debut Australian YA that tackles mental health issues and racial microagressions, while also being a really heart warming first-love-story.

- Carrying the World by Maxine Beneba Clarke. I'm late to reading this brilliant poetry collection, but it's a staggering feat of  storytelling. A mix of quiet, fierce, melancholy and hopeful poems about so many topics, politics, racism, history, colonisation, identity, single parenthood, and the craft of poetry.  

- Flames by Robbie Arnott. A strange and oddly hopeful book. Blurring the edges of genre as a literary novel about family and grief/love, while also being a fantasy about gods of the natural world bleeding over into our world.

You run workshops on creative journaling - how  long have you been keeping journals? I absolutely love sharing my passion for journaling, and encouraging people to try out such an accessible art practice brings me so much joy. I've been keeping journals of one kind or another most of my life. As a child I had a 'bird journal' where I stuck feathers and wrote down facts about birds I saw, and as a teen I kept a collage journal charting my relationship with my boyfriend (which terrifically embarrassing, as we are still together and can laugh about it). As an adult after many failed attempts at keeping travel journals, in 2016 I found an approach that worked for me and created a journal that followed my 6 month trip to Europe. A video of this journal has almost 100k views on YouTube and was the beginning of me sharing more of my journaling online which had been pretty private up until that point.

Your Insta account Babbling Books has been a huge success - I think you’re currently sitting at around 32K followers - what is your number one tip to give someone on managing a successful social media account? Share honestly the things your are passionate about. If you let that integrity infuse every decision you make about what to share online I can't guarantee that you'll grow a huge following overnight, but you will build strong and genuine connections with people who share your passion, and you'll have satisfaction what you share, and a strong base of enthusiasm to get you through the times when inspiration is thin. This doesn't mean you have to share everything online, I have lots of boundaries around what I do and don't share about my life, but the things I do share or topics I talk about or photos I take, I bring my whole self to.

What are you hoping to see in the Biblio Art Prize 2019 exhibition? I'm looking forward to seeing creative interpretations of the books that inspired each artwork. In particular unusual use of materials or non-literal approaches. I love seeing art that makes me think, or delights me with something unexpected.

And our second guest judge, all the way from Coowonga (near Rockhampton, Queensland) is artist Peta Lloyd:

You are the judge who leans more to art, what kind of art really makes you sing?

Great question! The type of Artwork that draws me in has been created with the heart, it will have a story, I will feel curious to know more and want to explore the story as far as I can, it will stir an emotion or emotions within me, it will capture my imagination. I enjoy the element of discovery and surprise within an artwork whether 2D or 3D. I find actual or visual layers exciting!

Could you tell us some of your favourite artists?

Oh, I have many! Here’s my top ten: Joseph Cornell, Dorothy Caldwell, Susan Bowers, Glen Skien, Ines Seidel, Inga Hunter, Hannelore Baron, Cas Holmes, Jette Clover, Margaret Olley.

You have been running art workshops for a long time - how long have you been a practicing artist yourself?

Officially I’ve been practicing as a professional artist and tutor for 12 years, I completed a Diploma of Visual Art in 2007.

Being creative has always been a large part of my life. From the first time I held a crayon in my hand or applied flour and water glue to paper and fabric found in my mother’s ‘useful’ box, to sketching and designing flyers, building houses and making assemblages inside cardboard boxes, it seems to me that my whole life has always been about creating!

What’s a great piece of advice you would give to an emerging artist?

Love what you do and do what you love, in other words make the art that gives you joy, connect with other creatives, especially those in your own community, ask people for feedback about your art, especially what emotions they feel when they explore your artworks, learn how to write about your art and what inspires you as well as the processes you use to create your art.

Keep asking questions, continue to learn about yourself and others, what it means to you to live in this world of ours.

What are you hoping to see in the Biblio Art Prize 2019 exhibition?

I am hoping to see a wide variety of art forms and styles, thoughtful art that connects to the stories in the books, lively art, quirky and curious art, art that is bursting at it’s seams with creativity! I’m looking forward to exploring the entries, meeting artists and exhibition attendees and being in beautiful Port fairy.

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