Wednesday 4 November 2015
We are thrilled to have Wendy Martin on board as our next Perth International Arts Festival Artistic Director. We would like to introduce you to Wendy, who is bringing a big, bold adventure to Perth.
I’m delighted to be living in Perth, where my grandfather was born in 1898. He was an impresario whose early career was as a film publicist for Paramount and Universal Pictures. He went on to run the Tivoli circuit in Melbourne and Sydney where my father followed him into the business. My earliest memories of being in a theatre are from age two when I sat in the plush red velvet seats at the Tivoli watching The Wizard of Oz.
I have had the great luck to go from one amazing view to another with offices sitting on Sydney Harbour, the Thames and now the Swan River in Perth. What better places to sit and dream.
The Festival is a response to the ideas of the world’s greatest artists and the daring work they make. It is a celebration of the imagination of theatre makers, visual artists, musicians, writers, film-makers and the ways they present the stories that define our world. The Festival is for everyone with an interest in the problems and possibilities of the world, and the role of the arts in defining and investigating them.
I’m interested in creating opportunities for dynamic exchanges between Australian and international artists so that they can inspire each other and find ways to tell compelling stories.
We are embracing the broadest definition of culture and endeavouring to engage wide audiences by creating projects that will resonate with Western Australians. I’m interested in the things that define our sense of who we are: our splendid isolation; our central position on the Indian Ocean Rim; our climate and natural environment and our diverse cultural community. These are the things that will be at the heart of our explorations.
It is an invitation to approach the Festival with a spirit of adventure. To participate and to explore something outside the realm of what you know, and to be fearless in the choices you make.
The first meeting that was set up for me when I arrived in Perth was with Noongar elder Dr Richard Walley. Richard is deeply committed to his culture and is enormously generous in sharing his knowledge and wisdom. He sang me into Country, talked to me about the Noongar understanding of the calendar cycle of six seasons and told me about the Waugal spirit. To stand with Richard overlooking the city and the Swan and to hear his Noongar perspective was a very special introduction to Perth. We have had many conversations since and they have profoundly influenced my understanding of place and helped shape my thinking for the Festival.
A sense of adventure compelled me to take up my role at PIAF. It provided the opportunity to investigate the heartbeat of the most remote capital city in the world, sitting as it does on the edge of our continent and right in the middle of the Indian Ocean Rim. I’m very keen to make the next four Festivals connect with the community and who we are. I love discovering the stories of the people who inhabit Western Australia, the rich Indigenous culture and the incredible landscape.
And of course it’s the artists from all over the world that we work with that are a great motivating force. The Festival is driven by their ideas, brilliance and the possibilities their creativity offers us to engage with the world.
Here’s what I’m currently absorbed by – passionately dreaming and planning Perth Festival.