A few weeks ago I decided it was time to go back into the world – specifically, my world. I booked a one-way train ticket to Sydney for $66, made three cotton jersey dresses to wear, packed a backpack, arranged to stay with an old friend of my mother's, J., and left a couple of days later. I haven't travelled on such a tight budget since I was a student.
In Sydney I had coffee with Patrick Gallagher, chairman of Allen & Unwin. I hung out with J. for the next day before catching a night train to Melbourne. There, I stayed with another friend of my mothers, N., for around a week. I had lunch (and, on another day, coffee) with Lord Mayor of Melbourne, Robert Doyle – together, we created my first public artwork, Ten Dicta For Young Women Who Are Artists. I also met two collectors of my work in person for the first time; had lunch with my old friend, gallerist Andy Dinan (and saw her purpose-built space MARS – which I think of as a new model for the bricks-and-mortar commercial gallery); visited Cameron Menzies at the South Yarra office of Menzies Art Brands; briefly met Menzies' Head of Art, Tim Abdullah, in person for the first time; had coffee with journalist Chris Johnston (who has previously written major features on my work – and me – for The Age); went to the opening of a new gallery space for emerging artists; had tea with a print-maker; and so on. In between appointments I wandered through The National Gallery of Victoria's Ian Potter Centre and Australian Centre for Moving Image.
I was surprised by how easily I fit back into the life I had before. It feels good. I'm also thankful to be welcomed back with such warmth and interest. I didn't want to leave – there are many more people in both cities with whom I want to reconnect. But I had art to make and new plans for the future to figure out.
Above: The only graffiti on Ten Dicta For Young Women Who Are Artists, 2013 – a love heart scratched around the word 'woman'.
Below: Self in (home-made) blue dress, reflected in artwork by Jason Sims.