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So much has happened since I last posted – the world has changed, politics has become even more corrupt, and I’m closer to graduating with a Bachelor’s degree. 

I hope to get back into blogging in the near future, once all of these essays, projects and exams are over and behind me for good.

In the meantime, here are two pieces I’ve written recently for ArtsHub but they may be under lock and key:

Artists need to be at the developers’ table

Navigating an international career

“One of the fundamental challenges in young people’s mental health care is based in the assumption that youth equates with health. ‘So unless the person is really obviously disabled, really obviously injured… there’s an assumption that person’s entirely well.’

I was shocked. I’d never connected these dots. Health and youth are so inherently linked. And a disruption in the link adds a new, complex dimension to the prevention, identification, intervention and treatment of young people with mental health challenges.”

At Connect 2014, a national youth mental health conference organised by Young and Well CRC (where I am currently an intern), I was given the opportunity to interview a man at the forefront of Australia – and the world’s – mental health sector.

Professor Ian Hickie is pretty much a guru. He works in research at the Brain and Mind Institute, and is involved in the development of evidence-based services that can change the way young people and their communities approach mental health care. Professor Hickie attends all the conferences, meetings and interviews he can, to help spread the word on what we can actually do to make progress and help scores of young people nationwide.

In his formal addresses and the time I spent with him one-on-one, Professor Hickie communicated a sense of hope regarding the future of Australia’s young people and their relationship with themselves, their health, their carers, and their world. He offered many insights into the potential for social media, apps and digital technology to become keystones in mental health care, and spoke of the challenges health care professionals are facing in relation to these changes.

Young people are healthy, aren’t they? We’re nimble, we’re free, we’re thrill-seeking, happy. If we fall down, we get back up. Resilient creatures, we are. Or so the story goes. So when something challenges that status-quo, sometimes we and those around us don’t know how to react.

I learned so much at Connect 2014, and would do the experience a disservice to try and reproduce even some of it here. But my interview with Professor Hickie, published on Young and Well CRC’s website, will give you a glimpse of what I was a part of, where we’re at with young people’s mental health care, and where to go from here.

If you want to follow (or relive) Connect 2014 in its entirety, you can also view the Storify summaries.

“We have so many opportunities to transform health care to a model where the individual is at the centre, and the clinician is a consultant – is complementary – but not in control.

Together we can develop a system of care that will respond, educate and serve all young people in meaningful and respectful ways. And that will really change our mental health.”

On Thursday evening I attended a discussion hosted by Melbourne Conversations – the City of Melbourne – on what the future holds for Melbourne art, design and architecture and the fields’ practitioners. Talking about Art and Change was compered by writer and broadcaster, Peter Mares and included five panelists:

  • Ian McDougall – Founding Director ARM Architecture
  • Fleur Watson – Curator, Design Hub RMIT Univeristy, Guest curator ‘Sampling the City’, Melbourne Now
  • Rob Adams AM – Architect/Urban Designer, Director City Design (City of Melbourne)
  • Tony Ellwood – Director National Gallery of Victoria (NGV)
  • Emily Floyd – Visual artist

In 90 minutes, the panel drew (pardon the pun) many hypothetical plans for the future of the city, and highlighted the importance of recognising the similarities between art, architecture and design, which are perhaps too commonly seen as distinctly separate disciplines.

As well as attending the forum for personal interest, I covered the panel discussion for artsHub. You can see my piece ‘Melbourne’s changing landscape has artists in its sight‘ in the Design section of the artsHub website.

 

So for something a bit different, here’s a kind of latest news/opinion piece I wrote for artsHub yesterday. It’s a bit tongue-in-cheek but the foundation of my arguments still stand. So, have a read and give ya mum a book this christmas – and while you’re at it, buy your brother/sister/cousin/friend one, too.

An abbreviated version is available at the artsHub website.

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With the rise of the hipster, young adults are creating a digital divide when it comes to reading – and its not what you think.

Young adult readers want a tangible bang for their buck when it comes to buying books

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image: Books abound at The Central Library of Stuttgart
A new study has found 16 to 24 year olds prefer buying printed books to eBooks.
Recent research by British marketing group Voxburner found that 62 per cent of this demographic surveyed would rather buy a physical book than purchase a copy of the same book for a digital reading device.
As referenced in Voxburner’s Buying Digital Content Report, which sourced and surveyed 1,420 respondents in the UK between 24 September and 18 October this year, 17 per cent of respondents felt eBooks need to be 75 per cent cheaper than current market prices.
Only eight per cent of young people found eBooks to be reasonably priced and over a quarter thought the price of eBooks should be halved.
As a young woman who could comfortably locate myself within this demographic if we presume such findings are transferable across the equator, I find myself siding with the majority.
Nothing beats the smell, the weight and the wonder a physical book presents. I nurture the opportunity to flip through a book’s pages, making my own creases in the spine and being able hold it close to my heart. While I personally am not a fan of dog-earing page corners, it too, is a physical sensation unavailable to those who choose the digital path.
Voxburner found the top-rated reasons for preferring physical to digital books were ‘I like to hold the product’ (51 per cent), ‘I am not restricted to a particular device’ (20 per cent), ‘I can easily share it’ (10 per cent), ‘I like the packaging’ (9 per cent), and ‘I can sell it when used’ (6 per cent). These physical and emotional experiences are simply unavailable when it comes to eBooks.
Readers may benefit from being able to enlarge the font size of their eBooks, but with so many hipsters wearing glasses these days, that’s hardly a concern for today’s young adults.
I gain so much satisfaction from slowly lifting up the bottom corner of the right-side page whilst reading intently and swiftly through an all-enveloping story, before the climax of reaching that last visible word and slamming the page down on its head to continue without breaking rhythm.
Then there are the smells of a freshly printed page, or the history of the second-hand book purchased from a little bookstore in a country town after accidently forgetting how amazing reading can be, relishing in some free time and subsequently finishing a book faster than expected, on a weekend away.
Bookshelves are a unique window into a person’s interests, past and knowledge. If I were to store my books virtually, I’d be without the ready reminder of who I’ve become through reading, each time I pass the shelves.
In an interview with The Guardian, Voxburner spokesman, Luke Mitchell extended this sentiment, reiterating that ‘books are like status symbols, you can’t really see what someone has read on their Kindle’.
Additionally, eBooks lack character. As Gerard Ward of Voxburner notes, most eBooks use standard fonts and contain fewer images due to the lack of colour available on many devices.
I admit, I don’t own an eReader of any sort. But, I also have very little interest in doing so.
Where is the pleasure of cuddling up in front of the open fire on a wintery night but having to worry about the heat adversely affecting the electrical components of my ‘book’? I want to be able to sit as close to the heat as I want, and observe the shadows of the flames illuminate and shade different parts of my page as they flicker.
Yes, I am highly dependent on my smartphone and many other technological devices. However, as Mitchell suggested to publishers in an interview with British trade journal, The Bookseller, it might pay to reconsider their pricing hierarchy.
‘The report suggests that publishers should look at how young people download content, because although about 85 per cent have a smartphone, only 55 per cent have some kind of eReader’, Mitchell said.
So, eBooks may be convenient and available at the drop of a hat (or the tap of a screen), but isn’t the kill of the chase a significant element of the reading experience? Browsing, scouting and landing the coveted paperback only heighten my desire to jump in once the pages fill my hands.
But ultimately, what is important to me is that we just keep young people reading. So this holiday season, don’t pass up the gift of giving your loved one a whole other world they can explore in the palm of their hands, whatever your preference; print or digital.

Apart from having the pleasure and privilege to continue my internship at artsHub and publishing articles there each week, last week I also had two other quite different pieces published.

My poem The Station was published as part of an anthology of poems displayed on a map. The title of the anthology is Impressions of Banyule and was published by Poets@Watsonia. I attended the launch of Impressions with my parents and was asked to read my poem. It was my first experience of a poetry reading, and it was interesting and enjoyable.

In addition, a while back I submitted a reflective piece for the next issue of Ricochet Magazine. After a selection process and contact with lovely members of the Ricochet team, my piece, Friday Night, was published as part of The Flashback Edition, launched last Tuesday morning. It is available for free download. This work is dedicated to my family, and anyone who has been lucky enough to spend a Friday night at the humble abode of S, M & A.

Peruse and enjoy at your own leisure.

I was obsessed with makeup.

I wouldn’t step out of the house without a bit of foundation (or a lot), whether it be to school, to the gym, a family event or a gathering with friends.

The first time I wore mascara (other than on stage) was one lunchtime at school. A good friend of mine thought it might be something fun to try out considering both my eyebrows and eyelashes are naturally blonde and barely visible. After a few minutes of anxious blinking and smudges around my eyes, I received many compliments and was pretty pleased with the impact such a small adjustment could have. I think I wore it every day henceforth.

Makeup has a transformative power to, at least superficially, turn a person in to someone with a newfound confidence. This might stem from the fact that by painting your face with colours, liners, pastes and concealers, you’ve suddenly gained a protective layer that acts as barrier between you and other people and nerve-wracking situations. Makeup can be a mask, a barrier, and can help to stimulate a ‘character’ or ‘persona’ for you to ‘wear’, (one of the reasons it is used in theatre and on stage).

Makeup has many benefits. As I’m naturally very pale, makeup also helps to brighten me up a bit, and I’ve often been told that I look washed out or unwell when I’ve ventured out au naturale. Makeup also helps me to look older, which as I’ve mentioned before, is somewhat comforting and reassuring after constantly being told I look 16 years old.

Regardless, over the past few years I’ve become pretty comfortable going to uni or out to see friends without that protective layer. Makeup is fun, and there is an art to good makeup application and a beautiful look, I just no longer feel like I have to hide behind walls of Maybelline matt mousse and bronzed-up cheekbones to feel comfortable in my own (facial) skin.

This is all well and good, yet I know many girls (and boys?) struggle with the notion of going about their days makeup free. It can be confronting at first, and you may feel vulnerable, exposed or uncertain. I’d like to say it’s easy to give up the powders, bronzers and blush, but I personally found it challenging. However, if you’ve been thinking about going makeup free and are working up the confidence to do so, or you’re looking for a reason to give it a go, I’ve got a terrific motive for you.

Screen-shot-2013-08-18-at-3.11.26-PM1

Makeup Free Me is encouraging women across Australia to take on the challenge of going without makeup for 24 hours. With a mission to empower women to develop and nurture positive body image, Makeup Free Me wants to help create a world where women love and celebrate who they are. The event is on Friday 30 August and is supporting The Butterfly Foundation who is dedicated to bringing about change to the culture, policy and practice in the prevention, treatment and support of those affected by eating disorders and negative body image.

I’ve written a piece on the campaign for The Modern Woman’s Survival Guide which you can read here. And I’d encourage you to get involved and give it a go. You deserve to feel pretty, worthy and comfortable in your own skin without all those layers protecting your true identity. So do it for yourself – what have you got to lose?

For the past three years I’ve had trouble with accepting gifts, particularly for my birthday. I’m not sure exactly the reasons behind this but it must stem from feelings of unworthiness, wanting to be small, discrete and invisible. I suspect this has been a symptom of my eating disorder and co-morbid conditions such as anxiety and depression.

Yesterday, I opened three years worth of birthday cards and presents. It was incredibly overwhelming and took a great deal of time. It was hard to accept so much love in one go after I’d been avoiding it for so long, but it does prove that even if you’ve been out of the social loop for some time, people don’t forget you.

Depression manifests in different ways, interrupting the lives of each individual it plagues. Yet, it is not uncommon to feel flat, numb or distant from everything that is going on around you.

Unfortunately, while depression is relatively well known and to and extent, understood, it is too often trivialised by those having a bad day or people who are frustrated and unmotivated. Subsequently, those experiencing genuine bouts of clinical depression feel ashamed or silly to be struggling with the disease. In a piece published by the Modern Woman’s Survival Guide today, I wrote about the misuse of the word depression and the trivialisation of the condition. You can read it here.

The truth is, it is likely that someone close to you is in the throws of depression. Be there to support them. They are unlikely to ask for help but just having you by their side will provide them with some solace and peace, a welcome antidote to the dark waves crashing heavily in their mind.

Thank you to all those who have done so for me.