So who am I really? What makes me tick and why am I choosing to invest the next three years of my life to learn and evolve through taking part in the Bachelor of Film and Video?
It’s a bit of a story as to how I got here, but in a nutshell I found myself in a really dire place in regards to my mental health and overall well-being back in 2012 and as life would have it I ended up purchasing a camera in the guise of a cheap DSLR kit that I stumbled upon online. The moment that viewfinder hit my eyebrow I was hooked. I could reconnect with the beauty of the world again in all the ways she presented herself to me.
Fast forward a couple of years and I held my first exhibition in the Shimmer Biennale Photographic Festival, where I exhibited a range of high contrast black and white long exposure images as a safe expression and exploration of my mental health experiences of slipping in and out of reality as part of my living with CPTSD.
Another couple of years later I started holding Mindful Photography groups in local community centres, so that others with mental health experiences could get some regular safe time out in Nature with a camera as their means to easily slip into a state of Mindfulness. I’d rock up with a roller-bag full of photographic gear I had acquired through donations and my own purchases and we’d disappear in the community centre’s bus to all manner of places. This was being held in an area of great financial inequity and hardship for many of the community members there. This went on for a few years, with it evolving according to the desires of the participants including incorporating night photography trips and providing visual capture services voluntarily for community groups too. That had massive two way community benefits, with the participants finally able to feel of value and even experiencing connection with their local communities through their service.
It was around this time I started advocating very vocally for mental health care changes within my local government area in the South of Adelaide as a lived experience representative on a panel that was overseeing the remodelling of services here. That in turn led to me becoming a part of SANE Australia’s Mental Health Peer Ambassador Program, which I ended up leaving when it became apparent that I could never talk openly with SANE Australia’s approval about the causes of my CPTSD. That did not sit right with me as it’s only by individuals being open and pushing conversations into and beyond safe places that public perceptions and the unmentioned society wide acceptability of hidden things can change. This has been happening for a long time for themes of racism, domestic violence, mental health, disability and in my eyes childhood abuses need to be dragged uncomfortably into the light for society to mull over in honesty and with integrity.
Along the way, while all this was happening I got involved with community groups and environmental groups, providing photographic imagery for all manner of events and actions on a voluntary basis. That eventually led to my acquiring my Photojournalist status and a press card through a European agency, which I have held for nearing three years now.
I have also had several other exhibitions, including coming back to the Shimmer Biennale and being a finalist for the Don Dunstan Foundation Award in the 2018 SALA Festival, which still amuses me no end that I was seen worthy to be acknowledged at such a prestigiously high industry level for my photographic long exposure explorations.
In 2019 I hooked up with Extinction Rebellion South Australia where I drew on my past production management experience and skills to bring in some semblance of organisation to action capture of visuals. With a plethora of other photographers and no one being willing to take on video capture, I stepped up reluctantly to try it out. The enjoyment and ability to create meaningful messages with video was a rapid progression for me.
Most recently I have been using my aerial photography and short form documentary making to uncover and publicly share an ongoing environmental disaster in the Northern suburbs of Adelaide that is happening at the St Kilda Mangroves, where they are being killed off rapidly by leaking salt ponds adjoining the area. I have been working with a collective of people from all manner of groups to try and get our state government to act responsibility on this tragic occurrence, but to no luck thus far. An alliance has been formed of these groups to bare pressure on the government now and some members of parliament have been vocal on the matter, some of whom I have been able to film in formal and informal manners.
Finally, I get to what has gotten me here! An overwhelming desire to create micro-documentaries covering environmental and mental health stories and themes with an emotional connection between the viewer and those being documented. There are many skills to do that effectively which I am unaware of as yet, so the logical choice for me was to leap in the deep end and overcome my fears of returning to education, let alone attempting tertiary education for the first time at just over fifty years of age.