Arts Writing Group

Working closely with Perth Festival staff, artists, writers and Semaphore editors Kelly Fliedner and Melissa McGrath, participants in the Arts Writing Group will reflect on the role of writing in response to and in conversation with artworks. By examining formal structures and modes of writing about art, participants will be supported to produce textual responses to the 2021 Perth Festival program which range in focus and form.

The Arts Writing Group will encompass a series of structured workshops on writing about art during the 2021 Perth Festival. The group will make visits to and participate in events and exhibitions included in the Perth Festival Visual Arts Program, with the view of developing responses to these Festival offerings. Work produced through the Arts Writing Group will be published during and following the festival period via Semaphore an online publication about art from Western Australia.

Image of people looking at the Cheeky Dogs exhibition.Perth Festival 2020. Photo by Cam Campbell

More about the Visual Arts Writers Group

The Arts Writing Group provides space within the Perth Festival Visual Arts program for reflection and discussion. This program encourages the development of experimental art writing practices that might include, but are not limited to, personal reflection, prose, fiction, art history, and/or critical theory. Through both structured and self-directed activity, members of the Arts Writing Group will share and develop ideas about the relationship between art and text, while working towards published outcomes. 

In addition to exclusive opportunities to connect to the Perth Festival Program, each participant will be offered an honorarium of $750 for their participation in the Arts Writing Group, plus a writers’ fee of $150 for their response to be published in Semaphore.

About Semaphore

Semaphore is a collaborative project by Kelly Fliedner and Melissa McGrath. As writers, curators and creative producers, they focus on the role that writing plays in the presentation and consideration of artworks and art practices from Western Australia. Semaphore works with writers and artists to publish individual and collective opinions, reviews, commentary and creative responses to art; with a particular interest in writing that reflects upon border cultural themes and issues, as well as the formal structures of writing itself.

Introducing the 2021 Perth Festival Art Writing Group!

Led by Semaphore editors Kelly Fliedner and Melissa McGrath, the Arts Writing Group will participate in workshops, attend events and exhibitions, and reflect on the role of writing in response to and in conversation with artworks.

Look out for pieces produced by Arts Writing Group members published during and after the Festival on Semaphore

Amanda Bell

Listen to Amanda’s biography here

“…to tell stories, to provide possibilities for healing and to provide a space for questions...”

Andrew Varano

Andrew lives in Boorloo on Whadjuk Noongar Boodjar and currently works at the Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts as an exhibition coordinator, having previously worked at multiple organisations as a visual art installer. Andrew is interested in writing which is open ended and generative rather than that which seeks to interpret, assess, or explain and as such enjoys slippages between different formats and genres. He is drawn to misspellings, nonsense and errors and sees them as an opportunity for a playfulness which reveals language as a living, textural and mystic medium.

Emilia Galatis

Emilia Galatis is a Perth based curator, writer, consultant and facilitator with over 13 years’ experience working across urban and remote areas with National institutions and community owned arts organisations. Emilia hopes to merge the textures of both her professional and creative writing practices.  For Emilia, words form meaning through sound, while Art is gestural, forming meaning through aesthetic shapes. Combining the two is subjective, influenced by personality and experience. Playing is important when trying to write, whilst developing the courage to play in the right areas.  

Ned Reilly

Ned Reilly is a writer and programmer based in Walyalup (Fremantle). Since finishing studies in art and art history at UWA in 2017, he has written texts for exhibition catalogues at SEVENTH Gallery and Toy Returns, and a commissioned essay for Art+Australia. His art writing has tended to veer away from the interpretive and the descriptive - favouring fabulation and discussion of theories in oblique relation to the works at hand. Exhibitions are taken as points of inflection or sources of encounters that trigger the strange. He is currently pursuing strategies that remain faithful to their subject matter while aspiring to the storytelling style of Donna Haraways’s ‘String Figures’.


Bec Bowman

People who love art and people who love writing are Bec Bowmans' kind of people. She loves that she can talk to so many talented artists and writers in Perth and beyond as a presenter of ArtBeat on RTRFM. Being an interviewer is to be a conduit for the artists, theatre makers, writers and performers who are interviewed. The art of interviewing involves research, reflection and deep listening, as well as self-awareness and insight into your own personal response to the works produced. Both Bec’s role at RTR and her job as a mental health nurse have helped her develop these skills, which she looks forward to bringing to all Perth Festival’s Visual Arts program has to offer in 2021. 

Rebecca Persic

Rebecca Persic is an emerging writer and cultural theorist working on Whadjuk Noongar Boodja. Persic holds degrees in fine art and cultural theory from Curtin University and has ongoing research interests in contemporary culture, ridicule and the politics of laughter. More specifically, she has a strong interest in political performances and performative identities, and the ways in which humorous aesthetics have come to dictate political participation. Persic has a special affection for Campy stylisations, low-fi aesthetics and visceral ridiculousness and their potential to speak to the ambivalence of subjectivity in contemporary culture. Her most recent work on neoliberal education policy is published in Arena.

Bahar Sayed

Bahar Sayed is a second generation Afghan Australian academic, writer, and multidisciplinary artist. Her practice enjoys exploring the links between disparate ideas, sometimes threading nuanced comparisons while other times desperately trying to find a connection.

Sayed’s work is concerned with theories of place, religious scholarship, spiritualism, and links between tradition and modernity. Sayed’s art has been published in Healing Practices and Running Dog, and her essays have been published in unMagazine and Runway Magazine.

Sayed currently lives in Wanneroo, on the traditional lands of the Noongar People.

Perth Festival Visual Arts Program is supported by Wesfarmers Arts.

Image: Dion Beasley, Cheeky Dogs, DADAA. Photo by Cam Campbell.

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