The secret treasure of Kalorama

For many of us, when we think of the Dandenong Ranges, we think of mountain tops with picturesque views, luscious temperate rainforests, charming gardens and a great community of inspiring artists. What would you say if I told you that for two weeks in October, you only need go to one spot to experience all of these things?

‘Art of the Mountain’ is an art exhibition held at Karwarra Australian Native Botanic Garden and Plant Nursery in Kalorama. The exhibition will celebrate the beauty and diversity of the Dandenong Ranges by exhibiting artwork by local artists inspired by Australian native flora and fauna and the stunning natural landscapes of the region. The exhibition will be held between Saturday 5th and Sunday 20th October, in the height of spring, when you can see the native botanic garden flowering in the lovely weather.

Eastern Spinebill by IT-HAO.

Over 70 artists are contributing works to the exhibition including renowned botanical artist Marta Salamon, who is inspired by the awesome structures within nature, both in creatures and plants, and award winning ceramicist Eva Glac, with her heart-warming ceramic sculptures of the intricate details in Australian native flora. You can also see beautiful watercolour renderings of native birds such as the Kookaburra and the Eastern Spinebill by local artist IT-HAO, a regular teacher at Sherbrooke Art Society in Belgrave. There will also be pieces by unexpected artists such as knife-maker Matthieu Dechamps, jewellery crafter Helene Campbell (of Tall Trees Studios) and poet / illustrator Cameron Semmens. 

The exhibition will burst beyond the walls of the gallery, featuring abstract and figurative sculptures placed in the gardens created by skilled artist duo, Juet, who work with recycled steel, wood and stone.

Juet with one of their sculptures.

Lee Goller will be facilitating a free pottery demonstration / workshop for those that want to get their hands dirty on Saturday 19th October. 

While there have been successful Botanical and Wildlife exhibitions at Karwarra in the past, the ‘Art of the Mountain’ exhibition will showcase a more flexible interpretation of Australian flora and fauna. This ‘passion project’ of The Friends of Karwarra is lead by Committee member Helen Beck. When Helen moved to the Dandenong’s, she was immediately attracted to the beautiful Karwarra Gardens, and with her long history of working in art and tourism, she saw the potential for something amazing to happen. “We started with teapot cosies.” Helen says. “We asked local artists to make teapot cosies that responded to our lovely flora and fauna, it was a great laugh, with some of the artists really playing and having fun with the theme and their quirky sense of humour, but we saw that this was just the beginning.” That exhibition premiered last year as a much smaller exhibition. “This year, we went big.” 

Lyrebird in Dandenong Ranges’ by Marta Salomon

Helen and the Friends of Karwarra see ‘Art of the Mountain’ as an opportunity to promote the gardens and the gallery. The exhibition is a chance to further Karwarra’s exposure to the community. As part of the preparation for the exhibition, Helen contacted many well-known local artists to promote the opportunity. She went on to explain that “so many of the artists that I contacted to come see the garden, for inspiration, had never been here before and are returning with friends and family.”  Helen hopes to see an increase in membership to Friends of Karwarra as more people in the community find out about this little treasure. 

Annual membership is only $10 for an individual, and includes invites to special events such as the opening of exhibitions and ‘Breakfast with the Birds’. Members can learn to look after a native garden, help with weeding, raking and propagation. If you are not so interested in the practical side of the garden you may have skills and interests that you can bring to The Friends.  The garden has a small retail native plant nursery open to the public during normal Karwarra opening hours.  

Artists looking to exhibit in the Karwarra Gallery at other times of the year are welcome to contact Karwarra for more information. The fees are very affordable.  All exhibitions must be in response to native flora and fauna to be presented in the gallery.

Karwarra will also be the venue for this year’s hillsceneLIVE Festival Shifting Thresholds to be held on 9 + 10 November. The festival sees 16 live art makers create experimental art and performative expression that delves into our shared human experience as they unearth the lineages of our collective past and move towards our shared future.  

‘Art of the Mountain’ Exhibition
Saturday 5th – Sunday 20th October
10:00 – 4:00pm Tuesday to Sunday
Karwarra Australian Native Botanic Garden
and Nursery –
Kalorama Memorial Reserve
1190-1192 Mount Dandenong Tourist Rd, Kalorama
Ph:
03 972 84256
facebook.com/FriendsofKarwarraGarden/
Instagram friendsofkarwarra
Friendskarwarra@gmail.com

To find out more about the hillsceneLIVE Festival – Shifting Thresholds go to www.hillscenelive.com

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The writer within

Hillscene mag in partnership with Writers Victoria presents “Unleash the writer”.

Write an essay. My stomach clenches and I wonder why I would volunteer to say yes to that. Like me the essay format may be one you associate with long word counts, looming deadlines and late nights studying to get your degree. Not all essays are created equal. Essays are also ways to tell your story, or another’s story, or the tale of an experience, or express a deep insight into a problem in the world. Essays expand us and our knowledge, they open doorways into experiences and ideas expressed by real people, in real life. They have the potential to give light to a seemingly mundane and ordinary observance, to unleash the ordinary and make it extraordinary.

Here is your chance to explore the form of the essay, to learn from award winning writer Fiona Murphy at this exclusive workshop on writing personal essays and stories. Master the art of getting started, how to research your idea and how to pitch your work to the right people. This insightful three hour workshop will provide practical insight and skills to all writers, whether you’re emerging, emerged or somewhere in between, it is bound to get you inspired.

Fiona Murphy

The workshop is presented by the hillscene maga’zine’ in partnership with Writer’s Victoria, thanks to funding from Yarra Ranges Council. The past few years has seen a bevy of special guest editors and designers taking the reins at the hillscene and creating some really great issues. The hillscene, with the support of Writer’s Victoria, is now opening its doors to offer local writers and writing enthusiasts the opportunity to participate in this insightful workshop with an award winning writer. Re-invigorate your creative practice, dispel your writers block and be inspired by Fiona Murphy.

Fiona Murphy is a Deaf poet and essayist. Her work has been published in the Griffith Review, Overland and Kill Your Darlings, amongst others. In 2019, she was awarded The Monash Prize for creative writing. In 2018, her non-fiction manuscript, ‘The Shape of Sound’, was shortlisted in the Richell Prize and highly commended in the Next Chapter Fellowship.

Writers Victoria is the state’s peak body for writers and writing, a leading provider of information, resources and skills development for the literary community. With 3,000 members, Writers Victoria is the largest of Australia’s writers’ centres and a significant employer of Australian authors and industry professionals.

This incredible workshop is free, but bookings are essential. This worlshop was so popular it is already booked out, it filled up within an hour of it being advertised. However, we will be taking names for a waiting list and you will be contacted if a spot becomes available.

When: Saturday 14 September 1:00 – 4.00pm
Where: The Black Box, Burrinja

To add your name to the waiting list, head to the Burrinja website http://www.burrinja.org.au/art

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Proudly supported by Yarra Ranges Council.

Scratching an itch

Enjoy live art alongside wine at ‘Scratch it up’, a sneak peek into this years ‘hillsceneLIVE’ art festival 

Hosted at the creative space of Two Floors studio in Belgrave 25/08, ‘Scratch it up’ will give you a glimpse into this years ‘hillsceneLIVE’. From dance to circus, storytelling to interactive performance, this event will introduce many of the artists who will be performing at the festival later this year.  

The 2019 hillsceneLIVE (HSL) theme is that of “Turbulent lineages to shifting thresholds” and the artists present at ‘Scratch it up’ will showcase a variety of pieces inspired by the phrase. Gulsen Ozer describes her work as one of highs, lows and love and through her storytelling, will focus on the personal story of family and life experiences. Katie Lohner will join alongside with her story of an intimate human act, one of tradition, isolation and addiction. Eating! 

Dani-Ela Kayler’s piece is described as visceral, playful and intimate and explores our changing realities through contemporary dance. Fellow dancer Kathleen Renehan also aims to test the theme through her piece which will challenge the vertical limits that currently defines dance. 

Physical theatre will be present through The Contingent, nuanced and bittersweet notes through dance, clown and creative writing improvisation. Interactive Art is showcased by Champagne Glitch, exploring the uncertain future and the Pandora boxes we may be opening today, questioning what we will do next when confronted with conflict and realisation. 

Journeying with Cheryl Ho and Sze Min, attendees will experience the timeline of GIRL and her ancestors. Using audio to transcend time, place and history, they will delve into where we are from, where we have been and where we may have to go. Brigid Morgan presents a durational solo performance with themes of ‘kintsugi’, the celebration of flaws. Their work is realised through voiceover, reflections of motherhood and the fractured relationships healed by becoming a mother. 

In line with the hillscene program, artists come with their abstract and potentially confronting ideas in which they are given the opportunity to develop and explore themes not possible through other means. These ideas will be realised and performed at the eighth HSL festival. 

The art showcased at ‘Scratch it up’ are not completed pieces, yet will provide a taste for what is to come at this years HSL festival. This free Sunday session is for those who like some adventure with their wine and will start from 5:00 pm at the Two Floors Studio. Feel free to stick around. 

Book your place by contacting hello@hillscenelive.com. For further details on this years festival see: http://www.hillscenelive.com

When: Sunday 25 August at 5:00PM
Where: Two Floors Studio 
1662 Burwood Highway, Belgrave (Enter via Blacksmiths Way)
Cost: FREE

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Meet our Autumn guest designer

Tell us a little bit about your creative journey? 

As a designer I began designing marketing materials for friends and family when I was in high school, the first being fo the Tai Chi Classes my mom was teaching. All done by hand.

Why did you want to become a designer/artist/creative person?

I guess I’ve always been a creative person but really owning it, and making it my career has been a process. What made me finally decide was both my parents passing away within 6 months of each other, and they both said, almost verbatim, “I thought I’d have more time.” This struck me so deeply, what was I leaving undone because I thought I would get to it eventually? Being creative in my work life.

Did you study art/design?

Yes, I am still finishing a my degree in Media and Communications, though with the design side of things I am essentially self taught.

How did you become involved with the hillscene?

Through my work as the Marketing Manager at Burrinja.

In what ways, if any, do you engage with the hills community?

I engage with the Hills community on lots of levels but mainly through my work at Burrinja and as a volunteer at 3MDR, which is amazing. To have the opportunity to support artists and performers is very rewarding.

What do you wish you knew about being a designer/artist before you got started?

How much I would love it, I would have done it sooner.

Who are your creative heroes?

My creative heroes are legion. Recent works that have really struck me and stuck with me are Jane Campion’s series Top of the Lake, the moodiness and use of colour as well as her composition. Neo Impressionist Paul Signac, particularly the work “Point of Difference”. I was entranced by Tracy Moffat’s work for the Venice Biennale.

What do you enjoy about living in the Dandenong Ranges?

The air, the people, the hush of the forest and the sense of community.

What are your plans for the future?

To keep creating, growing and engaging as a person and an artist, finish my degree, get my daughter through high school and dabble in some art.

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Meet our Autumn guest editor

Post by Adriana Alvarez.

Justine Walsh, our Autumn guest editor, is a familiar face around the hillscene and many other community projects. She has been both a writer and an interview subject in the hillscene for her varied talents. Justine has also been involved in the hillsceneLIVE festival and has a wealth of creative ideas she’s happy to share. She’s fearless and a huge advocate for creating and facilitating culture in the hills. We talk to her about her many projects and love of writing.

Tell us a little bit about your writing journey?

I have always written poetry and songs, making art with text and finding playful and experimental ways to use language. I also ran a poetry night in the hills for 5 years, To the Ends of the ‘Verse, which was beautiful and powerful in equal measure. 

Why did you want to become an editor/writer/poet?

As a young person I realized a big part of me was storytelling, which has over the years emerged in so many different ways. I’d say ‘artist’ works best as I have a broad set of skills, dreams and projects… I can’t say I ever aimed to become an artist as such, I just had to do it and I followed my nose, testing many forms and methodologies, learning my cycles of creativity and fallow periods, allowing for it to change as it needs.

What is an editor’s role in this era of fake news and alternative facts?

To be discerning but also to do your best not to flavour the stories with your individual values. And to fact check, of course. 

How did you become involved with the hillscene?

I was originally interviewed back in 2013 as a musician I think… I have done a few articles for the mag since then and still have a solid back catalogue in my possession!

In what ways, if any, do you engage with the hills community?

I work in a leadership capacity for the arts & cultural events of the Dandenongs, helping to run projects such as hillsceneLIVE, Belgrave Survival Day and up until recently, Belgrave Lantern Parade. It’s very intense and often unpaid (mostly underpaid) work, but I have done it for the love of the community and the arts, and have learnt unbelievable amounts along the way. I am so grateful for the community up here, there are so many artists and members of the public who have put endless hours into the arts in the region. I started out working on End of the Line festival 2012, began the poetry night, was an artist/mentor at tiffaney bishop COLLECTIVE, and everything unfolded from there… it’s been the most tumultuous and spectacular time I must say!

Who are your creative heroes?

People like Gareth Hart, Leisa Shelton, Tiffaney Bishop, Ross Farnell, Toni Main, Renate Crow, people who I am close to and work with tend to be the ones who inspire me the most. Pretty lucky to have such amazing friends and peers!

What do you enjoy about living in the Dandenong Ranges?

I can never get enough of that air. The moss and the lichens, the incredible worlds of forested beauty, I am always discovering new little tracks to walk. The land here has held me in such a deep and enduring way, I can’t express how grateful I am for these green places.

Where can people find more information about you?

You can find me on instagram @justinelwalsh and my website is www.entwinearts.com.au.

What are your plans for the future?

Well, I am very excited to be Co-Directing hillsceneLIVE again this year, and working on the committee of Belgrave Survival Day. Both of these teams are looking for new people to be a part of them too so get in touch!! 

Apart from my events work, I have been learning about herbalism and collaborating with plants! Very exciting to spend time with them in a new way. I have also been working with sound school to run and help organize free workshops for young/queer/POC/femme people to access resources and learn about sound, which is awesome and very important. Also I am working on some sounds to be released mid-year on bandcamp through my project radiant/resonant… and of course there are some other projects in the pipeline haha… always 🙂 

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Winter is coming

Post by Adriana Alvarez.

WINTER IS COMING. So it’s time to start working on the Winter issue of the hillscene. Which of course means there’s a poem call out. What is a poem call out? Well we want you to get creative, writing a poem about our local area, get your writing cap on and make those words sing.

POEM CALL-OUT:  Write a ‘Winter’ poem for the hillscene magazine

Requirements: 5 lines maximum; and must include water in one of its forms, i.e. stream, ocean, fog, mist, cloud or waterfall.
Due by: 26 May 2019.
Check out: www.hillscene.com.au

Send your entry to our resident poet and this issue’s guest editor and designer Cameron Semmens at cam@webcameron.com by the due date for your chance to have your poem included in the hillscene. No payment. Just the pleasure of having your poem in print.

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Underground review

Billy Sloane and Margot Knight in a scene from Underground

Post by Adriana Alvarez.

Underground is a play about Nancy Wake, know as the White Mouse. A feisty Australian who became a prominent figure in the French Resistance during World War II. She evaded capture by the Gestapo, and was one of only thirteen female special agents to survive the war. She took many risks to fight for freedom and led over 2000 Resistance fighters, all men, in open confrontations to defeat Nazism. She survived torture and other horrors and lived till the ripe old age of 98.

Written by Christine Croyden, who writes strong character driven drama with a local flavour, and directed by Sara Grenfell, it’s an intimate portrayal of a gutsy and difficult woman. Quickly demonstrated by the opening scene of her as an old woman with a rebellious attitude.

With only 5 actors to demonstrate her life story, it is important to choose poignant moments and I think that Croyden’s choice of telling the story from the dual perspectives of Nancy as an older woman (played by Margot Knight) and of her younger self (played by Emma Annand) works well. It allows for a portrayal of Wake’s young heroic self as an adventurous, courageous and unforgiving spy as well as the contemplations of someone who has lived a sometimes brutal but full life. The sets are pared back with only a few chairs, props and sheer curtains to work with, so there’s not much to distract from the storytelling. The lighting has a few dramatic moments which add a punch and perhaps the play would have benefited from a bit more dramatic lighting to enhance the mood in a few places.

Tori McCann as Sabine singing Lily Marleen.

The simplicity of the story works well and left you feeling a sense of who Nancy was and the complexities of war. Showing the difficult decisions one makes and how they stay with us, with or without regrets. The performances were all solid including some singing by Billy Sloane and Tori McCann who sing two of the most beloved songs of the 1940s, Freidrich Hollaender’s ‘Falling in Love Again’ and ‘Lily Marleen’ (sung in German and English). I like the way that the older characters would sometimes stay on stage while the younger ones were acting out their parts, and vice versa. In one scene the older Nancy mimics the moves of the younger Nancy as though the act was so intense it was etched deep in her memory and she was reliving it again, perhaps not for the first time.

In the writer’s note Christine Croyden states “Nancy was never keen on anyone messing with her story and hated all films, TV series and almost everything that was ever written about her so I doubt she’d like my play. However, I hope the small grains of truth contained within this fictionalised drama illuminate her complexity.” I think they do, and at a time when we need to revisit history to make it more inclusive it’s good to see even a small retelling of a large life, which has been somewhat overlooked. It left me feeling a bit jealous of her courageous life.

It had just enough to satisfy your interest without revealing everything or going on too long. I left inspired to find out more about the White Mouse.

The young Nancy Wake in ‘Underground’

Underground played at Burrinja in March.

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VCE showcase 2019

clairehyett_monbulkcollege_percy

Portrait by Claire Hyett – Monbulk College

The VCE Showcase exhibition oozes with talent, featuring the works of 2018’s VCE students who will become tomorrow’s artists. And this year the Burrinja favourite has had a bit of a revamp. It has combined the Yarra Ranges and the Yarra Valley schools together into one exhibition. “This year we’ve decided to really bring everyone together in the one event,” says Toni Main, Burrinja’s Community Cultural Development Officer. All 17 school are participating from the whole Yarra Ranges area and part of that revamp has also been to add a free public program on Saturday 16 which will go from 12pm – 4pm. The Showcase is only on from Friday 15 – Monday 18 Feb, but is jam packed with things to see and do.

The public program will include a collaborative art piece that will be made in progress over the day in the space, plus a panel discussion with a combination of emerging and professional artists exploring the statement “Art is not a real career”. “That may be challenged in that panel discussion,” adds Toni. There’s also going to be speed dating for artists, where you will be able to talk to and network with other artists. A platform for young artists to be able to ask professionals some interesting questions like “How do you find your niche?” or “Did you end up doing what you thought you were going to?” Add to that music and food as well as other activities for a day full of inspiration.

Elizabeth Kelly Bayview_UpweyHS

Painting by Elizabeth Kelly – Upwey High School

Part of the VCE showcase includes an alumni program which was started last year. Two alumni each year are invited back to learn the whole process of the VCE Showcase, from visiting the schools and talking to the artists before they finish VCE, to the application process. Renee Riotto was part of the VCE Showcase in 2017 and is one of the alumni selected for this program. “The people who were involved in the exhibition previously were contacted and invited to apply for this position,” says Renee. “So I sent through an application and a writing piece about why I wanted to learn about this process and this position.” Being involved expands the alumni’s experience of the process behind the scenes. Renee has been part of this year’s showcase from the beginning to the end; making school visits and talking with the artists about their work, to being part of the selection panel and right up to installing the exhibition as well.

Claire Hyett

Claire Hyett with her portraits

Claire Hyett from Monbulk College is one of the artists included in the 2019 exhibition. Her photographic portraits of her young brother expresses the hidden nature of our inner emotions. “Both of these were focusing on the vulnerability of young adolescent boys. When my brother Percy went through year 7 last year, I saw him go through that social pressure to not show emotion and not be a sensitive vulnerable person,” explained Claire. “You often have that social pressure as a male. Through these pieces I aim to capture that more vulnerable side of him, which I know that he has, and he obviously keeps hidden.”

Mitchel Edwards 1

Mitchell Edwards with this interactive piece ‘The bigger picture’

Another of the works, this time with a strong environmental message is by Mitchell Edwards from Emerald Secondary College. His artwork titled ‘The bigger picture’ is an interactive work painted onto vertical blinds. On one side is a landscape where people have had a positive impact on the environment then on the other side, as you turn the blinds it reveals the transition to a landscape where people have had a negative impact on the environment. “It’s based in an alternative land but mainly supposed to be that we see what’s happened to their world so we should do something about it for us, before we end up the same as them,” says Mitchell.

Mitchell Edwards TheBiggerPicture2_EmeraldSecondaryCollege

One side of ‘The bigger picture’ by Mitchell Edwards

It’s cautionary message is clear. “My motivation is for people to realise that we are having an impact whether that be positive or negative and we need to start being the change and be more considerate about what we’re doing towards the land.” Mitchell saw two perspectives of the environment from his father who was both a log truck driver and a farrier and country horseback tour guide. The first was of being one with the land and seeing for it’s beauty, but also seeing it as a resource to be used. “I also have taken a lot of inspiration from my teachers,” says Mitchell. “Both my art teachers and my outdoor education teacher. They’ve aided me in seeing the beauty of the environment for what it is and not just what it can give you.”

Lizzie Kelly

Elizabeth Kelly with her paintings

Elizabeth Kelly’s intimate pieces show a world of nostalgia and memory. Especially using images of collective memories that are locally based. Ordinary, familiar moments like playing backyard cricket with friends and family are captured in a sketchy style. I wanted to make it incomplete, like when you look back at something not everything is there. You don’t know what the colour of the sky was exactly, the main part is the people and what’s happening there but again they’re not even really complete,” explains Elizabeth. “It’s more like an impression.”

Some memories are captured through an ambient moment. “The atmosphere of a memory is something that I really wanted to capture. I think the combination of the suburban landscape with the car dealership, the road and the power lines combined with the natural beauty of the sunset I think that makes a kind of unique atmosphere which is something kind of disconnected like when you look back at a memory.”

This year’s VCE showcase and program looks like being a very diverse and compelling experience. But with only a short time to savour it’s delights, you’d better pen this one in so as not to miss this fleeting event.

This year’s program

• Friday 15 Feb: Exhibition Opening Party, featuring reception and live music.
From 6pm
• Saturday 16 Feb: FREE Public Program day. Industry talks, artist speed dating, workshops, participatory activities and food truck. 12pm – 4pm.
• Sunday 17 Feb: General gallery admission, 10am – 4pm
• Monday 18 Feb: Private gallery tours, VCE Art and Studio Art viewings, and hear from recent VCE Art graduates. (For current VCE students only. Gallery closed to the public)

Where: Burrinja Cultural Centre
Cnr Glenfern Road and Matson Drive, Upwey VIC 3158

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calling all designers and editors!

Post by Adriana Alvarez.

council grant certificate

WE’RE SO EXCITED!

In 2019 thanks to a grant from Yarra Ranges council the hillscene is extending it’s guest editor and designer program. Providing an opportunity to designers and editors to be part of our team. Are you interested in editing, writing, or self-publication? Or are you a graphic designer keen to get creating? This is your chance to be a part of a cherished local magazine and gain some experience in publishing.

For each issue this year, there will be a different guest editor & designer. You will be provided with templates, mentoring and a team of volunteer writers & photographers. There will be a small fee paid for each of the roles. There are four issues each year, one for each season!

In 2018 we began this journey and produced three issues with guest editors and designers. Each editor and designer adding their own unique ideas to each issue giving the hillscene a fresh look and feel. Anna James, who had worked with us before on the hillscene, was the editor and designer of the Autumn issue. Cameron Semmens produced the Winter issue adding his poetic expertise and flavour to that issue. The Summer issue was a collaborative effort between Stephanie Lightfoot as the editor and Amelia Campbell as the designer, which proves that working on the hillscene is an opportunity to create great connections within the artistic community as well. Working with each editor and designer has been a real pleasure and a great learning experience for me and the editorial team. It’s good to see the new ideas and energy that each new collaboration brings, broadening our vision a little further each time.

Cameron said of the experience “It was a treat to work on hillscene. Curating the stories, collaborating with other creatives and simply making something beautiful and meaningful for this community that I love. It was a challenge, but a good challenge and a worthwhile challenge.”

editorsdesigner-collage

Clockwise from top left: Anna James, Cameron Semmens, Stephanie Lightfoot & Amelia Campbell.

If you are interested in either opportunity, please complete the expression of interest form by Feb 1, 2019. Editors and designers at all stages of their career are encouraged to apply. Apply here.

Important Information:
Each issue of the hillscene takes approximately 6 weeks to create, from the first editorial meeting to the distribution of the printed mag. You will need to be available for one of the following times:
Autumn issue: Feb – Mar
Winter issue: May – Jun
Spring issue: Aug – Sept
Summer issue: Oct – Nov

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Yarra Ranges Council HOR RGB

Meet our Summer guest editor

Post by Adriana Alvarez.

Our Summer guest editor and talented wordsmith, Stephanie Lightfoot, has graced us with her quiet, calm demeanour this issue. Stephanie is a recent graduate who has joined us this season to edit and write articles for the hillscene. She has worked with other hills’ publications so she understands our local community’s fondness for showcasing stories that are like little hidden gems waiting to be discovered. Here she shares her experiences of editing, writing and her passion for words.

Why did you want to become an editor?

I’ve been an avid reader from the tender age of four, at which I convinced myself (but not my parents) that I had learnt to read the picture book ‘Dear Zoo’ by Rod Campbell – as many kids do, I had simply memorised the tale, word for word. This appetite continued – albeit slightly less fraudulently – into primary school, when I would consume the material on the back of milk cartons and Vegemite jars along with my breakfast. In my teen years, I became enamoured of the dictionary, and would look up and transcribe the meaning of any word I encountered that I did not know. By this time, I had also reached peak spelling confidence and would inappropriately point out teachers’ errors on the whiteboard. I took this voracity into an English degree, and then an interim period of volunteering to proofread friends’ essays and theses. But it was writing for fellow hills publication, The Local Voice, and the experience of working with and being edited by the wonderful Gülsen Öser, that led me to give writing and editing a real crack. I enrolled in the Master of Publishing and Communications at the University of Melbourne, which I’ve just completed. Editing, for me, is the perfect marriage of building and navigating relationships and immersion in the written word and world.

Tell us a little bit about your writing journey?

I’ve had several flirtations with writing, however, find that I am much more comfortable with the role and responsibilities of editing – not least because it is necessarily collaborative. Reflecting on my writing last year, I realised the joy that I find in the medium of cultural criticism and other nonfiction. Most recently, I had the opportunity to contribute to this issue of the hillscene, and interview a number of impressive people: CJ Baxter, Jordan Crook, Pia Nesvara and our cover artist, Georgia Steele. Hearing from or talking to and writing about these locals and their work was an absolute pleasure.

What is an editor’s role in this era of fake news and alternative facts?

The opportunities for publishing are increasingly wide and accessible, and on many counts, this is a good thing – certainly, barriers to entry are often there for less-than-just reasons. The role of the editor is shifting, and sometimes out of the equation altogether, in tandem with sensationalist, fast-paced production schedules. I see an editor’s role as ensuring that truth and impact are given equal weight. Though easy to proliferate, words are extremely powerful, and should be handled with care.

Stephanie Lightfoot

How did you become involved with the hillscene?

The opportunity to guest-edit an issue of the hillscene was passed onto me by my friend, Gareth Hart. Having written for The Local Voice a couple of years ago, as well as being generally charmed with the hills’ cultural scene and community, I felt compelled to throw my hat in the ring. I’m beyond appreciative to Adriana and the team at Burrinja, as well as Amelia, for their support, mentorship and encouragement as we put the issue together. It’s been a team effort through and through, and a privilege to work with such passionate people. I’m especially grateful to have worked closely with Amelia on this issue. and am really proud of what we’ve achieved together.

In what ways, if any, do you engage with the hills community?

For now, my engagement with the hills community is twofold: social, and creative, and I hope that the friendships and connections I have fostered at the hillscene can continue to thrive.

What do you wish you knew about being a writer/editor before you got started?

Every single writing and editing experience is different. Whatever the genre, whether you’re dealing with fiction or nonfiction, it’s always ultimately a creative and human process and your ability to navigate relationships is key. This year has dealt me a number of diverse, steep learning curves – and all of them have reinforced the importance of communicating kindly and respectfully.

Who are your creative heros?

A couple of years ago, hearing from one of the Stella Prize founders, Aviva Tuffield, I resolved to read more writing by women or non-binary folk. Growing up, my favourite writers were probably Charles Dickens and Haruki Murakami, and a good look at my bookshelf and high school and undergraduate reading lists was sobering. I’m infatuated with Isabel Allende, Maxine Beneba Clarke, Mel Campbell, Nayuka Gorrie, Eileen Myles, Alexis Wright, Fiona Wright … the list goes on!

What do you enjoy about living in the Dandenong Ranges?

For now, I live in Coburg, in Melbourne’s north, but I dream of one day settling down in the hills.

What are your plans for the future (immediate or long term)?

Having just finished my degree, the future is suddenly somewhat of an overwhelming concept. At the moment, I’m working in community engagement. In the not-too-distant future I hope to find work in editorial, hopefully in-house, and ideally at one of Melbourne’s small or mid-sized independent publishers. In the longer term, I have my sights set on literary agenting – that’s the dream!

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