“My goal is to make literature so accessible and available in people’s daily activities that it becomes a common practice for a whole lot more people to read a book or a short story as a source of knowledge and entertainment.”
How would you describe what you do?
In a single sentence, I will say that I use public spaces to engage people with storytelling.
My goal is to make literature so accessible and available in people’s daily activities that it becomes a common practice for a whole lot more people to read a book or a short story as a source of knowledge and entertainment.
What was your most recent project?
We are currently working on a new project called Story Town. It is a series of location-linked stories about Otautahi/Christchurch that will include local historical accounts, fictional short stories, poetry, and books set in our city. We experience the cities we live in at different levels. There’s a physical and geographical aspect that we are constantly aware of, but there is also a tapestry of stories and memories, some well known, some hidden, that once you learn about them, it changes the way you connect and see your surroundings.
We will open city archives and explore people memories to find stories from the recent and not so recent past that are fun, entertaining, informative, curious and all link to a particular physical space. Anytime you come across a Story Town post, you are sure to learn something new.
What project have you worked on that you’re the most proud of?
The day we launched Stories on the Go onboard Christchurch buses in 2018, I was over the moon. It was an innovative project, and everybody involved was excited about it. It consists of having a series of 20 stickers with unique QR codes, and each contains a short story written by a New Zealand author. At any given time, there were 20 different stories to choose from and to read something different, all you have to do is to change seats. The concept was then expanded to cafes and other places where you have downtime, like the dentist waiting room, and we are currently working on something even bigger for Stories on the Go.
What is essential for creatives to have in their life?
A network of supporters and collaborators to sound ideas, best utilise resources and combine efforts with those doing something similar or complementary.
What inspires you about Ōtautahi?
There is always something new to see and do, from big architectural features to small creative installations. And maybe because it has been my experience, all ideas are welcome and supported. I never had anybody saying: “that won’t work, don’t bother”.
What piece of advice about your creative work has served you well?
Don’t be afraid to ask.
What’s the biggest misconception about your creative work?
Talking about the arts in general, I would say that a lot of people think that technology rules the world and investing in the arts sector is a nice thing to do, not an essential one. I don’t think there is enough understanding about Art and it is still viewed as an elitist activity.
What Christchurch artists do you most admire?
I have a collective admiration for all street artists that embellished this city. Their art is generous because it is always there for you to enjoy; it brightens the city with colour and messages. I wish every building were covered in murals. It’s an open-air art gallery.
What artwork/piece of music/performance has taken your breath away?
I’m very lucky to say that the famous ballerina mural behind the Isaac Theatre Royal is my everyday view at work. It happens to be my favourite local piece of artwork.
What do you wish you’d have known about creative work when you were younger?
That creativity is a complex and vital notion that can define the way you deal with your own world, your relationships, your work and the world around you.
What’s your favourite hidden secret in Ōtautahi?
Can’t tell you because it is magical when you see it, but I recommend you to take a street art tour with Watch This Space to find it!