Interview With Justine Walsh - To The Ends Of The Verse
Justine Walsh is a haunt around town, if you frequent creative events around there is a good chance you will run into this most approachable and wholesome individual.
She has been kind enough to answer a few questions for me.
Being a creative herself and also being a huge part of many events around the Blue Ranges makes her someone to know, she is a vital force within the Art fields she engages.
If you take the opportunity, Justine sometimes performs at To The Ends Of The Verse, an open mic poetry event taking place at Open Studio in Northcote co-run by Emma Bell, and within exists a voice needing to be expressed and heard - her words are caressing and her voice is palpably sensual.
If you want to connect with Justine you can go through Hillscene Live, To The Ends Of The Verse or Tulpa.
On what medium do you spend most of your creative time?
Hard to say… my work tends to be a blend of disciplines/forms and it has kinda always been like that. I write a lot though, journal entries, poems, songs, mapping ideas.
When did you start working with this medium?
I think I started keeping a diary & lyrics book when I was 8 or 9, so 1997-8 ish. Some gold in there...
Do you work with other art mediums?
Many many. I make music, my main instrument being my voice. I do live art too, and in the process and the performance I use miscellaneous materials - remnants and treasures like ash, coal, bits of gold leaf, string, wood, bones, paper, sometimes fragrances/incenses, artefacts from my life. Sometimes I make sculpture-type things, and also I use my body in the space to explore the concept/s I’m working with. Not dance, really… but movement.
Besides To The Ends Of The Verse, are you working on any projects at the moment you could let us in on?
Hahaha way too many projects… I am Co-directing hillsceneLIVE which happens in November, directing Belgrave Lantern Parade, working on running some drone/noise/ambient music events for Yarra Ranges Noise, I am on the committee for Belgrave Survival Day, just started Tulpa Collective to tour heavy & underground bands in curated settings, and I’m in a couple of bands that are slowly coming together - one is called Weaver and the other is Lucin.
What surprise/revelation/disappointment/exaltation have you received from the Poetry Open Mic, To The Ends Of The Verse?
I have been continuously surprised/exalted by the consistency with which new people get up and perform. Every event, without fail (as far as I can remember), has seen someone get up and read who has either never read at the ‘Verse or who has never read poetry on stage before. It’s mind-boggling to think about how many events and how many people have braved their fears and expressed something for the first time at tteotv.
Who's your favourite artist at the moment?
Whoa. Hm. Musically, Bell Witch have again captured my attention & fed my soul lately. In this country/state however, I am in love with The Convoy.
Do you pay attention to many Australian Artists? If so, who are they?
Yes, I love finding out about incredible artists from this land. So many I can’t even list them properly but a couple are -
Music: Divide and Dissolve, The Convoy, Uboa
Poetry: Nadia Rhook, Luka Lesson
Live/Multi-form: chrysos (who does tea), Luna Mrozik Gawler & her collaborators
Visual: Tal Fitzpatrick, Charlotte Allingham
Fashion: JBC lingerie, Mirador
Dance/Movement: Amrita Hepi, Shaun Mcleod & collaborators
Tattoo: Ben Lopez, Tobius Millar
Community Arts Practitioners: Leisa Shelton, Jade Lillie
...there is waaaaay too much cool shit happening…
What are some ways you can think of for fully utilising the internet and related technologies for the expression and development of Art?
Oof, good question. So much potential. Personally I feel like organising through the internet is really useful, but the actual productive conversations & interactions (for things that are more personal at least) happen when people are physically around each other. Although talking via Skype etc is incredibly useful for this too. Dissemination of artists’ work via the internet makes it super accessible too but there is still a bit of a struggle in ‘who can do social media marketing better’… instagram and youtube are super powerful to find artists/groups and their work, and bandcamp is a brilliant place to find music & directly support artists.
When it comes to utilising digital technologies, I look to artists to find new and fascinating processes and ideas. Lynette Wallworth is an incredible artist/filmmaker who makes innovative use of new technologies (see ‘Collisions’). One of the performances at last year’s hillsceneLIVE, 'D+NA’ by The Dig Collective, was an inquiry into technology, data retention, surveillance, and compliance in the context of women’s bodies. Some really potent stuff.
Do you have any habits or practices that you have learned or developed that help you maintain creative output?
Haha well… my first instinct is to say no, but that is a lie. I have a regular journalling practice, and I find that having a daily physical movement process - stretching, or walking - allows me to have clearer dialogue with my inner workings and that helps creativity to move through.
However, it all ebbs and flows. Creative output has cycles of living and dying too, and so I suppose finding some sort of forgiveness or humility when I am not producing work in the way I may want to also helps surrender to this process. Which in turn allows new work to eventually seed and grow.
What does Community mean to you? I purposefully make this an open ended question, I want your sincere answer, whether lackluster or pompous ;)
Sharing of spirit. Sounds cheesy I know but there is something deeply profound in the act of working with community, listening to voices that are not homogenous, finding pathways to reach common ground and navigating through the mire of individual/interpersonal/political/cultural relations and connecting to some deeper source of our shared existence… spirit or something like that. Whatever you want to call it. Community can provide such huge capacity for nourishment, exchange, growth. And it can be found anywhere, communities intersect… I feel like it’s the place to start when working towards larger goals, a microcosm that has powerful ripple effects. I could keep waxing lyrical on this subject because it is so interesting and multi-faceted. But I’ll leave it there for now :)
Thanks Ryan ! x
Thanks Justine. Good luck in all current and future ventures.
- Ryan Dickinson