Season Three – Katy Plummer

Image credit: Kuba Dorabialski

Katy Plummer

Season 3 – Episode 1


Instagram handle @katybplummer


00:00:00 Kiera Brew Kurec
Hi, I’m Kiera Brew Kurec

00:00:03 Nick Breedon
and I’m Nick Breedon

00:00:05 Kiera Brew Kurec
Welcome to Pro Prac

00:00:06 Nick Breedon
Where we explore the professional practice of artists

00:00:09 Kiera Brew Kurec
and hear their stories.

00:00:12 Nick Breedon
Katy Plummer makes work about the phenomenology of resistance and the politics of ghosts, and she’s excited about the oracular possibilities of chance based digital technologies. She uses cinematic storytelling, domestic textile practices, and the camp aesthetics of high school theatre to tell complicated stories about being a person in the world. Her work announces that history is a haunted house full of unfinished cycles and unprocessed psychic material. And she believes that poetry, horror, and witchcraft can be useful strategies to interrupt oppressive systems. Katy has a Bachelor of Fine Arts from UNSW and an MFA from the School of Visual Arts in New York. Katy lives and works on stolen Gadigal land.

00:00:56 Kiera Brew Kurec
Thanks so much for joining us in the studio today Katy and I wanna kick it off with, Just asking with, how we always start the interviews and ask how did you get to where you are today? and a bit of background on your practice.

00:01:08 Katy Plummer
I’m the eldest of four kids and when I was around, probably, I don’t know, like eight years old. We were living in Brisbane at the time and we kind of moved every year for most of, you know, for a, a lot of my life. So we were kind of this like we were friends with each other, the kids, and I was sort of like in charge of people. My Mum had this box of costumes, that because she was a ballet dancer and so we would kind of like open them up and pretend with them, and once. It, it must’ve been when my younger sister was just born. My Mum, I guess, kind of had another layer of letting go of you know, her sort of history as a dancer. And she gave us this new lot of costumes and one of them was, there was like her tutu from Swan Lake. It was really incredible, and there was this dress, which I’ve since found out was her year 12 formal dress, you know, her prom dress and it was this just incredible sort of blue chiffon, sparkly thing. And I opened up this box and looked at it and just had this really overwhelming vision of like a Chinese water princess emerging from the ocean. And I really just immediately kind of grabbed my sister, who was probably three and it was Brisbane and she was sticky and wearing a nappy and dirty and kind of, you know, like a little bit feral.And I was like, you’ll be my princess. And I sort of wrap her in this, in this dress and kind of just stood back and looked at it. And it was nothing, nothing at all, like what I had imagined. And there was this real sort of, Like just embarrassment and kind of crushing, like, uh, you know, I have to get out of this, you know, rewind and just for some reason this really, I don’t know, I just keep, kind of keep coming back to this story and I’ve been thinking about it a lot recently as this sort of real seminal moment of. You know, that kind of wanting to, like having this vision, this really clear, overwhelming thing that you wanna make and then trying to make it, and that moment, you know, sort of seeing when those two things don’t match and trying to make them match. And I feel like much of my life has kind of been chasing that feeling and trying to get closer and closer to get, you know, gaining the skills and gaining the connections and just, you know, being a grownup, you have more power, yeah.

00:03:51 Nick Breedon
Amazing. Amazing. It’s like the, the Lore of Katy.

00:03:58 Katy Plummer

00:03:58 Kiera Brew Kurec
Do you think in that moment there was, understanding or maybe a wanting, you know, the disconnect between what you had in your head and what you saw as a thing like, that is what art is.

00:04:12 Katy Plummer
A hundred percent. Yeah, that’s what I think, you know, I feel like that in my practice is always what I come back to is like, I know what I wanna do. Oh, oh my God. And it just kind of all kind of comes in a moment and then, you know, of course it changes and you know, that’s not, it’s not actually possible to make people fly or whatever it is. But you know, kind of trying to find a way to make that real and then also give that a place in the world I think is, probably my my driving force.

00:04:44 Nick Breedon
Beautiful. And so from that moment, obviously there’s a big gap between then and now.

00:04:50 Katy Plummer
Oh, such a long gap.

00:04:50 Nick Breedon
So when do you think was the moment for you when you, were like, okay, I’m, I’m gonna sort of like, try and make this, this sort of you know, my calling, I’m gonna do this, you know, commit to this full time. Did you study? Was that a process you went through?

00:05:06 Katy Plummer
Well, I think, uh, like the first sort of, you know, after high, you know, I did a lot of theatre at high school and, you know, did art at high school and did music at high school and kind of, that was my world. But when I left high school, it was sort of, Really difficult. I think, you know, now I know it’s because I was autistic and I didn’t have language for that and didn’t have kind of structures in place. And so my experience at that time was really like, how do I live? And that being a really sort of messy process. So, you know, I kind of tried to make theatre happen and couldn’t just, just couldn’t figure out how to structure things. And I was in the middle of a really messy breakup and I had an easel and I said to my boyfriend, I’m going to become an artist now. And he was like, you literally don’t even do that. Like, what are you talking about? And I don’t remember what I was thinking, and I don’t remember this being a, but it was just such a kind of a weird, clear decision. And I moved out of that house and I moved into an artist warehouse in Glebe. I didn’t have a practice. I literally just had an easel, but it was just, I almost like this costume kind of, I guess that

00:06:21 Nick Breedon
Just turned up with your, with your beret and your easel and you were like, I’m an artist. Can I live here? Please?

00:06:27 Katy Plummer
Exactly. And they were like, do you have money? And I was like, well you know? Yeah. So it was just really this intuitive decision that almost, it was like a, it was like a different part of me that sort of said, well, this is what we’re doing. I was really directionless and I didn’t have a, It was like I didn’t have a self in a way.

00:06:44 Nick Breedon
So there was sort of this other, other self that kind of took over and took the wheel for a bit and said, okay, this.

00:06:48 Katy Plummer
Yeah. And said, we’re gonna put you here.

00:06:50 Nick Breedon
This is what we’re doing now.

00:06:51 Katy Plummer
This is what we’re doing now. So then, you know, I did, I did that on my own for, for a few years. So by the time I went to art school, I was already, you know, just before a mature age student. So I was about 25, so I did my undergraduate and that was amazing. And then I went immediately, and did a postgraduate in degree in New York. I did my master’s degree there, uh, because I’m American. Then, I came back here and I started a PhD, , but I got pregnant at the same time. And so, yeah, and that was, again, it was just another real sort of like interruption. So I feel like really until about eight years ago, my career has just been this sort of like, art has been a constant, even when I wasn’t making it. But, Yeah, my career has been really interrupted and really, it wasn’t until my kids reached a certain age and I kind of, you know, Sort of started to have language around Neurodivergence as well, that I could just sort of get myself on a track and go.

00:07:55 Kiera Brew Kurec
You have just named a few things that you have helped you now navigate your practice and I was just wondering if you could touch on what have been some of the biggest challenges that you’ve had to overcome, to continue your practice or that have kind of appeared during your practice?

00:08:14 Katy Plummer
Well, I think that, uh, neurodivergence is definitely one of the things that has been a real challenge. I think, you know, we all know that the art world is full of a lot of unspoken rules, and a lot of kind of structures that aren’t made explicit and there isn’t a map. So. I feel like a, like a lot of the points at which I’ve been diverted from my path have been coming up against those and not knowing how to navigate it and kind of feeling like, you know, I think what the art world sort of does is it will, if you’re not like super clear and kind of unrelenting, they’ll just shuffle you off onto the couch

00:08:56 Kiera Brew Kurec

00:08:56 Katy Plummer
And, you know, give you a support role or, you know, give you some glitter to sweep up or just, you know, give you, give you a job to do. And I sort of several times just kind of let that happen because I just didn’t know how to. I just didn’t know how to, how to say no.

00:09:16 Kiera Brew Kurec
Sometimes you don’t even realise it’s happening until you look back and you’re like, how did, how are those people 10 steps in that direction? And I’m here.

00:09:25 Katy Plummer
That’s right, that’s right. What is another thing that, another challenge, parenting sort of, uh, having a, you know, I had this idea that, You know, because I was really focused and had a really clear vision that having children was not going to be a distraction for me. For some reason, I just thought that wasn’t gonna apply to me. That those people who did let, that distract them were just obviously not as focused as I was. But then having a kid and sort of realising that patriarchy is real and that there were just no structures in place to kind of help me. And, you know, I have an incredibly supportive partner. Uh, having a baby was an enormous distraction, and really threw me off for a few years. Partly, I think, because of that thing where the art world just kind of will shuffle you off to the couch to observe. But I think also partly because for me, having, you know, my art practice and this new person that I made kind of occupied the same place for me psychologically, like psychically. They were both, they both really demanded the very best of me and the most, the biggest, most important part of me. And I just felt like I couldn’t split that up. So I did quit for, you know, I thought it was gonna be forever.That was my plan was to quit forever because I just.

00:10:52 Kiera Brew Kurec
Like an actual, I quit art?

00:10:54 Katy Plummer
I quit art.

00:10:54 Kiera Brew Kurec

00:10:55 Katy Plummer
Yeah, and I quit. So Bruno was one? No, Bruno was nine months. And I got a residency, I was doing a PhD and I got a residency at the Cité and I got a grant and I had this huge project that I was doing called the hypochondriac. And we went to Paris and it was really incredible. And Kuba would take Bruno out every day and I would just stay in the studio and make these costumes and kind of plan this gigantic play that I was gonna put on. I mean, it was a real kind of like Brisbane moment, you know, like it, the vision was so clear. and there were all of these characters and I was gonna be all of them. And, It was really complicated production and then just sort of like the residency finished and I took all these costumes back to Sydney and you know, the grant money was gone and my PhD was due, and Kuba went back to work and I just couldn’t make it happen. So, yeah, that I, that I quit my PhD and I quit art. And Kuba was like, maybe we could just say, we’ll put it aside for a while. And I was like, well, no, that’s not how I do anything.

00:12:06 Nick Breedon
That’s a bit reasonable.

00:12:07 Katy Plummer
Yeah. Like I close loops. That’s, that’s what I do. We, we closed doors and we, and we move on. and because Kuba is, Kuba my partner and Kuba is a legend, he quit as well. So we quit together because he couldn’t You know, he just in sort of in solidarity really. He was just like, well, if you’re not gonna do it, I’m not gonna do it. So we went and did other things. For years, we had, uh, we ran a bookshop together. And when I look back on all of the things that we did, it’s really clear that I was trying to replace art, but in a way that wasn’t so psychically demanding, but still, like, one of the things that we did was obviously we’re gonna grow half of our food. So for about six months, I, we completely annihilated our lovely little suburban backyard, destroyed it, planted 17 fruit trees, put in all these garden beds. And then realised that was the bit that I really liked was the

00:13:05 Nick Breedon
the making!

00:13:05 Katy Plummer
The making. And I did not want to go and put little nets on all of those little pieces of fruit. So we never did the right thing on the right day, and we never harvested a single piece of fruit from the 17 fruit trees. But they did flower and look really amazing every year. And they fed, you know, a lot of animals. And so, you know, it wasn’t a waste maybe, I don’t know. but the bookshop as well was really amazing. , but we totally ran it like an artist run initiative. We did a billion really cool things for free. And, you know, gathered a really fun community and ran lots of nights. And then, You know, events and we, you know, published a poetry magazine and we had an open mic night and we, you know, ran classes and did all of this really fun stuff.

00:13:51 Nick Breedon
Sounds like art to me.

00:13:52 Katy Plummer
A hundred percent art. and really important, like it was really great ’cause I think before that period, before that time, I always felt like a little bit of an island. Like it’s just me and the things that I make, and I didn’t really understand that community is how, how things get done and how Art, kind of, you know, how whatever you do, how it becomes meaningful. And I think that time really taught me that. So it’s not a waste, but at some point, you know, like I made a, uh, like to keep it open and to keep it kind of solvent, I made a range of products that I sold at my bookshop and then at, you know, nationally at other bookshops. Like, it was just totally in our practice. But yeah, so then at some point it just became clear that, you know, the kids were a little bit older and it just became clear that I might as well be making art. Like I, if I’m gonna be this, working this hard and with this little kind of financial reward, I might as well do what I really wanna do and hang out with the people who also wanna do that.

00:14:55 Nick Breedon
What was the, what was the kind of moment that really solidified that, parenting is a, is a real challenge, but, I need to get back to my practice.

00:15:04 Katy Plummer
Well so in my mind, like when Kuba said maybe let’s just put it off for a little while, we sort of decided when, my youngest went to school, like that would be the time, that we would maybe rethink things. And when that, when, when my youngest went to school, the bookshop was actually doing all of this really fun stuff, Waringa Council offered us this space to kind of do some of the events that we were doing. They said, you can have this space and you can do it here. You know, you can run your nights and you can run a bar and you can just kind of do whatever you want with this big space that’s been empty for five years. and maybe in six months if the community really likes it, then maybe you can keep it. And so we just went, oh my God, this is amazing. And we just kind of poured all of this money into it, poured all of this infrastructure and labor into it. And then before we’d even opened, they rented it out to somebody. So, so there was just

00:16:02 Nick Breedon
Wow. Classic landlord behaviour.

00:16:03 Katy Plummer
It was, it was a council. Yeah. It was just wild and totally like crushing because we just poured everything into it and it was at like you know, that was also simultaneously, my youngest was going to school and I was putting a new roof on my studio, which had been, you know, It had been sitting there empty, I’d been collecting tools and putting tools in my studio, you know, someday, maybe I’ll go back to art, but the ceiling, the roof had just been replaced and it was just like, I felt like, actually how I felt was that I, I’d made a deal with some kind of wicked fairy, like the art fairy was this kind of like fairy godmother, and I’d said, yes, yes, yes. I’ll come back to art when my youngest goes to school. And she was like, well, that’s now isn’t that now? And so she just like, it just felt like this really, you know, I am a pretty magical thinker, but it did feel like the world just orchestrated this like, well you promised sort of thing. So that was actually, there was actually a moment that, I’d felt like I just, just every, you know, we lost the shop. Like everything just kind of fell away in a really short period of time. And all I had was a studio to go and sit in and I didn’t have a practice and I didn’t have any shows, but I had a studio.

00:17:28 Kiera Brew Kurec
Did that feel good or scary or like a new beginning?

00:17:33 Katy Plummer
Yes and yes and yes. Yeah. Like it felt, I mean, it just, and it felt really spooky as well. Like it was just this sort of, Yeah. Like I think, you know, and I do have this relationship with my practice where it’s almost like a, a different creature that I share a body with and, , it’s really hard to explain, but it was spooky. In this way, that like, you did this, you did this, you know, that I, oh, I, there’s this there’s this other kind of plan happening and it tricked me. Like, I just felt tricked.

00:18:09 Nick Breedon
Well, based, hang on. I’m trying to think of how to follow on from that cause it’s so amazing.

00:18:17 Katy Plummer
Is it though?

00:18:19 Kiera Brew Kurec
I feel the same about my practice, about it being a, It’s an entity to itself, and I’m just here as like the vessel that it, it comes through. It’s a, it’s a strange relationship and sometimes it puts you in really hard positions, but sometimes it takes you on a good ride. But it’s a, like, I have to surrender myself to it.

00:18:40 Nick Breedon
Mm. You have to listen. You must.

00:18:43 Kiera Brew Kurec
Otherwise you’ll be like incredibly..

00:18:46 Katy Plummer
well, she’s just not gonna play. It’s like you wanna play like let’s, you know, this is how, this is how we’re gonna, this is.

00:18:52 Nick Breedon
This is how people sort of talk about, you know, being at the crossroads and Satan’s there and he’s like, you want to be a great guitarist? We can make a deal.

00:19:01 Katy Plummer
Yeah, yeah. This is, this is what we’re gonna do. And you or, yeah, like, and it was, we like, it felt fairytale, I suppose, because at the time, you know, I was so depressed when I gave up my practice, like really devastated, like, Not okay. You know, it was like kind of, I’ve had this baby and this baby deserves my best and so that means I have to take it away from this other thing. And that was really terrible. And this deal that I made, it’s so funny to talk about it out loud ’cause I never really talk about it. but this deal felt like one of the, you know, okay, yep, yep, yep. I’ll do it when my, you know, when my youngest goes back to school. Was this like, It allowed me to breathe again. And so it felt like it, you know, like the, when the wicked step mother comes to sleeping beauties, christening, and they go, yes, yes, yes. When she’s 16, just, just go away and leave us alone. Now when she’s 16, you can have her. You know, or whatever the deal was like, it felt like this kind of, yes, yes, yes. But you don’t really think it’s real. Like you don’t really think that time is gonna come because it seems so far away. But it was like kind of within. Just like, I wanna say a week. Like it probably wasn’t. But it was like pay up. It was the vibe of it. Like you said. Yeah. And so all of these things that you’ve built are gone now. And you only have. You know, you only have a studio.

00:20:33 Nick Breedon
Yeah. Well, it sounds like you have, uh, your arts practice has taken so many different roads and, you know, had so many different looks and feels for you over your career. What do you think, like knowing what you know now, having, having done your sort of arts practice in so many different ways, what, what do you think, you know, what does a successful practice feel like to you?

00:20:58 Katy Plummer
It’s really important to me to be in authentic conversation with that part of myself or whatever that is. and to kind of like follow, follow that, , But also times that I’ve just done that, I have also felt a little bit unsatisfied ’cause I think, well I think that I also want, really want to have a home and find a way to give that a context. Like it doesn’t wanna be just in a void in a closet by itself. It wants to talk to people and and so I think

00:21:37 Nick Breedon

00:21:38 Katy Plummer
it want it want it wants to be received. Like it wants to, I think it, if I’m super, like, if I’m super honest, and like dorky, I think it wants to be beloved, you know, like it wants to be like, and that doesn’t have to be like by a wide audience, but I feel like it wants to communicate something and about being human to other humans maybe. I feel really embarrassed.

00:22:03 Nick Breedon
Well, no, but like, well, particularly, By those people who need to receive that. And there are, yeah. And I think there are for everyone’s practice, right. But I think, you know, your practice particularly, there is a, I think there’s a place in a lot of people where they, they wanna receive that magic.

00:22:21 Katy Plummer
and I think that ghost, like, I think because, you know, there are all of these sort of pathways in the art world and all of these sort of secret you know, taboos and maps and you know, like there was this kind of, you know, and I think it’s, it’s interesting that I think it’s disappearing now, but when I first started thinking about ghosts and talking about ghosts, it just felt really not allowed. And, sort of finding a way to make that okay and make that, like build trust with an audience was really, you know, ’cause when I first started doing it, it was just like ghosts and witches and everyone was like, oh no. And like, absolutely not. Under no circumstances are we talking about that in a serious way. But yeah, sort of the last few years have really been about finding a way to make that, to, to, to make that soft and okay and friendly. Yeah. But I guess a successful practice is finding a balance between those two things. Like there’s the, there’s the part of me that just wants to talk about what it wants to talk about, and then there’s finding a way to give that a home and give that a context. And I feel like that’s kind of my conscious job as an artist now, is to figure out how to build structures so that, that, so that those things that my art self really wants to just be explicit about, can be received. And understood.

00:23:42 Nick Breedon
So you’re not, you’re not with the broom. Like you’ve, you’ve been, you know, you, you’re right at the front

00:23:46 Katy Plummer

00:23:48 Nick Breedon
uh, giving and everybody is able to receive it.

00:23:51 Kiera Brew Kurec
You are, as we’re recording in high production mode.

00:23:55 Katy Plummer
Oh yes, I am.

00:23:58 Kiera Brew Kurec
But I was wondering if you could give us a run through of your practice looks like in reality. Like a day, a week, a month? Either now when you’re in full production or when you’re not.

00:24:10 Katy Plummer
Well I think that it’s probably, I am in a high production now, so everything is just a really nutty juggle especially with children, you know, I mean, it’s just anybody with a practice knows what kind of high production time feels like. So obviously I’m juggling, you know, I’m an educator, I have a business with some friends where we, uh, write, like education packs for, you know, regional galleries that don’t have education teams like I’m doing, doing a lot of things. But I think that one of the things that marks, my partners and I, my, our kind of practice rhythm outside of, You know, like that, that, that might make it a little bit different is that, we, when the kids were smaller and we were kind of just starting to go back to practice, one of the ways that we would make room for it is, you know, we have to get up so early to get kids out the door and do all of those things and then we would, you know, do paid work or do artwork for a little bit of time while they were at school. And then there’s kind of family time, which kind of goes until, you know, early evening nine, you know, 10 o’clock. And then there’s this sort of other shift where we would make work like often really late into the night. So, but then obviously you’re missing out on sleep, so you have to catch up on that sleep. So there was, there’s this nap time that our entire household sort of run, it’s sort of the unspoken engine room of both of our practice is often at like 2:00 PM we go to sleep for like two, three hours. Not every day. We can’t manage it every day because of the other things that go on, but that’s really sort of, I think, how we make all of the things work. People often say, I don’t know how you do so many things. And I think that that’s, that’s our engine room, that’s our secret weapon. Naps.

00:26:04 Kiera Brew Kurec
Naps are good. Naps are great.

00:26:07 Katy Plummer
Oh yeah. I think that also another way that we sort of, or I at least kind of put everything together is by making it all one thing. So, you know, I think of it all as the art life. So, you know, I do a lot of education stuff that’s really an important arm of my practice. Like it’s thinking about how to make big ideas accessible that’s something I use in my own practice a lot. so I kind of like, that’s kind of how I think I keep my hyper focus. I, I gather all of the things that I’m doing into the one thing. Like I make a lot of objects that I sell to buy myself time to make work. I’ve sort of built my entire practice on unending labor. so just kind of turning my hand to like, I’m just always making something and that’s either part of a bigger project or it’s something to give somebody, or it’s something to sell, to make money, to make work. Yep. So I just kind of, everything just sort of feeds into.

00:27:08 Nick Breedon
Mm-hmm. So, know that you and Kuba like, you know, obviously seem to have a lot of kind of co-parenting sort of situation, you kind of share the load a lot and you are both artists and you both have quite active practices. So how, how have you kind of managed that? I mean, it, it seems like obviously that’s happened quite naturally as you’ve sort of said before, but like, is it kind of a natural thing for you to kind of like be sort of, going back and forth for taking responsibility for certain, you know, kind of roles in parenting and stuff? or is it just sort of something that you’ve had to kind of negotiate over time

00:27:41 Katy Plummer
That’s a great question. I think a little bit of both. I think that Kuba is super aware of the world and how it works. And the so it has, it’s never been a struggle. In fact, he, and also because I am autistic and my executive functioning is wobbly so he really has picked up a lot of those household things. There are things that are my job, but really he does almost all the cooking, most of the cleaning and really he takes it on to really, you know, he wants to give me time in the studio because he, because my work is, so his, his work kind of comes in bursts where he’ll be out of action for three months because he’s traveling. But really much of the day-to-day stuff, Kuba does because he’s a legend. Yeah.

00:28:34 Nick Breedon

00:28:35 Katy Plummer
Yeah. He says, I’m the mother and it’s, you know, like the family needs a mother. You know, he just kind of had this realisation, oh, this kind of unit needs that kind of person to do this sort of stuff. And we’ve called that the mother as a society, and we’ve made that gendered, but he’s like, I’m the one who that costs less to do. So he just does it.

00:28:57 Kiera Brew Kurec
I like that, that it costs less. Yeah.

00:29:00 Katy Plummer
He says, you know, I need more time, and this stuff is just really hard. Yeah.

00:29:06 Kiera Brew Kurec
Yeah. And for some people, those things are easier and more intuitive. It does cost less.

00:29:11 Katy Plummer
Yeah. So you know, I, I take care of the kids in other ways and I take care of Kuba in other ways. That stuff, he just manages our calendar. He, you know, Does the homework stuff and just all of that, kind of that structural caretaking. Yeah. It’s amazing.

00:29:28 Kiera Brew Kurec
Katy, we would love to hear, what some of the biggest resources that have been helpful for your practice, , and life in general if you are able to share any

00:29:37 Katy Plummer
yes. So Kuba is absolutely one of those.

00:29:40 Nick Breedon
so get yourself a Kuba, everyone

00:29:41 Katy Plummer
, I tell people like, what you need is a Kuba and it’s not fair because there’s not that many of them.

00:29:48 Nick Breedon
I think there’s only one actually.

00:29:51 Katy Plummer
There might just be one. Yeah. Yeah. I might have just grabbed the one. but yeah, having a supportive partner who just understands what it is to be an artist and also what it is to be Katy, has been incredibly helpful. the other thing I think that has been really helpful for me, and I haven’t always had it, so I know how helpful it is, is stable housings. Like just, that’s been huge, stable subsidised housing. And, the times that I, I like to be transparent about that because I know it’s been really confusing for me, like when I was in New York, for example, and making $12 an hour and trying to do a practice and looking around at other people who are in my course and just thinking, how are you making, how are you doing this? Like, are you just more talented than me? Are you just, you know, better looking than me or smarter than me, like, or nicer than me? You know, like all of just kind of slowly realising, oh, it’s money.

00:30:55 Nick Breedon
You’re just richer than me.

00:30:56 Katy Plummer
You just like, you just have, you just have something underwritten that means, you know, and it doesn’t mean you have to work. Like they’re still working hard and they’re still, you know, taking risks and they’re still doing all of these other things. But you can, It just, yeah, like we as a, as particularly as parents, particularly as artists, are able to make, riskier decisions and feel safer because we have a house that we’re not gonna get kicked out of, and the house has a studio.

00:31:28 Nick Breedon
I think this is a really, you know, important moment that our politicians can start to understand that if they want to have a vibrant, creative community of artists. They, they need to create, , sustainable, uh, solutions for artists and, you know, well all people to live, because you can’t, you can’t create, you can’t make art if you are living in constant precarity of being evicted from your home and, having to pay the rent, you know, costs that are in Sydney at the moment. It’s, it’s prohibitive to be able to have a creative practice and to be able to afford those things with the threat of always having to, to pick up and leave, because that’s really expensive as well. So I think that’s a really, you know, uh, politicians take note, you need, you need housing to make art.

00:32:17 Katy Plummer
You need housing and, and because it’s just, there are so many barriers to getting, you know, the art world is structured as a kind of an obstacle course really like, and if you make it through all of the obstacles you have, you get to have a career. And, you know, one of those obstacles is being a parent. Oh, you know, And one of those obstacles, like there are just, there are so many obstacles and I think class is a massive, often unacknowledged obstacle, and yeah, like the reason I like it was, it’s just so clear to me the reason I quit was because I had a baby and I couldn’t make it work. And then having a house meant that I could come back. Like it was just as simple as that. that obstacle would’ve taken me out permanently and I’ve had to work really hard to stay on to, to get back on track and stay on track. And I don’t wanna take that away from myself ’cause it has been really hard work, but it would’ve been impossible without this, without that piece of the puzzle. And I know there’s some incredibly beautiful artists, you know, talented people who have just been pushed out, like I’ve seen it happen. Like women, you know, with kids particularly just, you know, I have, I teach, and I think I have two classes, maybe around 40 students altogether. I think there are like five dudes across 40 students. Right? And so then you hit 50 and. You know, maybe it’s 50 50 and you feel like we’ve hit some kind of parody. But then you look at who’s doing art and who’s starting art, and it’s like women and people who have been socialised as girls and but that’s not who’s finishing, you know?

00:34:05 Nick Breedon
Oh. It’s like the great filter

00:34:07 Katy Plummer
and the whole of the art world is just, there’s all these filters that will filter you off onto the couch. I keep thinking of it as a couch where we all just get to watch.

00:34:16 Kiera Brew Kurec
it feels like that at times. It really does.

00:34:17 Katy Plummer
Yeah. And you just, they go there, there, there. Oh, the other thing I think has really, that’s really helped me is just being unrelenting. Like just once I kind of got that image in my head of being shuffled off to the couch, like that meme of the old lady where that, you know, in my day.

00:34:33 Nick Breedon
sure Grandma, let’s get you to the bed.

00:34:35 Katy Plummer
Yeah. It just feels like this. Sure. Grandma, let’s get you over here and just go it. Just once I kind of made that connection, just going, no, I’ve got another thing and another thing and just kind of insisting that I’m allowed to be here. That has, that has been a real asset for me. It’s just this kind of being unrelenting again, though, I, that would have done me no good. If I didn’t have a house.

00:35:00 Nick Breedon
There is sort of, you know, you need to have this, uh, willingness to be disliked. I think that you need to push through that discomfort to. To persist you know, I think it’s, it’s difficult when you’re an emerging artist to, you know, you really wanna play along. You don’t wanna be blacklisted. You don’t want, people to stop wanting to work with you because you’re disagreeable, but you have to get to this point that’s uncomfortable somewhere where you go from being an emerging artist. And it is, it’s almost at that broom pushing point where you’re like, actually, no, I don’t wanna push the broom.

00:35:30 Katy Plummer
I don’t wanna push the broom. Yeah, that’s right. ,

00:35:32 Nick Breedon
so, you know, it seems like you had a lot of moments in your career that you you know, were obviously like spoken to from somewhere, but if you could go back, and give yourself some advice, you know, at some point in your career, maybe when you were younger, what, what advice do you think you would give to yourself as a, as a younger artist?

00:35:53 Katy Plummer
I think it really would be about, , being unrelenting, like just not sitting down, because somebody told you to, like either explicitly or just by, you know, just by ignoring you. You know, I think that I would, that would’ve been lovely if I, if I had had the courage to just, stand there even, you know, and, and build myself a place rather than just kind of think that somebody had to give me one think that somebody was gonna save me. Like I was gonna, you know, like be saved by a commercial gallery or like chosen, you know, like from, I think that, that, like, if I could’ve, yeah, I would’ve liked to have known that a little bit earlier, that you can just make your own context. And if, you know, if one doesn’t work for you, you can just start yelling and your people will find you.

00:36:47 Nick Breedon
Mm-hmm. Just, yeah, creating your own, niche. There’s no, there’s no spot for you that someone’s gonna pull you out and put you, you know?

00:36:55 Katy Plummer
And if there is like, If there is, maybe that’s not an awesome spot. You know, there’s so many, there’s so many kind of structural inequalities and weird problems in the art world that if there’s a spot and you fit nicely into it, that may not be that good for you.You know? Like it may not have your best interests in heart, at heart. So yeah, like just creating your own pathway

00:37:20 Nick Breedon
yeah, I, I would say some of the most, know, I guess what we would think of successful artists, working, you know, in this moment really are those people who, who made something new, that and yourself included, that we didn’t, we didn’t have before. So, and, and, and that what make, that’s what makes them, unique and so interesting, is because, it’s something very exciting that we haven’t seen.

00:37:46 Katy Plummer
Yeah, and I think that that is what the art world wants as well. Like they say, no, no, that’s weird. We don’t want that. And then you say, yes, this is what I’m doing. They go, oh, okay, Sure. Alright, here’s some money or something. Here’s some space. You know, you seem very definite about this, so we’re just gonna let you do it.

00:38:07 Nick Breedon
Yeah, yeah. And then eventually they’re like, oh my God, we love this. Well have a retrospective.

00:38:14 Katy Plummer
Yeah. But yeah, I, that’s what I would tell myself is to just try to be a little bit more courageous earlier. Yeah. Find that earlier.

00:38:25 Kiera Brew Kurec
I think that’s a beautiful place to wrap this. Thank you so much Katy.

00:38:30 Katy Plummer
Thank you for having me.

00:38:31 Nick Breedon
Thanks for joining us in the studio.

00:38:33 Kiera Brew Kurec
It’s been a pleasure to hear and I know that people are gonna get a lot out of this. So thank you so much.

00:38:39 Katy Plummer
Thank you for having me it’s been a pleasure.

00:38:42 Nick Breedon
This episode was recorded on the Sovereign Lands of the Eora Nation. We pay our respects to the traditional custodians, the Gadigal and Bidjigal people, and pay respects to elders past, present, and emerging. We extend this acknowledgement to the traditional custodians of the lands and waters that this podcast reaches you on today. Our intro music is created by Evelyn Ida Morris.

00:39:06 Kiera Brew Kurec
This season Pro Prac was generously supported by the Australia Council for the Arts New Project Grant.

00:39:14 Nick Breedon
Thanks for listening to Pro Prac. You can listen to other episodes and subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts. You can stay up to date with what we’re up to on Instagram at Pro Prac Podcast or send us an email at