Season Three – Monica Rani Rudhar

Image credit: Thea Elder

Monica Rani Rudhar

Season 3 – Episode 8


Instagram handle @monicaranirudhar


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

00:00:01 Nick Breedon
and I’m Nick Breedon

00:00:03 Kiera Brew Kurec
Welcome to Pro Prac.

00:00:04 Nick Breedon
Where we explore the professional practice of artists

00:00:07 Kiera Brew Kurec
and hear their stories.

00:00:10 Nick Breedon
Monica Rani Rudar is an artist working on Gadigal land, across video, performance, and sculpture. Born to Indian and Romanian migrant parents, her work speaks to longing and loss as she navigates the cultural disconnection that stems from the complexities of her multi racial ethnicity. Her work is delicately personal and takes the shape of a restorative autobiographical archive that seeks to record her own histories where these stories can exist permanently, unlike those that have been passed down orally from her family which remain fragmented. Her practice attempts to restore familial histories, traditions, and rituals that have been dispersed by migration and draws on the labor required to move past the barriers that stand in the way of reforging these connections. Monica studied at UNSW Art and Design and has exhibited at various spaces including Verge Gallery, Pari, Fristdraft, Casula Powerhouse Art Centre, and online with the Powerhouse Museum. She was the recent winner of the 2023 Gosford Emerging Art Prize and is the 2023 Art Incubator grant recipient.

00:01:24 Kiera Brew Kurec
Monica, thank you so much for joining us in the studio today. Do you mind starting off by letting us know how you got to where you are today?

00:01:32 Monica Rani Rudhar
Yeah. Wow. It goes, goes far back to high school days, I guess I guess I’d never really, being an artist wasn’t really something that I that was at the forefront of my mind. I actually, volunteered for St. John Ambulance for 11 years and I was, yeah, crazy. And I was a, advanced responder. So I, would attend a lot of public events and Easter shows and, yeah, had, certain qualifications that, yeah, I guess I, I would be able to attend to very emergency situations and first aid situations. Thankfully I wasn’t involved in a lot of, intense, first aid situations, but, yeah, I actually wanted to be a paramedic. And I, yeah, I, I did, I did art at school. But it wasn’t my first choice, in year 11 and 12, I was silly enough to do three sciences.And I chose biology, chemistry, and physics, because a teacher told me, thought I’d be good at it.

00:02:41 Nick Breedon
Were you good at it?

00:02:42 Monica Rani Rudhar
No! I was not. I was, yeah, I was like, what have I done? So it was third week in bio and I knew I had made a great mistake. I went to, the deputy principal and I said, that I’d like to change to visual arts. And he said, well, it’s the third week, you know, they’ve already, they’ve already covered three weeks worth of work. I don’t know how you’re going to catch up. And I was like, Oh, I don’t know, like three weeks of year 11 visual arts. I think. I think I’ll be okay. So yeah, he signed my little form and off I went to visual arts. Yeah, didn’t think twice and, was still doing chemistry and physics and, but yeah, my love for visual arts for art grew and I felt like I. Was finally listening to myself, you know, at the age of 17, I think it’s something that we continue to learn, throughout our lives, but, yeah, I, really enjoyed art, ended up dropping chemistry and physics, funnily enough. There you go. And yeah, my vision, my year 12, visual arts work, it didn’t get into ArtExpress, but it got into a Western Sydney version of ArtExpress, which was called Next. And it was at, I think that’s what it was called and it was at Casula Powerhouse and it was a first year that it was running and I, I won the director’s choice.

00:04:14 Nick Breedon

00:04:15 Monica Rani Rudhar
So I was like, look, if, if there are doors opening, I need to walk through them. So I applied for, yeah, studying at COFA at the time, but I also applied for paramedicine at UT, at UTAS, University of Tasmania and Roselle. And I got into both. And, I. I ended up choosing, yeah, visual arts. I was doing a visual, I was doing fine arts and arts because I had to try and justify to my parents why I was doing, fine arts, you know, I was like, Oh, you know, maybe I’ll be a teacher. I’m doing history as well and psychology, so, you know, I’ll have a real job. Don’t worry.

00:04:55 Nick Breedon

00:04:56 Monica Rani Rudhar
Yeah. Even growing up, you know, my, my parents are both migrants. And art was not, yeah, it wasn’t a very well respected, job. It wasn’t a job opportunity that my parents thought I would thrive off. And always told me to think of, you know, be smart about what area I choose to study so that I can, yeah, survive. I think a lot of their lives was about survival and trying to support, their family. I actually remember a time in… In, in arts, in visual arts, actually in year 12, I, I’d gotten into, I was a year 11 maybe, I got into, it was like a fast track kind of extra unit that you can put onto your HSC and that was through NAS and I really wanted to do life drawing. And it, sorry, we backtracked, but yeah, I wanted to do life drawing and I, yeah, I’d gotten in, it was just one person that would get in and I was so lucky to have been chosen. And. I was 17 and I, yeah, told my parents and my parents are both very conservative and my mum and dad freaked out and they were like, no, we can’t, we can’t let you go and, and do this. This is, you shouldn’t be doing this. And what are you going to, what are you going to do with yourself? Like drawing naked people and I’m like, Oh, it was really, yeah, it was really hard because I, I felt like I had excelled just by being chosen by, by NAS and, it was the last day to have my, this form signed. They had to give permission for me to go and, they refused. And so I went back to my high school teacher, I knocked on the staff room door and in tears, I handed back the form and I said, can you give this opportunity to another classmate? So, so, you know, like, I think, I think I felt like I had a bit of resistance and when you feel So passionate about something and you have a bit of resistance, I guess you can go either way. Like you can kind of pack it, pack up that dream or you can push on. And I felt like I pushed on. So throughout uni I decided that, yeah, I didn’t want to do history in psychology anymore. I was, yeah, learning how to be a better listener to myself and, yeah, I did fine arts and did honours at UNSW Art and Design and, that was a while ago and took a, took a gap, took a bit of a, bit of time after uni, after I finished honors and I worked for a bit and I, yeah, I. I just needed some time to figure out what direction I wanted to go in. I think at art school you’re, you’re kind of, you know, responding to all these different assessment criterias and you’re trying to, yeah, produce work in this kind of very haphazard, like, trying to generate ideas and material. But yeah, the time away from. Uni, really made me think a lot about me and my family and what I wanted to do. So, so yeah, I only, the first work I made was in 2020 after finishing uni in 2017 and, yeah, I’m super happy that I took that time and, yeah, it, it gave me a new trajectory of. That has led me to where I am today, my practice about my family.

00:08:37 Kiera Brew Kurec
Do you mind elaborating on what you were doing in those times, in that, those years that you kind of took off between uni and starting making again? What was, were you working in the arts at that time?

00:08:49 Monica Rani Rudhar
Yeah. So while I was at university, I, volunteered at the MCA with, Hayden Fowler, who, had a work. In a show and it was a massive feat and we, yeah, he needed some, students, to help him. And, yeah, I was working alongside other install technicians and I was just like, wow, there’s other women in this industry. This is awesome. Thought it was very male dominated and it was very exciting. And I didn’t realize I was working with my boss at one point with the boss of like the head of install. We were in a scissor lift together and we’re figuring out, how to build this structure. And yeah, I just made a comment to her and I was just so stoked to even be there as a volunteer. And, yeah, after the show had gone up at the opening, she, She asked for my CV and yeah, I got the job there and it was pretty incredible and I felt so lucky. But I worked there, as a casual, installing, shows and also, yeah, learning up, learning a lot about that industry and building up my skillset.

00:10:01 Nick Breedon
Mm hmm. Would you say that your, your work, doing install really influenced the way that you work in your practice now in terms of skills or whatever else?

00:10:12 Monica Rani Rudhar
I think it’s given me a lot of, Yeah, it’s definitely broadened my, knowledge in different materials, and I guess practical in a practical sense, like how, how to fix sculptures to walls and, yeah, thinking a lot about how I make a work so that it can be hung or so it can. Look a certain way and it look polished. So, it’s definitely given me a lot of, yeah. To, I guess to see the behind the scenes has been really helpful. But yeah, I didn’t, I didn’t make any work during that time. I, I think I was just, yeah, working on myself and mm-hmm. , I think that’s something that is really important, you know, to, to take a bit of a break if you need that.

00:10:54 Nick Breedon
Yeah. Mm-hmm. ,

00:10:55 Kiera Brew Kurec
yeah. Especially I think if you’ve come straight from school into university to have some time to kind of find yourself beyond what it is just to be a student, within the institution. And then I think that informs your practice as much as being within the institution itself is having the time away.

00:11:17 Nick Breedon
Yeah, yeah, you touched a little bit on, the time that you had off and when you returned, kind of, your, your practice kind of became quite focused on your sort of family. Was there something in particular about that time away that really kind of clarified that for you or was that sort of a thread that was kind of running throughout your practice when you were a student?

00:11:37 Monica Rani Rudhar
It definitely was not a thread that ran, across my work when I was a student. My work was very different. I look back at that work and I kind of cringe a bit. Yeah. I think,

00:11:48 Nick Breedon
I think if you don’t cringe at your undergrad work, like you’re doing it wrong.

00:11:51 Kiera Brew Kurec

00:11:53 Monica Rani Rudhar
Yeah. But I, it was the first, the first work that I made was actually during lockdown. It was the first year of lockdown. And, Yeah, I was really, I remember sitting down, in the living room and, I think, yeah, we’re listening to the news about like the reports of like the numbers of cases and I had some star anise and some wire, star anise pods that we use in like biryanis, and yeah, lots of South Asian cooking and yeah, I started like making this kind of Like sculpture out of it and I was like, oh, this is kind of yeah I kind of missed home a bit and I missed like me and my mum and dad and the smells of their kitchen and I Yeah, I started to think about my family So it was during that that pause, but I’m sure you know I still needed all of that time, that, that time of like not making art, even though it was locked down, I think, yeah, that time before of not making was really important. But yeah, when I saw my family again, my parents again, that’s when. There was a conversation about my grandmother that came up that my dad was talking, my dad was talking about my grandmother and he started tearing up and I started tearing up and on the way home I was like, Oh, I remember, like, I remember a teacher saying at uni or someone’s, I can’t remember who it was. Yeah. Someone had said like, if that’s something that you. That makes you cry or like something that makes, brings up that sort of emotion. That’s the type of art that you need to be making. I’m like, Oh, like I really thought about my grandma and yeah, it was. That was a real turning point for me.

00:13:41 Kiera Brew Kurec
I have a bit of a funny question to ask.

00:13:43 Monica Rani Rudhar

00:13:45 Kiera Brew Kurec
Changing tones slightly. Has there ever been in your in store career a time when your skills, training as a first responder, or advanced responder has come in handy?

00:13:57 Monica Rani Rudhar
Yes. Yeah. At work, there’s been some incidents where someone’s injured themselves or I remember this one time, yeah, someone had like gone into their finger a bit with a Stanley knife. And yeah, I think having that, I guess, knowledge and also training to not feel like, to not feel scared, but to kind of go into this like very like logistic kind of, mindset of like, okay, what do I need to do? Yes, there have been, Some very, yeah, some quite hectic times. Yeah, even just at home, like my partner, he was like, he was, what was he doing?He was using a file or like one of those things they use for like lino cut, cutting like a,

00:14:46 Nick Breedon
like a box, like one of those,

00:14:47 Monica Rani Rudhar
you know, there’s like lino. You know, there’s like a lino, it’s got like a V shape and that goes into, I don’t know what they’re called, but he was using that on like, yeah, wood and it went straight into his like, his like thumb, like that under that muscle under your thumb. And it was like, yeah, it was like spurting blood and I was like, Oh no. And I was like, okay, I know what to do. And yeah. Kind of like helped him with that. He went like white and I was like, you need to lie down. You’re going to faint. Yeah. And yeah, so it’s been helpful, I guess. Yeah. I mean, look at home at work.It’s definitely

00:15:26 Nick Breedon
good skills to have first aid skills.

00:15:28 Kiera Brew Kurec
Yeah. Definitely in an install environment, very important.

00:15:33 Monica Rani Rudhar
Yeah. And it’s also really good to be around other trained first aiders, because normally it’s just me. And so, you know, if I go down or something happens to me, it’s kind of nice to have someone else there, like that time that Kiera pulled that monster of a splinter out of my thumb.

00:15:51 Kiera Brew Kurec
Oh, I forgot about that.

00:15:53 Monica Rani Rudhar
Last year. I was installing it at Firstdraft and Kiera, I was like holding a bit of wood and. I was like, Oh no, I’ve got a splinter, but I can’t move my, like it was in my joint of like my thumb. And I was like, Oh no, Kiera, I’ve got a splinter, do you mind, do you mind taking it out? I couldn’t take it out. It was so painful.

00:16:14 Nick Breedon
It’s like me every other week.

00:16:15 Kiera Brew Kurec
I had completely forgot about that. Yeah. That is something I have thought about a lot of like when you’re the only first aid responder, what happens if you’re the one that it happens to, but, also good on an in store situation to have multiple people.

00:16:29 Nick Breedon
Just, thinking back, Kiera to what do you do when there’s no one there? I’ve definitely had to do the first aid on myself when it’s like, Oh no, I hurt my hand and I only have one hand to fix my hand and call someone else for help. Not ideal. Don’t work alone.

00:16:44 Monica Rani Rudhar
Yeah, always have a friend.

00:16:45 Kiera Brew Kurec
Mm. Listen to us all.

00:16:49 Nick Breedon
Yes. You are really good at getting splinters out.

00:16:53 Kiera Brew Kurec
Thank you.

00:16:53 Nick Breedon
This splinter.

00:16:54 Kiera Brew Kurec
It was massive.

00:16:55 Monica Rani Rudhar
Was big.

00:16:56 Nick Breedon
I don’t know. I think that one you pulled out of my thumb was bigger.

00:16:59 Kiera Brew Kurec
No, no, no. I remember.

00:17:00 Nick Breedon
Mine was metal though.

00:17:01 Kiera Brew Kurec
This was, this was half a tree.

00:17:03 Monica Rani Rudhar
Was it three centimetres? Yeah. I think it was three centimetres. ‘

00:17:06 Kiera Brew Kurec
It was really thick as well, like Monica couldn’t move her thumb.

00:17:09 Monica Rani Rudhar
I couldn’t move my thumb.

00:17:10 Nick Breedon
Oh, gross.

00:17:10 Monica Rani Rudhar
It was through, I went through something. Something wrong.

00:17:13 Nick Breedon
Is it better now?

00:17:13 Monica Rani Rudhar
Yeah, it’s fine.

00:17:14 Nick Breedon
Okay. Mine was in there for a few weeks, I think. Sorry, I’m trying to have a splinter off with you, I, yes, I can see that you, your splinter was more ridiculous than mine.

00:17:30 We won’t put that in, but I, I was going to say, there’s nothing quite like, doing install to make you learn how to make sculptures backwards. Yeah. Or like. With the end in mind, you like start and you’re like, how am I going to put this on the wall? And you start with that as like, you design, you know, the rest.

00:17:48 Kiera Brew Kurec
Yeah. I think, I think we should leave this in. I think it’s really important because a lot of people have an idea and they make it or they don’t know how to make it, but it. It defies any kind of…

00:18:02 Nick Breedon
Skyhooks. That’s what we call them in the workshop. It’s all the students come in and they’re like, Oh, you know, I want a thing and it’s suspended from the air. And we’re like, how? Yeah. Classic. Yeah. I think it’s, it’s like, it’s the, probably the first thing, you know, you’ll do all of your undergrad and then you get to like your first exhibition that you ever have. And you go. Sorry. Doesn’t really translate to audio. I’m doing wide eyes right now. It’s just like, how am I meant to get this on the wall? If you don’t, if you do anything beyond like, you know, painting with some D hooks, even some painters, you know, sometimes you’re like, how did we just like, do I put nails in the back of the painting or like how?

00:18:43 Monica Rani Rudhar
It’s such a last minute thing as well. Like if you haven’t thought about it.

00:18:48 Nick Breedon
And it’s sometimes it’s the hardest part.

00:18:50 Kiera Brew Kurec
Yeah. Yeah. And I think we’re probably all, three of us in the room right now, other people that go to a show and, after looking at the work briefly go and look behind.

00:18:59 Nick Breedon
Literally squeezing our faces up against the wall.

00:19:01 Monica Rani Rudhar
Or just like, maybe that’s the first thing you look at as well. You’re like, Oh, how is that?

00:19:04 Kiera Brew Kurec
Yeah. So clean. Yeah. That’s nice. What did they do back?

00:19:08 Nick Breedon
Yeah. I hope everyone knows that like when I tell them it’s a nice install, like. That’s a sincere compliment from me. That’s not like, you know, I hate your work and it sucks. It’s like, no, really nice install. Monica, would you mind, going over some of what the biggest challenges in your career have been to date?

00:19:28 Monica Rani Rudhar
Wow. Look, it’s early days, I feel, but in the time that I have been practicing, I think confidence and self doubt. I think there have been some big challenges and big barriers for me. Yeah, I think, I mean, look, I actually think everyone struggles with it. But I think, yeah, trusting that this, yeah, doubt, I guess like, yeah, doubting that if this is right for me, is, is art really right for me?

00:20:00 Nick Breedon
Yeah, I think like imposter syndrome is definitely. You know, it’s probably why we even started this podcast, because it does seem to affect everyone. I don’t think anybody’s really escaped from imposter syndrome in their career, ever.

00:20:16 Monica Rani Rudhar
Mm. No, I think it comes back. Yeah, it might, it might go, but then it might come back and, yeah, I think, I think, yeah, seeing how, I mean, I just felt like it was so unattainable to be an artist, you know, I think when I was at uni, yeah, it was, I was like, wow, like, what do you have to do to get there? Like it’s, yeah, I think, I mean, I just didn’t, I just didn’t really know at that time, but, but I mean, even now, I guess. When you’re making a work, I think, and when you’re stressed and when you’re, you’ve got a deadline, you know, you do move through those, those valleys, and those like those hills and valleys of like, Oh my gosh, like, what am I doing? Is this right? Is this even good? Should I maybe not show it? Like, you know, I think I really. I really struggle in those, like, in those moments where having doubts, I think they can be your, you can, yeah, you can be your biggest like critic and, and, so yeah, I think that’s been challenging. Another thing that’s been challenging is a lot of my practice is, Is a lot to do with gathering stories and, histories of family. And, I don’t speak, I don’t speak either of the languages of my family. And that’s been a really big barrier. So, yeah, I don’t speak Hindi or Punjabi or Romanian and there’s just so much more, there’s so, there’s just so much more material that I just don’t have access to. So that’s been quite challenging and I’m like, Oh, maybe I just have to learn one language. Like I’m just going to have to choose one. So yeah, we’ll see. Watch his face. Yeah, I think I went to a, I went to my cousin’s wedding last year. And I met, an auntie who’s like, who’s like such a, like matriarch and she’s like the eldest auntie and all I could do was just like hug her and like smile, but deep down I wanted to ask her so many things and I wanted to say so many things and yeah, it was kind of crushing, because this person feels so close cause they’re your family, but at the same time they feel so far away, so. Yeah, I guess that’s been a barrier, the language barrier, to my practice because a lot of that stuff informs my practice, a lot of the stories, so yeah, I might have to pick up another language.

00:22:55 Nick Breedon
Just on the, your kind of confidence, is it, has there been anything that, you felt has kind of helped you kind of get through that or has it just been a process of just like, you just keep, got to keep going, you just got to keep practicing, you just got to like, you know, be afraid and just do it anyway.

00:23:11 Monica Rani Rudhar
I think a lot of that was overcome by the encouragement that I was receiving, especially from, other, others who were going through the same questions that I was asking about family, about, you know, lineage, about healing, that were kind of going through their archives and how, I guess how incredible that process is and how meaningful that is. And so when I, when I made my first work about my family, I was very, very nervous and, and it was so personal. It was the first thing I’d made about my family and I received, yeah, so many, I had so many great conversations with people who were also, asking those same questions and I found that to be something that gave me some confidence and also gave me, I guess helped me feel like I was on the right track as well. It felt right and it felt, important and I felt, yeah, I felt like I was doing. Yeah. It felt like I was being true to myself and yeah, it felt like I was on the right track, I guess. Yeah, it was really nice to have that encouragement and people around you to support you. I guess a community of people is really important.

00:24:29 Kiera Brew Kurec
Monica, do you mind sharing, what a successful practice means to you?

00:24:34 Monica Rani Rudhar
Hmm. Yes. I guess a successful practice looks like, a practice that has longevity, something that I guess continues, yeah, that, I guess is able to withstand the ebbs and flows of the art world of, not getting opportunities of getting opportunities of getting funding and not, I think that’s, a successful practice. And yeah, I think maybe there’s different ways that we can quantify that. You know, maybe it’s by how many shows you have, maybe it’s how much you sell. I don’t really. I guess when I started making, I, I guess talking about my family and things that were really personal. I felt like, yeah, a lot of the work that I make involve a lot of conversations with my family. So I have to ask my dad, like, Oh dad, like what happened with those earrings that you bought mum? Or like, why did, you know, why did this happen? Can you ring, my poor, my auntie? To ask her, you know, what had happened to the earrings. And I guess like I end up, I end up getting a lot of, into like a lot of family members talking to each other and there’s a lot of, yeah, conversation. And, I guess, it feels like I’m involving my family and it becomes this very collaborative like process and for me, that’s very fulfilling. It feels like I’m like kind of creating more links and, you know, just opening up a conversation about a certain time. Like for example, I wanted to, this work that I made was, about my grandmother, a song that my grandmother sang, as a prayer every morning, and I asked my dad, like, do you remember this song? And he said, No, I can’t remember it. I was too young, but I remember there was a song that she sang. I was like, okay. I was like, do you mind, do you mind ringing, in America? He’s like, okay, maybe, maybe she’ll know. Cause he was the oldest auntie and, he rang her and she said she can just remember it just, and she said, give me some time. And I’ll see what I can, like, see if I can, like, recall all of it. And so, yeah, and, and also like my dad had to explain like what it was for. So my dad was like, Oh, cause yeah, Naresh Bhua like, well, you know, what’s going on? And so, he was like, Oh, so Monica’s doing an art project and, you know, like it’s doing a video work. And, so she’s like, yeah. So she was like aware of what was happening. So, so she ended up remembering the song and she called my dad and this wasn’t to my knowledge. She called up my dad and she sang it to him and he cried on the phone and he said to her, well, this is what he told me. He said, like, he hadn’t heard that song since he was really young, so You know, that was also a very healing, moment for both of them, you know, like, like that was like really special for both of them. And it was just because like, I wanted to create this video work. So I feel like there’s this going back to your question, sorry, like, yeah, I feel like I guess selling work, money or like the number of shows, is just like a bonus to making. For me, it’s so special to kind of tie those, I guess, like strengthen those ties that I have with family members.

00:28:23 Kiera Brew Kurec
In this process have,

00:28:25 Nick Breedon
make me cry,

00:28:26 Monica Rani Rudhar

00:28:27 Kiera Brew Kurec
have your parents come around to the fact that you’re an artist now and see the richness that it can bring to your life

00:28:37 Nick Breedon
and their lives?

00:28:39 Monica Rani Rudhar
Yeah, yeah, yeah, They have. They have. Yeah, I think they have been really supportive. Even from when I had my first show, I think it was actually when I started making work about my family that they were like, Oh, Oh, this is, this is about us. Scary, but also like exciting and special. And I think they, I think they were, I think they were excited about. My interest as well, like I think, yeah, it’s very easy to just be like, Oh yeah, like don’t know much about my family. So I’m just going to, you know, go on with my life and you know, that’s, you know, some people do that and that’s, that’s okay. But yeah, I guess I had this yearning, and so it was really funny actually, like I made these really big, Terracotta earrings and, for Casula, last year and I was FaceTiming my dad, and like keeping him updated with what was going on and he would call me and ask how I was and I’d, I’d say, Oh, I’m really, really, really busy. And I’d show him what I was doing and then I was trying to explain this work to him and I guess he just didn’t really understand, like my mum and dad just didn’t really understand how big these are going to be. I was like, Oh, well, they’re up at Casula, like let’s go together. And this is something really special that I like to do with my parents. Like I don’t really invite them to openings because I feel like I can’t, spend much time with them. And yeah, I kind of, we kind of go together and we make a day out of it. And, but they came to Casula and my dad saw them and he was like, wow, these were so much better than I thought. I was like, thanks dad.

00:30:22 Nick Breedon
It’s like the best.

00:30:25 Monica Rani Rudhar
Yeah. But it was like, yeah, they were just really, yeah, really excited, really happy. And I feel, yeah, I really do feel their support now.

00:30:33 Nick Breedon
Just on your, your, your family and your kind of like going into the arts and, and then maybe not being, you know. I, I relate to that very much and I think it’s really interesting when, I think like for, you know, obviously we both have a very different background, but my, my family, I think, Me, me going to pursue like a career in art was sort of like this, almost like this turning away from, from them and their background and like what they know, which is very like working class. And you know, going off to be an artist feels sort of like almost like you’re shunning, like they’re, they’re kind of like, you know, like their kind of history and, and, and sort of like our family’s kind of like lineage and I think yeah, there is this kind of nice moment when you, when you do kind of like turn it back around on them and they’re like, Oh. Oh, okay, cool. Like you don’t, you don’t, you’re not interested, you’re not not interested in us. Like this isn’t you like running off to kind of like go be someone else and, and be like to, to turn your back on who you are and where you’ve been and, where you’re from. It’s actually like, you know, this way of almost like transferring that and then, you know. Mining the depths of, you know, your, your family history to kind of like make something from that. But, but you know, jokes aside, like, yeah, you’re not, you’re not turning your back on them and reinvent yourself or something else.

00:31:55 Monica Rani Rudhar
Well they might’ve felt that way though, like it might’ve felt like a rebellious act

00:31:59 Nick Breedon

00:31:59 Monica Rani Rudhar
to go off and go to art school, you know, especially, you know, after not getting that form signed with, you know, yeah. I think it kind of came full circle.

00:32:12 Nick Breedon
Yeah, it does. I hope you, I hope you did end up, eventually, taking some, life drawing classes in the end.

00:32:19 Monica Rani Rudhar
I haven’t. I need to still. Yeah. I might bring my parents along.

00:32:24 Nick Breedon
You’ll be scandalized. You’ll be like, Oh my God, they were right. They’re really nude.

00:32:30 Monica Rani Rudhar
I honestly feel like I’ve forgotten how to draw since then, which it sucks. Like I actually stopped drawing. Like I,

00:32:36 Nick Breedon
we all did.

00:32:37 Monica Rani Rudhar
Yeah. Yeah. And. I need a, yeah, I’d like to get back to that.

00:32:41 Nick Breedon
I have notes app now. That’s all.

00:32:43 Kiera Brew Kurec
Yeah. I sometimes am like, I wish I had like one day a week, which was kind of like. I’m doing quotes, like quote unquote art school, where it’s like life drawing, maybe an elective and maybe a bit of history and like, wouldn’t that be nice, a little refresher,

00:32:59 Monica Rani Rudhar
just a refresher. What happened in the art, you know, in the history of art.

00:33:03 Nick Breedon
We just cram that in when we’re researching a new work, like we do a speed run of that for two weeks.

00:33:08 Kiera Brew Kurec
But imagine having that once a week,

00:33:12 Nick Breedon
good luck finding the time.

00:33:14 Monica Rani Rudhar

00:33:15 Nick Breedon
If you could design your sort of ideal. You know, art, practice, studio, day, what would that look like from, you know, waking up in the morning to going to bed at night?

00:33:29 Monica Rani Rudhar
It’s far from my reality, let me tell you, it’s so far from it.

00:33:34 Nick Breedon
All right, maybe you can do a bit of compare and contrast.

00:33:37 Monica Rani Rudhar
Oh my gosh. Well, at the moment I’m working full time, which is challenging to say the least. Although my job is very, I’m a install technician at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. I’m a senior installer there. And whilst that job is amazing and incredible, and I still pinch myself that I’m there. It is very hard to balance, yes, work and art and wow, an ideal. It’s, I’m not going to give myself much cause an ideal thing for me right now would just be working four days. But I think ideally. It would be nice to have dedicated time to, to art, to have, I think, yeah, all right. I’m going to make something up to give you a concrete answer. Yeah. All right. So I’m thinking like still having a job, I guess, because I’m a bit of a, I’d like to have a bit of a safety net. So maybe be a part time, three days, two days, depending on where I am with my art. But. You know, three days could be great. And then yeah, two days dedicated to emails, planning, grant writing applications. I think that would be incredible. Maybe, I think some artists do that now and it’s, yeah, I’m so, so jealous, but I think, yeah, I’ll have to, we’ll see where the future takes me, but I’d like to make those adjustments. Just to make it a bit more manageable, because, you know, the work life balance is, it’s challenging.

00:35:27 Nick Breedon
And so what, what is your studio, like, when are you, I mean, you, you’re making work, like you’re, you’re obviously having shows, you’re managing to have shows, despite working full time. When are you, kind of fitting in your, cause you, you, you have a very practical kind of hands on, material based practice. Like when are you fitting?

00:35:45 Monica Rani Rudhar
Yeah, I, yeah, I look, I am very, I am very grateful because I have very supportive, a very supportive boss at work. Who, and, and manager, who allow you know, time off when I need it. And I, I do have to be very upfront with them and let them know when I have shows and, they’re very supportive and I, I don’t think I would still be there if, if I didn’t have that support, and yeah, I let them know when I need time off and they’re like, yep, do what you need to do. So, but then again, I can’t always have time off. So I am working, after work, I’ll, I’ll come home, my studio is at home, Me and my partner, we’re both artists, so we’ve taken up, both bedrooms, the two, we’ve got a two bedroom place and we’ve moved our bedroom into the living room.So art has taken priority and, we’ve taken the dining table out. It’s now in my studio.

00:36:41 Nick Breedon
Who needs to eat when you, when you have art to make?

00:36:43 Monica Rani Rudhar
Like, look, you can sit down and eat. Like we’ve got a coffee table, yeah. It’s just, it’s been really great to have my own space, at home and yeah, so I’m working, in the studio after work, sometimes quite late into the night, depending on the deadline that I have. My weekends, also very crammed with making and or art shows. I think it’s, I think it’s still important to, yeah, still be engaged. Sometimes I do turn into a hermit, but, yeah, that’s, I guess that happens.

00:37:16 Nick Breedon
I don’t think anyone’s seen me for the last two years.

00:37:20 Monica Rani Rudhar
Yeah. Oh yeah. It’s hard. But I think that’s something I need to work on. I think that’s, my work life balance is. Sometimes it’d be out of whack and I do feel that and I feel the repercussions, you know, your body is only so strong There’s only so much coffee you can drink until you start feeling like you’ve made a big mistake

00:37:43 Nick Breedon
Yeah, I guess that comes back to that that idea of longevity that you’re You know aspiring to have in your practice that you know You know as an artist is this still kind of fairly early on in your career, it’s like, you know, you do get to that point where you You, you test that limit and see how far it will go. And I think, I think nearly all artists have probably had this experience where they’ve really just kept pushing that and pushing that and just seeing just how far they can take it. And then they burn out.

00:38:15 Monica Rani Rudhar
Yeah. Cause you can take it far for a bit of time.

00:38:19 Nick Breedon
Oh yeah.

00:38:20 Monica Rani Rudhar
But then you start going.

00:38:21 Nick Breedon
Yeah. Years and years. And then you, yeah. And then it.

00:38:24 Kiera Brew Kurec
Well also I know how late. Both of you stay up and that’s,

00:38:30 Monica Rani Rudhar
well, how early you wake up. Yeah.

00:38:33 Nick Breedon
Why not have both?

00:38:35 Kiera Brew Kurec
It’s not sustainable guys.

00:38:36 Monica Rani Rudhar
It really is not.

00:38:38 Nick Breedon
It really isn’t. It really isn’t. It’s the worst.

00:38:41 Monica Rani Rudhar
Yeah. I’m getting told off.

00:38:45 Kiera Brew Kurec
Yeah, you are.

00:38:48 Monica Rani Rudhar
No, it’s true. It’s true. Yeah. It’s also risky to, to make change as well. Like you’re like, Oh, do I step away? Like at what point do I step away from work?

00:38:59 Nick Breedon
That’s the thing is like, you know, I think that’s why so many people, they do hit that, that breaking point because you don’t know, you know, you don’t know where it is until it, until you break, you know? So I think sadly, a lot of us. Did kind of, you know, I’m sure there’s some parable that is great with that, you know, it’s like you, you really push the limit until you realize what your limits are and then you, and then you take a step back and kind of realize, you know, so hopefully, you know, in the future you realize when you’re kind of getting close to that, that kind of cliff edge and don’t jump over it willingly anyway.

00:39:36 Kiera Brew Kurec
But. Also, stay, this is now me telling you both off, but when people tell you to step away, step away because the recovery from burnout or injury is long and it’s going to impact you for the rest of your life and it’s just not worth it. Like, I think we all as artists put so much pressure on ourselves to deliver the best that we can, but we also put so much pressure on ourselves because opportunities are scarce to make the most of things. But it’s just not worth it. Like we are constantly delivering more and overcommitting ourselves, than what is actually required or feasible and it’s okay to say no to things. And it’s also to good and important to like prioritize your health and your sleep and your relationships, because they’re, that’s, what’s going to be there at the end of the day, not a show at a space where a few people might turn up or, you know.

00:40:42 Nick Breedon
And I’m, I’m fairly certain that one of our other guests this season did, specify that if you are paid 500, you should be producing a 500 show, et cetera, et cetera. We’re all guilty of. Yeah. Completely crossing that boundary.

00:40:58 Kiera Brew Kurec
And then overworking jobs to pay for our practice.

00:41:02 Nick Breedon
Absolutely. You know, it is, it is a really stick, you know, it’s a sticking point for me that, you know, and I do appreciate, obviously arts workers are really, really not paid enough money, but when an arts worker tells me that they, that they are not paid well enough for the work that they do, I do agree wholeheartedly. But when I point out that. I actually have another job to pay for me to be able to make art so that you can show it so that you have a job. Yeah. I get a little incensed when that happens, I’ve got to admit, but yeah, it’s, it’s a really, it’s a really, really tough, boundary. I think that we’re all skirting because resources aren’t, you know, an opportunity isn’t scarce. It is. It’s just inequitable. It’s not distributed. Yeah. Equally. Yeah.

00:42:00 Kiera Brew Kurec
Yeah. And the people that can afford those things are the people that are privileged enough to have support systems around them, finances, all of those things that make it easier for them to make work.

00:42:12 Monica Rani Rudhar
Yeah. I think, I think something that I’ve learned recently is, you know, if you’ve got certain amount of shows on in a year, you choose the ones that you’ll put more work into, you know, depending or it’s not even it still has the same effect like just because you put More hours into a show doesn’t mean it’s gonna be better than a show that you put, you know Less time into like

00:42:40 Nick Breedon
I think that’s I think that comes back to that thing of um Pushing that limit and that and that boundary and why we so willfully will go over it because it’s not even it’s not even for You know XYZ show person, you know exhibition it’s for us And I think that’s why we keep transgressing it is because we want to, we want to know that we, we did everything in our power to make it as good as we could. Because the art in the end, it is, you know, often for us, it’s, it’s fulfilling something, a drive within us to make something that can be a certain way.

00:43:17 Monica Rani Rudhar
Monica, what have been some of the biggest resources that have assisted you in your practice? I guess I’m very grateful for my community. Of friends and artists, artists, friends, they’re all, yeah, very, it’s been very important to build a supportive, like minded group of people, who are going to cheer for you. And you know, you’re going to cheer for them as well. Like it’s a circular economy, where, you know, you’re. You’re each other’s biggest fans, and I’m very grateful, and that, that takes years to, to develop, and to build, you know, if you, especially, you know, I’m, I’m lucky that I’ve just, I’ve grown up in Sydney, I’ve lived in Sydney, I went to art school in Sydney, so, you know, I’ve got these kind of, the time, I’ve, I’ve had the, the, the time to develop these relationships, But I am very grateful for, you know, being able to message a friend who’s also an artist, and ask them like, oh, hey, I’ve got this idea. But I just need to talk about it. Like, do you have a moment? And they’ll be like, yep. And, you know, the same thing I offer them, you know, if someone has, one of my friends needs a hand with an artwork, they’ll reach out or,

00:44:41 Nick Breedon
yeah, you’re a, you’re a good friend to have first aid and,

00:44:47 Monica Rani Rudhar
but yeah, and also having like assistance with some of the work that I make is quite labor intensive and, having people that are willing to, yeah, help. That’s been. Such a big help in the most crunchiest of times. Thank you, Kiera

00:45:04 Kiera Brew Kurec

00:45:04 Nick Breedon
So helpful having unemployed friends.

00:45:07 Monica Rani Rudhar
Yeah. So I guess that’s been really, really important for my practice, having that encouragement and the belief, you know, I think you, you, having people believe in you is so important. Yeah, it’ll, it’ll carry you, and having that, you know, shone back at them when they need that. But I guess like other things that have helped, been helpful is, the thing that comes to mind is being a member of Killin It, which is a ceramics, organization that runs out of Glebe, and I’ve been a member with them for a while, and they’re just offering, they offer firing services, and studios, so. Yeah, I’ve, I joined them and I get my stuff fired from them, but also they offer, master classes and training and, well, yeah, classes so you can, you pay for them and, you know, hand building classes. And I did a class, with an artist there, and yeah, that was really, really helpful in understanding the clay body. Because I didn’t do, I didn’t actually do ceramics at university. I did sculpture performance installation. So, and I did a bit of wheel throwing, but I still had holes in my knowledge. So going, going to them and, and also just them having these available classes. We were talking before about how important it is to like, you know, learning new skills or like refining the ones you have. And it’s really, yeah, they’ve been really great. And I’d encourage anyone who, yeah, wanted to know how to hand build and isn’t going like, don’t have any, aren’t a student at university. I think. When you leave university, it’s like, Oh, I want to learn how to do this. And like, where, where do I do that now? So, you know, having places like that, yeah, that’s been really helpful for me.

00:47:10 Nick Breedon
It can be so, difficult when you kind of, you know, become sort of untethered sort of from the university, like. You’re like, where, where do I, like, where’s that person that knows all of this information? It’s so, yeah. Having, having kind of left, you know, and spent like 10 years away from the university and now kind of coming back to it. It’s like, oh yeah. It’s so amazing having access to people’s brains, you know, like, and you, and that’s the amazing thing about the university. It’s not even like, I mean, all of this, the resources and the spaces and everything is so amazing. But it’s like, it’s the people’s brains that you can like corner them and pick their brain and they, you know, and they, and they want to share it with you, like they have an interest in it. And it’s like. It’s something that lights them up, like all the technicians, you know, like they’re super, super interested. I don’t just sound like I’m making an ad for myself right now, but it’s, it’s, it’s, you know, it’s big, it’s genuinely because those people are really passionate about that thing. So it’s like super interesting talking, you know, and they’re interested in talking to you about it. Cause you know. They get to kind of like, you know, share something that they find

00:48:17 Kiera Brew Kurec
to counter that though, you know, within the university, you’re going to have staff that have obviously expertise and specialize in certain areas, but there are so many people who are outside of like, quote unquote, the arts who have like masters in certain crafts and, and, makers and engineers. And, and often you can find them through these classes, like community classes. They’re incredible and they are so willing to share their knowledge with you and their skills and their spaces. And yeah, sure. You’ll have to pay some money normally, but, it’s. It’s incredible to be able to access a lifetime’s worth of knowledge, and also outside of the constraints of the university as well. It’s, it, it doesn’t have those same conditions to it.

00:49:07 Monica Rani Rudhar
That’s true.

00:49:08 Nick Breedon
Yeah. So the kilinit, is it, is it, so the membership kind of program, is that like a…

00:49:14 Monica Rani Rudhar
So anyone can join. Yeah. You do pay a fee.

00:49:17 Nick Breedon
Mm hmm. Do you get like a discount on certain things or it’s just to like access the kind of space?

00:49:21 Monica Rani Rudhar
It’s to access the space. Then you can, then you have to pay if you want to use communal space and it’s like three hours or I think they’ve got wheels there. They have, yeah, a communal hand building space, and some kilns. So they fire earthenware, stoneware, different, a range of kilns and you can, there’s communal firing, so you can just pay for like one little cup. If you want to fire a little cup that you’ve made, just pay for that. It’s five bucks or something. I’m not getting any royalties from them, so you know, but

00:49:54 Nick Breedon
unsponsored. Yes. Yeah, that’s, that’s, that’s fantastic. Thanks for sharing. So if you, if you, it seems like you had this kind of sliding doors moment when you, you know, you were like, Oh, I’m going to be become a paramedic or an artist.

00:50:12 Monica Rani Rudhar
I know they’re so different.

00:50:14 Nick Breedon
Yeah, totally. If you could go, you know, if you could go back to that little moment in time where you just sort of decided to kind of split and go into the arts, like, what, what, like, what do you think you would have really needed or wanted to hear at that, at that time? Like, what could you go back and tell yourself that would, you know, kind of really change your, the way you were feeling and your apprehension that you had at that, that moment?

00:50:37 Monica Rani Rudhar
The thing that I’ll tell myself is, listen to yourself. Listen to… What your soul, like, is craving or what your, I mean, it sounds really sad, but like, you know, talk about the things that are making you cry and don’t be scared. And I think in my undergrad, I remember my first year work, the very, very first work I made was about my dad. And It was like a really beautiful work, and then I just like stopped, I just stopped making work about that. I was like, Oh, maybe it’s just too, like everyone was like, experimenting with like materials and like making these cool, like plaster things. And I was like, Oh, I kind of want to do that. Like that looks fun. And I mean, it’s good to experiment, but I think I got scared, talking about things that were so personal, which is, you know, it is scary. It takes time to talk about those things. Yeah, I think I tell myself not to be too doubting. I tell myself to take my time. I think, I think I put a lot of pressure on myself. And, yeah, that’s a hard thing to admit, isn’t it? I think we all, I think a lot of us do, we put a lot of pressure, but taking your time is really important because it helps you make good art.

00:51:53 Kiera Brew Kurec
Thanks so much Monica for coming in.

00:51:55 Nick Breedon
Thanks for joining us today.

00:51:56 Monica Rani Rudhar
Thank you for having me. It’s been so great chatting with you both.

00:52:01 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.

00:52:25 Kiera Brew Kurec
This season of ProPrac was generously supported by the Australia Council for the Arts New Project Grant.

00:52:33 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 @propracpodcast or send us an email at