Season Two – Sarah Werkmeister

Sarah Werkmeister

Season 2 – Episode 6


Instagram handle @sarahwsarahw

Contemporary Australian Indigenous Art –
Cultural protocols:


Nick Breedon 0:00
Hi, I’m Nick Breedon,

Kiera Brew Kurec 0:01
and I’m Kiera Brew Kurec

Nick Breedon 0:03
and you’re listening to Pro Prac,

Kiera Brew Kurec 0:04
a podcast where we explore the professional practice of artists and hear their stories. Today’s episode, we’re speaking with Sarah Werkmeister

Nick Breedon 0:13
Sarah Werkmeister is a freelance writer, editor, researcher, broadcaster and curated based in Melbourne.

Kiera Brew Kurec 0:21
Thanks very much for joining us today. Sarah,

Sarah Werkmeister 0:23
thank you for having me.

Kiera Brew Kurec 0:24
So let’s start off by asking you, how did you get to where you are today?

Sarah Werkmeister 0:30
That’s a really big question because I could start from birth but

Kiera Brew Kurec 0:33
You are welcome to

Sarah Werkmeister 0:35
well, my Mum….. (Laughter). My parents are both artistic. So my Mum’s like a traditional sculptor. And my Dad was a carpenter and a folk painter. And then I was known as the weird kid at school, because my parents are also Austrian. And I used to have liverwurst and gerkin sandwiches. So It was like, I was the weird kid at school. And like, kind of fell into like, hiding in art and reading and books and everything to do to escape being the weird kid. And yeah, but my Mum never took us to the galleries, which is I realized that when I went to uni at University of Melbourne, like the teacher had asked our first experience with an art gallery. And I’m like, I don’t remember my Mum taking me to an art gallery. But there was always art in my life. And we had like, all the classic artists, those, you know, those old school like encyclopedia, artists books. Yeah, so poring over those, and being like, Oh My God This is really sophisticated. Yeah, I can be an artist. Yeah. Anyway. I was a math whiz when I was a teenager. And I’ve got a scholarship for math at this private school in Brisbane. And I stayed there till grade 10. And then I get hit by a car. And lost my memory. Um, and then I ended up going to a public school after that. And I was better at English. For some reason, although I apparently always read. But yeah, that’s why I can’t remember going to an art gallery either really. I mean, maybe mom did take me, but I don’t remember.

Kiera Brew Kurec 2:31
Did you lose your memory for like all of it? Or was it just for a particular period of time?

Sarah Werkmeister 2:36
While I was in hospital for like, a couple of months, and like that had to do memory exercises. And remember cheating, so I could get the fuck out of hospital. I don’t remember the car hitting me. I don’t remember anything like traumatic or anything.

Kiera Brew Kurec 2:54

Sarah Werkmeister 2:54
It’s pretty crazy. But yeah, The way I cheated was like you had this piece of paper. And you had to draw a really elaborate shape. And then on the next page, you had to draw the same elaborate shape. So I just press really hard. Yes. It’s lik as if a kid is not going to do that to get out of hospital. (Laughter)

Nick Breedon 3:13
Maybe they figure that you’re probably not going to try and cheat to get out of rehab.

Sarah Werkmeister 3:22
Like dont give me a clown don’t send me your clowns. Um, anyway, I got out of hospital. But then I went to this like other school, and ended up being really good at English and still took art for some reason I fluked my grade 12 theory exam, which they never told us theory at high school.

Nick Breedon 3:43
and then they gave you an exam on it.

Sarah Werkmeister 3:45
Yeah A plus. Yeah, it was like,

Nick Breedon 3:49
amazing. What do you remember what the like the assignment was?

Sarah Werkmeister 3:52
It wasn’t an assignment. It was an exam on colonial Australian art, but it was really like old colonial paintings.

Nick Breedon 4:03
Sorry, you can’t hear the roll through the podcast.

Sarah Werkmeister 4:07
Anyway, old colonial painting. I coincidentally went to the same high school as Natty Solo we both had the same English teacher that we both hated. Yeah. And like 10 years apart. And that kind of I think we have this theory together that like she kind of fueled our like, want to write and be like, Fuck you. We’re fucking great writers and we can fuck shit up. Also, because we’re from Queensland.

Kiera Brew Kurec 4:36
I had an English teacher that was not a very good English teacher. And I really struggled with writing when I was younger, but then I wrote this essay and I think because I was really passionate about what I was finally writing about. She didn’t think that I had written it and accused me of this is in here. 10 or 11 plagiarism. It really fueled something me about like, I’m going to prove you wrong that I can actually write an essay. And yeah, I still like when I was writing my master’s thesis, like, had her voice in the back of my head. And I was like, oh,

Nick Breedon 5:14
nobody’s brought up rage as a resource yet, but

Sarah Werkmeister 5:16
Oh Rage is the best rescource especially when you don’t like push it on other people. Like, yeah, push it to something productive,

Kiera Brew Kurec 5:23
totally as a motivator. So you went to the school had a terrible English teacher?

Nick Breedon 5:30
Lost your memory,

Sarah Werkmeister 5:32
lost my memory.

Unknown Speaker 5:32
What happened next?

Sarah Werkmeister 5:34
and because the school was so bad as well, and I’ve kind of lost interest in going to school because like, I don’t know, I, when I was 15, I started working at Radio four tripple Z which is a community radio station in Brisbane. And it’s really fun and like, lots of friends, and you could still have dialogue and meaningful conversations with people and do real work. I mean, academic work is real work to. But you know, I felt like more practice it was more practical thing. So I ended up like, skipping out on school a lot. Going to lots of gigs I used to put on gigs when I was a kid, huh. Like I put on two festivals. One was called Zed nation. I can’t remember what the other one was called. And I did zines as well as at the New Castle. I had a really good friend actually, who curated the national young Writers Festival one. Yeah, well, part of it. And she put me on the same panel when I was 15. I met all these amazing people. Like I got a grant from an arts Queensland to go to Newcastle, like slept on the train on the way to Sydney, like my first trip. All those opportunities. were way more meaningful to me than going to school where the education was actually not so good. Like it was it was one of the lowest ranking schools in Queensland. I ended up getting a really bad QCor karma the name of it was like an OP. It is an OP

Nick Breedon 7:07
Was that your like your enter score?

Sarah Werkmeister 7:09
Yeah. Got a really bad grade. And then I went to TAFE and did a diploma of visual arts, arts craft and Community Arts.

Kiera Brew Kurec 7:24
Did you know that you were kind of interested in going down that avenue while you’re in your . final years of high school.

Sarah Werkmeister 7:30
Yeah. I mean, and they taught artt theory as well, which was like actually beneficial.

Nick Breedon 7:35
Yeah. That’s great. Were your teachers good at TAFE

Sarah Werkmeister 7:39
Oh, they were really good. And they were very encouraging and like, they’re actually really smart. Which, you know, people have this perception of TAFE that it’s like, not for smart people. But like, my teachers were sick. And then I got really passionate about printmaking cool, became a qualified bookbinder did a bunch of bookbinding workshops around like different festivals in Australia. But printmaking was like, I was, like, really stoked about printmaking, which is a really weird thing to be stoked about. Because I don’t really care about printmaking anymore. I gave my press away to a guy who I had actually saved enough money to buy a price for myself. Which I could also use for bookbinding. But I sold it to a guy, and I gave it to a guy, and he still has it used it all the time. I finished TAFE and then I went overseas and like, visited my family in Austria. And like went to the Venice Biennale and did a bunch of travel. And it was really eye opening. I was like, I learned how to make cheese in like the countryside in England I have so many stories about that, but I will leave them for another podcast. Yeah, but um, it was really I think, like doing different things in between going, being from TAFE going from TAFE to uni. Like it opened my eyes a little bit more to like the different possibilities within life itself and using my creative creativity in different ways.

Nick Breedon 9:11
How old were you at this stage?

Sarah Werkmeister 9:13
Like 20?

Kiera Brew Kurec 9:14
And how long were you at TAFE for?

Sarah Werkmeister 9:18
like two or three years

Kiera Brew Kurec 9:20
And then you went on to university?

Sarah Werkmeister 9:22
Yeah I think I started University when I was 22. And I did a bachelor of fine art at Griffith University. Yeah I actually made art for a little while. And I majored in sculpture and intermedia. I don’t really remember that time that will either but um, and graduated and then didn’t, was kind of disillusioned with art and started doing honors, but then didn’t really know what I wanted to do. And didn’t finish the honors degree and I was teaching at this I was tutoring at a section of the university called ….., which is like this amazing section of Griffith University for Indigenous students to like, actually, like, concentrate on their own practice. And a lot of amazing artists will come out of there. Yeah. And so that was a real privilege privilege to work in a space like that as well, like, especially early on. And be able to share with people. I mean, I learned so much more than they would have learned from me. Actually. And then, yeah, I was like, lost, and I was working in a bookshop. And at radio was doing radio show. I still did radio for like, 15 years. Yeah.

Nick Breedon 10:45
Wow that is a really long time what was your show?

Sarah Werkmeister 10:48
I started on the youth show. And then I did a breakfast for a while. On a Saturday cuz no one. Like, I was still under 18 then and I was like, I had to sleep at a friend’s house, like close to the station to get there on time. Yeah. And then I did the best show ever. Which (Laughter)

Nick Breedon 11:12
that was the name of?

Sarah Werkmeister 11:14
I’ll just let you know. There’s like another show called the best show ever. And my best show ever started before that.

Nick Breedon 11:19
Yeah, right. So you have got a copyright issue here.

Sarah Werkmeister 11:27
Yeah, I fucking got you mate. Oh, yeah. And then I ended up doing I got a grant to do it, to do art show.

Kiera Brew Kurec 11:35
How did you, because you got the grant for the zine aswell. How did you know about grants existing? Or how to apply to them did someone tell you or were you just kind of like scouting them out?

Sarah Werkmeister 11:48
That first one I did my friend had actually told me about it. And then I guess when I went to uni, I was like, constantly looking at grants that I could apply for. I was running an artist run initiative with two friends in Brisbane called the Wondering Room. And we when Campbell Newman got into power in Brisbane I, in my head, I was like, I am not applying for government funding through Campbell Newman. I mean A. he probably wouldn’t give it to us, like the government probably wouldn’t. I mean, Arts Queensland was good at the time. And I felt sorry for them as well, but like they had limited funds. And it’s also we could do our things without money. Like we we went around to different spaces around Brisbane and just ask people for, like for inkind spaces. So like, there was one time that South Bank Corporation gave us a space in Southbank to try and enliven the area. ,

Kiera Brew Kurec 12:48
People don’t want to go swimming in the swimming pool?

Sarah Werkmeister 12:51
Yeah, I mean, not in winter. Right.

Kiera Brew Kurec 12:55
I would I am a tourist

Sarah Werkmeister 12:57
You would you tourist. Oh my god. I’ve had so many like, tourists like come with me going like, let’s go skinny dipping im south bank and like getting caught

Nick Breedon 13:12
like there CCTV is everywehre.

Kiera Brew Kurec 13:15
jumping in the fountain at NGV.

Nick Breedon 13:17
Oh, my God have done that P.S in winter, It is horrible

Kiera Brew Kurec 13:23
Oh, Nick,

Nick Breedon 13:24
I got I got I got enough money.

Sarah Werkmeister 13:31
Anyway, I just had this ethos that like, we could do it without. We don’t be like artists can be artists. And we have our like, this is why I love Brisbane because the community is so strong, and we all support each other. And like there’s a level of critique up there that I find really refreshing. And it’s not like it’s not critique that’s put on it’s like honest feedback to like, between artists. And like, whoever’s working in the arts.

Kiera Brew Kurec 13:57
I think it was 2009. I had a show that was thorugh Box copy, but it was at Metro Arts. And going up and experiencing the Brisbane art scene. It was so amazing. And continue. Like, I have a turtle love Brisbane art scene and what people do and the resources that people make for each other, as well a sense of community that I mean, this is me looking from the outside as well, but a sense of community that isn’t as strong here in Melbourne, or it’s a bit more disjointed or something but I just was like reading people’s essays for each other. The different types of ARI’s that were set up.

Sarah Werkmeister 14:44
Yeah, and they’re all very different. they don’t do the same thing.

Kiera Brew Kurec 14:48
No, yeah, really catering for different practices and different audiences

Sarah Werkmeister 14:52
but they all support each other.

Kiera Brew Kurec 14:53
Yeah, yeah, it’s really it’s really special. And I wonder as well, what it must look Like, internationally as well, because I think that it’s a really interesting city to look at how the arts operate there.

Sarah Werkmeister 15:07
Yeah, I think that the advantage of Brisbane is that it is smaller. And it’s not a spread out like everything is kind of concentrated in one area. I mean, that that could be an advantage or a disadvantage.

Nick Breedon 15:19
That’s a huge thing. I mean, in Melbourne, where it’s just like, it’s become this weird, disjointed, like weird ring we have spaces that there’s nothing really in the middle. I mean, there’s blind side.

Sarah Werkmeister 15:32
Yeah, there’s really hardly anything in the middle anymore. Yeah.

Nick Breedon 15:36
Whereas everything used to be so concentrated in the city.

Sarah Werkmeister 15:41
Even artist studios have moved out further out into the suburbs. But yeah, I think that’s like the good thing about Brisbane is that it like the community. It’s really, like, supportive.

Nick Breedon 15:55

Kiera Brew Kurec 15:57
So setting, like having set up this space, and running and deciding to not apply for government funding, is pretty bold and pretty, like, it’s a lot of agency to kind of have and decide what to do. And that’s very impactful, I think, as well for the audience to be able to see people making spaces and making resources for people without funding. What was what was your kind of interaction with the artists and were you putting your own work into these spaces as well, or we just kind of more administrating and facilitating?

Sarah Werkmeister 16:34
I ran it with age, I ran it with two other people called David Ceeden and Angela Macedo. And so often, we do projects together. I never worked as an individual artist in any of the shows that I think that we put work in the shows as the Wondering room. One time we got commissioned by Sam Simmons, that Triple J comedian to make a life size Sandra Bullock doll out of like knitted knitted Sandra Bullock doll. Which was like, probably the weirdest thing.

Nick Breedon 17:04
Like what are you gonna do with her?

Sarah Werkmeister 17:06
and David Spooner helped us with that as well. Yeah, he used it on his comedy tour.

Nick Breedon 17:13
Yeah. Right. And did what to it?

Sarah Werkmeister 17:14
Yeah, I don’t know. like, I don’t even want to know.

Nick Breedon 17:23
Oh, boy.

Sarah Werkmeister 17:24
Yeah. I can’t remember what you.

Kiera Brew Kurec 17:27
I you totally answered. It. Just was asking if you are putting work into the space.. Or just at working as mainly a facilitator for others.

Sarah Werkmeister 17:36
yeah I mean, like, we we are three work together as a team to really put to make it work. Yeah, it is a shame that we ended up like not being able to pay ourselves artist fees Yeah, I really don’t agree with that anymore. I don’t think I would ever do that again. But at the time, it was like, dire, you know, Queensland was pretty dire. Um, anyway, that I ended up leaving the wandering room. And it’s still going. They both moved to Melbourne, and they now run a space on Victoria road in Brunswick. And they’ve had a few shows. And it’s like, really nice to go there. And like, see that they’re still doing amazing things and with the local community as well. Yeah, like bringing that vibe down here. I mean, there is a good community here as well. But it’s I think it’s very fragmented.

Nick Breedon 18:33
Its communities. Definitely.

Sarah Werkmeister 18:34
Yeah. Yeah. I also had a great opportunity to start writing about art. When I was pretty young. Like through the street press in Brisbane.

Kiera Brew Kurec 18:46
what was that called?

Sarah Werkmeister 18:47

Kiera Brew Kurec 18:48
Right? We had beat.

Sarah Werkmeister 18:49
Yeah, you still have beat?

Kiera Brew Kurec 18:51
Yeah. That’s where I did my high school work experince. With the writing in the street press and writing about art. Were you reviewing exhibitions? What were you talking about?

Sarah Werkmeister 19:05
It was mostly music and art.

Kiera Brew Kurec 19:07
Yeah. And like reviews?

Sarah Werkmeister 19:08

Kiera Brew Kurec 19:09
Amazing. Were you reading any reviews or anything to like form language about it? And like know how to write about it? or What were you doing to kind of feel like you could put your voice out there? Obviously, you’d been doing radio, but anything else?

Sarah Werkmeister 19:23
yeah, I had been reading a lot of things and like maximum rock’n’roll and all those kind of like really weird male centric magazines that were around in the 90s. Yeah, that half of them are probably still around. But yeah, that’s where I got the language for from there and like reading art magazines. And then I ended up being I got offered an opportunity to be the assistant editor at 4000. We’re started like writing more about in, like, for the public and for like, people who wouldn’t usually even care about it.

Kiera Brew Kurec 19:27
Just to explane this to people listening who might be a bit younger and not know what the 1000s were it was happening in the 2000s I guess. And there was like, yeah. 4000 in Queensland 3000 in Victoria 2000 in Sydney.

Nick Breedon 20:18
That’s from the postcodes.

Kiera Brew Kurec 20:19
Yeah, exactly. And it was a bit of a like what’s on in terms of like music and art? I think it was Penny Modra, who wrote for Victoria.

Nick Breedon 20:30
Shout out to Penny, she put my shows in there

Kiera Brew Kurec 20:32
all the time, and you’d like email her and she would always write them up. And then sometimes you get someone come to your show and do a review as well. Yeah, it was great.

Sarah Werkmeister 20:41
I love Penny Modra she like she has taught me so much about writing and like editing as well. And learning how to not be solipsistic and not like, talk shit. It’s like she taught me how to write for an audience that isn’t academic, because I have been writing academically for uni. And I’d also been doing street press, but it was also a completely different way of thinking about audiences. Which now I’m like, now I work in communications.

Nick Breedon 21:13
I’m in the 1000s. That was just strictly online, wasn’t it to Which was I feel like it was one of the very early kind of online only sort of magazine

Sarah Werkmeister 21:23
subcultural magazine yeah. Can I just say I’m Penny Modra was actually an amazing person I have in my life, and she taught me so much. And she has this motto that she still uses. That’s: stay nervous. Which I still think about that. All the time. I’m like, Yeah, you got to stay nervous. Because you can’t be , too complacent or too, like, sure of yourself. Because there’s so much in the world that you don’t know. And you gotta be open to people and new ideas and dialogues with community.

Kiera Brew Kurec 22:01
That’s also that thing of like, nerves and excitement are kind of the same feeling.

Nick Breedon 22:07
Oh thats my one. Yeah, that being being anxious and excited is the same thing. Well, it’s like I try and tell myself that.

Kiera Brew Kurec 22:15
you do get often the same physiological, like feelings. And I guess that’s like, if you’re staying excited about things, too. You’re gonna stay inquisitive and like, engaged, rather than being bored or complacent about whatever you’re doing. So that’s pretty good advice.

Sarah Werkmeister 22:34
Anyway, Penny Modra.

Nick Breedon 22:36
And so from the 1000s, how did you end up here from there?

Sarah Werkmeister 22:40
And then I started writing art catalogs for people in Brisbane for like different different artists. And I did an internship at GOMA as I was started writing for the art guide. So in 2014, Campbell Newman, no. 2013 Campbell, Newman got in power in Brisbane. And I was like, I can’t fucking do this. And I was like, I have to go get a master’s degree so I can get a job in an institution, which I don’t even know if I want to work in an institution, but it’s good to have a piece of paper.

Nick Breedon 23:23
They love it.

Sarah Werkmeister 23:24
They love it. They like will cream themselves. Yes, I moved to Melbourne to do my masters of art curatorship, which I’m still doing. And I’m just finishing my thesis. I mean, doing my thesis now at the University of Melbourne. That’s been a tough, it’s, it’s tough to like, work and I have a medical problem. And then do the thesis and then have to work to be able to pay for your medical bills. So it’s been a bit tough, but it’s I’m gonna when I finish it, I’m gonna like have the biggest party.

Nick Breedon 24:02
invitations, please! So when did you When did you begin your masters?

Sarah Werkmeister 24:09
2014. And so in Melbourne, I have worked for so many different organizations and coms roles. And then when I first got here, I was going to every exhibition to try and learn this scene.And now kind of stuck because it’s like, really insane to try and go to everything in Melbourne.

Nick Breedon 24:30
What was your first impressions of the Melbourne art community going to things?

Sarah Werkmeister 24:36
This is going to be a bit harsh.

Kiera Brew Kurec 24:37
That’s okay.

Sarah Werkmeister 24:39
the week that I moved here, someone told me that a curator from documenta had come to Melbourne and then to Brisbane. And this curator had said to someone, people in Melbourne make art like there’s nothing wrong with the world. He said that to someone in Brisbane and then that just stuck with me for a very long time. But there are some amazing artists here. And I know that’s not true of all artists, it just might have been the artist that that person like had an impression of. And also that curator could have been an idiot anyway.

Nick Breedon 25:11
Yeah, I definitely have heard that. I’ve heard very, you know, similar, you know, opinions about the Melbourne art scene, especially, you know, especially, I think it has changed in the last couple of years. But I think, you know, right, when we were sort of like, hitting, you know, out of uni, who was like, Yeah,

Sarah Werkmeister 25:33
I mean, there are some amazing people doing amazing things here as well. Yeah, not to discount Melbourne as like a ragtag like clicky place. Like, there’s some really great, great stuff happening here.

Kiera Brew Kurec 25:46
And I think it’s, it’s interesting as well, because language is starting to shift and change, and conversations are starting to shift and change. There was a conversation recently at West space, where people who were talking, will mention this thing about how probably around in the early like, 2007 to 2010 kind of time, a lot of women were making work about feminism. A lot of people curating writing shows about feminism, but no one was allowed to use the word feminism, because it was not a word that people will use.

Nick Breedon 26:24
it was totally a dirty word.

Kiera Brew Kurec 26:25
I was told by a senior figure at VCA. Don’t ever let yourself be called a feminist artists, because that’s all anyone will ever think of you as and your career will be over.

Sarah Werkmeister 26:38
also define yourself how you want to define yourself

Kiera Brew Kurec 26:41
and which is also something that would definitely not be said today to a student. But I think we weren’t having conversations that we are now. I think our language has evolved to be able to talk about things. And I think that is then reflected in how people present work and who is allowed to present work. And I’m hopeful that the Melbourne art scene will keep growing. But I definitely see how that curator would have come to Melbourne and s had that opinion. Because I think at that time as well, there was a certain aesthetic that was happening and a certain few voices

Sarah Werkmeister 27:22
plank against a wall

Kiera Brew Kurec 27:23
yeah or sock on a stick is what we refer to it as. And it’s, um, yeah, it’s really sterile. And, you know, sure, it can have its place at times, but when that’s the only thing that’s being shown, and the only thing that’s being supported, and the only people that are given

Sarah Werkmeister 27:40

Kiera Brew Kurec 27:40
yeah that that’s really harmful for not only other artists, but for a lot of other areas of the world because it’s also

Sarah Werkmeister 27:51

Kiera Brew Kurec 27:51
Yeah. And it’s, it’s shutting down conversations that need to be had.

Nick Breedon 27:56
Well, doesnt a community needs to see itself in our work, but it’s going to see, you know, that’s that’s when it becomes valuable.

Sarah Werkmeister 28:04
Yeah. Community just need to see themselves in anything that’s visible. Yeah. I think institutions still have a long way to go.

Kiera Brew Kurec 28:16

Sarah Werkmeister 28:17
But, um, I mean, at least the conversations being had the reason that I love Brisbane so much is that it’s like so honest. I sound like I’m fuckin creaming over Brisbane, but like, also, I just, I really appreciate the honesty.

Kiera Brew Kurec 28:31
I think there’s been Yeah, I think that there’s more conversations being had and definitely more advanced in different conversations. And maybe, I don’t know, because I don’t know what your feeling is about APT. But I think,

Sarah Werkmeister 28:51
Like that is best thing that that like Brisbane could have ever had.

Kiera Brew Kurec 28:55
Because I feel like that that informs a lot of conversations and probably what is spoken about at university level too about engaging as an artist that we are within an Asia Pacific area. And that conversations are not

Sarah Werkmeister 29:14
in silos.

Kiera Brew Kurec 29:15
Yeah. So I don’t know if that is one of the reasons that I feel like Brisbane is way ahead and more advanced in conversations.

Sarah Werkmeister 29:25
I mean, but yeah, the APT like, one of my actual first memories about the APT, about like going to an art galleries at APT and seeing that your your Kasama

Nick Breedon 29:36
oh my god me too!

Sarah Werkmeister 29:38
Yeah, the balls, Narcissus balls. The work has a name. garden of narcissus?. I can’t remember but I’m seeing that work and being like, wow,

Kiera Brew Kurec 29:49
oh my god, it blew me away. And I didn’t know of her work. I mean, I was a teenager and I was like, became obsessed. It was so mind blowingly It’s like made me so excited.

Sarah Werkmeister 30:02
And then there was this like really existential work by Anish Kapoor. Which I’m not sure if it was part of an APT. But it was like a void. It’s like this blue dark blue velvet, velvety, half spherical sculpture. That’s it’s like comes out from the wall. I was like, like, perfect for teenager like experinceing existential dread. (Laughter)

Kiera Brew Kurec 30:30
Yeah. It’s such an important exhibition. And I think, yeah, every time it’s on, I definitely make the trip up.

Sarah Werkmeister 30:38
It’s such a beautiful exhibition, just in terms of like, not just the artwork, but everything that happens around it. Like the whole the whole city is activated.

Nick Breedon 30:47
So you’ve touched on a few things that have been challenges for you in your career so far. Do you know talk a little bit more about, you know, challenges or things that you’ve had to overcome to continue in your career?

Sarah Werkmeister 31:06
Looking into that Anish Kapoor work (laughter) I guess the biggest challenge for me was like, I didn’t come from very wealthy background. I mean, I do realize that I’m white as well. So that’s like, obviously a huge privilege. But yeah, I didn’t, I didn’t have come from a background that we didn’t have heaps of money. And it’s like, hard to start a practice. I think it’s hard for any artists to work like and compete in a weird, weird I don’t even know what visual art is anymore. Like, why is it competitive? Do you just like make work

Nick Breedon 31:49
What are we competing for?

Sarah Werkmeister 31:50
Yeah, I know exactly. But um, yeah, to be able to even to be able to afford materials and stuff like that. And then yeah, I got diagnosed with this medical issue. And that’s been a huge strain on being able to practice and like, concentrate on writing amazing essays. It just takes me a lot longer to do things now. I mean, if I’m really passionate about something, I think I will write about it pretty easily. I saw a show you actually at the Queensland know, what are they called? Griffith University Art Gallery, Archie Moore’s exhibition. And I wrote about I wrote like, 3000 words in like, one hour. But then, you know, it’s hard to find something that sparks so much lucidity within my own hand. Yeah, I think, and the university, it’s like, cost a lot of money to go to university. And having to work during that time is pretty difficult. I don’t think I really care about writer’s block.

Kiera Brew Kurec 33:14
Yeah. I was just about to ask you that. Do you have any? Do you have to overcome any challenges in your writing style?

Sarah Werkmeister 33:22
I do because I write so broadly, for different audiences. So I’ll write from like, I’m doing my thesis at the moment, I’ll write academically and then I’ll write for a art magazine. And that’ll be like, it’ll still be a little bit academic, but it has to be palatable. And then I’ll do copywriting from, like my communications jobs and then, like, I actually missed writing speeches. Writing speeches is one of my favorite things. I’m like, I’m gonna be the next Don Watson. Never will be there’s no Paul Keating for me that to me they’ve Don Watson to.

Nick Breedon 33:58
Not yet

Sarah Werkmeister 33:58
Not yet. Wait till Nick Breedon 2020.

Nick Breedon 34:04
Public Speaking No.

Kiera Brew Kurec 34:05
Well, when you get one of Sarah’s speeches?

Sarah Werkmeister 34:11
I did last time I did speech writing is for the mayor of Shepperton in the mayor’s changed halfway in between. But I actually love speech writing. It’s like you can talk like an you can write like an actual human. And like put like little intonations in there. I mean, they won’t follow it all the time, they’ll put their own spin on it. But it’s like, just a fun thing to do. Yeah. And like to try and try and imagine the world from someone who doesn’t even know about art to try and think what they would be able to say about

Kiera Brew Kurec 34:41

Sarah Werkmeister 34:42
different artworks within a show. Or like what the perception of a curatorial premises or Yeah, it’s like

Nick Breedon 34:50
yeah, that’s really fascinating.

Sarah Werkmeister 34:52
It’s really fun to think like through that

Kiera Brew Kurec 34:56
What does a successful practice mean to you?

Sarah Werkmeister 34:59
I think as long as it like, is in dialogue with the people that are around you, whatever you happen to be doing, and it’s considering all the different possibilities, I mean, not every single possibility, but like the different ways in which community can interact with it. I think that’s a really important part for me. For people to be able to like, relate to something, and for it to make them either think more about a certain topic or think outside of the topic and think about themselves within that space all themselves within an artwork. Yeah, I don’t really know what else to say.

Kiera Brew Kurec 35:44
No, that’s perfect. I mean, everyone has their own answers. But I feel like that’s an incredible thing to, you know, be in communication.

Sarah Werkmeister 35:53
Yeah. I don’t think I didn’t think much else matters to me. Yeah. As long as like, there’s still conversation happening.

Kiera Brew Kurec 36:03
So moving along. What does your practice look like? Give us a day in the life or a week in the life or a month in the life of Sarah.

Sarah Werkmeister 36:13
My practice is really different depending on what job I’m doing. So if I’m working full time, then it leaves like, I’ll write one article a month. Or curate one show every two years, which is like the least literally the last time I curated a show was two years ago. And I get I get a do, so many different projects it depends what what’s interesting to me at the time.

Kiera Brew Kurec 36:39
I still feel like one article a month is like, a very, like, that’s a lot of output still.

Sarah Werkmeister 36:46
Yeah, but it also depends on what articles they are. So yeah. I mean, that one on Archie Moore was like, 2000 words, and then I’ll do another one. That’s like 300 words, or I’ll do you know, they’re not they’re not all huge articles. So what do I do? Usually?

Kiera Brew Kurec 37:07
Do you have any routines, daily routines?

Sarah Werkmeister 37:10
I don’t get up early. Usually, um, I really like in winter, I have a different working pattern in winter and summer, because I’m not used to winter. Any winter like, sitting with my computer and books and drinking wine and eating chocolate. And it’s like, not healthy. But it actually helps me think and then I stay up late at night. And then in summer, I I don’t need any alcohol to survive. No in summer I just I don’t know what actually helps me in it. I don’t really have I’m not really a routine person. Yeah. It just depends on what I’m doing. So if I’ve worked a lot, overseas as well, and from Australia, doing Skype calls with overseas people, so sometimes they would be like those Skype calls and be at like, one o’clock in the morning. So that taught me to be like a bit. What’s the word? Yeah, flexible? with how I work. I suppose if I’ve got something amazing going on, then I’ll just do it. You know? Instead of like, I mean, the biggest the biggest learning thing for me at the moment is the thesis like writing something that big and that be like that much research and planning for that that’s like, actually helped me a lot with writing, like long form Long, long form.

Nick Breedon 38:40
Do you break up your kind of like your study and your kind of like work commitments, like, every day? Or do you sort of like, do it by the week, like break up in different days? Or like, how do you kind of structure that?

Sarah Werkmeister 38:52
I use a calendar that I I’ll schedule the whole day for studying shedule the whole day for freelance work schedule a whole day for like, one of my jobs, schedule the whole day for another job. But then, you know, there’s always things that come up because I freelance a lot. Yeah, there’s always things that come up on days that you don’t necessarily work at one job and you do it and you swap it around and just make it work.

Nick Breedon 39:16
Do you schedule in weekends or a day off as well?

Sarah Werkmeister 39:20
Well, since I’m doing my thesis I’m doing Um, I’ve been putting study in my calendar all weekend. But I do allow myself a break to go to the markets or you know, get out of the house. Yeah, I have a thing where I have to I have to leave the house every day. That’s one thing that I have to do. Otherwise you just go completely insane young. And like walk around the neighborhood and hear the birds and like, say hello to the neighbors, you know? Yeah, and one of my favorite things to do actually to kind of do do it to distract myself, but like, I cook heaps of food and I love cooking and yeah, my favorite thing is sharing food with people as well. Even if it’s just like I’ll cook, bake a cookie, and like, swap it with the lady don’t like this old lady down the road. She’ll like make the Syrian sweets and I’ll be like, swap, you know, even like lemons. I have a nice veggie patch. Actually, when I got sick, the veggie patch was the only thing that really helped me calm myself. And like being in nature and being able to touch dirt and not be stuck in a room poring over books. Yeah. Which I love doing still. But like I don’t think it’s healthy to like, only do one thing.

Kiera Brew Kurec 40:41
Yeah. 100% agree.

Nick Breedon 40:43
It is so easy to become detached, I think from you know, IRL. When you kind of go to that place, like, all the time, and in it for a really long time. And you don’t take that walk outside or whatever it is that you need to kind of be grounded and be in the real world.

Kiera Brew Kurec 41:01
Yeah. And be part of the community.

Sarah Werkmeister 41:04
yeah. And like, even working different jobs is a different thing that I like doing. Because I don’t like being I mean, I’m just about to take on another another full time role. Which will be amazing. But it’s a really great organization that like, thinks about things in a variety of different ways and can like, I can think about a million different things with it.

Nick Breedon 41:27
Do you have any, like, do you have any, like fitness or health practices that you kind of do or it’s like your walk is your thing?

Sarah Werkmeister 41:38
Yeah I mean, I try to ride my bike, when I can, which I really miss about Brisbane, even though Brisbane is the most hilly fucking place in the world.

Nick Breedon 41:48
I feel like people in Melbourne dont know how good they have got it.

Sarah Werkmeister 41:51
Yeah, it’s so easy to ride here.

Nick Breedon 41:52
Who wants to ride a bike in Sydney. No,

Sarah Werkmeister 41:54
yeah in Brisbane. I lived in Spring Hill.

Nick Breedon 41:56
Oh, gosh, it has hill in the name.

Sarah Werkmeister 41:59
Yeah, I know.

Kiera Brew Kurec 42:01
not like princess Hill. No.

Sarah Werkmeister 42:05
Princess Hill is not a hill! (laughter)

Nick Breedon 42:07
Where’s the hill?

Sarah Werkmeister 42:09
maybe it’s an extra hospital?

Nick Breedon 42:11
I suppose. Like if you’re actually in the cemetery sometimes if you look out.

Kiera Brew Kurec 42:16
It’s a gradual incline I would not call it a hill.

Sarah Werkmeister 42:20
Yeah. But I try to ride my bike to work when I can. Like if I’m working in the city, then I’ll ride my bike to work on North Melbourne or Yeah, wherever like Colton. If I’m going to uni, and it’s not raining. . And I’ll try if I don’t ride my bike, then I’ll go for a walk. And then I do go to acupuncture, like, either once a week, twice a week depends on how much I can afford it. Whatever time. Yeah, I mean, not once a week, once or twice a week. I’ve never gone twice a week, who can do that. But yeah, go. I go to acupuncture, and I love my acupuncturist. And I do I have been taking Chinese herbal medicine, I got raised on homeopathic medicine. But Mum still like got us all the shots. So don’t worry, I’m not an anti vaxxer.

Nick Breedon 43:03
What have been some of the more influential resources that have assisted you throughout your career.

Sarah Werkmeister 43:09
And one of the resources that I really appreciate is the Indigenous cultural protocols and the arts document that people can find on the internet. I read that when I was like, I mean, I did at Griffith we had to work with protocols and practice. And it was really good to having something as a resource and like readings, but there is something available online that people can go through, which you can find at the Australian Council of Arts website.

Kiera Brew Kurec 43:41

Sarah Werkmeister 43:42
that you can download and not be such a settler colonist, excluding any indigenous people that might be listening. Otherwise, resources I think, yeah, just the people in my life. And yeah, people that I’ve worked with my bosses who have all believed in me, that’s not something that everyone can access.

Nick Breedon 44:05
Um, do you have any suggestions on how people can kind of work those relationships into like, you know, a kind of more casual mentorship?

Sarah Werkmeister 44:16
I think, a good idea, a good thing to do is go out to art openings and like actually going out to meet people and like, making people aware of your presence. You know not being like overly overbearing or anything like, Hey I’m here man (laughter) But like, also just like being friendly and open with people, you know, like, and having them around, and then even approaching people to ask them if you can work with them, like, yeah, if you’re aware of what they do then and there’s a similar idea then, and say, hey, let’s do a podcast together or, let’s bake a fucking cake. I don’t know, you know, even if it’s like collaborating on like, let’s make a show together or let’s write an article together, or we could we should like, um, like editing and publication you want to be part of it. Or, like, you just got to make things happen for yourself before I mean, you’ve got to make things happen for yourself as well as there’s got to be an exchange. I feel like mentor is like, not even the right word. It’s more of a collaboration.

Nick Breedon 45:28
Well, I think even even like a, like a true, you know, mentor relationship. Is it still collaborative. the person mentoring you sort of like learning through teaching you.

Kiera Brew Kurec 45:42
mutually beneficial

Sarah Werkmeister 45:44
Yeah. I think mentors get just as much out of like, the relationship then the mentees, is that what they are called?

Nick Breedon 45:53
I think so.

Kiera Brew Kurec 45:55
And if you could travel back in time, and speak to younger Sarah, maybe when she was at TAFE, or on the radio, is there any advice that you would give yourself?

Sarah Werkmeister 46:11
Don’t like Anish Kapoor (laughter)

Kiera Brew Kurec 46:14
What about that void!?

Sarah Werkmeister 46:18
To Metallica. Um, yeah, I don’t know. I would probably say don’t wallow in sadness. And, I mean, I was always productive, I guess. Maybe just believe in yourself and like, value the friendships that you have, which I’ve always kind of done but like i don’know i don’t think i’ve changed fuck (Laughter). I havent progressed anywhere in my life. Yeah, I think my biggest advice is like, just do as much as you can and like, do the things that you love, but like also keep in mind your privilege and like, do things with people like do things with your with other people in mind.

Kiera Brew Kurec 47:09
Sarah, that’s such a nice place to end it.

Nick Breedon 47:12
Yeah. Thank you so much for coming into the studio today.

Sarah Werkmeister 47:15
Get out if you want to live (laughter). No, thank you very much for having me.

Kiera Brew Kurec 47:25
So happy to have had you. So thank you for sharing.

Nick Breedon 47:29
This episode is recorded on the sovereign Land of the Kulin nation. We acknowledge the traditional owners of the land the Wurundjeri people and pay respects to elder’s past, present and emerging.

Kiera Brew Kurec 47:39
Thanks for listening to Pro Prac. You can listen to other episodes and subscribe to us on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. You can stay up to date with what we’re up to on Instagram at @propracpodcast or send us an email at