Popup Blog

Popup Blog

Just finished a book this week called The Power of the Habit by Charles Duhigg which I think can inform artists practise. He calls on major research and many studies real world examples and practical tips about habits and how they can be ingrained, but to how change habits so they become automatic, you can change a routine, and you can still get the reward at the end of it. There are a few key things he cites – the belief system, assigning a group to go with you, changing the environment, the automatic reaction so it’s something you no longer have to think about.

Fascinating work. Although habits remain for life and the pathways are there, you are capable of ingraining new habits, He uses really diverse examples like the NFL and the civil rights movement to help us understand how habits work.

How to Change Things When Change is Hard – by Chip and Dan Heath was a similarly inspiring read which focuses on why we insist on seeing the obstacles rather than the goal – understanding how our minds function in order to engineer shortcuts and switches to human behaviour.

I look at goal setting often in the pop up program, usually at the commencement of an artist’s time with us. It does work – one of the fashion designers with us has mentioned this as a turning point in her early career many times. One of our more recent arrivals is working through an action plan with her mentor and it’s an exhilarating time for her, reminding herself of why she set up the brand, but facing the changes too with an open mind. I’m so excited about this.

Making people accountable to their Mentors is one of the keystone features of the Pop Up Program. Of course this is not the only feature – once they accepted they are part of a cohort, a group or a network, some of which are working towards some of the same goals. There are so many initiatives, activities and things that have been developed in the last few years that I’m intensely proud of. That of the artists and creative leaders who have created their own communities around their dynamic, intensely local and diverse projects. Prospector Store, Ruth Fattal, Ivan Chew, Unknown Quantity and Shh Centre 4 Hybrid Arts I’ll cite as local leaders in this field. Particularly with PS, as the director has said to me many times, she has created a community who engage with and love the product and become ambassadors for the brand, highly engaged net promoters.

These artists nurture their community in a way that our city needs. Good urban design and elements talk a lot about what a community needs to thrive, and last week’s Festival Keynote Event – the Colloquium from the Sydney Architecture Festival talked about the key things people require to build their community – the key features are access to public transport, proximity to arts, culture and recreational facilities, access to major universities, great hospitals, and a feasible or short journey to work. Parramatta is this. It has all the hallmarks to succeed. The way we work has changed – we follow the high knowledge and innovation jobs, smart jobs, educational investments rather than being focused on industrial production or manufacturing. Many cities have done this very successfully in the past. As Pop Up is part of the wider activities driving the City Animation team to grow and nurture our city, I believe this small brand of place making is highly applicable to all our activities across the public domain.

Creating a good framework for where artists sit in all of this is never easy. But I think we are part of that change, we can live and vision and grow the type of creative city we would like, right here in #parracity. Whilst everyone in pop up is creating their own personal brand, they are part of a bigger change regarding our city that will enhance and build our reputation as a growing, responsive and dynamic one.

Yesterday, I discovered there are about 300+ social media channels worldwide. Which poses the question, which are best for the artists and creatives of this world? Anything with ample room for the immediacy of images from events, exhibitions or progress shots, like Facebook, Google Plus and Instagram perhaps?

I hear regular comments from creatives I work with about how they don't 'understand' twitter. Fair enough, as it struggles with the visual content, but is excellent for writing about conferences. Or arguments. Or making up after an argument. Or pop commentary with cleverly coined hashtags (think #dirtystreetpie from our recent love-hate affair with the Bachelor that took place in Australian lounge rooms and now splshed on magazine covers). Inherently my experience as a visual artist was sometimes an isolated one, so perhaps it's easier via a visual trail to conduct the conversation.

Someone famous once said, 'eyes are the window to the soul,' but after years of working in the sector and beyond, I'm rethinking that statement to translate in 2014 as 'your social media are the window to the soul'. If you are in the creative space, here are some thoughts about what your social media channel should do:

* As artists in Pop Up can attest to, because your project is sometimes of a temporary nature, social media can be the link to your continued life outside of the project space. Also it shows the progression, the journey, occupying a virtual space and in turn a physical space that is linked and connected and pictured perfectly for all our viewers to see. In particular, I believe Instagram does this better, because in my experience, Pinterest is too polished, too clinical, and Instagram allows the grungy and hip into the media space, which, let's face it, often makes for more interesting and diverse content. Every time I post original content on Pinterest, I worry if it's beautiful enough for the channel, in my mind, there's pressure to make it look like light-box perfection.

* Often when I've given talks about Pop Up, the most powerful shots that resonate the most with audiences are the 'before' and 'after' shots. Like weightloss or gym junkie pictures, a potent mix of what is achievable with a bit of creativity and mountains of hard work is awe-inspiring. It combines the renovation challenges of the block (with minimal budget) with the dream that only a creative can achieve of how to make something better.

* At the pop up studios and arts centre for instance, Rising Pictures have recently ripped up carpet, polished the old timber floors, a huge risk with dropping serious cash into a space which is due for demolition in a few years time.
* Meanwhile, over at Connection Arcade, The Prospector Store has become an inspiration, now renovating the third property in 2 years with a particular unique style in mind which keeps clients coming back in hordes.
* The Epping pop up project was a similar challenge, the Pop Goes the Easel team, turning a 200 square metre pigeon riddled floor into an outstanding community gallery.

* But sometimes the vision can go down a particular pathway which is unattainable. There are others I have come across who are so engrossed in getting everything to look good, they forget about their practice. But their Pinterest accounts are stunning. But, I'm hungering to see the journey, so it can be followed, analysed an commented on through social media. The work through to the destination is just as valuable.

At the end of the day, track your journey through your social media weapon of choice, choose whatever channels work for you, but choose wisely. Keep content relevant to the target audience, and go with where the audiences go (for example soundcloud rather than myspace). And have fun!


In a salute to Mental Health Month, Unknown Quantity have taken this into an art installation in their shopfront and turn the thoughts we sometimes have into a shared experience. Local artist behind the initiative, Delia writes:


Hangups - we’ve all got them.


What’s been bugging you, what’s your hangup? Do you believe you are not good enough, that you might never find love, that you always miss opportunities, or have you held onto bad memories that trip you up?

October is the month to get it off your chest! Mental health month is a great time to start taking back ownership of your headspace and healing your heart.

This interactive installation invites everyone to bare and share any hangups anonymously, in order to purge, reassure, own, embrace, or let go of the things that keep us down. By openly acknowledging and sharing our hangups, we can both diminish their hold on us and relax in the knowledge that it’s not just me. That feeling blue, alone, anxious, and hopeless are just parts of a greater journey.

Unknown Quantity strives to promote acceptance, individuality, and empowerment, so celebrating mental health month and its theme, "Be younique", is a perfect fit. In 'merging form and idea', 

Unknown Quantity uses design, art, and product to promote a more aware and meaningful way of living. This installation provides an interface in which a new level of openness, acceptance, and self-awareness can be exercised in a communal and artistic way. Hopefully, people will be empowered by naming and offloading their hangups (as well as seeing the commonality of them), and relieved to see we're not alone.

So what happens exactly? Participants anonymously write down their hangups on placards or ribbons that will be hung up onto coat hangers, which will grow into an evolving, colourful display. If desired, the hangups may be shared via social media with the hashtags #hangups and #artsparra. You can write your contributions yourself, or or have the writing professionally done by the resident artist.

Interesting…an exciting merger of creativity and making public what is usually private. You can visit the shop in Connection Arcade and see the thoughts so far.  

In case you were wondering –Unknown Quantity’s core values include individuality, meaning, diverse beauty, individual empowerment, and making the world a better place through design and art. While the fashion industry thrives on leveraging peoples’ insecurities and sense of lack, we seek to create a new system of personal validation in which everyone thrives by confidently embracing individuality in themselves and others. This year’s mental Health Month’s theme of “Be YOUnique” aligns perfectly with our values, and we wholeheartedly support the affirmation of each individual’s uniqueness, whether through art, dressing, or design.

Visit at Shop 16, Connection Arcade, 162-172 Church Street Parramatta.


Continued from the Elm Tree Post....

The Elm Tree will be hosting an exhibition called A Good Yarn which will be a collection of art, film and lovely things which are inspired by stories. Good stories. Ones that stuck in your mind, ones from when you heard or read them as a child all the way to being a 'grown up'. Ones that were so good that you watched them over and over and over again until you knew the whole script by heart…

A Good Yarn will feature the work of many of the designers who have filled The Elm Tree with their skilled craft for the past eight months, as well as many other artists who organiser/curator Eleanor McComb has met through my involvement in the Pop Up Parramatta program.

Eleanor says of the project: "In a way, it is a real reflection of the intentions that I had for the shop when I set out - good work, by good people, locally sourced, sustainably minded, and as always, with a focus on children."

Watch out for local designers, artists and filmmakers in this innovative and stylish Pop Up show. Eleanor McComb celebrates her last month as a pop up shop in the project which has filled a space with makers and designers, all with a connection to sustainable products for children. The exhibition will be open to the public from July 14 - 26, 10am - 6pm at shops 8 and 10, The Connection Arcade, 162-172 Church Street Parramatta.