Home' Scoop : Scoop 68 Winter Edition Contents 122
The lost art of letter writing is paid
first class tribute when the stage show
Women of Letters arrives in Perth.
words Kate Roff
The brainchild of co-curators Marieke Hardy and
Michaela McGuire, Women of Letters started as
a way to bring talented writers, musicians, politicians
and comedians to the stage to pay homage to
a time-honoured form of communication.
Since those early shows in Melbourne, in which
five prominent characters would each read a
personal letter to the audience, the movement has
taken off. From afternoon performances to three
books and an online letter-writing platform, these
ladies of literature are certainly posting wins.
“Letters are valuable,” Michaela says. “Nothing
preserves a moment in time quite so eloquently.”
When asked about women in the Australian
literary landscape, Marieke explains that she and
Michaela have lost perspective somewhat. “We’ve
been touring for four years and have seen hundreds
of strong, dynamic female writers across all of our
stages,” Marieke says. “As far as we can see, the
Read you like a book
A project encouraging young people to express themselves through sketchbooks
offers a peek into the psyches of WA’s youth. words Anna Christensen
According to its coordinator, Ashlee Giblett, the Sketchbook Project that asks young people in WA to
fill a sketchbook with their personal stories has no boundaries – “except to stay inside the book”.
The venture, run by Propel Youth Arts, sends out blank sketchbooks to people in WA aged 12 to 25,
who fill them any way they fancy before sending them back. “Some are filled with photos from travels,
illustrations, collages using magazines, buttons, fabrics, and poetry,” says Ashlee. “I have seen books
where people have stitched images into the pages with yarn, created shapes by folding and slicing the
pages, drawn comics strips and kept personal daily journals.”
But the books speak of more than idle scraps and scribbles – they share a piece of the artist. “Many
use the Sketchbook Project to delve into issues that are important for them, such as depression,
relationships, loss and sexuality. We often receive feedback that creating a sketchbook can be a cathartic
and expressive process and a chance to say what’s on your mind, without actually having to ‘say’ it.”
This year, over 60 sketchbooks will go on an eight-month tour of libraries across Western Australia –
from Manjimup to Port Hedland – culminating in an exhibition at the State Library of Western Australia
at the end of the year. “Some of them will make you giggle, others will remind you of your first love or
the sadness you felt when you lost someone or something special,” says Ashlee. “A young person in
Exmouth will be able to read a sketchbook that somebody has created in Albany, and whilst they are
miles apart they will be able to relate to what it’s like being a young person today. How great is that?”
WA Public Libraries, June 9-January 15, 2015
Michaela McGuire (left) and Marieke Hardy
(photography Lee Sandwith).
The travelling sketchbooks
(photography Rebecca Mansell).
literary industry remains alive with a giant range of
brilliant, subversive, eloquent women.”
One of her favourite letters came from TV
and radio presenter Yumi Stynes, addressing the
public pummelling she received after making some
controversial comments on TV show The Circle.
“Apparently one of her detractors went to all
the trouble of sending her dog shit in the post,”
Marieke says. “But he forgot to stamp the parcel
and it was returned to him. Determined to get the
message across, he bought the correct postage and
sent it again – with his return address still on it!
“Yumi was brave, warm, feisty and hilarious.”
Male voices also have a place, with the books
of letters including the likes of Hamish Blake, Paul
Kelly and Eddie Perfect all penning missives To t h e
woman who changed my life. “We’ve showcased
some wonderful people singing praises of the
important women in their life,” Marieke says.
The Perth show follows the ‘traditional’
female line-up, with a different group each
night. “But as always, the same elements will
make themselves known,” Marieke promises.
“Honest, heart-warming, revealing, funny, sad
letters from brilliant women.”
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