After a false start for obvious reasons (Covid, if it wasn’t actually obvious), Carclew’s SALA exhibition Refractions is opening this weekend.
Refractions delves into the diverse range of creativity and artwork produced by Carclew’s eight resident artists and curator, transforming Carclew’s foyer and ballroom into a kaleidoscope of artistic refractions.
The exhibition explores disability, mental health, human connection, belonging and physical form though a raft of mediums including live performance, vibrant paintings, animations, illustrations and an interactive film experience.
Queer, non-binary, ambulatory wheelchair user Jamila Main is presenting their work Benched as a member of the Share House program.
“As part of Share House, they do an exhibition with all the residents who have all these different practices and different techniques and ways of working and themes that they’re dealing with,” they said.
Benched is an interactive storytelling experience, exploring the impacts endometriosis has, particularly on a young person, which has just finished touring the Riverland and is now kicking goals at Carclew, an organisation Jamila says they owe a lot to.
“[Carclew] is so vital, I don’t think I would be halfway through the career I am now without them. They’ve given me so many opportunities. They funded my first creative project out of acting school, and they have supported me with in kind rehearsal room, the fellowship, the share house residency,” Jamila says.
“Everyone in that building is so committed to helping you wherever they can. They’re always throwing opportunities my way and getting me paid work whenever they can. We’re so lucky to have them. And if we didn’t have someone like Carclew, it would be so easy and tempting to move interstate. But friends who live interstate don’t have a Carclew. They don’t have a dedicated youth organisation who are funding young people and trusting us to do our creative projects the way we want to do them; to be quite hands-off is really rare.”
Playwright and performer Jamila is an advocate and consultant for inclusion, access, and representation for performers, creatives, crew, and audiences.
Benched continues Jamila’s foray into autobiographical storytelling and asks the able-bodied spectator to reconsider assumptions of sick people, and to confront the temporarily non-disabled body.
An advocate for making work as accessible as possible, Jamila has enjoyed the online approach theatre has taken over Covid-19 and hopes art continues in this inclusive way.
“It’s really demonstrated to us all that digital recordings and online accessible offerings of your work need to be something that’s included going forward. I don’t want to see an arts industry where we go back to pre-Covid. I got to see so much art during lockdown from my TV, from my couch. And as a disabled person, that was something I wasn’t getting when I was locked down by my disability,” they said.
“And that’s going to happen again. And I don’t want to be alone in my room with only Netflix as an option. [Online Art is} connection to community. It’s connection to your arts culture locally and internationally and globally. It’s massive for” you as an individual artist to be seen on a global stage from your laptop. And it’s just include people.
Jamila performs this weekend among a stellar line up of artists, like painters George Gilles and Mali Isabel, animator and illustrator Harrison Vial, filmmaker and director Maddie Grammatopoulos, and interdisciplinary collaborative Motus Collective (Felicity Boyd and Zoe Gay), in an exhibition curated by Carclew’s 2021 curator in residence Christina Lauren.
Two Carclew Sharehouse residents have also been nominated for SALA Awards, with Maddie Grammatopoulos nominated as a finalist for the UnitCare Services Moving Image Award.
Refractions opens tonight from 5:30 – 6:30pm, 7:00 – 8:00pm Carclew, at Carclew House, 11 Jeffcott St, Kaurna Country, North Adelaide and the exhibition continues until 28 October.