Thursday, June 17, 2010

General Observations - a complaint of an ALL ROUND nature (an open letter to the Advertising Standards Bureau - Australia)

To Whom It May Concern,

You may consider this complaint to be superficial and unofficial given your obvious stakeholders. And it is not in response to a 'particular advertisement' but rather at the way things are going across the board.

However, I am a mother of three children and I have a few things to pass along.

I don't watch television much anymore... Because of the advertising. Our television never leaves the ABC (kids shows) hardly, because there is no advertising (despite the fact I also have programming concerns, another issue obviously). I am offended that advertising is constantly thrust in my face, it is incessant and annoying. I have a budget and when I need something I go looking for it!

I am a trained Advertising Professional with Marketing experience and a Graphic Designer. I know the psychology of advertising, in fact I spend a great deal of time with the Art Action Union collective teaching people about it and how it is used to brainwash you to part with your own dear cash, but also how these brainwashing principles can be used positively - i.e.. the opposite of what you see around you and always allowing ETHICS as your guide. I guess in that sense, you are an enemy to my cause :-)

ETHICS... I am compelled to say this again, ETHICS; MORALITY.

As a mother of three who understands the marketing strategies that some (perhaps not all) advertisers employ... I am continually appalled and angry, really bloody angry, that bodies like yourself judge things in the way you do. Lets face it... for every complaint you get there is a plethora of people out there who feel that they don't have a voice at all (regardless of services such as yourselves) and that when complaints ARE made and nothing is acted on you all look like your taking cash in paper bags from the high rollers... sorry, but it's one perception.

Now, sexualisation of children, sexualisation of women in general and the general marketing that takes place for the lowest common denominator of human response is so rife I wonder if people (as you say you base your standards on the GENERAL FEELING IN THE PUBLIC, possibly based on skewed focus groups to a degree) ... what if our public aren't exactly as educated or as behaved as we would like to be as a nation?

Women and children are, according to the UN, marginalised and at risk in many many countries. I am increasingly ashamed in a personal sense, that there ARE NO intellectual or intelligent ads anymore. Before soft porn became the norm in GENERAL media areas (which I have to think this body has benchmarked things that way) you saw some really well thought out and clever ads. Artistic expression in advertising was at an all time high, now advertising executives seem to not be even able to THINK in alternative strategies when presenting to certain potential clients their concepts. These industries are clearly defined to the viewer, but I won't go there now.

What I really want to ask, above all else is to goddam show some community leadership please!

I will state again, Women and children are, according to the UN, marginalised and at risk in many many countries (this one included) and I am constantly, constantly engaged in conversations with other parents about the appalling 'standard' of the advertising in this country when it comes to SEX in a generalised sense.

For one thing not everyone gets turned on by public nudity, in fact some people are actually sickened by it. Not everyone is having sex, particularly not every teenager and for goodness sake let kids be kids...

In some ways the fact that YOU need focus groups to tell you if the community ETHICS of a commercial are in line with "people's level of desensitisation, or rather tolerance" is the opposite of what many believe a leading body in a media (that eats people's brains alive) is supposed to be doing, ETHICS don't change, people's adherence to them does though, and this is evidence in itself that you are out of touch with a dedication to preserving our community morals.

Of course the advertisers are going to pressure you to not regulate them... because SEX sells, but it also keeps people in a state of sexual arousal, particularly if one person is prone to engaging in pornographic activities, and it could validate negative social behaviours in a worse case scenario.

Could you please listen to the academics that place importance on the psyche of our nation, as a born entity of this media that we are told to be obsessed with?

Could you please understand that your complaints system is flawed, for many will not complain because we are told we are prudish or uncool if we don't want to boof that chick in her jeans while her top is off... ETC.

This is an emotional response to a news article, and I have wanted to complain many times, but MUM and DAD are BUSY trying to keep our kids happy and homed and fed, but the increasing drama? The thing I spend more time doing than a lot of things these days, is making sure that my kids understand that they are NOT sexual entities because of marketing. Kids ask questions, they get curious - but letting them be kids and not be caught up with what they should be for another man or woman is MORE important. More important than profit!

Our school's billboard marketing says this week: "Every child, Every chance, Every day" - media removes these rights from marginalised families and communities.

I haven't even started on the psychology of these things for the MANY MANY MANY victims of sexual crime in this country.

Sex also can be traumatising for some... with the philosophy and strategy you have on public display (particularly at this time of reassessment for your body) you are saying:

1. Everyone in this country is of a particular moral standard and there will be NO negative effects in the long psychological haul of life ... I mean, I have seen extreme changes in my life and I am only 34!

2. Everyone in this country agrees with small focus groups, not possible - show me the independence of the survey please. Show me the demographics of the social groups please. Show me the MARKET RESEARCH in a TRANSPARENT and non-industry biased format please.

3. Everyone in this country treats women and children with respect, crime stats attest to this imbalance. Again, as does the UN and World Health Organization.

4. There are NO victims AT ALL as a result of incessant and community complacent advertising over time.

5. That continually pandering to desensitisation of sexual violence, crime and objectification of women and children (and men even) is a GOOD thing for us (yes, your marketing is saying that to me). There can only be one eventual outcome... what happens when no one cares anymore about protecting people sexual rites to abstaining from sexual based materials? ... what are the future of your decisions for the FUTURE of our SAFE community in AUSTRALIA? I guess the church are no longer morally relevant since the worship of money became the new 'religion' therefore we only have YOU to rely on, having said that I don't go to church and maintain my own spirituality, however, for a while there they were our moral lobby group weren't they?

6. That there is no need to tailor campaign to a target audience any further, because if the country are desensitised enough, you can use the general audience to perpetuate massive branding campaigns based on SEX, because it sells to the broadest category of unthinking people willing to part with their cash because some company successfully made them feel horny, or that they should be horny, or that making you buy a product and then use it will make you more bonkable to the opposite sex.

Playing with people self-esteem in this way? What are the social and community actions that will eventuate by continually ALLOWING private advertising to MESS WITH HEADS and marginalising people in their own social group?

7. That every parent is responsible, again statistics attest to this NOT being the case.

These aren't knew topics are they? It's a concern to academics, it's a concern for parents and it's a concern for single thinking people too.

For example, this letter of complaint took me an hour away from my kids, now what if I was to complain about every ad and billboard that upset me to the point of shaking and crying in disappointment and anger?

I would never leave my computer and you would consider me a serial pest... Now should we discuss the personality demographic of those that are brave enough to speak up? We all have different personalities apparently but not if we are getting sexual ads thrust in our sphere of thinking.

The ONLY course a parent can take is to be kind of controlling over content (which we would rather not do), which causes marginalisation and disharmony between parent and child and consequently the household in general, and also pits parents against parents as some people really don't care what their children are exposed to and are exposing other children to. Therefore the fallout is that you say that your kids can't play with their friends because you don't trust their parent's judgement and that kids like to share, particularly if they think they are being more grown up and competitive with their peers.

Also, why the hell are we having cases of 6 year olds sexually assaulting other 6 year olds? Probably 30-50% of mothers and fathers have been at the wrong end of sexual abuse at some stage, maybe we are all getting protective of our kids more than ever... why, because we know we are hurting still to this day and - that the bullies telling us to loosen up and stop thinking 'frigid' are most likely those that abuse.

What will be the fallout?

This seems a desperate correspondence, but I have lots of question marks here in this note... I expect someone to answer them intelligently and personally please.

I also feel obligated to let you know this letter will be published to our activist art network, with up to 3000 people... not to publicly humiliate but to raise awareness... not all of them of course will consider this their view but for the last 10 years, this topic ALWAYS arrives in the conversations I have with other parents. ALWAYS, and they are TOO pressured by all the things we are supposed to be doing to complain about every abhorrent ad... and that also makes me think that if advertisers ASSAULT the community during this DEREGULATED time with marginalised sexual ads, that they create desensitisation in the community very quickly and overwhelm the complainers ... which gives them a good footing with you lot doesn't it, a good argument for their case.

See, everyone wants branding of their product don't they - it's the ultimate retail glory! But you can't achieve branding without marketing to the broadest catchment audience... can you? It's a flawed formula for community value if your product is an adult product!

Please, respond, I am anticipating your rebuttal.

Thanks for listening.

ps. THE the article that stirred me to finally spew at you:

If you would like to make your voice heard, do it NOW, this body are re-evaluating ... Totally happy for you to take any part of this letter for your own purposes if you agree with the wording.

Powered by ScribeFire.

Sunday, March 21, 2010


What exactly do you do AAU? (oooh, that rhymes!)


Somebody recently asked me to succinctly describe what this thing that we do is?


This was what I said:


Primarily, it does whatever it creatively can ...  our motto is to aspire to inspire!


In essence, the collective becomes multi-faceted - it is a podium and an audience, a gallery, a media service, an agency etc.  Kath runs around the web scoping opportunities
and forging links with other orgs and finding like-minded friends...  I

try to drive traffic...  also, I try to find events to have stalls at,

sell merch, write blogs and find promotional opportunities in heaps of



This year we have already gathered tons of momentum, I have already done one stall at a Brisbane (that's where I live, so I guess that's where we are based) punk gig, had a press ad in a
local net culture mag and been offered a regular column in another ...

have a local Gallery stall soon during our regional art festival.


Eventually, I hope to do more, but as I am just a chick organiser with a family budget and nothing more (not to mention time line), I am satisfied with the pace we are travelling and am very
pleased that people support the concept and what I hope to do...


Which is at it's most fecund ... bringing a spotlight onto a collective of people who use their creative talent and their own personal audiences to promote awareness of socially
challenging topics, whether they be visual, aural or written.  This may

seem a small thing, but it works wonders for enthusiasm and healing

(creative healing of the individual is always a priority)... oh and

education based on personal interaction with other artists in a global



To be diverse, we are not tied to one topic but rather represent the artists needs and their ideas about what concerns them in their part of the world ...  and gather them together... we can
also match (as you noted) artists to causes they care about when

opportunities arrive.


Activist organisations and organisers can approach us with their ads for distribution to our network... on facebook alone we are approaching 2000 people on the profile and we also
have a group and a fan page, we have twitter and all that too... we

have the ning site for creatives who want to join more formally by

having their own aau profile etc.  We have 5 redbubble galleries full of

conscientious artworks and we share the really great ones around, also

giving artists a benchmark to improve their message clarity in their art

etc. and linking everything back to the artists' sales page so they may

hopefully make some money for encouragement, but under art action union



So... taking a deep breath...


With every new organisation or relationship we forge, we are growing - and word of mouth is strong... if we can create the biggest pool of activist artists ever (decentralised) imagine the
capacity for visual, aural and written action if we can somehow

coordinate... or the potential to get really awesome interactions with

the like-minded activists and creatives...  it's a big experiment really

- and I can't stop being obsessed with it...


All I can say is that we are moving and want to shake... we are going and growing and until it stops, neither will I...


So, we are not so much an organisation as a collective - administered by me, only cause I came up with the idea a while ago and decided to test it :-)


We don't do summits like Copenhagen though, but are very proud to have people like Anna who is supporting us in her heart and we brag that we are attached to important campaigners and groups... We did get an invitation to the
"Freedom to Create Awards" last year, but alas, a trip to
London to see Bianca Jagger was not in budget :-P

Is that succinct?


QPUNX magazine is an initiative run by the scene for the scene and it has a sturdy readership so far.  I'm not quite sure why, but they have been really
very supportive of our little 'leftist' type venture... which of course

has me screaming cries of ANARCHY... but then that could just be the

beats and drones of punk!

QPUNX invited us to one of their numerous fund-raising shows at the Jubilee Hotel in Fortitude Valley one rainy Saturday late last month ... and... well...
Kath turned up with her punk rock friend Punxie for a day of I had no

idea what... I had art stuff... rained out... not so good to scream over

the top of the music all the time when discussing this concept... and

the roller derby girls had the interior hot pretty and I felt that I

would just dag the place out... but... with my six foot two punk rock

friend Punxie (of Punxie and the Poison Pens) I mingled and talked...

which is something I do a lot of... about the AAU and about art and

about whatever got attention... I had my teal coloured butterfly (there

are a lot of butterfly's around the punk rock art of time) logo t-shirt

on like the true Indy-car promo chick without the boobs and Lycra.  I

gave out art with the website address to a number of people and did some

word of mouth... it was a really fun afternoon and cool to connect with

a lively and rich bunch of go-harders.  So I didn't get my head punched

in... in fact, some people seemed to actually like talking to me... so I

guess they aren't such an exclusive group...

We are fortunate to have a regular column on a monthly basis where there will be ranting and art venting...  this month will have two feature
artists from our collective so it rolls on!

Below is our article from Issue 3...  Issue 4 is out soonish ... thanks Josh!

Being an Individual is a Paradox

I’m thinkin’ about words.  Not specifically ‘the’ words but the way certain ones are used and adapted for certain definitive socio-tribal aural

In that, collectives of groups form based on things
such as clothes and music – a very broad definition of course – add into

the mix ‘lingo’, ‘handshakes’, ‘gestures’ and ‘struts’.  People of the

same mind may give each other fleeting attention or a ‘sign’ in the

street or club that the secret society is ever vigilant of its members

in public. 

This forms shades of cultures within subcultures,
stereo-types within pigeon holes and a plethora of characterisations for

shows such as The Simpsons to

streamline and make the world simpler for ‘people less inclined to think

deeply’ to understand the subtle, yet marked, differences between us. 

This is when we all relatively live and look the same; we’re not even

going to contemplate the psychological social barriers collectively

confronted when we seek multi-cultural and spiritual diversity, as one

eclectic idea differs from another they all somehow become the same when

we consider the market.

A market that is cashed up and able to
have flogged to them, through marketing and brainwashing, products that

are mass-produced for a mass-produced and groomed consuming market of

people made up of subtle differences.  After all the retail stores can

only do so much to stay afloat and that generally means getting as many

people through the doors as possible to buy a line of the same

product/s.  At the same time though, it seems important for us all to be

safe in the knowledge that there isn’t anyone like ourselves and we are

all really individuals.  Which of course we are, it’s just that we all

buy the same stuff in streamlined ways.  We all seek to identify with

something visual and aural that somehow defines our inner thoughts and

values, to feel safe in the knowledge that there actually are other

people like us.  Paradox!

We all strive to be some sort of
stereo-type (be it obvious or associative), even when we are doing what

the hell we want.  And I guess, even when we are trying to ignore

stereo-typing we become stereo-typed by the stereo-typical because one

strives not to stereo-type.  Check that sentence out for an

idiosyncratic phrase… ha!

A market that is only capable of
needing beyond the needs of needing (already making a large group

similar).  As such, a market that needs to be made up of individuals,

doing the same thing but remaining individual whilst looking to

associate with people similar.  Hence the success of music festival

culture in the fiscal sense.  A single event with musical shades of

sideshow attractions that appeal to a ‘set’ of ‘spenders’ … and

therefore ‘sell-out’ the show.

We like to spend time with people
like us because we like to do things that we like with our time and we

can’t be with someone when they are doing what they like and not what we

like, some of course take this to a greater extreme than others.

at times, the more different we become the more ‘the marketeers’ are

able to tailor our minds to actually behaving the same.  Let’s take a

mild example:  the hippies began their alternative lifestyles in order

to seek to create social, spiritual and environmental change, generally

operating from high ethical moral standards. A way long time back now,

this gave way to hippie fashions becoming ‘mainstream’ and

‘mass-produced’.  One idea for this could be that a freedom of

expression and a bending of visual status-quos became attractive to

those not infected with these notions of social change.  But also, to be

visually identifiable as someone associated to higher moral thinking

whether a conviction to the ‘cause’ exists or not.  It becomes about the

look, not the action enhanced by the look.

Remember when faded
jeans were cool because it meant you proudly went without expensive

materials to prove you were suffering for your art?  Or that you were

humble or consumerism conscious or that you just like wearing old worn

in garments?  Then artificially faded denims go on mass sales in the

shops … it’s that kind of thing that makes me bawk!  Not exactly sure

exactly why, hmmm.

Then fashion and social ideal splinters
because there are reactions to this trend.  And mixes form and it

becomes a myriad and a fractal of personality all looking to find

like-minded personalities using sight and sound.  And the cycle repeats

over and over again. 

So then, language also mutates.  Some
might say that it is generational, but I aint that old and bugger me if I

can understand some of the ‘lingo’ some not so younger people use

amongst themselves.  It’s a coded language.  It might be as mild as

using ‘fuck’ every second word, or it might be a total mutation of the

sentence structure, spelling and pronunciation the entire phrases that

could be used repetitively just to get it out there that these guys and

gals are ‘different’ to the boring old English dictionary folk.  To

create a new language is real fame man, albeit collective fame.

“Bugger Me”

geez – how many stereo-types of language can there be.

I guess… likewise activist artists use certain terms and styles repetitively to

enforce their connectedness, or simply to quickly define the topic they

are approaching.  Which in some ways, is a conscious use of this

psychology to appeal to broad groups about the same issue, whether

people are personally affected or whether they care, to inspire actual

political and social action.

Artists in Residence are a collective of Activist Artists who are

dedicated to the continuation, development, growth and improvement of

the Art Action Union as a force for positive social change. If you would

like to be an Art Action Union official artist in residence, you will

be the first to be called on for special projects and opportunities for

promotion that fit your situation and your beliefs. Send us an email (

and tell us you’re in! We will add your name to our database of talent.

Random visual of the issue:
CCTV Government T-Shirt

Artist: Ross Robinson (

Wednesday, November 25, 2009



Freedom to Create ( is an initiative that seeks to improve lives by addressing society’s ability to support and sustain creativity. The initiative focuses on those societies in greatest need.

Directly from their website:

A celebration of courage and creativity
Established in 2008, the Freedom to Create Prize is a celebration of the courage and creativity of artists around the world who use their talents to build the foundations for open societies and inspire the human spirit. It is open to artists in all creative fields.

Support for frontline artists
Each year, US$125,000 in prize money is awarded across three categories: Main, Youth and Imprisoned Artist.
The winners of this year’s Prize will be announced at our awards ceremony to be held at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, on 25 November 2009. Human rights activist Bianca Jagger, leading human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson QC and acclaimed documentary maker Nick Broomfield will present the awards.

A growing presence
The Prize has been embraced by artists on the frontlines, the global arts in development sector and the human rights community. This year there were more than 1,000 nominations from over 100 countries.

Last year the Art Action Union promoted this prize in it's fundamental year, to a very modest and new group of artists. We even ran our own challenge in parallel with the ideals.

It was with honour and surprise that this year the Art Action Union was identified by this growing prestigious prize and invited to the awards ceremony at the V&A Gallery in London.

Unfortunately, I couldn't go :-( Because I don't live anywhere near London ... and after a frantic mail around couldn't get anyone there either :-( even though we were very lucky to have the invitation extended to our "colleagues in London" ... ho hum! I'll have to meet Bianca Jagger another day!

What is more important about the awards being in a state of "growing prestige", is that not only are they attracting the likes of:

to present the winners, the growing number of entrants on the front line of human need regarding expression have embraced the awards. This year over 1000 entries from over 100 countries has marked The Freedom to Create Prize as a special and magical celebration of voice, but contrasted against the dire need to raise community expectations and standards in educating our richest world communities about the sacrifices made by others in their struggle against oppression.

The stories of the finalists themselves are enough to inspire ... please find the press release for the Awards and read their biographies.

The winners will be announced tonight Wednesday the 25 November 2009 ... alas without the real time cheers and tears of the Art Action Union's physical presence, but we are there in spirit and will be advocating the change that these artists need to see in the world.

Powered by ScribeFire.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Water War and Irrigation Without Borders - Bangladeshi Theatre pouring out their concern

"Water War (water is life not for sale)" is a play written and designed by Art Action Union community member Sorkar Haider. Sorkar is a resident of Bangladesh and expresses his concerns through theatre alongside the Karigar theatre troupe. His latest scripted production draws to the surface the impact of globalisation, international conflict and neighbouring policy on Bangladesh, it's people and the river systems that have been their life and culture.

The fear that Sorkar and his fellow thespians are aiming to express, is the deep nature of greed and control that could cost them not only access to this necessity for life, but invoke violence and inter-dependent corruption that could overcome nations as the resource diminishes.

The play was inspired by the reflection of the actors’ love of the rivers as children in their earlier village life.

From the play brief that Sorkar sent to the Art Action Union (transcribed as is):

We discover some moments at the bend of river and we see rivers have chronological story, birth story, and all people are love them.

Bangladesh is irrigated by rivers. In the ancient and middle ages near about 850 rivers to flowed over the country and they meet with Bay of Bengal. But now this time we are seeing only 249 rivers. Where are the other rivers? Death. There are 90 percent people dependent on rivers in Bangladesh. The people are habituate by agricultural farming, fishing, stone business and other river related works.

All the rivers come from India because all the rivers are born on Himalaya and other hills. Indian govt. blocked 168 rivers water by damming 249 rivers. The Bangladeshi people are suffering a very poor time for water and river. Farrakhan dam is malediction for Bangladeshi people. Ganges water hindered by Farakka. In that time Indian govt want to build a dam on Surma, Kushiara, and Borak river. If it will happen more than 2 core peoples will suffer.

What is the global situation of rivers? It is impossible to talk about human civilisation without talking about Water.

One generation passeth away,

and another generation cometh;

but the earth abideth always...

all rivers runneth to the sea,

yet the sea is not full...


The words are beautiful, haunting and suddenly anachronistic, but they are not true owing to growth, change and devolvement during our lives. Even degraded rivers seldom totally runneth at all, but loiter in a chain of reservations. In some years our mightiest rivers, Africa's Nile, Asia's Yellow, America's Colorado, Australia's Murray do not reach the sea...

"Water War" will present some small story about the people who are suffering for water. It will be performed by two characters, they are acting in speaking mood. They tell five stories. Five stories are ...

1. Dighal Kumari, a story of a sweet village girl who will die for water.

2. Alluvial Lande, a story of rivers crying and alluvial lands people.

3. Love story, A mythological love story about rivers, a green love story of Ganges and Sitolakkha (River names).

4. Water Bottle, a story of bottling water.

5. Dam, a story about Dam.

Not only are the Bangladeshi people suffering by water. The whole World and Nature are suffering for water. We are losing our natural beauty and people's natural activities. People and Nature are fighting for water in opposition to some peoples.

And there are people here in Australia, here in the west, who refuse to consider the option of recycled water or even share their dams with neighbouring shires OF THE SAME STATE AND COUNTRY.

Wake up world, pollution kills.

… and bottling water from a spring in France and shipping it all over the world for the luxury of the polluters is just pure madness.

How many carbon credits in the production of one bottle of less-than-pure springwater from the Evian spring once it arrives in the offshore export country??? Not to mention at all the environmental implications in the use of plastics and the population’s lack of mental strength to grasp the concept of “recycling receptical”… sheesh…

Bangladesh is a country that I know very little about. When I think of it though, I think of monsoons and thick lush terrain with a rich, colourful, vibrant, long-lasting and resilient local culture. Not at all like this dusty island nation that recieves so little empathy from it’s population in times of drought.

It is sad to think that the actions of one country that shares resources, that has a responsibility to it’s neighbours and to the livlihood of our global community and global community mental health, could allow such ‘greed’ to take place.

Where are the international ethics on river systems, is it allowable for a country to block a river that flows to another country’s life-line? It is allowable for one nation to dam a river and stop it flowing before it escapes the border of it’s jurisdiction?

Does a country own a river that does not start within it and flows through to the other side of it to another border?

I becomes particularly nasty if the sanitation system of the water greedy country in question is questionable and squanderous in it’s directive and resource.

What does a de-salination plant cost in carbon credits again???

Powered by ScribeFire.



Environmental art project grants - $13,000

Can arts make a difference to the environment?

If you are an emerging artist under the age of 26 that works with visual art as a means to promote the environment and sustainability, than you may be interested in trying for a slice of this rather generous pie.

Queensland Conservation and the Australia Council are working towards creating a number of unique projects fusing the world of the arts and activism.

What a novel idea!

Utilising the artist as a catalyst for change, and change as a catalyst for the artist, the grant promises to give support and training in association with Feral Arts in Brisbane ( Such is the need for promoting sustainable environmental ideologies to diversified audiences, art is generally a medium that appeals (in some form or other) to just about everyone in every culture.

$A15 000 (including $2000 for travel) in mentorships will be awarded to deserving young emerging artists to raise environmental challenges in their work. Artists will be involved and mentored by environmental activists to learn about issues ranging from climate change to biodiversity conservation. The end result to be a magnificent work or works that will bring together the environment, community and creativity.

From the press release:

Ryan Dillon, Queensland Conservation Executive Member says the HELM-Arts (Healthy Environment Leadership Mentoring) project is innovative because it helps develop a new generation of artistic leadership.

“This project will expose, train and support young artists and shape them into effective leaders who can advocate for a sustainable world through their art,” Dillon says.

“Queensland Conservation, the peak body for more than 60 environmental groups in Queensland, is well placed to build closer links with the art sector,” Dillon states, “and we are hoping to attract nominations from a broad range of artists, geographical locations and ethnic backgrounds.”

“We created the term HELM-Arts as we feel it is up to young people to take the helm and lead the way with environmental change,” Dillon says.

The Art Action Union had a discussion with Ryan Dillon about art challenging environmental education.

We discussed how the mentorship grants will help these young emerging artists bloom.

Ryan said in a manner of speaking, “the good thing is that it’s a partnership with the Queensland Conservation Council/Australia Council and Feral Arts, two of the best and most well networked environmental and arts organisations in this region. We hope the project will network people from all over the country to create outcomes in Queensland and cross-train arts activists with direct hands on experience to create an ‘eco arts space’ to be watched and anticipated.”

I like the way Ryan used the term ‘eco arts space’ it creates a vision of a new and necessary arts culture. A microcosmic and specialised art form that has purpose and reward.

We discussed what will happen with the work once it is finished? How will the work be used as an education tool for awareness beyond the initial grant timeframe?

Mr. Dillon had a very strong idea that it was open for interpretation.

“Given the diversity of artists that we are expecting to see apply for this opportunity, it really will be up to the discretion of the successful artist. All artists will have their merits measured against the same criteria but that doesn’t mean that we will have a set idea about what type of work it will be and how it will be finished. The artists must demonstrate professionalism but it is up to them to prove that they have the best plans in arts education for sustainable environment and the best way of presenting it for long-term educational and arts benefits.

We are looking for art that is provocative and emotionally engaging, hopefully the viewer will see the art and want to get involved actively with climate change. The main motivation behind the HELM terminology is to provide a vision for young people to form their ideas around leadership in this area. They are at the HELM of the Titanic with the iceberg [ironic ‘cause really they are melting] looming in the near distance, the artist has to steer that ship with creative thinking to take a new course and not crash. To engage a new audience through new networks. It is up to the artists to decide what is provocative.”

Thanks to Ryan for his time and patience with my dodgy technology.

It is hoped that the HELM-Arts project will become an annual arts grant event.

Further about the initiative is available online at is available online at:

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Tuesday, May 26, 2009





Animals Asia, Australia Branch, is calling for artists to donate works to raise money for their Moon Bear Operations in China. As the event is only two weeks away they are hoping to have all the pieces together by the end of this week but if people can’t make that deadline, they are willing to accept pieces up until about Tuesday 2nd June.

Please contact Anne if you are interested:

The exhibition is being held in conjunction with a presentation from Animals Asia Foundation’s Chinese Relations Director, Ms Christie Yang. So if you are not able to donate artwork, you may wish to attend the event.

Tickets are $25 (Aust.) each and can be purchased by contacting Anne at the above email.

Artworks will be silently auctioned at the Red Lips Gallery (owned by renowned artist Rae Heint) to raise vital funds for Moon Bear rescue.

Saturday 6th June 2009
Doors open at 7 pm, Presentation on Animal Asia’s work in China will commence at 8pm
Red Lips Gallery, 60 Excelsior Street, Leichhardt NSW



The Ursa Freedom Project ( is projecting forward with the Movement developing into much more than a campaign for fund-raising, although this being it’s most important function.

Animals Asia ( operate in China and Vietnam rescuing bears and rehabilitating them as best as possible, although many of the bears sustain lifelong injuries and diseases as a result of their treatment in the bile farms. It costs a lot of cash to house and provide them with the special nutrition they need to peacefully fulfill their new-found days of freedom, so fund-raising and sponsoring of bears is directly going to the victims of these commercialisms and the organisation that frees them.

The Ursa Freedom Family is committed to liberating the bears that are bred, born and captured into a life of torture and abuse. The Bile that is extracted from the stomachs of these bears is used in commercial products for which there are cruelty free alternatives. This industry is supported by the people who buy those products and at the bottom of the pit of change, the first step to take before a market can be effected enough to fundamentally alter or cease existence, is to educate the consumers. And that’s where targeted awareness can be a radical approach to education.

Art Action Union is currently highlighted and praised on the home page at the Ursa Freedom Project (THANKS JEANETTE).

Founder of the Ursa Freedom Project, journalist and activist Jeanette McDermott, approached the Art Action Union on Ecopaparazzi to lend a hand with spreading the word. So what do we do? We spread the word! Issuing forth blogs and news and art challenges on all our sites about the project, connecting a number of networks spanning from Facebook to Redbubble, from Ning to YouTube and so the twitter bug carries the Chinese whisper.

If you visit the UFP site you can see that the AAU have also produced a couple of promotional vids

We also have an 11 minute documentary in the approval system waiting for a go ahead. (I have been busy lol)

We have designed a brochure for email circulation amongst welfare organisations to bring awareness of the wonderful efforts that are happening in a grassroots – yet global – way!


The AAU Redbubble group ran a challenge to help get people not only on board but wearing and looking at awareness. Congratulations to nofrillsart ( for the winning tee Save the Moon Bear (Bile farming makes me sick to the stomach) T-Shirt, last I heard Glenn had sold at least 4 of this design. If you visit the page too, you can see a small proportion of the people who found awareness to this topic through creative activism – and that’s not even taking into consideration the army of fans that would have seen but not spoken, or the people who see the t-shirts being worn.

Glenn chose to sell his tees with no mark up to encourage buyers to spread the word about the cause and the plight of the bears for commercial and consumer attitudinal change. By contrast another very active and passionate member of the AAU collective, Lupe (, made sales on some of her many and varied anti-bile farming/save the moon bears tees and donated the sales directly to the Ursa Freedom Project’s donation page sending the funds straight to Animals Asia.


Kids always have a way of saying things in a special way - a way that makes you feel happy, sad, safe and scared and a variety of other emotions all at once. Sometimes their application of their view of a situation can completely change the adult world, too many kids are robbed of their opinions. My eldest daughter Olivia (8) is often quite interested in the gozillions of projects that I pile around me so the Moon Bear project, being the animal LOVER she is, made her particularly thoughtful. It prompted her to participate and sent her off on a magical and imaginative picture process that resulted in a beautiful charm for the souls of these sweetly fierce mammals.

What made this very extra sweet from here in Australia was that she was joined in mind and spirit by Angelique’s ( son Josiathe in Nashville USA. Josaithe is also 8 and together - I reckon they nailed it!

Goodbye bile farming!

By Olivia, 8 years, Brisbane Australia

By Josaithe, 8 years, Nashville USA


For those of you who may enjoy Australian soap opera (no not I said the little red hen, I had to google the name, but I was surprised none the less) … you may be interested to know that Home and Away actor (and evidently, also singer) Bernard Curry has written and contributed a song to the URSA Freedom Family, named Willow’s Song. I had contacted Mr. Curry in the hope that he would contribute more of his media prowess to the cause to nil reply.

I reckon we can change his mind, contact me if you want his email address… ha! Just joking but some one should hassle him for a media release, it would do greater things than he perhaps would know.

You can listen to a soapie singer singing for great things at the Ursa Freedom Site home page (music player is on the left, just down a little bit).

ANIMOTO FOR A CAUSE – SUBMISSIONS WANTED FOR ACTIVIST ART VIDEO is a website designed to create slide-shows that amaze! A free Animoto account allows a 30 second promo vid that you can post online. What you do is you upload a ton of still images, choose a sound track and mix it. The site mashes the pics through some filters and things and comes out with something cool. You can re-mix the vids as many times as you like until you get one to satisfaction. A free account however gives you very little control over some aspects of the animation so its message presentation potential is limited.

Animoto for a Cause is a special account that you can apply for to which gives you full access to pro-video services in order to quickly and easily make targeted slide-shows that atmospherically move to a soundtrack creating an almost cinematic experience. Additional benefits allow the user to upload images and music but also include text headlines, ebeddable AND downloadable and also available in high definition DVD format for those really special projects. It’s a great way of presenting artwork and also a really easy and no fuss way of creating really professional looking advertisements. Given that the files are downloadable too, they become really awesome motion fills for larger movies that you may be editing in other video making software. You just import the .mp4 file into your editor as a video track.

Having had a free Animoto account for a year, the moment they circulated news of this new scheme I applied on a hunch … and they gave us one!

I have been fiddling with it to get the feel of it but I have a plan to showcase more activist art from our groups this way in the future –

For some idea of what this can do you can compare and contrast:

This is the first AAU vid promo I created using the free account

Find more videos like this on ART ACTION UNION COMMUNITY
This is the latest AAU vid promo (pretty ill-concepted and quick but you get the idea) using Animoto for a Cause

We want to make a vid with your art in it too. If you have any specific pieces that you would like us to add to the next promo send a link or attachment to:

The final video will replace the one that is currently set as the AAU promo vid and will eventually sit on the front page of the portal when it is finally fully operational - mwahawwwhawww like the Death Star!



Living in the age where sex sells just about everything and anything has consequences, particularly on society and more worryingly on young people. Time and statistics is proving that relying on institutionalised education in matters of safe and healthy intimacy is failing in large populations and the third world.

Is it up to the community to find the solutions to these issues? Let's not leave it to mainstream media, shall we?

Conscientious fashion professionals have taken the issue to the catwalk of New York - getting straight to the heart of the cause by infiltrating the fashion conscious teen. On the 8th May 2009 Midwood High School in Brooklyn New York was the centre of awareness for Aids education.

In collaboration with Designers Against AIDS and Sunny Downstate Medical Centre, website NINETEEN74 Director, Raoul Keil, described the vision for the event:

In the wake of another revolutionary fashion event and the anticipation of its first major New York based catwalk show, NINETEEN74 collaborates for a great cause with young professionals; examining the issues of HIV and AIDS, improving sex education and promoting safer sex. It is indeed true- the US, particularly areas in New York: eastern Brooklyn, the Bronx and Northern Manhattan are in a state of sexual meltdown and the most threatened are teenagers. HIV infections are registered among youths aged from 13-29; 1 in 3 students in NYC are being sexually active at present and there’s a disproportionate percentage of teenage pregnancies escalating. Organised by NINETEEN74, director Raoul Keil; The NYC AGAINST HIV/AIDS fashion show will cite the existing pressures and consequences of unprotected sex. It will present an impartial approach providing the reality of the virus through two major elements: education and entertainment. We don’t want to impose but rather expose the need for better sex education for youths. Through the sheer medium of fashion and visual performance, all of the designers and contributors [make-up artists, stylists and models] involved tackle the motto: 1 LIFE 1 CHANCE. NINETEEN74 are here to reinstate that safer sex is fashionable.

Following the event there is an excellently informative and extremely aesthetic publication, which tells you the shocking truth, while feeding you beautiful concepts to push the message home.

I asked Raoul about the reaction to the message that was presented in this provocative and chic event.

Q. What is the one phrase you remember from the evening that summed up what you were hoping to achieve?
A. With our event NYC against HIV has reached a local audience of 1100 guests attending the show plus 100 000 online viewers. We wanted to increase awareness about HIV and show that high profile professionals have the power as individuals to educate a young audience and entertain at the same time.

Q. Why do you believe that fashion can be a powerful catalyst for Aids education?
A. Every individual needs to dress, and each individual should be aware of dangers in the world, but why always presenting it as evil. With our fashion show we caught the attention to raise awareness about the possibility to protect and show that everybody on that planet is involved! and hopefully we cleared the heads of those kids from HIV being a "dirty" virus by showing them the effort all the talent involved has made.

According to their official press release:

The event was brought to life through the valiant efforts of health and wellness advocate Karen Jemmott, Director of Physician Outreach at SUNY Downstate Medical Centre, and Raoul Keil, Founder and Director of creative networking site Jemmott and Keil met through a mutual acquaintance,
Ninette Murk, Founder and Director of Designers Against Aids, who suggested for them to collaborate together for a cause: ‘NYC against HIV’ was born!

‘1 Life 1 Chance’ was the thread which tied together all of the contributors on the project to spread the word about the benefits of delaying sexual contact as well as practicing safer sex. The project focused on the hopes of making the next generation healthier, happier and better informed.

At the forefront of the catwalk show were the vibrant and chaotic creations of UK designer Emma Bell who recently showed her Autumn/Winter 2009 collection at London Fashion Week. Hair and Make up by Artlist Paris based famous Steven Canavan, and Cecilia Romero, who worked their magic on the models and produced an intriguing show.

With the success of NYC against HIV, Ninette Murk and Raoul Keil have hopes of replicating its message in other cities across the world by bringing together budding talent and health activists to spread the word.


Here are some very cool ideas about the re-definition of educational values for the benefit of community. Presented as audio documentaries accompanied by some great articles of 'leftern' viewpoint.


The Pacific Storms Exhibition in Bundaberg creates a great opportunity for cultural creativity to bring understanding to us about some of the people that Australians live closest to. Particularly if you live in Queensland (and can get to Bundaberg Regional Art Gallery) as we see many Pacific Islanders moving amongst us.

Pacific Storms will be celebrated from the 3rd – 12th July, an exhibition accompanied by an array of cultural activities such as Lei making, dancing, audio-visual performance, family fun-day and weaving.

For more information visit


A list of organisations recommending the use of toilet tissue tat is made from recycled paper.

Australian Department of Environment and Water Resources

New Zealand Ministry for Environment

United States Environmental Protection Agency

United Kingdom Department of Food, Environment and Rural Affairs (DEFRA)

Environmental Defense

Natural Resources Defense Council

Worldwide Fund for Nature

Eco Buy Victoria (Australia)

Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment

Department of Environment and Climate Change NSW

Queensland Environmental Protection Agency

Planet Ark

Links provided in context by “Safe”, the toilet paper … it’s wrapped in brown paper… like a favourite thing!

And while we are on the topic of ethical consumption, Australians should visit this site:
A guide to ethical groceries ... what a gem this is! Although it still won't make shopping with young children any easier, in fact most likely harder and longer ...

There is also this seemingly reputable UK website:

The Art Action Union, Uni Students and Activist Education

A little while back I was fortunate enough to attend a workshop that was organised by the Australian Student Environmental Network. The day was absolutely value packed with active education utilising creative learning tools such as role plays, drawing and active problem solving, and what workshop is complete without a bunch of crazy games that require looking silly, or running madly with arms flailing. All free and provided by volunteers, including a yummy, homely vegetarian lunch.

Image provided by Australian Student Environmental Network, Educating the Educator August 2008

Among all the eating, role-playing and drawing though, I managed to gain a hell of a lot of ideas and enthusiasm (not to mention, the realisation that as an active listener I suck, yes, you all knew it I know). I met like-minded and concerned people who want to feel empowered and want to use their skills and knowledge to promote forward and positive progress in all communities. It's nice to meet people in this way; it reminds us that we are not alone in our insecurities and passions.

The day focused on how to get your own action group up and running, how to facilitate community meetings, how to get your message out to the community and explored topics of strategy and audience.

I was also nicely introduced to this massive and extremely active network of capable caring souls pushing their minds and spare time to the limits in public service. Concerned with topics that span all issues we heard personal stories of immigration, cultural challenge, environmental action, veganism and women's issues. I also became familiar with terms such as "Dumpster Diving" (by which starving students tour the inner city suburbs visiting the garbage receptacles of local food vendors and 'rescue' the edible delights that these businesses carelessly discard after a day's display).

Find out more about the Australian Student Environmental Network at:

Other related activist-education resources as recommended by ASEN:

The Change Agency (Brisbane Based)

Training for Change (Philadelphia Based)

Thanks especially to Clare Towler and all the team for being so awesome and active in helping others to get to a level of expression in their communities.

Green Peace With An Artistic Farewell For Climate Action

The Greenpeace International vessel the Esperanza spent part of last year promoting an Energy [R]evolution to renewables as the Australian federal government was developing a response to climate change, a response that fell very short of expected targets and was largely disappointing and internationally embarrassing.

Images courtesy of Greenpeace Australia

As the vessel sailed up the Queensland coast it stopped off here and there to make powerful direct actions, including powering down the largest coal fired power station in Australia at Eraring, occupying the top of Ipswich power station smokestack for nearly two days, and painting climate change statements on the sides of twenty massive coal ships near Mackay.

The Esperanza's visit to Australia came to an end in Cairns (North Queensland) as artist Jorge Pujol directed a candle-formation in the shape of a wind turbine. A fine example of creative statement making being utilised to make an endpoint and to draw in another audience.

More than 7000 people toured on board the Esperanza as it stopped in ports along the eastern Australian coast. We were able to visit and get a first hand encounter with a boat that sees a lot of important and intrepid activity in the southern oceans and all over the world, when it docked in Brisbane.

The Esperanza is used most frequently in anti-whaling campaigns in the Southern Oceans because of it's size and inflatable raft capability (it has 11). It is also the home of a large boat called the African Queen, used in the Amazon River recently to confront illegal fishing.

images copyright 2008 Kathleen Cameron

The first image is one of the famous inflatables you see on the news wire doing all those amazingly courageous antics to keep reporting what is real and to bring awareness to the world... and that's the famous rainbow!

Greenpeace Australia Photographic Exhibition - 30 Years of Inspiring Action

Greenpeace International

Donate to Greenpeace
Donations at this time will fund their new campaign to bring direct political action on Climate Change.

How To: Grow Veggies From Art

Northcote Community Gardens (Melbourne Australia) are a great example of how local community groups can utilise their collective creative talents and their passion for sustainability to promote their activities to their communities and the world.

T-shirts for sale by Northcote Community Gardens at

From their RedBubble profiile:
... any profits made from these images will be used to sustain the gardens and hopefully buy a water tank! We also have many creative people among our members including photographers designers, and artists, so we plan to keep the quality of our work up...

Rebecca made this statement when I asked her about the Northcote Community Gardens' collective:

Northcote Community Gardens is very small by most community gardens standards, with only 15 plots, but we are very passionate about our little plots of veges, and the joy we all get from gathering together to grow food and share. We are a diverse group of people of different ages and cultural backgrounds, and that also adds to the creative mix. We like to share our creative skills with the group and often have little workshops on topics ranging from felt-making to seed saving to pumpkin soup making to how to promote ourselves and fundraise. Growing our own food organically and caring for our little plots of earth is a creative act, as is making the little mosaics, or natural found object sculptures that decorate our plots, or photographing our produce…and designing tshirts to spread the word!

We also feel that growing your own food is rapidly becoming an important political and environmental statement….plus home grown just tastes better! Community gardens are more and more in demand in urban environments and they are fabulous places for people to learn, and connect and create…we urge everyone to get involved in community gardens…GROW FOOD and save the world!

Northcote Community Gardens Blog

Lorie's Pet Cause

Lorie Rhoden - otherwise known as half of Crockpot Productions – is an avid animal rights supporter. She tells us of her personal attitude towards animal abuse and why she feels compelled to watch that footage.

Why I Get Angry

I have to get angry.
It's like this.
Every time I watch video footage about animal cruelty I cry like a baby. I can't help it. This is the kind of stuff that makes me despise the human race and it makes me ashamed to be part of it. This is the kind of thing that makes me feel like things will never change - at least not enough. I feel like people are evil and always will be; and that people like us will never be large enough in number to make others understand or care. Stuff like this is the kind of stuff that makes me want to have nothing to do with our society, this world, or this life. It makes me want to die.

But then I get angry.
Before the tears have even dried on my cheeks, I get sooo angry about the state of the world and our society and about the people who don't understand or care. And I want to make change happen - somehow.I've yet to come up with a foolproof plan - but at least when I'm angry I'm feeling the need and the passion to do something - to make a change for the better. To make people understand and care.

And being angry at society and passionate about animals is, in the long run, going to be far more productive than being dead. So no matter how hopeless I feel; no matter how much I feel like I just can't sit through another video; I find a way to move onward and keep working towards my goal to make things better for all the voiceless creatures whose lives depend on people like us.

Art, Action and Awareness - Stuff to do now!

Join the Art Action Union Community and add stuff

Learn about the 350 Climate Campaign

Look at (and perhaps purchase) some active wear from some witty designers

Donate to the World Wildlife Fund

Read about the diversities of feminism and find 1001 Links at Feminist Ezine

Discover Blue King Brown Activizm/Educationism

Posimism and ProActivism
Feature Projects from Around the Globe for the Greater Good!

Skateistan: Afghanistan’s 1st Co-ed Skateboarding School

Crescent City Art Project: the Kids of Katrina

Blogs and Logs

Do you have an Activist Art Blog or Website or know of a really good one? Nominate it for our news mail by sending a link to:

Helen Bascom expresses her opinion on "Visionaries" because of pressure from others in other places to stop her questioning her government through photographic art in public.

"A frustrated graphic artist, so what better way to get over it than to build a website where real artists can express themselves." Eric Wilson, Founder of Artevist

'By supporting Frame Lines you not only support the artists but you also support the need for an alternative media for magazines. You support the reduction of damage to the environment.' read more!


Hope you made it to the end of this huge issue... sporadically brought to you by me at the AAU Base Computer...

Aspire to inspire y'all!