The Aeoncademy Open Day is running from 10-4 on Saturday the 4th of March out of the Aeoncademy centre, located on Loftus St. Yarralumla. We’ll have arts and crafternooning, dramatic adventures, a display of fired ceramic work from the January program AND a display of work-in-progress from our After School classes. We’ll have the winner of the Vala Writer’s Prize and we’ll have it all with a 20% discount on our holiday programs (if you book in on the day!)
Our inaugural Vala Writer’s Prize has been a fabulous success garnering several entries from dedicated students. Thank you all for participating.
The Winner of our Inaugural Writer’s Prize was Harry Broadhead. Harry has been attending Aeoncademy since he was seven years old, and has rapidly become a stalwart of the Vala program.
Harry’s entry, Letters from Mexico, is an absolute ripper of a read, exploring the epistolary form and telling the story of the Spanish invasion of Tenochtitlan from the perspective of a conquistador. Inspired by and sourced from Fall of the Aztecs, Harry’s story lays out actual historical events from an incredibly human perspective. Congratulations Harry for your excellent work.
Special mention is due to our two shortlisted entries by Leyla and Annika, with a story sourced from our near future science fiction story Dawn of a New Horizon. Told in stream of consciousness and action-focused, Leyla’s entry is a fantastically engaging narrative that is mirrored by the beautiful comic strip interpretation of the same events.
It’s well worth a read – and you can find our top three entries, as well as a narrative pulled straight from the fantastic Young Mutant Chronicles, in our new publication AeonDawn Magazine. Available online, we also have a limited print run with a couple of copies still left for purchase! Contact the office to find out more.
The Vala Writer’s Prize will open again during the Summer Holiday Program, so stay tuned for more information!
Andrew is our Co-Director of our Vala programs, our administrative systems manager, and website manager. We sat down with him to get him to tell his Aeoncademy story.
When did you join Aeoncademy?
I was 11 – no, 12. I was in high school, I’d had a couple of holidays out of the routine of holiday programs and to be honest was getting bored, but loving the freedom. It took a while, but my sibling, Rania – forever an artist – was the real impetus.
Vala is our dramatic adventure and storytelling program where you teach the most. What got you interested in that?
I’ve always been a storyteller of some sort, I guess. More to the point, I can vividly remember the kinds of games I used to play as a kid. We were ghost-hunters or secret agents, and there were these complex realities we’d construct. It was always really cool – but the stories would eventually break down.
So storytelling was the hook?
It was just so complex, we had these amazing scenes play out in miniature, we had these complex character interactions – with people like Luke as part of the game and people like Mathew running the stories. It was amazing to have this rich and vibrant story spring to life around my decisions and actions. I was hooked from day one. We were playing Dawnsaga stories almost exclusively back then, and it was amazing to become a part of a living narrative – which is something I think we’ve kept really well over the years.
So how did you move from student to teacher?
I remember in the third, maybe fourth program I came along to Mathew was looking for assistants to help keep the story flowing. His rules were simple. You had to be at least thirteen, and you had to be tech-savvy enough to learn the program we were using. I was both by then.
This was back when we generated characters for all the new players on the first day, and had to do the same for any newbies who came later on during the week. It was a time-consuming process but I – and I distinctly remember doing this – took the initiative to streamline the whole process. It went from half a day of dice-rolls and debates to ten minutes to knock up everyone’s character. That was really cool for a thirteen-year-old.
Organisational Efficiency from day dot?
So what happened next?
We inaugurated M Group with Luke, Me, and a few others who’d been coming along and were starting to get old enough. It was so cool to spend my Saturday afternoons hanging out with these peers, learning how to hold meetings, learning how to collaborate on story.
I graduated Year 12 in 2009, and had decided well in advance to take a gap year before university. This was mentioned to Mathew at some point and – lo and behold – there was a job for me. I went from an assistant in the holidays to the administrative officer of Aeoncademy after school. It’s almost as if Mathew and Teffany timed our After-school expansion to coincide with my availability. It was really cool. I learned how to prepare food, how to balance the books, how to deal with difficult enquiries, and a whole lot about children’s services regulation. I did that for nine or ten months, took a bit of a holiday, and then started with my next big chapter.
That’s because you returned to university, is that right?
That’s right! I’d gotten into the University of Canberra to do a Bachelor of Writing. I was still facilitating after school. Things got busy, fast. I worked on university, in and on the Vala program, and on some interactive stories. I found myself a weekend job or two, got caught up in putting together a whole bunch of community events, and then embroiled in a film. Eventually I got my degree somewhere in that mess too.
But now you run the Vala After-School and some of the holidays, as well as the office?
There was a rapid spate of changes to what I was doing but it all concluded with me developing the After-School version of Vala in consultation with Mathew and Luke, and everything that flowed on from there. Some changes came up and we discovered a gap for an office manager, so I filled that too and then we kind of ended up where we are today.
And where is that, precisely?
I’m in charge of our administrative systems, and more or less in charge of our Vala program in its After School format. I’m also one of the more experienced facilitators here. I also have some exciting work with Mathew and Teffany outside of the Academy
– but that’s staying under wraps for the moment.
So how would you describe yourself now?
I’m in such an enviable position it’s fantastic. I get to be an Author and Educator. I’ve been given the opportunity to work with my chosen art form and be remunerated for it, and I get to help inspire and nurture the next generation of students. It’s fantastic. One of my massive interests, for a very long time, has been interactive storytelling. To be able to explore it on such a grand scale is almost unbelievable.
What would you say to any potential recruits?
Throw yourself into the opportunities that present themselves with absolute abandon, even the ones that seem bizarre or out there. Especially the ones that seem bizarre or out there.
Aeoncademy is so unlike anything that happens anywhere else, and it’s so cool to be able to shape this operation. At the end of the day, nothing compares to the satisfaction of having left such a positive impression on our community.
After two weeks in Barcelona, there are some civic features here I really appreciate. For instance, you don’t need to lug a water bottle around while tracking through the streets or exploring the many parks because there are water bubblers everywhere!
Not only do they dispense water but some of them are old and incredibly beautiful, others more contemporary or with a bit of a DIY aesthetic. In this densely populated city of 1.6 million people, tourist season peak time can swell numbers to 8 million! A massive increase of people with all their demands for rooms, food and rubbish disposal.
Everywhere you walk there are recycling hoppers to sort out your waste. This city is very well maintained with round the clock cleaning by electric cars on all the main tourist routes.
People here value plants and greenery. Tiny balconies are full of pot plants, there are squares and avenues planted with lovely shade giving trees and community gardens pop up on roof-tops and in communal courtyard spaces. Large parks have been carefully planned: providing lawn space, scented avenues and lots of shade.
One of the best things about this city is the bicycle sharing system called Bicing (rhymes with icing). For about $50 a year, residents can join up which gives them access to a bike from any of the 6000 available at 420 stations around the city. You can ride the bike for free up to 30 minutes and then there is a small charge for up to 2 extra hours after that. You want to get the bike back to a station before 4 hours though or it get expensive. This shouldn’t be a problem because there seem to be bike stations all over the place, just like the bubblers and recycling centres.
This week has been a monumental one (no pun intended). Mathew and I are in Barcelona and I have finally seen, moved amongst and touched the work of Antoni Gaudi, an artist whose work I have admired since childhood.
Essentially Gaudi embodies the idea of art being an integral part of life. In his eccentric and organic architectural structures he reverentially calls upon the forms found in nature as a paeon to his God. He is famous for his saying ‘originality is returning to the origin’ an idea which is born out in his extensive use of natural forms like honeycomb, tree trunk columns, spirals and fractal like branching structures.
We started with a dusk visit to Casa Mila which is better known as La Pedrera (The Quarry), an originally disparaging nickname for an apartment building constructed in the modernist period in Catalonia, Barcelona at the beginning of the 19th Century. Originally constructed as an apartment for a wealthy patron it anticipated the changes of the new millennia by incorporating innovative structures like an underground car park, a lift, a light flooded central shared courtyard and open plan floors to allow the inhabitants to design their own spaces.
It is always a weird sensation to actually experience the environment you have anticipated by looking at postcards, art books or online videos.
La Pedrera itself stands uniquely in a street surrounded by historical and stately buildings. The famous doors that look so delicate in pictures are massive iron gates inspired by the patterned wings of a butterfly. The inside ground floor of the courtyard space is flooded in colour from algal greens to floral pinks and blues. Decoratively exuberant it celebrates natural patterns from the minutiae of curlicues of balustrades and door handles to the massive bones of the entire construction . The structure rises from the floor in a giant spiral like the interior of a sea shell or snail. Massive tree like pillars support the building stretching up to the roof space which contains large catenary arches, commonly found in Gothic architecture, a style Gaudi was extremely fond of. Walking through the roof area is like walking through the body of a whale, the arches forming ribs and tunnels. Apparently this was where all the washing was hung to dry!
From this roof space the very top of La Pedrera is accessible through narrow spiral staircases leading to more fantastical sculptural shapes rearing into the sky like Easter Island statues. Like so many historical places in Barcelona, the building is given a contemporary interpretation for public use everyday. Here a light projection show transforms the 100 year old rooftop into an incredible canvas of colour and movement with images of plants and animals in a celebration of nature Gaudi surely would have appreciated.
Isabelle Mackay-Sim has been making strides into her artistic career and we were all very happy to attend the opening of Divergence at Form Studio and Gallery on Friday 6th May.
Isabelle Mackay-Sim has the longest tenure of any student at Aeoncademy and now facilitates the Wednesday drawing and painting class.
After graduating the ANU’s School of Art, Isabelle has been busy establishing her emerging art practice.
Divergence includes her latest body of work and develps on themes explored in her last show. All the works in the show are made of clay and very diverse! Go have a look
The show runs until 23rd May http://www.formstudioandgallery.com.au
The six artists in Divergence, although all working in ceramics, use the medium in very diverse and unusual ways. What brings the work together in this exhibition is the artists’ use of divergent thinking to create engaging and unique sculptural works.
Elaine Bradley, Verney Burness, Richilde Flavell, Isabelle Mackay-Sim, Fran Romano and Lia Tajcnar invite you to this exhibition.
Works informed by biology and flora, Mackay-Sim’s work celebrate atypical relationships, and offer an example of coexistence that crosses gender boundaries. Burness replicates destruction and renewal in her dialogue with natural forces, while Tajcnar tackles metaphysical questions about the nature of perception and knowledge. Romano extends her exploration of the universal importance of ritual and remembrance and Flavell’s work is informed by our culture’s glorification of the busy through faceted installation.
Who got involved in our massive Autumn Program. Our blockbuster program has had us moving from strength to strength with our classic blend of Visual Art, Dramatic Adventure, and Creative Play. We’ve told stories of Ancient Chinese warrior-monks, and of Far Future Smugglers, made art as small as button-badges, and as large as the wall of our Art room, and amongst all that our Sparks have learned massive swathes of new ways to interact with creativity!
As a result of the awesome attendance and engagement this program, Aeoncademy has been able to offer some of our fantastic senior students bigger and better opportunities to develop their skills in artistic and creative practice, as well as some excellent work experience offered to people who have come up through our ranks of students to join the team.
Aeoncademy has always maintained a serious commitment to extension learning for young people as they come up through the ranks of Aeoncademy, with Vala’s Veteran’s & Training Programme, and Creative Catalyst’s Teenage Art Club, both designed to help train children as they grow into young adults, helping encourage larger and more complex artworks and storytelling techniques.
Every child is born an artist, the trouble is staying an artist as you grow up. — Pablo Picasso
Aeoncademy provides increased mentoring and tuition to students as they start to grow up — as the pressures of adolescence start to encourage children to abandon creative play and practice, Aeoncademy steps in to provide a proven guiding network of peers and role models to help them keep their creative spark, well into their teenage years and onwards through to adulthood.
For those students who are dedicated, passionate, and serious about Nurturing the Creative Spark, as they grow older there even open up employment opportunities, helping start these young adults on a path of successful, enjoyable, and fulfilling creative careers.
Today, for example, of all our staff on the floor, eight in eleven have graduated from Aeoncademy, another was a member of our Work Experience program, and one was a founder of the organisation, leaving us with 90 percent of our staff being brought up through the service! We’re super keen to see where we go to next.
A Lunch in the life of a Catalyst/Vala/Spark participant is a changeable thing. After a heavy morning of character development, clay modelling and wolf howling, participants recharge over a delicious home cooked lunch of spaghetti bolognese seasoned with vigorous debate. Robyn is our Caterer and predicts the weather in order to provide a suitable menu. Today she made a warm risotto. As the weather improves we can expect more scrumptious salads and cold fruits.
We have a relaxed lunch break with a decent amount of time to sit down with new friends and compare tastes. We make sure everyone still has time for a run around, games or reading quietly. If it gets hotter than 30° the slip n slide makes an appearance and we can all cool down. Icy frappes also emerge in the hot afternoons.