This week, JMC's Sydney campus was proud to host our annual JMC Symposium, bringing together teaching staff from across all 3 JMC Academy campuses to share in open discussions about the intersection between authenticity and artifice in creative practice. 

Co-convened by the Dean, Sue-Ann Stanford and Associate Dean, Damian Gascoigne, the sessions played out over a full day’s program weaving together a wonderful array of writers, artists, educators, indigenous leaders, producers, and JMC students and tutors.
Building on last year’s symposium, the 2023 event saw distinguished guest speakers from academia and industry to lead keynote and panel discussions for staff. Our experts explored how we combine real life research and wild imagination to tell compelling new stories across our disciplines.

Ashton and Ana in Conversation - ‘Song Writing and Performance’

We opened with a stunning performance of ‘Ugly’ by music student Ashton Masters, accompanied by tutor Paul Aiden. This was followed by a Q & A with music tutor Ana Kypreos, exploring Ashton’s song writing process, how she connects and explores real life experiences in her work. The session showed how mentoring feeds creative development when academics are really invested. It pays off; we all get to share a small part of this amazing work.

Bem Le Hunte, Pat Grant, Cecilia Heffer, Melissa Silk - ‘What is our Good Work?’

Bem Le Hunte convened a panel of esteemed practitioner/educators, asking- If AI can replicate or replace our work, what do we want to keep? Bem is a novelist and course director for the award-winning Bachelor of Creative Intelligence at UTS. Her panellists included graphic novelist Pat Grant, textile artist Cecilia Heffer, and HoD Design at JMC, Melissa Silk. The panel discussed the importance of material making, and how they enjoy the limits and surprises posed by troublesome materials. They discussed bias in AI systems and the deluge of meaningless content we are bombarded with. Consensus focused on not wanting to give over materiality to AI automation, as ‘thinking through making’ is an essential part of their process. Their advice: the easy path is not necessarily the best one.

Jo Boag - ‘Specificity and Authenticity’

ABC Executive Producer Animation Jo Boag presented the impressive diversity of children’s animation commissioned by the ABC. She unpacked how ‘Bluey’ has grown into the worldwide phenomenon of children’s animation, highlighting the show’s focus on engaged parenting. She noted the importance of using Australian accents, telling Australian stories and using Australian environments such as Brisbane’s Queenslander houses as inspiration. This idea of specificity to experience, moment and place is an inspiration for all our disciplines- be confident, base your stories on the raw materials of observed and distilled experiences, then add imagination and talking dogs!

Marcus Waters in conversation with Mark Overett - ‘Oratory and Story’

Marcus is the inaugural Dean of indigenous Teaching and learning at Griffith University, and a respected first nations playwright and journalist. Marcus opened with heartfelt thanks to Mark Overett (HoD Film & TV, Brisbane) for encouraging him to take on PhD study.
Marcus wanted to have an open and honest conversation with our academics around the outcome of the recent ‘voice to parliament’ referendum. Marcus was searingly honest about the feeling of crushing disappointment of the no vote in the indigenous community. Our academics reported feeling privileged to have been there in this moment, to gain Marcus’ emotional perspective and his commitment to move forward together. Marcus commented that he had never received such genuine, deeply felt feedback open on his presentation. The session concluded with Marcus’ welcome to country; we rose together to stamp, clap and sing along, as Marcus welcomed us, saying ‘you are now part of the oldest living culture in the world.’

Peter Doyle - ‘Research and Authenticity for Creative Practice’ 

Acclaimed crime historian and novelist, took us with him into a world of crime archives and grumpy cops, damp basements full of unsorted, rotting negatives, detailing how he researched Sydney’s rich history of crime, for award-wining books such as ‘City of Shadows’ and ‘Suburban Noir.
He talked about small ads and small-time criminals, with a forensic eye for detail and great compassion. He also reminded us that archive research is a gruelling, messy, and grim business, with a 98% failure rate. But like a dogged detective he just keeps going. Our academics were spellbound by Peter’s slides and stories of murder and despair in flashlit fibro houses.

Symposium events are a key feature of our scholarly culture at JMC Academy. They invigorate our academics, generate new discussions, expand our industry and academic networks, and help cement our standing at the heart of our academic community. They also raise as many questions as they answer, which becomes fuel for further debate. On!

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