IGNITE: Creatives

IGNITE: Creatives

All about IGNITE

In keeping with Belconnen Arts Centre’s (BAC) IGNITE program CACD philosophy, IGNITE Creatives offers arts development support and opportunities to artists identifying as living with disability or lived experience of mental health issues. Funding through the Australia Council for the Arts and the Federal Government is enabling seven emerging professionals to develop ambitious individual projects with collaboration from an established artist working in the same field. Each creative artist is committed to raising their practice to a new level and receives remuneration for one day of project work each week and the collaborating artists are paid for two hours a week.

IGNITE Creatives consists of seven arts projects by a Creative Artist working with a Collaborating Artist. Respectively:

  • Katie Senior will choreograph and present a new dance work about living with Downs Syndrome with Liz Lea
  • Vera Delova will design and launch an art-wearables range with Jayne Simon.
  • Paul Dumetz will produce new ceramics for interstate exhibition and exchange with Maryke Henderson;
  • Kathy Leo will develop a body of photographic work with Marzena Wasikowska;
  • Christopher McLachlan (aka Dr Possum) will produce an illustrated novel with writing support from Sarah St Vincent Welch;
  • Jenny Heckendorf will write her memoirs with Sarah St Vincent Welch;
  • Justin Ray will follow the artists to produce a video documentary with producer Rob Nugent. As part of IGNITE Creatives, film Maker Justin Ray is meeting each week with the artists to document their project activities. Here is a link to the Belconnen Arts Centre Blog. To find Justin’s Vlogs, use the search using “Ignite Justin”.

Introducing our IGNITE: Creatives

Jenni Heckendorf & Dr Possum (aka Christopher McLaughlin) with Collaborator, Sarah St Vincent Welch

Jenni is an artist and disability activist and has contributed photography to a variety of exhibitions, publications and art projects since 1994. She received a Diploma of Visual from the ANU School of Art in 2001 and her group shows at Belconnen Arts Centre include Perception 2011, Colourfield 2010 and Artists Proof 2009. Her marriage to fellow Cerebral Palsy sufferer, lawyer David Heckendorf, has intensified her concern with human rights and sexuality for people living with profound disability.

Dr Possum spoke his first words at age 9 and says, “I use my autism as a tool, it enables me to totally focus on my art projects”. He works predominantly in digital media and is supported in his practice one day a week by an arts support worker. He has a BA(Vis) from ANU School of Art (1998) and he has been exhibiting since 1996. He has produced a number of Children’s Books and has been participating in Belconnen Arts Centre programs for artists with disabilities since 2009. He has twice received PAT Corrigan Individual Artists Grants from NAVA (2000 & 2003) and he has received Quality of Life and ACT Arts Fund grants from ACT Government to support his practice in 2006 and 2007.

Sarah is currently a candiate for Creative Arts Doctorate, UTS and she has been a practicing writer since 1982. Her creative writing workshops in the community have been part of regional festivals, delivered to schools, community and mental health groups, institutions such as AIATSIS, arts centres, youth and cultural programs as well as for the ACT Writers Centre. Her grants and awards include: Australian Learning and Teaching Council Citation for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning (2011), Australian Society of Editors mentor program (2008-9), Emerging Writer, Australia Council Grant – New Work (2006-7), Marian Eldridge Award for an aspiring woman writer (1998), Jessie Litchfield Award for Literature (1995), Marjorie Graber McInnes Short Story Award (2000 and 2006).


Katie Senior with Collaborator/Mentor Liz Lea

Katie is an extraordinary 22 year old with Down Syndrome. She has been dancing and performing since age five and represents Australia as a paralympic swimmer. She has choreographed and performed two solos since 2010: All For One was performed at Belconnen Art Centre to celebrate International Day of People with Disability in 2011 and In The Corner Where The Shadows Meet was for the National Dance Festival ‘Short and Sweet.’ It was Katie’s first choreographic and dance mentorship project with Liz Lea and was funded through Jump. Katie is also an actress. She is a member of Rebus Mixed Ability Theatre Company and she had a lead role in Beautiful a movie directed by Genevieve Clay and produced in Canberra. Beautiful featured in the Other Film Festival in 2012.

Liz is a performer and choreographer based in Canberra and NSW, directing Liz Lea Dance and Canberra Dance Theatre. Liz was based in Europe for 20 years and worked for the Royal Opera House, Ranjabati Sircar, Imlata, Sankalpam, English National Opera and English Bach Festival. Liz Lea Dance projects include 120 Birds, InFlight: Magnificus Magnificus, choreography inspired by the red tailed black cockatoo for Indigenous dance artist Tammi Gissell and Kapture, inspired by Ahmed Kathrada, who was imprisoned alongside Nelson Mandela for 26 years. In 2013 she was Choreographer in Residence at CSIRO Discovery and directed the first DANscienCE, a dance and science symposium. In 2015 the Festival ran at Queensland University of Technology, co-directed by Associate Professor Gene Moyle.


Vera Delova with Collaborator Jayne Simon

Vera’s family has a long history in the cultivation of hemp and making the linen from it for clothing, bedding, towels, etc, which they would embroider in many traditional ways. They also grew and processed wool fleece into various threads to use in knitting, crochet, weaving and embroidery.  Because English is not her first language, she is motivated to express herself through art. Her work reflects on the human condition and her experiences as a domestic violence survivor and sufferer of chronic ill health and mental illness. Before migrating to Australia, she completed various art courses and was a member of a number of arts groups in Yugoslavia. Her poems were included in two international anthologies and she has illustrated three children’s books in Serbian language. She has participated in BAC programs for people with disabilities since 2012.

Before migrating to Australia, Jayne was a lecturer in Textiles and a Teaching Fellow in Fashion Design and Printed Textiles,  at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, University of Dundee, UK. Since 2004 she has been a lecturer in Fashion Design, Clothing Production & Millinery at Canberra Institute Technology (CIT). Her project work has included: teaching and promotion, Dundumba African Dance Company for the Migrant and Refugee Settlement Service (MARSS) 2009-11, FASHFEST Canberra, model development and quality control 2015, Dresser and Wardrobe for Quidam, Cirque du Soleil in Wollongong and Newcastle, and she is currently Project Officer for the National Folk Festival.
Paul Dumetz with Mentor Maryke Henderson

Paul has a BA Vis from the ANU SoA Ceramic Workshop (2005). He has been a regular exhibitor and member of Craft ACT Craft and Design Centre and CPS since then and he began working at CPS as a studio and learning assistant in 2006. Perhaps because of his learning disability he is able to work with great patience as a tutor for people with disabilities both at CPS and at the former Disability Information Support Hub (ACT Government), where he was employed as a part time art tutor in 2014 -15. He has been involved in exchange exhibitions with Tutti Arts, SA 2012 and with Monte Lupo, Qld in 2009, 2010 and 2011. His work is held by the ACT Legislative Assembly, the Canberra Museum and Gallery and in private collections in the ACT and interstate. Working with Maryke Henderson since 2015 has enabled him to focus on producing new works to refine his technical skills in ceramics.

Maryke is an Honours Graduate of the Ceramic Workshop, ANU School of Art (SoA) and she has been making and teaching ceramics for nearly thirty years. Her work is held in private collections throughout Australia. She has been the Canberra Potters Society’s (CPS) Workshop Manager and a regular tutor since 2004 and she was the Society’s President in 2015. She is a prolific exhibitor locally and nationally, and is highly regarded for her expertise in soda firing. In 2003 she was commissioned by the ACT Government to facilitate a community mural in ceramic for the Gungahlin Youth Centre. She began working with Paul Dumetz in 2015 and they have collaboratively presented Coexistence at Belconnen Arts Centre in November 2015 and New Directions at the Watson Arts Centre in 2017.


Kathryn Leo with Collaborator Marzena Wasikowska

Kathryn Leo is an emerging photographer with certificate level training from CIT. In 2015 she participated in the BAC IGNITE Alternative Arts Academy program and produced a photographic installation for Hidden Faces, exhibited at Belconnen Arts Centre (BAC). In 2014 she contributed to BAC’s exhibition program through Inside out: An experts Guide to Mental Health an E-Book produced in collaboration with Richmond Fellowship. She established a relationship with Marzena in 2015 in the lead up to Hidden Faces.

Marzena is a Polish-born photo media artist living and working in Canberra. In 2000 she produced a body of work titled I left Poland when I was 11 years old. The series was supported by a grant from artsACT and was widely exhibited in Australia, Poland and Berlin. In 2000 she produced Fragrant Sweat, a body of portraiture of her daughter Jess and her teenage friends. Forensic Landscapes (2004) explored Australia’s rugged bush landscape; and Excavations (2006) meditated on the built environment. Wasikowska’s most recent work is a contemplation on waterscapes. She was the recipient of the 2013 Capital Arts Patrons Organisation’s Rosalie Gascoigne Award and she is a current PHD candidate at ANU and is a sessional tutor in Photography at ANU and Canberra Institute of Technology.


Justin Ray & Mentor/Producer Robert Nugent

Since qualifying with a certificate IV in Screen and Media at CIT, Justin has worked as a production assistant, second assistant director, editor, sound assistant and lighting assistant  on locally produced feature films: The Competition (Music Love Story), Theatre of the Dead, Exit Wounds and Beautiful. He has also undertaken two ACT Government commissions, among others, to create documentary and promotional videos. He has been independently devising and developing a video documentary about his intellectual disability with mentoring support from Rob Nugent since 2013.

Rob has an MA in Documentary from the Australian Film Television and Radio School. He has made several independent films, as well as many commissions for NGOs and TV. His End of the Rainbow won the first appearance award at IDFA in 2007 and screened at festivals internationally. He was a war artist for the Australian War Memorial in Iraq and East Timor. He made No Dramas; recordings from Iraq in 2008, which is used in University teaching curriculums around Australia. His film Memoirs of a Plague (2011) screened at IDFA and HotDocs, Margaret Mead FF in New York, and iDocs in Beijing. He has screen credits with the ABC, ARTE, PBS, SBS and National Geographic. He has just completed an independent film Night Parrot Stories with funding from Screen Australia. He is a sessional teacher at ANU, UNSW (ADFA), CIT and he is an Associate Research Fellow at the National Museum of Australia.