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Creative Clout: Yolande Norris

Josephine Walsh

“I can’t believe this is actually happening.”

This is how Yolande Norris describes her favourite response to the performances at You 
Are Here, Canberra’s annual experimental arts festival.

“That’s what I love about 
art – particularly installation, performance, ‘live art’, and any works that are presented in public – unimaginable moments made real, hidden truths revealed, huge, ridiculous ideas coming together,” Yolande says.

How does she feel that her work breaks the mould?

“Currently, my work in the arts is on both a macro and micro scale,” Yolande describes. “On any given day I work on projects across the country 
for Big hART, I sit on advisory committees, I collaborate with individual artists on projects and then try to create my own output on top of this. No one aspect is my core focus, and all are creatively rewarding.

“So you could say a lot of what 
I do is knitted closely to the work of other people. It can be hard to tell where their practice ends and mine begins! This is, of course, always true for curating events or producing projects and festivals, but also true for a lot of my writing.”

Yolande reflects further on how her own writing and poetry is inextricably influenced by and linked to other artists.

“If I am deeply engaged with someone’s work, a project, or a point in history, and writing about it – where does the work of others stop and my contribution begin? I started writing poetry as a way of exploring writing of and for itself, or myself,” she says.

Drawing inspiration from visionary women in the arts, Yolande admires those who constantly challenge and redefine their own artistic practice whilst also giving back to the community.

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“I saw a photograph recently of [renowned artist and Head of Printmedia and Drawing Workshop at the ANU] Alison Adler, [acclaimed Australian artist and tattooist] eX de Medici and Robyn Archer speaking together on a panel,” Yolande recalls.

“Three of my heroes captured 
in a single shot! Each woman
is making her own fiercely original mark on the world, using art to fight the good fight, each with a diverse practice across the years, and all with tremendous determination and clarity of vision when it comes to politics, community, and social engagement.”

It’s this vivacious energy and breathtaking eloquence that makes Yolande’s passion such a tour de force.

“As Betty Churcher said in her ABC interview: ‘It was almost too difficult to do, but not too difficult to do. And we did it’,” she says. “That is the feeling I chase, in making and living.”

THREE THINGS YOU DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT YOLANDE NORRIS

The one object I can’t live without “My smartphone, because it’s how I connect all the dots. But in a non-tech scenario? A good pair of boots.”

Biggest challenge I’ve faced in my career “Starting a family and still finding a way – and it’ll remain a challenge for the rest of my life. Although it actually has made me more adept in absolutely every facet of life, and given me a determination I’d never had before.”

My idea of a nightmare is “A day without reading, writing, conversation or coffee.”

Feature image by Martin Ollman

This article originally appeared as part of our Creative Clout article in our Magazine: Break The Mould for Autumn 2016. Find out more about Magazine here

Magazine Break The Mould Cover

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Josephine Walsh

Jose Walsh is a digital communications specialist who also runs her own blog, mapleandmabel.com. She has a passion for museums and the arts, a deep love of travel and more shoes than sense. Having worked in museums for the past seven years, she loves finding new ways to connect people with their cultural institutions. She loves meeting new people, hunting for a decent espresso, and planning her next adventure. More about the Author