Words: Jo Higgins
A myth that artist, curator and creative producer Anna May Kirk encountered early in her career was that she had to choose one path and pursue it. “I just don’t think that’s true,” she says. “I think all these things can be held at once and really inform each other to make an ecology of practice, in a similar way to how we also experience the world in a very multi-faceted way.”
In all her multi-hyphenate forms, Kirk is set for a busy 2022, with a major exhibition exploring radical slowness, co-curated with writer and curator Tai Mitsuji and featuring artists including Emma Fielden and Dean Cross, opening at Newcastle’s The Lock Up in March; and her first solo show at Sydney’s Verge Gallery in August. Kirk’s work also features in the Powerhouse Museum’s paradigm- shifting exhibition Eucalyptusdom, which runs until May 2022.
As an artist working largely with installation, scent and glass – “a medium that is both there and not there,” says Kirk – her current work and research is based around methodologies of sensing and in particular, “tuning into the material and spectral nature of climate change as a kind of hyper-object that’s unable to be perceived.”
Making things tangible, inviting connections, proposing new ways of thinking about and experiencing the world – these creative and political agendas also drove Kirk to launch The Supper Sessions in early 2021. Hosted on the roof of Redfern’s 107 Projects, this monthly, ticketed dinner party for 30 features meals by Sydney’s coolest chefs, with the profits from ticket sales going towards a micro-grant for an artist or creative.
“The goal is to put funding back into the hands of the arts community in order to champion experimental, critical and timely artistic or creative projects,” says Kirk. With a focus on supporting the work and ideas of often-marginalised voices in the early stages of their careers, “it gets back to the heart of how we should be supporting one another in this community. And it also critiques what projects get government funding and what is deemed fundable and the kind of censorship that can happen.”
When it comes to these sorts of existential issues, whether within the local arts community or on a global planetary scale with climate change, Kirk is impatiently waiting for solutions to come from elsewhere.
“I’m really interested in finding new ways that we can either support one another or to talk about certain issues,” she says. “Often art isn’t the best way of creating change – I don’t think [Prime Minister] Scott Morrison is going to look at my art and all of a sudden have a better climate policy – but I do think creating new access points into these issues is really important and art is often at the forefront of doing that.”
Featured image: Anna May Kirk. Photo: Joe Brennan.
This article was originally published in Art Collector issue 99, January-March 2022.