Conferences and Events

International Conference of the Arts in Society in Sydney – My First Day at the Conference

Yes, it’s my first day attending the 5th International Conference of the Arts in Society in Sydney. There is Winter in July! The conference venue is in Sydney College of the Arts at the University of Sydney, Australia.

I would be presenting a paper on “Conditions of Flow among High-Ability Students in a Specialized Arts Secondary School in Singapore.” Originally, I thought that this would be a strictly academic event, with no Gatheringbooks feature involved (although I did want to meet up with local Sydney children’s book authors – anyone who has suggestions?), UNTIL…. I found this session that would be presented on Sunday, 25th of August aptly entitled (and I shall quote directly from the programme booklet):

Illustration in Children’s Literature: Commonplaces of Culture and Identity

The short description included: “A discussion of textual interpretation of visual and written narratives in place-based picture storybooks”

The presentors are from the Department of Curriculum Studies College of Education and Department of Art and Art History from the University of Saskatchewan in Canada. I figured that this would be a perfect feature for Gathering Books. I’d be sure to take loads of pictures, take lots of notes, and introduce myself to the presentors and network/collaborate with them.

This is the conference venue – Sydney College of the Arts.

Very old building, really nice architecture.

Here is one of the signs which told me that hey, I am in the right place. I truly am very blessed that the gnomes and gremlins of Australia and the elf-sprites were kind enough to lead me to the right places. It was my first commute in Sydney (20 minute walk, 45 minute train ride, 15 minute bus ride, another 15 minute walk going to the Sydney College of the Arts) and thankfully I got there in one piece:

Just a brief sketch of the events today.

The day began with a Smoking Ceremony. One of the aboriginal tribes of Sydney did this fantastic showcase of their music, dance, artistry as part of their warm welcome to this fantabulous city. It was amazing. They burned leaves as part of the “smoking” ceremony and the idea is that immersing yourself in the smoke is supposedly one of the ways through which you can cast off evil spirits or iniquities away from your body. What a way to begin the conference indeed:

One of the other things that moved me during the presentation was the Forum session on Indigeniety, Art and Society with Debbie Abraham, Bronwyn Bancroft, Donna Fernando, Margo Neale, Alison Page and Adrian Newstead. One of them shared this  audio clip of aboriginal women’s wailing and weeping as they mourn the loss of their children who were taken from them simply because of their skin color. The presentor shared this gripping, tearjerking tale of their struggles and the pain that they go through.

They also showed this slide as they were playing the lamentations and yearnings and pain of mothers who were forced to give up their children. Very intense indeed.

I can’t wait for the next few days. I am sure the other presentations would be as authentic, engaging, and emotionally-gripping as this one. I’ve never been more at my element. I feel sooo at home. I met so many interesting people so far from all over. Singapore has quite a number of presentors which traverse different topics: from teaching and learning in the arts to design and media, and gaming. I’ve met up with several of them today. I am also looking forward to a presentation by Mawi Talaboc on “The Black Nazarene: Ritual and Belief in the Quiapo Church” – yes, the University of the Philippines Art History has a representation. I’m so glad.

Do watch out for my feature on Illustration in Children’s Picture Books. I am avidly looking forward to meeting the presentors and linking them to Gathering Books and having their works featured here as well.

Let me end by sharing this nice painting found in the conference venue.

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

1 comment on “International Conference of the Arts in Society in Sydney – My First Day at the Conference

  1. Pingback: Dual Tastes of Morocco and Sydney: Mirror by Jeannie Baker |

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