2023 Launch Speech 

In Honour of Longevity

Kaya Everyone, it’s Makara and we are gathered here in Walyalup, on Noongar Boodja. This is unceded land where the traditional custodians have a rich history of art, songs, poetry, and storytelling and continue to practise their culture and art. I’d like to acknowledge that history and practice and offer our collective respect to Elders past and present.

This year marks the sixteenth year since Creative Connections was founded.  However, it is actually the fifteenth exhibition because we had one year off for the pandemic. In Hispanic cultures the fifteenth birth is a significant milestone, which marks the entry to adulthood. So, because we had that year off, we are actually celebrating Creative Connections’ quinceanera Wow! That is quite a milestone. In a world where creative and community endeavours often begin with great good will and energy, and last a year or two, maybe even several, it’s a remarkable achievement for Creative Connections to have continued providing such a wonderful opportunity for poets and artists to share their creative visions for a full sixteen years.

Like every such endeavour, funding and support is an uncertain business from year to year. What’s the secret, then? How is it possible that Creative Connections stays the distance when so many other voluntary projects fall by the wayside?

Well, in my view there are few ingredients in the magic spell. The first of these can be discovered in our Origin Story. Those of you . . .  like me . . . who have been with Creative Connections from the beginning will recall this story, but for some of you it will be new. So, listen up . . .

Long, long ago (well seventeen years, actually), local poet, Maureen Sexton was a pioneer of several fixtures on our local poetry calendar. She began the Perth Poetry Festival in 2005.  Maureen is also a mother, and their daughter, Kathy Adair, was a vibrant woman who loved art. Kathy lived with disability, and a casual comment by one of her carers became the seed of Creative Connections.

So, what were these momentous words? Well, to paraphrase:

You poets sure look like you know how to have fun!

And there it is, key ingredient number one: fun.

Never one to let inspiration pass them by, Maureen decided to double the fun by making a creative connection between two communities that they care about. Now, the poets are having fun and the artists are having fun. And, as any psychologist or life coach will tell you, that’s the best motivator of all.

Fun will get you a long way, but there’s a bit more to the spell than that. While trying to put my finger on the second magic ingredient, I considered a few possibilities. Was it passion? Hard work? Vision? Certainly, all three have been part of fuel for Creative Connections’ ongoing success. In the end, though, I felt that a major part of the secret was commitment.

So many individuals and groups and agencies have remained committed to the project year in and year out.  I know from the poet’s perspective that Western Australian Poet’s Inc have been unflagging in their dedication to make it all happen. WAPI comprises too many people to thank, individually, but I would like to give a special shout-out to the indefatigable Gary de Piazza who is an absolute stalwart for this and other poetic endeavours, and Val Neubecker who is constant in her commitment. I look forward to receiving her invitations to participate every year. Scott-Patrick Mitchell is brilliant with the social media support, as well as being this year’s winning poet.

And from the Artists’ side there’s a whole raft of people and organisations that match that commitment:

  • Rocky Bay
  • Mixed Palette
  • Create Connect – Victoria Park Centre for the Arts

All this commitment enables the artists and poets to have fun, for sure, but there’s more happening. I’ve watched over the years so many artists and poets start from small beginnings and develop confidence and skills in pursuing their artistry. Artists are selling their work here and elsewhere. Poets of all kinds start exploring their craft and gaining skills, and that has all kinds of rewards. One notable achievement is that the work of Creative Connections poets is now archived in the Australia Literary Database. They joined for the fun. They stayed for the commitment. They developed their artistry. Now there is a permanent record of their creative endeavours. From little things big things grow. So the third ingredient in the spell is artistry — learning and practicing new skills.

But there is one final ingredient that is critical to keeping a creative adventure alive. It cannot be done without financial and in-kind support. In this regard, we are extremely grateful to our supporters, including:

  • WA Poets Inc
  • Oxlades
  • City of Fremantle
  • Patti Ferber

Their combined efforts mean that once again we have a fabulous launch. But it must be remembered that magic is sometimes a matter of smoke and mirrors, and if it were not for the financial support from Creative Partnerships Australia, this launch would not be possible. So, the fourth essential ingredient is generosity.

There we have it. The mystery of Creative Connections’ longevity is explained. The four ingredients for a magic event: fun, commitment, artistry, generosity. If you, like me, would love to see the magic continue, please extend that generosity. The Creative Partnerships fundraiser is still open and tax-deductible donations can be made by clicking on the QR code at the sales desk. Your donations will be matched dollar for dollar.

I’d like to conclude by celebrating the work of all the artists and poets who have contributed to tonight’s exhibition. Now I recommend that you all have FUN enjoying the exhibition, celebrate and participate in the ARTISTRY on display, make a COMMITMENT to support our communities and demonstrate your GENOROSITY by contributing what you can to fundraiser and purchasing books!

Liana Joy Christensen

July 2023