Why we need opportunities for artistic transparency

This women-only event at Bankstown Arts Centre will explore the realities experienced by many Western Sydney female artists.
Why we need opportunities for artistic transparency

Image: The Woman Speaks, courtesy of Aanisa Vylet. Artwork by Helen Nehme.

Bankstown Arts Centre is leading the conversation about what it is like to create art as a woman living in Western Sydney. At an upcoming event on 21 October, artist Aanisa Vylet will share her personal story at a women-only forum, The Woman Speaks

‘Growing up as an artist in Western Sydney, I wanted to speak with other artists, I wanted to connect with them and I wanted a level of transparency with them. I wanted to meet people who knew what I was going through so I could move forward with them and collaborate with them,’ said Vylet.

‘An issue I’ve noticed in this industry is that it is very difficult to feel like you belong, especially when you come from a diverse cultural background and you live in Western Sydney and haven’t gone to the main institutions,’ she explained.

The forum is designed to help women create art and will be preceded by a presentation of Vylet’s second play The Woman, which is currently in development

I want to create a safe space through this event for women to actually speak about what’s happening in their own personal lives and what’s stopping them from actually creating the projects they have inside their heads now. I want them to feel safe,’ said Vylet. 

Aanisa Vylet, The Girl. Credit: Meaghan Cloes.

The event will create an important opportunity for connection and discussion that highlights the realities of creative practice experienced by many women.

‘It is less about me and more about me offering up my own artistic practice in a transparent way in order to help other women feel empowered and supported to speak about their own practice, essentially.’ 

At The Woman Speaks, she will be joined by Western Sydney artists Tamar Chnorhokian, Moreblessing Maturure, Yasmine Lewis, and Hawanatu Bangura. The forum is designed to support female artists living in Western Sydney, but other women from the inner city or elsewhere are also encouraged to attend as an opportunity to learn about what’s going on in Western Sydney and network.

Vylet said one of the specific issues facing Western Sydney artists comes from a lack of understanding about the arts within local communities, which can lead to self-doubt and even guilt over pursuing a career in the sector. 

‘I know what it’s like. I’ve been very fortunate to have the family I have. I have fought for a very long time to be who I am today and practice what I do. But I know and I have mentored other young women who do not have the support that I had. And even then, I didn’t have an enormous amount of support but for whatever reason I was able to keep pushing through,’ she added. 

‘There are wonderful organisations in Western Sydney that are promoting the arts. However, there are a lot of different cultural backgrounds living in Western Sydney and there are a lot of people who don’t really understand the arts. 

‘When you’re growing up as an artist you are usually growing up in a family that don’t believe in the arts. You have battles at home that you can’t quite express in a public way. You feel like you are betraying your family or you feel guilt for communicating the issues you experience. At the end of the day it’s not your parents fault, it’s not your community’s fault, it’s just this conversation doesn’t usually spread out to the broader communities living in Western Sydney, it usually stays within the arts. 

‘I’m just trying to offer them a little bit of support so they can continue on.’ 

To find out more visit The Woman Speaks.

Brooke Boland

Wednesday 4 October, 2017

About the author

Brooke Boland is a freelance writer based on the South Coast of NSW.