Writing Teachers Western Sydney – building a community of practice

Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre

The inaugural meeting of the Writing Teachers Western Sydney group was held at Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre on Monday, January 23. A small and enthusiastic group met to explore the New World Order exhibition that provides

an opportunity to think about how we make sense of the world in a post-internet era

by engaging with artworks that explore exposes, conspiracy theories, cybernetic tarot cards, hacked city-scapes, UFO blanket paintings, alternate currencies, illusions, paradoxes and alternate endings.

The catalogue essay concludes with:

While there is narrative, lyricism and elements of the spectacular or preposterous in the[se] works, each artist undeniably speaks the truth.

We chose an artwork and gathered ideas. I challenged myself to work with a piece that seemed to reference ancient Egyptian elements

Mystereality, Jess Johnson, 2015, pen, fibre tipped markers and gouache on paperMystereality, Jess Johnson, 2015.

as my passion and interest in history does not include Egyptology. I was entranced by the busyness of this work, and awed by the intricate detail of each pen stroke.

Stepping in to inspect specific components, I became overwhelmed yet noted

Mystereality detail

chains and interconnectedness, gradations and rays, blinded with eyes closed.


I pondered the symmetry and patterns, thought of backgammon and skill, balance, patience and resilience.

The horizon and perspective jarred with the torn paper edge, constantly fragmenting and shrouding ideas. Boundaries and limits competed with opportunities and possibilities.

sharing writing in the New World Libraryenjoying coffee in the New World Library

Despite the comfortable lounge, this proved to be a challenging writing environment. In an open cafe space with patrons of all ages, the New World Library installation also contained a small tv continually playing a video loop with dialogue. Part way through our meeting, a work crew began drilling into ceiling trusses. These sounds pervaded our writing and sharing, yet were very much in keeping with the dissonance and dystopian affect of the exhibition.

the cacophonous cafe and foyerthe cacophonous cafe and foyer 

A timely reminder of the difficulties that students are sometimes expected to achieve within and despite their unseen impact. Hopefully, our next meeting in a library space near Parramatta will offer a different ambience.

2 responses to “Writing Teachers Western Sydney – building a community of practice

    • Thanks for the question. I am organising groups of up to 15 ETA members across Sydney, Newcastle, Wollongong and Goulburn. At the moment, I am collating a database that began at my conference presentation in November and has continued with interested teachers from the ETA facebook page. Soon, there will be a closed facebook group page for teachers to stay connected and share their writing. Look out for the dedicated ‘Writing Teachers’ issue of mETAphor later in the year, and a Writing Teachers space at this year’s ETA conference on November 24 & 25. There is also a Writing Teachers Retreat at Q Station in April – details on ETA website.

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