Insights from a University of Adelaide Alumna & Artist - Part 3

Thu, Jun 22 2023
Welcome back to blog post 3! I hope everyone in Adelaide has been staying warm these last few weeks, I can barely feel my fingers as I write this and with the rate of inflation, who can afford heating? 🥶
A woman wears a bright red dress sitting in the edge of the stage smiling at the camera.
Image supplied by artist
Something I touched on in blog post 2 was my experience with schooling and university. My perspective of attending a university was a combination of meeting the expectations of others and unconscious bias. There was this never-ending pressure from high school to complete year 12 and register for university. My high school occasionally addressed alternative pathways such as TAFE or apprenticeships, but it wasn’t a core focus and I suspect this may have been due to the socioeconomics of the area as well as the reputation of the school. 

There’s no denying that years of conformity influence our decision making during our adolescence, and I was very much led by society’s plan in my late teens through to my early twenties. Each person has their own journey to follow in life and I am not the one to tell you how to live it so take this advice with a grain of salt! I know plenty of people living their dream life within societal expectations and I take my hat off to them – they’re happy and kind people! But when I reflect on my life, I can assure you there were plenty of decisions made because of unconscious bias. 

When I was in school, there were a few stigmas associated between the universities located in Adelaide. Flinders University copped some slack due to their location down South. Uni SA was referred to as ‘Super-TAFE’ and was inferior to their rival university, The University of Adelaide. I recently learnt that The University of Adelaide feels like an unachievable goal for some aspiring students, and it broke my heart to hear this. When I look back on my own career, I’ve had the exact same feelings as well, just in other areas. If you’re experiencing feelings of intimidation, importer syndrome, lack of self-belief or just fear, know that you’re not alone and I too have felt and CONTINUE to feel all these feelings each day. The first step is always the hardest but once you’ve taken that leap, your goal posts will move and something else will become your new fear. It’s practically a game of tag except it involves your life and goes on forever lol. 

My exposure to the arts culture in Adelaide has come in waves. My first experience performing with the Adelaide Fringe Festival was as a singer/MC of a burlesque show and I had no clue how anything worked! I just knew I needed a job and got lucky that it involved singing. I believe that to fully immerse yourself in a creative industry or to even study in ✨the arts✨ is something that comes with huge privilege. Art is important and brings us so much joy each day without most of us even realising it. 

If you play videogames, who create the graphics, music, and story line? If you listen to music/podcasts, who produces, writes, and records the tracks? If you enjoy the movies, who creates the set, directs, and acts? These jobs are scarce living in Adelaide, but they’re not impossible. However, there’s no denying that these kinds of careers are mainly accessible to those who had access to experts in the field from a young age. Otherwise, the arts remain this taboo, risky, expensive and unattainable industry. 

When I studied my degree, my dad was battling a Stage 4 oropharyngeal cancer, so university was not my primary focus. During various meltdowns, the staff and students at The University of Adelaide were incredibly empathetic and understanding to my circumstances. When I performed in Gluttony for the first time in 2022, Covid-19 had been introduced to the state and we had very strict isolation rules. I felt so out of my depth and when I expressed vulnerability with fellow artists, they surprised me by showing up with care and words of encouragement. Despite the competitive nature of the industry, the amount of love, compassion and kindness that has grown since the pandemic has influenced the culture of the Adelaide arts scene. 

There’s no ‘how to’ manual to create a career in ✨the arts✨ whilst living in little Adelaide, but what I can confirm is that if you love something so much that it sets your heart on fire, you might as well try and pursue it. #YOLO