Jade Irvine is an artist and writer living in nipaluna/Hobart, concerned with re-examining her cultural identity, and articulating a sense of place through landscape. Jade researched small museum object collections for her Honours thesis, and was a participant in the National Gallery of Australia’s Digital Young Writers Mentorship Program in 2022.
Given to me by my Nan
I pull my Fred Flintstone-esque orange vase out of my Telfar.
“Hi, my name’s Jade.
I put my vase in this produce bag from the supermarket
because the inside of it – is a bit mucky.”
I get a few laughs and it’s enough to boost my confidence.
I do my very best to dazzle em’.
I used to think that it was one of my greatest talents –
being able to open the bags at the supermarket for Mum.
I remember the times with my Pop.
We loved snacking and having fun together.
We’d stroll through every aisle in a Woolies not far from here
sneaking grapes from the front display.
It’s about 16 years later
and I’m at Moonah Arts Centre, a couple of streets up.
Hoping I’d read the brief correctly,
I’m hiding my chosen object in my bag.
I ride the 4-second lull in the room eagerly
…I’m nervous, but I don’t want to miss out!
I’m half-Chinese Australian
(Or ¼ Chinese + ¼ Vietnamese)
I’m also Scottish somewhere in there, which feels personally significant.
In introductions I’m not sure if I have some kind of duty to myself
to make this clear,
and to articulate to others
Identity is always in a state of becoming, I think.
It’s whatever, I think.
On the day of the workshop
the weather is notably grey
and some of the discussions we’re having are difficult.
Naming up experiences where we felt like we didn’t belong
requires a certain generosity.
We’re expressing our frustration, there’s plenty we can agree on
and in listening,
we imagine the future of the arts together.
Josh reckons we’ll see the end of capitalism by 2030.
It’s also the first time I’ve heard of the idea of a ‘basic income’ for artists.
I’m thoroughly intrigued.
I think about the meme –
Emerging artists posting ‘big things are coming’
over and over again on Instagram.
But imagine the possibilities that could occur with a bit of financial security?
That space to think in,
to make things happen.
I’ve always known that I wanted to work in the arts.
I have memories of wanting to be a ballerina
but I still wouldn’t take a dance lesson without my mum being present.
Later on I wanted to be a singer and go on X Factor
but I was too shy
even for school holiday karaoke
at Northgate shopping centre.
Today, the life-size cut-out of my cousin and I
from the centre’s ‘2009 modelling competition’
sits in my lounge room
and I cannot remove it without help or a ute.
as my interests continue to shift into new dreams –
I find great comfort in these memories.
I’m still really good at opening bags
and I don’t expect this to change any time soon.
This piece was originally prepared during a workshop run by Diversity Arts Australia (DARTS) and the Refugee Art Project. In the workshop, DARTS invited participant artists to reflect on the Stories from the Future project, which gathers culturally diverse creatives from across the country to imagine equitable alternative futures for the arts. This project is a partnership between DARTS, the University of Sydney, the Refugee Art Project and state partners, and receives core support from the Australia Council for the Arts, Create NSW, Inner West Council, City of Parramatta Council and Liverpool City Council.
© Jade Irvine, 2022