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"I think you need a strong will to do your own thing."
1 July 2009

Margaret Wertheim is a science communicator

Interview by Kate Bezar

Kate Bezar on Margaret Wertheim

Margaret Wertheim is the first to admit that for the better part of her life she’s missed the mark and been “out of sync with the times”. Her books, ‘Pythagoras’ Trousers’ and ‘The Pearly Gates of Cyberspace’, delved into themes of science and religion, well before the topic became fodder for mainstream press.

She has also written and produced a dozen television documentaries and most recently she founded The Institute for Figuring (IFF), an organisation to further her life’s work of “bringing science to the other 90%.” This time, Margaret seems to have tapped into the zeitgeist. The IFF’s Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef Project has captured the world’s imagination. It has been shown in some of the most prestigious galleries and exhibition centres and Margaret has been invited to give workshops and talks (including the TED conference in 2009) the world over. Now this Brisbane-girl talks to us.

This story originally ran in issue #22 of Dumbo Feather

Discussed in this Story

KATE BEZAR: So you’ve been having a pretty manic week?

MARGARET WERTHEIM: Oh, I’m having a pretty manic last two years! Truth be told, it seems like every time I think, “Oh, now I’m going to have a bit of a break” something happens.

Well, it’s exciting times.

It’s nice that there’s a lot of interest in what we’re doing. The Institute for Figuring (IFF) was one of those things that was meant to be a side-line to my main life, but it’s completely taken over. It’s become my full-time job, which really isn’t something I expected to happen.

Why do you think that’s happened?

Well, the IFF emerged out of my work as a science writer and a science communicator. I’d been professionally a science communicator for my whole working life – about 25 years. I found myself encountering interesting subjects and work that was being done by people like scientists, mathematicians, computer scientists and engineers. I would go to science magazines, and various people I wrote for about science, saying, “Look, I’ve got this great subject I’d like to write about.” They’d sort of look at me a bit quizzically and not quite comprehend. So I thought I’d like to set up some new kind of a framework for communicating these things to a wider range of people. That was why I set up the Institute. Five years later the project has taken off way beyond my wildest expectations, and it’s pretty much all I do now. I think the success here is because my instinct was right. There’s a huge audience out there who don’t necessarily read mainstream science coverage, but who are deeply wanting to interact with these subjects in new and interesting ways. I think many people’s experience is that they buy a book on string theory, or some aspect of science that they’re genuinely interested in, and they find they can’t actually read the book, they simply can’t understand it.

This story originally ran in issue #22 of Dumbo Feather

This story originally ran in issue #22 of Dumbo Feather

How many people bought Stephen Hawking’s ‘A Brief History of Time’ and never got past Chapter One?

Even the publishers admit that it’s probably the greatest, unread book of all time. Frankly, I often find reading science magazines dull. I persist because I want the information and find science utterly fascinating, but I think for many people from outside the science world, the way in which science is presented is just not engaging so they don’t persist. If I can achieve the kind of success we’ve had with the IFF by operating essentially from my living room, I think it also suggests that there just aren’t enough channels into these subjects.

So what’s your plan for communicating in a different way, as opposed to the normal channels?

My sister Christine – who’s my twin – and I founded the Institute together and our approach is a combination of the skills we’ve both developed and the lives we’ve both lived. When we left high school, she went to art school and became a painter, and I went to university to study physics and maths. She now teaches Critical Studies at Calarts (California Institute of the Arts), one of America’s major art schools. So she has background in the arts and I have a background in the sciences and we’ve never regarded these two worlds as being so far apart from one another. The impulse for forming the IFF was that we wanted to be able to bring to public awareness those aspects of science, mathematics, technology, computation and cognitive sciences, that are themselves poetically and aesthetically enchanting. Most art/science initiatives focus on bringing artists to the table with scientists and saying, how can artists reflect on the resources and knowledge and insights coming out of science? Our philosophy is the opposite to that, it is to take the science, the mathematics and the technology, and bring to the fore the aesthetic richness inherent in these things. Science journals and magazines tend to stress the information content of the subject –

its ‘Truth’ rather than its beauty, or its strangeness, or what I like to think of as its enchantment.

And you’ve got one particular project that seems to encapsulate that perfectly, and it is the one that’s really taken off, the Coral Reef Crochet Project.

The Reef has become far, far more successful than we could ever have imagined. It’s truly astounding. Just today I got an email from people in Canada saying they want to make a reef of their own. People are now doing this in the UK, Canada, America, Latvia, and Australia and in the past few weeks we’ve had inquiries from museums in Ireland, Japan and Korea who want to show the project.

It’s sort of gone viral, as if the project has now an inner life of its own.

Do you think it’s captured people’s imaginations because of what you spoke about earlier, because of this desire to know more about some of these more scientific concepts, or is there more to it than that?

Well, I think there is more to it. We spend an enormous amount of time thinking about how to make the writing about the project beautiful and engaging, and how to make the articulation of it not just interesting, but aesthetically rich and thought-out. We don’t want to make any claims that everyone will like this, it’s not universal, it’s our particular aesthetic; we do the writing, we do the exhibition curating, we frame it in a way that’s appealing to us. But what we’re finding, is a lot of people do like it, particularly in the art world. I think it’s because, with our joint backgrounds in both art and science, we bring to what we’re doing a combination of sophisticated scientific knowledge and aesthetic understanding. Christine is very good at distilling high-end, philosophical thinking about art. She actually understands people like Derrida, Foucalt, Kant and Hegel – she has to teach this stuff to her students who are going to go out and be painters and poets etc. She’s a very good teacher and she has brought to the project a depth of understanding from the artistic side that I could never have reached on my own. There’s a huge, huge group of people who don’t read science magazines. I give a talk called Who is Science Writing for? which I was actually asked to give at CalTech (The California Institute of Technology) a few years ago and basically, you could sum it up in a the following way: the main audience for science magazines is well-educated, white men over 40. About three-quarters of a science magazine’s audience fits into that category, and there’s nothing wrong with that. They are an excellent audience to communicate with, but they are not the only audience, and 90% of our citizens aren’t in that category.

My philosophy as a science communicator has always been to try to communicate with the other 90%.

All of the work that I’ve done with the IFF is a part of this overall life mission.

So you really feel that this is what you’re meant to be doing with your life right now, you’re in that zone, this is it?

I feel that the things I’m doing with the IFF are a culmination of a lifetime spent trying to pursue a different philosophy of science communication. I think the world needs a project like this and I’m thrilled to be doing it, but I’m struggling a bit with your question because I don’t feel that it’s the only thing I should be doing. Before I was doing the IFF, the major project in my life was writing books on the cultural history of physics. I’m actually towards the end of another book and I’ve been struggling with how to get that finished because for the past few years the IFF has taken up so much of my life. I don’t see the IFF as something that matters more than, say, my books. I’m lucky enough to have several aspects of my life that I really want to pursue. The struggle is to find the time to honour the other things too. I do feel very privileged to have so much going on that I actually love and feel passionate about.

Are you able to tell us what the book you’re writing is about?

Oh sure! This book is a follow-on from my first two books, though it’s taking a much more bizarre approach. I see it as the last in a trilogy on the cultural history of physics. This final one is probably going to be called Imagining the World and it’s about a man in a trailer park who has no training in science, but over the past 35 years he’s developed his own fully-articulated, alternative theory of physics. He publishes his own books and does amazing illustrations of his theories, he’s even done computer animations of his own account of the Big Bang and his own theory of subatomic particles.

So it’s based on a true story?

It’s funny, quite a few people ask me that question. He’s a real human being. His name is Jim Carter and he lives in a place called Enumclaw outside of Seattle. I think, when the book comes out, that there will be people who imagine that I’ve made it all up, but every word of it is true. When I first encountered Jim 12 years ago I was fascinated. I knew about this phenomenon. It’s the scientific equivalent of outsider art. Well-known physicists often receive manuscripts from these people touting alternatives to quantum mechanics, or their own ideas about the structure of matter, or the speed of light. Usually these manuscripts go straight from the mail room into the bin. As soon as I met Jim, I understood that he was an unusual case; he didn’t just have a single idea, he had a complete and totalised theory of the universe, everything from his own alternative explanation of the Big Bang and the Periodic Table, even his own theory of gravity.


I have a collection of these theories. I’ve got about 60 of them now on my bookshelf, some are full-on books, some are just articles, but I’ve never encountered one of these people who’s done it to the degree that Jim’s done it. At first when I met Jim, I thought he would be an interesting idea for a magazine article, but since then I’ve come to know him very well, and have been up to visit him many times. I think he’s the most remarkable human being I’ve ever known. My encounters with Jim have changed my life. He is, in part, what gave me the courage to start the IFF. I’ll never forget, one day I was with Jim, and he made an off-hand comment, “Yeah I’ve got an institute too.” It’s called the Absolute Motion Institute and it has a staff of one. I’d had this idea for a while that I wanted to have a new framework for doing science communication in interesting ways, and for about a year I thought I’d have do it under the auspices of a university. I wondered how on earth I was going to align myself with a major institution. Then I woke up one day, as if I’d had a dream, with Jim’s words ringing in my ears, “I can have an institute too.” I realised that in the age of the laser printer, when anyone can have a letterhead and a business card, anyone can have an institute too. It was Jim who gave me the courage to see that this was possible. If what you want to achieve is money and widespread recognition, then doing it on your own probably doesn’t make sense.

No, it might not be the quickest way there to do it on your own.

It’s certainly isn’t and it does present significant obstacles, but the thing is, if what you really want is to do the thing, then one of the lessons that Jim taught me is,

“Just do it.” You don’t have to wait for authorisation, you don’t have to wait

for recognition, you don’t have to wait for funding. You can just begin. When I say Jim Carter changed my life, I mean that in the sense that Jim did the one thing in our society that you’re basically supposed to have the sanction of the highest authority for – theoretical physics – and he didn’t wait for anybody’s sanction. He’s completely unphased by the fact that he’s had no recognition whatsoever from the mainstream science world. He just carries on.

It doesn’t bother him at all?

He’s remarkable in that sense. Unlike most of his peers who have one or two ideas and then spend the rest of their energy trying to get the physics world to recognise them, Jim spends no time trying to get recognition. He truly believes he’s the most important physicist since Newton and that he has articulated the true theory of reality in the most profound way.

Do you think he has? Do you think that his theory is valid or has any basis to it?

I think his theory is never going to be taught in MIT and Princeton and Harvard. He’s never going to get onto the physics curriculum at universities. That said, I think what he’s done is profoundly important because … That’s what I’m writing my book about.

Why do you think it’s important?

It’s a long answer. I’ll try to answer it briefly. There are several reasons. There’s a sociological reason:

why would a man in a trailer park need, or desire, to have his own ‘Theory of Everything’

at a time when theories of everything are spilling out of physics departments? ractically every week the New York Times reports on yet another version of the theory of everything. Why, when there’s so much of this stuff coming out of the actual science world, would someone with no scientific training feel moved to do this at all? That’s the question that became my obsession. What does it mean for our society that there are quite a few of these people? I mean, Jim is an extreme example. He’s like the Adolf Wölfli of the outsider physics world, but why is the phenomena happening at all? It took me years of thinking, to get to what I think is the answer to that question. It’s like outsider art. One hundred years ago outsider art was considered unimportant and no-one took it seriously. Now there are whole journals, collectors and museums devoted to it. In some sense, our society has come to understand that even if people, like Adolf Wölfli, are never going to be regarded in the same category as say Picasso, or Leonardo, that isn’t the only category of importance. Adolf Wölfli represents powerful and important things in his own right. Society has come to understand that

the production of art cannot be confined to the people who are getting into ‘Art Forum’.

I think similar questions need to be asked about why there is a whole world of people doing outsider science. Jim may not be the next Einstein but he represents currents that are immensely powerful and important in our society. Here is a whole realm of people engaging with a discipline that we normally think of as taking place purely inside the academy.

And it all ties in beautifully with what you’re trying to do with the IFF in a sense that again it’s about channels isn’t it?Alternate channels or ways of communicating and finding people. How does this fit as the third in your trilogy?

The way I see it – and I don’t know if anyone else sees it this way – is that all my books are about one unifying theme. That theme is the question; whose articulations of reality get listened to and taken seriously? My first book, Pythagoras’ Trousers, is about the struggle that physicists had to be the ones who were accorded the epistemological* power to articulate reality to us. Prior to the rise of modern science, the people who primarily did that were theologians and so we used to look to theology to give us our cosmological and epistemic view of the world. Now we look to physicists. In all of my books, the core subject-matter is basically who gets to say what reality is and how does that group change over time. Moreover, why does it change? Jim has a theory of physics, Einstein has a theory of physics. Why does Einstein get listened to and not Jim? At the moment we have truly bizarre theories of physics spinning out of places like Harvard and MIT that are in many ways pure fantasy, yet we take them seriously – things like string theory, for instance – but we wouldn’t dream of taking someone like Jim seriously. Why is that? What does it mean? These are not questions that I have formulaic answers to. This is what I’m trying to understand in the new book.

But you believe they’re questions worth posing?

The way I think about this in my own mind, is that I have two groups of people whose work I’m trying to honour. One is a group of, as it were, ‘lunatic’ outsider men – the outsider physicists. There are rare female exceptions, but they’re almost all men. Then on the other hand there’s the Crochet Reef Project, which is honouring the work of a bunch of ‘lunatic’ women who are completely outside the norms of the art world; they don’t have MFA’s or any formal training. We have managed through

this project to get a bunch of female ‘nobodies’ into places like the Hayward Gallery

which is pretty astonishing. So both these projects in my life have this commonality that they are taking seriously the work of people who have no credentials or authority in the field in which they are operating. This aspect of the Reef Project is something that’s enormously important to Christine and I. It’s very much a feminist dimension of the project. It wasn’t why we started it, or how we approached it in the beginning, but it’s something that’s become very important to us.

What did you hope for?

Well to be frank about it, we were hoping we would be invited to show at science museums and natural history museums. We thought the science world would take it up with great enthusiasm and the art world would ignore it, but it’s been don’t know. In my heart I didn’t leave Australia, I relocated to be with somebody I loved, and my life moved in directions that I couldn’t have imagined having been here. I am a girl from Brisbane, I will always be a girl from Brisbane, and I’m delighted that I’m a girl from Brisbane. Having lived in four countries and seen different cultural systems I’m really glad I grew up in Brisbane. I think it made me.

Were you encouraged to study science as a young girl?

Yes, my mother was extremely encouraging. I was good at maths at school, and loved it very much. My mother, Barbara Wertheim, was a great feminist and she went from being a Catholic mother of six to being one of the leading feminists in the movement in Brisbane. She helped to open the first women’s shelters in Queensland. I learnt enormous amounts from her,

especially to be fearless about pursuing things that were important to me.

I feel that she is a big part of my story and the story of the Crochet Reef Project. It was our mother who taught Chrissy and I to knit, sew and do handicrafts when we were children. She encouraged us to do both math and science and be creative with our hands. I think that most of what I learned that was really important I learned at home from her. School provided the formal knowledge – how to add up and spell and so on – but the attitude to life, enthusiasm for learning and a love of doing and making, all that came from my mother.

Did you sense that you could make a career out of science, or did that never really come into it?

I never thought of the practicalities of having a career in physics or mathematics. I did them because I loved them. I had no clue about what any form of a job meant. My father had been a professor of philosophy at Queensland University and I was completely ignorant about the realities of what the working world meant. Towards the end of my university time, when I did have to start thinking about that, I realised that the realities of having a working career in physics; of being locked in a lab, or even in a university science department, didn’t appeal to me. I realised these environments were very isolated from so many other aspects of my life. So, I left university and decided to pursue a path of being a science communicator. At that point in Australia, there was almost nobody doing it so there were no role models. When I finished my science degree, journalism schools were only just getting started in Australia. You certainly couldn’t go to university and study science journalism. So I had to sort of do it on my own. In my life, I have pretty much done everything on my own. That has been both wonderful and challenging. By simply saying, “This is what I want to do”, setting out to do it, and keeping at it, I have achieved things beyond my wildest expectations. Had you said to me when I was 20 that I would do all these things, I would have said, “Oh, I couldn’t possibly!”

But again, not the easy road.

It is both a wonderful thing and an easy thing to romanticise. I think you have to understand that when you do things this way there are prices to be paid for it. When we talk to people who set out on their own,

it is very easy to just see the achievements. I think it’s also important to talk about the struggles.

There are pluses and minuses – like not getting a regular salary and not having the support of an institutional infrastructure. When I started out I never completely the opposite. We now have been invited to show the project at the Smithsonian (Washington D.C.) at the end of next year. It’s a great honour, because it’s the first time an art project has ever been invited to show there at the Natural History Museum. By that time, the project will have been happening for five years and all the prior exhibitions will have been in art venues.

It’s come at such an interesting time too, when there’s this resurgence of an interest in craft, and of course the environmental aspect to it is very topical. It just seems to have all these elements to it that are extremely pertinent right now.

Yes, we were aware of all those currents, but we didn’t sit down to do something that would be the perfect confluence of events. Christine and I joke, you know,

both of us feel we’ve lived most of our lives being out of sync with the times.

Both of us feel that we’ve done things in our lives that, for whatever reason, the time wasn’t right for them and, for once in our lives, we’ve both stumbled on doing the right thing at the right time. We just brought together a bunch of things that we loved and were interested in and the time was right. It’s funny because when I wrote my book 14 years ago, my publisher said to me, “Margaret, nobody’s interested in science and religion, we need to push the angle here about women in science.” I said to them, “You know, I think you’re wrong about this. I think there is a great interest in science and religion out there.” About five years after my book came out science and religion suddenly exploded onto the American public consciousness and has remained there ever since. I feel like in my life I’ve done a lot of things where I understood the currents that were coming too early for the work I was doing to be embraced. For whatever reason, with the Crochet Reef Project, this is the perfect time, which is nice. That said, I think it is important to do the thing that you feel committed to and

if it isn’t the right time for the rest of the world, that doesn’t matter.

If it is the right thing for you, do it.

You just have to do what you’re compelled to do, and if the planets align so be it, and if they don’t, then you’re at least still doing what you want to be doing. Why are you in LA given that you’re Australian and you were born in Brisbane?

I was born in Melbourne, but raised in Brisbane. I came to LA 18 years ago to be with a man, also an Australian. We were together a long time and married and we separated a couple of years ago. So I came to America for love. Christine lived in London for 20 years and I always imagined I would go and do that, but I ended up in ‘lala’ land instead.

And then did she follow you to LA?

About seven years ago I convinced her to come here.

And it feels like the right place for you now?

I love LA and I feel like LA is a great city to be in. Although I am now an American citizen, I’m a dual citizen, I would never give up being an Australian. I don’t feel like I belong in America, I feel like I belong in LA. They say that once you’re an ex-patriot you never feel at home again and that is something that does trouble me. There are aspects of Australia that I deeply miss. I always imagined myself eventually going back there, but the longer that you’re established in another place, the harder it is, mechanically, physically and practically-speaking to relocate. Will I ever come back to Australia? I thought about any of that stuff, I barely understood it existed. I’m not sure why I was so naïve. I lived in a fairly isolated place as a child, on the outskirts of Brisbane. Looking back my family had a very unworldly existence in many ways. I don’t have children myself, but when I talk now with the teenage children of my friends, it staggers me how grown up and aware of the world they are. In many ways I didn’t become an adult until I was in my forties. In one sense that was great because I was unafraid to do things. I didn’t know that you couldn’t do them. I was so naively unaware of what the obstacles might be. In part I think I got this from my mother. She had been a poor Catholic child growing up in the shadow of World War II and then she became a feminist and it suddenly seemed to her generation of women that anything might be possible. ‘70s feminism was also this wildly naïve and optimistic movement and I am eternally grateful that my formative years coincided with that generation of action and hope. Had I known more realistically when I was younger about how the world works I would probably have been so scared I wouldn’t have been able to proceed.

Naivety is often a blessing like that. What have been some of the toughest things that you’ve had to go through, or some of the things that perhaps you’ve missed out on because you’ve had to work so hard on getting to where you have?

I don’t think it’s that I’ve missed out on things, the really hard issue is how you’re going to make a living out of it. When you pursue the things you really want to do, often the price is that you’re not going to have a regular salary, and the benefits of a pension plan and, in the US, a health care plan. Freelance life can be amazingly diverse and you get to do things that a lot of people wouldn’t get to do in regular jobs, but the price you pay for that is not having a steady financial support. This is not for everybody.

It’s not a small decision to go down that path.

When you see interviews with people who have pursued their own paths, one of the things that is sometimes not discussed is how they manage it practically. Often one finds out, eventually, that there is somebody in the equation supporting them. That might be financial support, but also it can be just having practical assistance, from a spouse or a partner. It’s important to discuss this as an issue because

it can be presented to us that opportunity is a level playing field, and I don’t think it is.

For instance, it is less likely in our society that women will have the resources to pursue their own paths, largely because women are so often expected to be the helpers rather than the instigators. There are so many cases of famous men with deeply supportive and protective wives. Einstein was a great example; he never had to know where his socks were because his wife Elsa knew exactly where they were. She protected him from all the ‘mundane’ stuff so he was totally free to devote himself to the ‘Great Work’. It’s very rare for women to have this situation available to them. This gender disparity is a serious political issue I think. Women don’t often have the choices that men have to pursue whatever their passion is. One of the things I love about outsider art is that it is proof people can produce extraordinary bodies of work with no resources. That said, most of the famous outsider artists are men – and so are just about all of the outsider physicists. Even on the outside, women are less likely to have free time of their own. That of course is one of the great insights of feminism and it remains a huge political issue. I would also make the point that since I was 20 it’s become harder to live on a small amount. When I was 23 I was earning around $100 a week and that was fine. It is harder for young people to branch out on their own now, because it seems to be the case that our modes of living have become much more expensive.

I imagine that even though the IFF is taking over your life, that’s not what’s paying the bills right?

We do get small grants, but it is an enormous challenge to continue to fund the operation and to make it pay at least a basic wage. Because it is taking up most of my time now, I don’t get to do a lot of freelance writing anymore, and when I do the freelance world has suffered very badly in terms of pay and conditions. I think that is a problem in our society, that if one is not doing things that are overtly commercial, increasingly, one is expected to do them for the pure honour … [Laughs]

So, what is the plan for going forward? The IFF has lots of projects that we want to do. We have the Crochet Reef that’s just been in LA and is now in Scottsdale, Arizona. We are also talking to various people about exhibitions in Australia and Ireland and elsewhere … All this depends on funding. In late 2010 it will definitely go to the Smithsonian. Chrissie and I also have another exhibition we’re curating for next year, which is on a mathematical object called the projective plane. It’s an object that mathematicians discovered from what began as the investigations by painters in the 14th century of multiple-point perspective representation. Both of us also have books we want to write. The challenge is always how we’re going to fund any project. I think I’ve come to the attitude consciously that I used to have unconsciously that, the whole pattern of my life has been stumbling along.

I used to think it was possible to have a master plan. Now I think that’s a fantasy.

I think people can have master plans when they have clearly defined careers; a lawyer or a doctor, or a journalist even. But one of the hallmarks of my career has been, that there was no master plan. I’ve stumbled from discipline to discipline in a way that I think amuses many people. They say, “Oh my god, why don’t you get a job at Scientific America or The New York Times?” Well, if that was the path I wanted to pursue, I would have pursued it. I felt it was important to try to operate outside of those normative structures because I think those structures – good though they are – only reach a certain sector of our population. I’m not sure that when you operate outside the usual frameworks you can have a master plan. Or at least if you have one, you have to be prepared that it may go awry. One day a Crochet Coral Reef may sneak up and take over your life.

It’s a different kind of master plan, perhaps it’s a broader set of intentions.

Yes, I certainly have a master plan in that there are several philosophical precepts that guide everything I do. Whether anyone else sees them or not they’re very, critical to me. I know that all the things I’ve done in my life are woven together by these ideas and presuppositions, but I totally admit that my CV seems to stagger from writing books, to writing for Vogue magazine, to curating exhibitions in art galleries, to giving academic talks in universities, to crocheting. I look at my CV and even I admit I don’t quite know what to make of it. I’m like a green-furry-duck-banana. I like being a green-furry-duck-banana but that mystifies some people. One day you wake up and find you’re a green-furry-duck-banana [Laughs], and there you are. It’s not what you planned, but it’s ok. Our society encourages you to be a green, or a duck, or a furry or a banana and when you combine those things, in the end, you are on your own in a set of one. In my case I have Christine, but she’s really a purple-spikey-dragon-flame. I think the value of what I’ve done is a bit like my physicist Jim Carter. Jim is his own man, and not just because of his physics. His physics is ultimately an offshoot of an entire life. He has truly lived on his own terms and done things his own way. At the same time he is a very honourable human being, That is what I aspire to.

I think you need a strong will to do your own thing

and I don’t know where that comes from. You need to be wilful, but you have to retain your humanity too.

Kate Bezar

Kate Bezar started Dumbo Feather—and is a living legend, simple as that. Read all about her and the kernel of an idea that became a magazine.

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