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Victoria Spence is a ritualist
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Victoria Spence is a ritualist
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Victoria Spence is a ritualist
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"It is an art form to integrate what a life and a death has meant for those who continue to live."
Conversations
1 October 2009

Victoria Spence is a ritualist

Interview by Kate Bezar
Photography by Kate Spence

Kate Bezar on Victoria Spence

When I sat down to interview Victoria Spence I had no idea that the very together, refined, warm woman before me had had such a rocky journey to this point – living testament to the old adage that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

What I knew about Victoria was what I’d jotted in my ‘editorial spreadsheet’; a web address (www.victoriaspencecelebrant.com) and the recommendation I’d received from a subscriber, Dean Whittle. He mentioned her youth spent as an elite athlete and current vocation as a celebrant ‘with a difference’; with true passion and respect for the role of ceremony in our lives, particularly at their ends. I’d really just followed my gut to her door. It turns out that’s how Victoria lives her life too.

This story originally ran in issue #21 of Dumbo Feather

Discussed in this Story

KATE BEZAR: So how do you know Dean Whittle?

VICTORIA SPENCE: It was one of those really uncanny moments of serendipity early on in my practice. I was on FBi radio and Marina, Dean’s girlfriend was listening. They were planning to get married after a longstanding relationship, over a decade. They both grew up in Earlwood and I was talking about living in this little forgotten part of Sydney on the river in Earlwood and Marina just went; celebrant, Earlwood, that’s it. My practice in celebrancy works on attraction not promotion – I do that quite consciously – so I really trusted who it was that came to me. With Dean and Marina particularly, we just hit it off. We created a fabulous ceremony, a great wedding, incorporating the truth of who they were and their really great and diverse community … and we just became friends. The nature of this work now, six or seven years down the track, is that once you have say, worked with someone towards their marriage, often the relationship expands and you name their children … I have buried people’s parents or worked with their siblings. A sense of being deeply embedded in one another’s lives just organically emerges. So thank you Dean Whittle, he’s a fine human that one.

He thinks you’re a bit special too. How did you get into celebrancy back then?

It was really due to the birth of my child, she was a totally unexpected arrival, but completely welcomed. It was Honey’s birth that really shifted my life and my work really fundamentally. That’s not surprising, but it was like she shifted me onto the right track, or the organising principle of becoming a parent, and really needing a sustainable practice did … Before she was born I was working right down at the deep end of experimental performance, the whole research and development end. In Australia the arts struggle anyway, but the area of the arts that doesn’t necessarily create entertaining product as its prime motivating factor, really struggles.

This story originally ran in issue #21 of Dumbo Feather

This story originally ran in issue #21 of Dumbo Feather

What kind of thing are you talking about?

Performance, live art, time-based work really. I started out in my early 20s … Well the story really goes back to being a competitive swimmer in my youth and, on the surface having a very standard upbringing, but by the time I was 12 or 13, I was up every morning at 4:30 swimming two hours a day, going to school and then doing two hours again in the afternoon.

Because you wanted to or because your parents … ?

I don’t think I wanted to, but I don’t think I didn’t want to enough to not do it. We used to take our Christmas holidays down by the beach and the guy down there, a man called Johnny Carter, was quite a local character, he taught everyone to swim in the sea pool. Because we were all very sickly, premature babies I think my parents put us into physical activity as a way really of supporting us … and most of us happened to be good at it. So it just happened and as a kid you just sort of do … Very early on I understood the absurdity of it. I can remember once, I would have only been 14 or 15 and I had a burgeoning consciousness – as you do at that age, you’re in puberty and your body’s doing all of this stuff and I was locked into this really punishing regime. I can remember being behind the blocks in some State final and thinking, my whole life is focussed on me swimming up this pool faster than her, that seems ridiculous. I have a lot of silver medals. That was my only point of resistance, to not win, but having said that I really did find something in the training. It shaped me in lots of great ways and in lots of ways that were not so great. What happened was that my formative years from late childhood to young adulthood were very narrow. Looking back now I see why I work within rites of passage because I don’t think I did mine, from the end of my teens into my young adulthood, very well. I clearly didn’t because I crashed and burned at a certain point. I finished swimming in my HSC year, although I didn’t do my HSC because I was in the running for a particular Commonwealth Games, because I got glandular fever and lost that opportunity. So I was at this really crucial point in my life, or at least I thought it was, and suddenly there was nothing there. The world I’d operated in just melted, it just fell away. I felt like I was on the verge of my young adult life, completely ill-equipped. I could swim really fast and I was really fit, I was a maniac, but that was all I took with me, that’s all I had. I hadn’t even really had a part-time job. So I went straight from the top echelon of athletes in the country to [drug] addiction, like that [snaps fingers], straight away.

Oh my goodness. How old were you?

Nineteen. I’d got my HSC at Tafe and discovered that I had a brain and that I loved learning. The back story of getting up at 4:30 every morning was that I slept through my schooling. I had no idea really. I had not learnt how to apply myself to things that didn’t come naturally – it was a very costly enterprise that swimming. After that I trotted off to university and through this strange set of circumstances met people that lead me to other people who were living in the inner city. It was the ‘80s, and Sydney in the ‘80s in Darlinghurst was a very particular scene, and I, who had had none of that, with all my youth and with all my strength and with all my pent-up desire just leapt into this place that was so mysterious and so exciting.

The inner city had yet to be gentrified so there were lots of squats and there were really interesting things happening. I was just hungry, hungry. I didn’t start taking drugs because I hated myself and didn’t want to live, I took them for the opposite reason … As a competitive athlete you live on this intense level so I didn’t know any other way to live.

I guess you were used to that adrenaline coursing …

That’s it, and let’s just say that from 18 to 21, it got really ugly. Only because I survived it can I say that it was probably an extraordinarily backhanded gift, but a gift nonetheless.

By 21 I was literally on the bones of my arse. People around me were dying really ignoble deaths; young girls working on the street OD-ing, being chucked in dumpsters, and I just started to go, hold on.

Where was your family through all this?

They were just cowering and freaked out and unable to deal with it. They were going, what has happened? Then I had the incredible fortune to have someone within that world, say to me, “You should go to this thing called NA.” I hadn’t seen anyone get clean. I was totally isolated and didn’t want to be there. It was grace really that I found somebody who said, “Come here, I’ll pick you up and take you to this meeting.” Again the timing was right. I turned up when it was really cool to get clean. There was this thriving, healthy community of people that I was really happy to be around. It took me a while to work out how to do it, to stay clean, and at 21 I was in detox, on my way to rehab, going, wow the way I have lived has got me to here, this is not really working. It’s very humbling. I’m not sure why I was able to have that revelation when lots of others equally as worthy didn’t. At the time there was this drug offensive money, and these fabulous women who worked in a refuge in Kings Cross applied and got some money to do a women’s theatre workshop. They started it with using-addicts and they realised that using-addicts are really unreliable; no one would turn up and no one was interested, so then they thought they should make it for people who were clean and I was in that. They got a couple of teachers, one of whom was Peggy Wallach. She and her husband, Nick Tsoutas, were really key figures in the non-narrative, image-based, experimental performance scene in Sydney. It was just one of those epiphanous times. Suddenly I understood that there was a whole community and a way of being creative and a way of expressing myself that really made sense to me. So really that was my 20s. By this point I was pretty clear that I didn’t have to take drugs any more. I still had the same mania and level of intensity …

But you’d found a healthier way to direct it?

Yeah. I started out at that time as a freelance physical performer and I ended up working with a whole lot of ensemble-based companies. There was a very healthy performance culture with three or four main centres and there were a lot of ‘on the street’ training opportunities. It was a very healthy community which doesn’t exist in the same way any more, it didn’t survive Howard. Pretty quickly I developed a range of skills. I loved performing and I just placed myself at the feet of people I really respected and wanted to be with and I did whatever.

I have scrubbed stages as much as I have graced them.

And I learnt, I learnt about how to create space and how to make meaning in a very ephemeral, live-art context. At a certain point I went back to uni and did an Arts degree in Philosophy and Theatre and all of it was basically around post-colonialism, post-structuralism, deconstruction, a real questioning of modernist master-narratives and what voices were being heard and who wasn’t. A lot of the work was about, ok if we do this in the process, how does that shape the product. It was not safe on any level and it really provided me with this fabulous opportunity to invoke what I think is the greatest right of humans, and certainly artists, and that is to take risks, to risk failure, as much as success, to not meet anyone’s expectations of ‘this is great entertainment’ but to constantly refine the understandings of how you make what you make, and how that shapes it fundamentally. Through my 20s I just did a lot of different stuff and I was really just available to do whatever arrived. Things don’t go to plan in my life and I don’t make plans as a rule, I just don’t make them. I have bigger pictures and certain things, but my life is not a designed thing at all.

If it’s meant to happen it will happen.

Yeah and I have done radical departures and 360s you know, but I just settled in for the ride and trusted that at some point what I was doing would make sense to me.

Through most of my 20s and early 30s it really didn’t. I just kept following these currents that would come … Then when the Keating Government fell, that was another really significant shift for me. I was a permanent part-time staff member at a couple of universities teaching the history and theory of performance and theatre. I had a couple of companies that I worked with freelance and a couple of things of my own going on, and really within six months they stopped teaching performance at art school.

It happened that quickly?

Yeah within six months my courses were gone and most of the companies could not sustain themselves. Suddenly I was again like, where to now? That was when I really started to take on becoming a cultural producer. I expanded my practice to working in the community as well as in a cultural/performance realm. A really formative time was creating these very large, site specific, installation events called the Solstice Suppers which were funded by the Sydney City Council and the Performance Space. I was able to translate some of the elements that excited me about experimental performance into a large event. Also at that point I had lived pretty solidly within the gay and lesbian community and I had witnessed the impact of HIV and AIDS on that community.

Although I didn’t quite recognise it then I was enormously shaped by what it meant for so many of my friends to be dying or in absolute grief.

I remember really clearly, I was working with this divine 19 year-old boy and he said to me, “I’ve got a headache.” I remember giving him a neck massage, and in a month he went from being this Adonis-like, seemingly-healthy, 19 year-old, to being blind, hospitalised in Brisbane and then he died. I had seen an ex-boyfriend of his at his wake who was barely standing because he had been to three funerals and three wakes in that week. I wasn’t in the front line of it at all, but I was totally a witness and shaped by it, all the more so because just by travelling 20 minutes north from Darlinghurst and walking into my parents’ home one Sunday to have lunch, it did not exist. There was this plague, there was this community in absolute shock/crisis/mobilisation, and everybody else was just talking about everyday things. I will never forget that. So these things were happening … My life has just been about entering into and swimming in the fast flow and just doing it. My 15 years worth of practice was just driven by survival and by responding to whatever was around and available to me. At a certain point I realised that the term ‘artist’ has a very wide application and that I couldn’t assume that everyone was in it for the same reasons. I realised I wasn’t really in it just to make my work and to perfect a form. That’s totally valid, it just wasn’t me. At a certain point, just before I fell pregnant, I had come to the end, energetically, of my pathways in Australia and was at that point in my ‘career’, in inverted commas, where you go overseas. I got a couple of grants to go and do professional development and residencies in India, Canada and Europe. I got to look at my world from the other side of the world; this little culture I’d had my head down and bum up in for 15 years. I came back to Australia, ostensibly to set things up so to go back overseas, when I fell pregnant. I was at this fantastic crossroads where I just went, well all of this is conceptually real and yet I have got this baby in my body that has got a heart beat.

There’s nothing more real than that.

Exactly, and even though I was potentially on my own and it was a radical shift, I just went, yep, let’s do that. So I went back overseas and cried the whole way through New York, London, Paris – all these places where I’d set up these really interesting things and shut all the doors; cried, sobbed, my whole way. I did a seven week residency in Banff, I was really quite pregnant by then, and I just stopped and sat and went, ok I’ve got no idea what I’m doing here or what I’m doing with my life, I will just yield more, I will just yield more. So I came back and it was total chaos getting ready for the birth of this baby. I hadn’t had much to do with kids and I didn’t know whether I’d like it or how I’d be. I had one of those power births, it was really long, my labour, but it was one of the best experiences of my life. So Honey was born and I spent the next year in that hold-the-baby-feed-the-baby … I didn’t have a car, my means were very limited, and I went on probably the most creative, reflective process of my life. Really, for me, the gift of motherhood was a core organising principle.

I had enormous energy but was completely disorganised and suddenly it was hold-the-baby-feed-the-baby-go-to-sleep and that just lulled me into this place. I just went ok, if I’m going to leave the ‘frame’ of the arts, what comes with me? What is intrinsic to me? What is inherent to me? I have earned very little money for the last 15 years, I have no superannuation, I have nothing really to show for my work, I’ve made every mistake plus more in the book, I can probably name 10-15 things I’m proud of and I know that they worked, I’m a casual part-time academic who’s never really finished anything … What has this investment been in? I went ok, I’m just going to open it up and listen for where I go from here and how. In this process, my child is now maybe one and my mother was diagnosed with melanoma cancer. My father had died eight years previously of leukaemia.

He had an extraordinary death and possibly the worst funeral in history.

From the minute he stopped breathing it was all just a … I’m not even going to say circus because circuses are great, it was a disaster, a comedy of errors.

What do you mean by an ‘extraordinary’ death?

He was 50 when I was born so relatively old, 80. He was a doctor and of another generation and he was very clear that he was not going to go to hospital to die, he was going to die at home, and so he did and we cared for him. I had decided that I wanted to nurse him, I wanted to be there for that process. It’s not a straight line when people are ill and dying. I remember it very vividly, I was writing my honours thesis and my mother rang and said, “Dad’s taken a turn, I reckon you should come home”, so I did. I didn’t even finish my sentence, I just saved what I’d written and went home. I didn’t go back to where I was living for a month and it was the most extraordinary month of my life because I was just there with my dad. It turned out that my mum did the days and I did the nights. The night time energy is one that I’ve always loved and I just watched this father of eight, doctor, scientist, great human, but really used to looking after things and being in control … I watched him just unbound. We went on the most extraordinary adventures together; he would have conversations where he was back in some other country having a picnic and I would be there with him. It was fascinating. He’d gone into this place of unconsciousness but he was as strong as an ox really and was there for days and days and days. When he died most of us were there. My family home was a menagerie – there were dogs and cats for days – and they were there on the bed with the kids, in his bedroom. When he took that last breath, I was really close to him and it was a miracle, it was extraordinary, it was this privilege. For all of the AIDS deaths, I had been at very few deathbeds. I was much further back watching the ripple effect. My father’s death was one of the first where I was an eyewitness. I was up close and he was the person I loved the most in the world. It was lifechanging. I shifted into another universe, so much so that when I went back to finish my honours thesis I didn’t understand it – I sometimes think, if only I’d finished that sentence – so I abandoned the whole thing. Then what happened was that he had this monstrous funeral, a dodgy celebrant who got his name wrong … It was the most impoverished thing you could imagine. It was offensive, shocking on this core level that I had never experienced before. My grandmother died a month after my dad and her life was similarly reduced to garbage bags within days. Her ceremony was better but I was like, we should be beating our breasts here, where are the wailing women, what’s happening, we’re having constipated cups of tea?

And then my cat died, so there was this very personalised sense of death, boom, boom boom. So cut to eight years later and I’ve got a young child and I’m in the process of going, ok it’s time for me to find my life’s work and to really be able to integrate all this stuff. What do I know, and how do I know what I know and what is it and what’s its application outside of the arts? I was incredibly hamstrung and frustrated by a seeming irrelevance as an artist to the broader Australian cultural community. I knew it wasn’t the case, I knew that I had spent 15 years distilling the basics of creativity and of expression and there had to be a way it could be applied that was recognisable. When my mother was diagnosed with melanoma cancer I was really determined that with her funeral ceremony, we were going to get it right this time, and I had the skills and abilities to do it. My sister and her family were living with my mum so she was doing the hands on care. My mother was really dying very quickly. I was there as much as I could be, but I was also now in a place – being older and a bit wiser with much more tangible skills and able to hold the bigger picture. I could talk to all of my siblings, her doctors, my sister, the district palliative care people and my mum. And again I was there at her deathbed for her last breath. Possibly because I had just become a mother, it was the most heartbreaking experience of my life because I don’t think I ever really forgave her all those ‘sins’ your mothers commit and I don’t think I ever saw her in any way other than being my mother, and she failed as far as I was concerned. Until she was dying, and then I just saw this extraordinary woman, and the grief of that realisation, the poignancy of that was so beautiful but so … My mother had five kids in four years …

What?

I had one kid and I remember saying to her before she got really sick, “I’m so sorry, I am so sorry. I don’t know who I thought you were; five kids, a set of twins in there, in fours years.” So I was able to see her in this really different way and she just died beautifully. My father was like a big steam train that just hunkered until the end, but my mother just let out this [lets out a soft breath], beautiful, refined, gorgeous breath and her funeral was a bumper, it was fabulous. Then, as my mother is dying, another really good friend of mine is diagnosed at 42 with stomach cancer. He said to me, because I’d done a lot of MC-ing at queer cabaret events, “Would you MC my funeral?” and I went, “Sure, of course I would.” No idea what I’d really agreed to. He died right after my mother and the people who were organising his funeral rang and said, “There’s a viewing in this funeral parlour, everyone will be there and his family.” I walk in with my child who is a fabulous passport; I so enjoyed going through the world as a mother. I’d been through the world as all of these outsider identities for such a long time, which I love and they’re still there, but as a mother suddenly I was in this deep, core place and it was great. Anyway I walked in and this was a scene of biblical proportions, I kid you not. On one side of the room was my tribe of queer performers, artists, dress-up people, you name it.

It was divine and rich and bold and radical and deeply caring.

My friend was in his coffin and he is fully made up and fully dressed, and the coffin is being painted, and he is being photographed, and people are kissing him and it’s all going on. Then on the other side is his equally bereaved, relatively conservative, family feeling very displaced. And then there’s me. I remember going, just breathe out, let go, open up your whole body and just walk in. I enter the fray and we sit down with these really core tribes of this man and things come out of my mouth then, in that conversation, that I had never articulated before and I did not even know I knew. I don’t think I did know them, I don’t know where they came from. It was about having someone in the facilitory role that could bridge things. I walked out of that meeting with two realisations. One was that they didn’t just want me to MC this thing; turn up in the wig, short frock and high shoes, and be funny, I was providing the context and the meaning for this death. I walked out with that realisation, the name of a really great celebrant to ring, and this sense of … I don’t know if you’ve ever had that experience in your body where all of your central nervous system, your whole body just goes biiiizzz-zzzing. You just know you’re onto something, you’re just there.

Anyway I rang up this celebrant, Zenith Virago, and said, “Look I’m doing this funeral, it’s in a couple of days, I’ve never done a funeral before but I’ve MC-ed heaps of stuff.” She talked me through the journey of the funeral ceremony and at a certain point I could have stopped her and finished off her sentences, I just knew it intuitively, I absolutely understood it, I got it, it made perfect sense to me. I just sat down and wrote it and everything just fell into place. It was like these spaces were available to me and all I had to do was to get onto the right track to walk right into them. Afterwards a friend of mine came up to me and said, “You should really do this.” I just went, “Oh, ding!” In truth it has just gone from there. I looked around and trained in Civil Celebrancy. I wanted to do funerals but the very wise dean of my college, Dally Messenger, said, “You’ve got to understand the whole cycle of ceremonies, you’ve got to understand the context. Not only that, but you can’t make a living in funerals, it’s rigidly controlled by the funeral industry and you won’t survive.” So, in truth against my better judgement, I did all of the ceremonies. I had a lot of issues around marriage, but I understood as I was studying it – and this understanding was fully confirmed by the couples that have arrived for me – that people are redefining the institution of marriage on their terms. To make an absolute, public, private, heartfelt commitment to another person is an incredibly radical act in this time of short attention spans and this disposable thing. So, whilst I think that everybody who wants to be, regardless of who they love, should be able to be married, I work as a marriage celebrant. I don’t advertise, I work purely by word of mouth because it’s important that the right people come, and they do. The initial focus of my practice has really been to create an alternative cultural space for end of life practice. I did the celebrant training and as soon as I waltzed into the funeral industry with my piece of paper I realised there was no living here. The history of the funeral industry is a long story, but when the church ceased to become the place that held community, there was a huge gap as to who was shaping and creating the meaning for a person’s life The funeral industry, which comes from carpentry originally, is a body-handling industry. That’s their absolute skill and expertise and they’re really good at it, but they’re a business so they have adopted, because no one else was there, the shaping of the funeral rites in this country. Australians are no-fuss people, and there’s this phrase “We want to keep it simple”, so there’s a quick three-day turnaround and it’s all about containment and economy. That is exactly what you need to be doing if you’re doing body-handling in this climate, but not if you’re facilitating the harvesting of a life, the creation of the meaning of that life, for a whole range of people who are often holding simultaneously contradictory needs and meanings, you need more time and space, not less.

It is an art form to integrate what a life and a death has meant for those who continue to live.

It is our birthright to complete our life, and how we do that is of immense value. I have largely been in this extraordinarily challenging but really exciting process, driven by the particular mix of my life experience and skills. The thing about performance is that it allowed me to see the gaps and spaces that exist out there. It equipped me so perfectly, like an apprenticeship, to be able to look at a broader picture. So I’ve had this fabulous six or so years of continuing to let this practice unfold. I have talked it into existence, equally by being able to see the big picture, by going and reading, by volunteering for nearly a year in a hospice at Sacred Heart where I spent time with people who were dying. I have walked into people’s houses and lives in enormously grief-stricken times regardless of what I was getting paid for it, to see where else and how, it could be done. Then, through talking it, shaping it and ongoing training – I’m just completing study in Death, Dying and Palliative Care at Sydney Uni – people would start to come to me, “My father is dying”, “My brother is dying”, and it goes from there. I will front up and talk to the ‘professionals’ because someone in my community wants to stay at home from when she dies until the funeral and we want to care for the body on our own and what do we need. I am also finding like-minded individuals in the funeral industry. What I have found, as I’m entering into a social science- and a science-driven world, is that I have to come to them, I have to learn their language and my training enables me to do that, to be the shape-shifter …

I’m about to take on a Masters in Medical Humanities to continue the conversation with the medical model.

So the academic is still obviously there.

Clearly. I want to produce knowledge. That’s where I’m up to now, the beginnings of producing a cultural practice around the place of ceremony in our lives and how to give expression to what we understand as our significant events. I am working with many rites now. The last 5 years have been focussed on death and dying. In a civil context I think we do it quite poorly and I think we’ve forgotten more about death in the last 100 years than we’ve forgotten about anything else and yet I think we need it. My language is very grounded and very practical. This practice offers information, this is what your real choices are, what it might look like at any point, from caring for someone living with a terminal illness living at home, to facilitating the community to create a sustainable network to look after that person, to being able to liaise with the district palliative care, right through to being able to perform the ceremony – if needed, but not having to be.

I feel more like an artist now that I clearly work outside of the frame of the arts and the best shift has been that it’s not about me this work.

I’m not asking people to come to me, to this place where I’ve made work and watch it and engage with it on the terms I set … Not that there’s anything wrong with that, in my fascist dictatorship everyone would do an Arts degree, everyone. What I’ve loved about this Ceremonial Practice is that people find me when they have decided that they have something in their life they want to give expression to and I equip them or often they’re already equipped … We really fail to allow people to build a relationship with their creativity, I think. So many fabulously creative people come to me and they want to get married, or they want to name their child, or someone in their life is dying, or a relationship is ending and they are looking for a way to do it. Once they have a process and some tools, they know exactly what to do. One of the ultimate aims of this practice would be to make myself irrelevant and to let knowledge just circulate. Some of the ceremonies that have come out of entire families and communities just being supported to express their own creativity … “Hey can we do this?” “Yes. I will facilitate that, I will hold the funeral industry at bay and I will deal with their anxiety,” it just unfolds.

So rewarding.

It’s so rich and it unfolds in these totally unexpected ways.

I bet it’s different every time, as it should be.

Every time. And now what’s happening is that people are approaching me to do one-on-one work. An example would be last year a woman whose aunt was brutally murdered came to me because she was overseas on business when this happened and the family thought they shouldn’t disturb her. So she came back and the funeral was done and dusted and she had no … So we devised a ceremony for her, her daughter and her mother that was performed in her house. It was incredibly rich and at the end of the ceremony we shared a meal, because they loved cooking, and they set a place at the table for the aunt. There’s something very interesting about the fact that ceremony doesn’t posit me as having something that other people don’t have, there’s complete equity in this practice. It’s very exciting to have arrived in this place where what seemed like this wide range of randomly acquired skills and abilities – of their own volition, because I got out of the way of them – started to cohere. I just go along for the ride now, shaping, leading, following, doing what needs to be done, deeply committed, attentive and forever increasing my knowledge and skill-base where needed. I take this practice, the privilege of it and my responsibility in it very keenly. I just turned 44 this year … I reckon that I’m only just beginning. This is my life’s work without a doubt and it’s just going to continue to unfold.

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.

Photography by Kate Spence

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