on respect

Driving the #Nullarbor I can’t help but think of the traditional owners of this land and what it was like for them before us, before colonisation. I’m truly awed. I’ve made a cursory list of the Aboriginal countries #homeJames and I are, and will be, passing through on this trip. Whose land are you on?

I wanted know which Aboriginal Countries I have been travelling on* during this drive from Adelaide to Perth, so I went to look at my HEMA Australian Road Atlas. It’s not there; there’s no map of Aboriginal lands at all. I think there should be, but that’s something I’ll be suggesting elsewhere. For now I have used an ABC map** to make a cursory list.

Countries I have driven through so far (on this trip) – Kaurna; Nukunu; Banggaria; Nawu; Wirangu; Mirning; Ngatjumay.
Countries I will be driving through (to get to Perth) – Malpa; Nyaki-Nyaki; Balardung; Wajuk.

I have visited other Aboriginal countries, of course, and there will certainly be others after this, but for now, this needs to be said:

#homeJames and I pay our respects to the traditional owners of these lands and to their Elders past and present. We feel their energies present in the landscapes we pass through and imagine the lives they would have led, free to roam, before colonisation. We thank them for the care they have given, to this land and each other, and we stand by them in solidarity as they rightfully fight for recognition, respect and a future to call their own.

ABC's Aboriginal Australia map

ABC’s Aboriginal Australia map


*Since I first came up with reallybigroadtrip I’ve wanted to make a scrolling ‘bus destinations’ readout that’s linked to a GPS tracker so I’ll be alerted which Aboriginal country #homeJames and I are currently visiting. I have been told that the borders aren’t quite as ‘set in stone’ as GPS requires, although fuzzy borders could be programmed. But more importantly, is it my right to make such a thing, even if just for my own use? If you’re going to explore someone else’s culture, surely you wait to be asked rather than decide to claim such a concept. Maybe one day I’ll be invited to do this, we’ll see.

**map source: http://www.abc.net.au/indigenous/map/


I’ve been on a bit of a personal creative development bent for most of this last year, and this week I start talking publicly about some of the ideas I’ve been playing with. If you’ve been following my ‘lateral drift‘ ramblings, you won’t be surprised to hear that “it’s all about The Commons” :)

Nov 18-25th – Memefest Symposium: Melbourne


The two-day symposium at Swinburne University from Tuesday 18 November to Wednesday 19 November explores this year’s Memefest theme Radical Intimacies: Dialogue in our Times. We will relate it to issues that affect social movements generally and, in particular, dialogues between Aboriginal activists nationally and the broader community. We all have a lot to learn from each other.

My talk is on Tues 18th Nov at 5.40pm: “A Return to Commons Sense”:
Contrary to the shameful displays of our so-called ‘leaders’, humans are by default generous spirits. Communities have an innate ability to support each other during bushfires, contribute to the dreams of their peers via crowdfunding, stand on the shoulders of giants due to knowledge sharing, work side by side in co-working spaces and grow collective meals through permaculture. All these elements have a basic footing in historical culture: The Commons. Nomadic geek artist, Fee Plumley, invites you to return to a philosophy of common sense through a renewed and contemporary sense of The Commons.

Read the schedule and speaker bios then head on over and register!

Nov 20th: Restructure2014

A one-day conference to discuss the current re-structuring in the arts, culture, creative sector in Australia, organised by Hugh Davies & Jan Hendrik Brueggemeier at La Trobe University. 

This conference looks at the current state of the arts, and considers alternative modes of culture and knowledge production within times of shrinking public expenditures. Featuring participants from performance, fashion, creative arts, gaming, media and community intervention, the event explores both broader sustainable strategies as well as “clever partial solutions” to cultural and knowledge production in a post-public sector environment.

I’ll be talking on a panel at 1.45pm about Internet / Cultural platforms with Trent Kusters and Rick Chen and then summarising the day’s discussions on a panel with Stephen Healy and Maria Miranda from 5.45pm.

Read more and book via http://restructure2014.net.

lateral drifts

Increasingly pissed off with Facebook’s continued disrespect for our personal rights and privacy, I’ve started using a new platform for my personal ramblings, to begin taking myself out of the anti-Net Neutrality world.

Known lets you publish status updates, etc, which are then pushed to Facebook, Twitter, etc (it’s in beta so there’s a lot more to come too). This means you own all rights to your content rather than giving them away to walled gardens that are more interested in your data than providing the open service you originally signed up for.

Check out more at http://withknown.com and follow my lateral drifts at http://fee.withknown.com.

On Nomadicy


It’s not often someone creates an opportunity which literally has your name on it. When I saw the call for “Time_Place_Space: Nomad” my heart leapt to my throat.

I’ve been living in homeJames, my bus, for nearly two years now. Before that I was couchsurfing for around 18months and before that, well let’s just say that I went to eight primary schools and two secondary schools. The longest I’ve lived in one house was eight years, and I only managed that thanks to spending at least three months a year on international travel over that time. Nomadicy was a way of life for me before I even knew it was a thing. Only now, I’m doing it properly.

The original nomads were everywhere, whether travelling merchants or minstrels, religious pilgrims or migrant tribes moving between sites for hunting or agricultural seasons. These people were multicultural by lifestyle, open to exploration and discovery. They were our first long-distance knowledge networks, taking stories, culture and produce from one settlement to the next; the original ‘internet of things’, if you will. These nomads connected communities across vast geographic distances, cared for and educated about the land and introduced an awareness of a broader society than ones own geographic locality.

Gradually, over time, things changed. Settlements turned in to domains (‘enclosures‘ or privatised areas), where the powers-that-be gave land rights to peers of the realm who exchanged protection for taxes (typically in the form of livestock or farmed produce). This was done, of course, without first consulting those who had already built homes, families and had cultivated what had, up until then, been barren Common Land. The Commons (something we see little of in contemporary society) meant anyone could use the land or rivers in any way, providing their use didn’t restrict anyone else from having the same right. Makes sense, huh?

Fast-forward to 2014 and Nomadicy seems to be on the increase again. Contemporary nomads are surprisingly diverse, not just ‘Carnies’ or the shamefully persecuted Romany communities. Collectively we consist of increasing older-age populations (aka ‘grey nomads’), serial tourists (backpackers and the more lavish destination-hoppers), regular conference/festivallers (‘knowmads’), climate refugees (something many of us might soon become ourselves) or just old hippies (like me) trying to get off-grid and remove ourselves from a sociopolitical system we can no longer accept. For some it’s a luxury lifestyle choice perceived as living the dream. For me it’s an act of protest, an chance to explore and connect with people and place across Australia, and an opportunity to reinvent my own creative practice.

Last year I spent two weeks turning an empty block of land into a temporary Nomadic Village with a bunch of artists who all had some kind of mobility as a creative focus. I didn’t expect to be the only 100% Nomad there, but since they all had somewhere else to call home, I was. Here at TPS I was convinced I’d be the only nomad, but I was wrong. Fellow-TPS-meanderer Greg Pritchard lives out of his car as he drives around regional NSW largely due to his role with Regional Arts Australia. My bus is considerably more comfortable, but even he gets to call in to his mum’s place to do a load of washing as we pass through Canberra. My equivalent, travelling back to North Wales, would be one expensive laundrette.

It’s the night before our last day after almost three (delicious) weeks and I’m taking a quiet reflective moment in the bus, watching the hot day’s sun set while awaiting a rare, decadent, pizza delivery. Typically with residencies or labs you’re expected to produce ‘outcome’, but the real result of these experiences isn’t immediate, and Performance Space has not made this demand of us. But of course with 30 artists, we’ve ended up with a mini festival regardless. It’ll be fascinating to see what Narrandera’s locals make of us.

This Time_Place_Space is a reincarnation of a previous series from several years ago with the Nomadic thrust being a new direction (fortunately for me!). Every time I’ve spoken with previous participants their eyes do that dreamy-gaze thing; the depth and duration of meaning, still active from their experience, is visceral. The name of the program is no mistake; they talk about the privilege of being given time, place and space to just be, to learn, reflect, share and grow, without pressure or fear of looking or feeling silly when they explore realms outside of their normal comfort zone. I was hoping to develop a similar glaze from my own time here. I wasn’t wrong.

I came with a single project in mind that I wanted to develop having started it at Nomadic Village, but I’ll tell you more about that another time. Suffice to say, I am looking to tomorrow knowing not only that it has taken new shape, but that I have. I’ve shared buslife in one of the most idyllic locations I’ve ever visited in this country with some of the most astonishingly genuine, passionate, inventive, generous and funny individuals I’ve had the pleasure to meet. I’ve eaten the best camp food ever – including roadkill in a found food feast! And I’ve learned new things about place, people, culture and, above all, myself. Who says art can’t be transformative?

Kudos to everyone who put this thing together, from TPS v.1 to all the producers, facilitators and artists who have made this, this. And extra special hugs to Sophie who had to leave us a little too early.

This post was originally written for the Time_Place_Space:Nomad tumblr blog. Go check it out, there are heaps of amazing threads there.

Time_Place_Space: Nomad is a national travelling laboratory that aims to challenge, invigorate and strengthen interdisciplinary and experimental arts practice in Australia, with an emphasis on collaborative performance making, site-specificity and artistic resilience. Time_Place_Space is a co-production between Performance Space and ArtsHouse Melbourne.

lateral drifts

Increasingly pissed off with Facebook’s continued disrespect for our personal rights and privacy, I’ve started using a new platform for my personal ramblings, to begin taking myself out of the anti-Net Neutrality world.

Known lets you publish status updates, etc, which are then pushed to Facebook, Twitter, etc (it’s in beta so there’s a lot more to come too). This means you own all rights to your content rather than giving them away to walled gardens that are more interested in your data than providing the open service you originally signed up for.

Check out more at http://withknown.com and follow my lateral drifts at http://fee.withknown.com.

Nomads in Residence

Since things are starting to hot-up around here it seems to be time to post a bit about what I mean by “Nomads in Residence”.

These nomads are basically my guests in the bus. They must be from the creative digital culture space but I’m really broad about that. By “digital culture” I mean artists, makers, hackers, coders, practitioners, researchers, games developers, animators, filmmakers, policy folk, arts workers, cultural practitioners… ummmmmmm…. other people who play creatively with technology. The point is to be INclusive, not EXclusive, so if you’re not included by title here but feel you should be included by practice then message me regardless.

I have a list of people I have already personally invited. I also have a bundle of folk I have just loved working with/around over the years and will be contacting in due course. But there’s also folk I stumble on/am introduced to who just spark something and need to be invited. For example, I just contacted my first total stranger because her work suits my thinking perfectly, and there might be the perfect match event coming up next year.

And then there’s the unknown-yet-by-me. Of which there are many!

I do not know everyone (or everything). Obviously. This whole project is about getting out there and seeing who/what I don’t know, as well as sharing who/what I do.


The ‘challenge’

  • Location: You don’t need to be from another country; plenty of you gorgeous Australians are on my list. I need to see this country through your eyes and be introduced to your networks too.
  • Your mission: I ask all my “Nomads in Residence” to define where you want to go, who you want to meet and what you want to achieve from your trip.
  • Networking: Once I know your intentions I can help make connections with people you could meet both with me and outside of your time with me. I really encourage you to spend extra time in this amazing country if you can. I can also follow up on people you tell me I should know about in case we can meet them together.
  • Duration: I would love you to stay with me as long as you can, but I understand time is a valuable commodity and you are probably travelling a fair distance. When I started visiting Australia from the UK our costs were often split across a few organisations and that worked a treat, but affects timing/demands, etc.
  • Monies: As you can see from my crowdfunding campaign, this is all very DIY. I would love to offer you travel/accommodation, a nice fat artists fee and a luxurious ‘maker’ budget, but that’s not something I can promise. Especially right now. But I can fundraise (either through crowdfunding targeted to both our communities or through traditional arts funding) and co-productions/shared visits are pretty straightforward to coordinate. You will at least get standard return flights, acommodation/food in the bus and some kind of artist fee.
  • Accommodation: The bus will have a ‘bedroom’ space, a sofa-bed in the ‘lounge’ space, a swag (traditional aussie sleeping bag/tent), and an extra tent. You can choose which you’d like, even on a daily basis.

The Bigger Picture

This often freaks people out when I talk about it; “Your plans are too big, Fee. Calm down and take one step at a time”… Um, no. I think big missions help you better achieve baby steps… but that’s just me.

The big picture plan is to start the model in Australia but then take the concept all over the world. I’ve already been talking to a University in Canada who likes the concept as a research methodology. At some point we’ll run a co-production together to raise funds for a bus and the same process over there. That bus would of course drive across Canada, down to America and then South America, scooping more locals and international en route. I’m also British, so at some stage I’ll be setting up another bus in the UK, which would go to Europe… and so on.

The really-big-picture is that eventually I would like to have a bus in (or within access of) every continent. While I’m not using it the bus would be available for other digital culture practitioners. If they maintain the bus and continue to support the concept (capturing/sharing data, etc) they can have it for free when it’s not being used. If they want to do their own thing then they can hire it and any proceeds will go back in to the project.

National / International

This really isn’t just an Australian project, it’s a digital one. Like the internet it’s inspired by community, collaboration, creativity and connection. The potential is huge but the baby steps are really manageable and realistic. It just takes a little bit of conversation and we can make amazing things happen together.

So if you’re interested, message me with some responses to the above ‘challenge’ and we’ll take it from there.

UPDATE: Get a flavour of some of the Nomads.