NAIDOC Week Artist Interview: Chloe Ogilvie

It’s NAIDOC week, an annual national celebration held from the first Sunday of July, to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. NAIDOC week consists of events and celebrations across the country.

Performing Lines has the privilege of working with a host of First Nations artists across a wide spread of disciplines, in each of our state offices. Their insights and creative practices form an invaluable part of our artistic footprint as an organisation. This NAIDOC week we have spoken to a small handful of the First Nations artists with whom we work.

Our third and final interview is with Yamatji Nanda woman Chloe Ogilvie; a Lighting Designer, Production Manager, and core member of The Farm.

How are you keeping busy these days?

I work with a lovely company called The Farm, we’re a collective of artists consisting of myself, Kate Harman, Gavin Webber, and Grayson Millwood. We’re technically a Gold Coast-based company but Grayson lives in Berlin and I live on Whadjuk Country in Perth. At the moment our youth ensemble The Greenhouse are about to premiere their new work Pricele$$ under the fearless direction of Kate and Gavin at HOTA on the Gold Coast. I won’t be there for it, as I’m currently in production with Barking Gecko as their lighting designer for their new work Cicada (by Shaun Tan, adapted by Luke Kerridge, Arielle Gray and Tim Watts). Work keeps me pretty busy, but outside of that, it’s the usual, Netflix, Coffee, Friends and Family.

Chloe Ogilvie, a fair skinned First Nations woman, stares direct to camera with a coy smile. She has long dark hair. The photo is in black and white.

What does this year’s NAIDOC week theme, “Get Up! Stand Up! Show Up!” mean to you? To whom do you think it’s speaking?

NAIDOC week is often a time when white people pay attention, and show appreciation for our First Nations people, unfortunately for most it is the only time they do so. For me, this year’s theme is about calling on those people, and everyone else, to make real lasting change, as well as a conscious effort to amplify First Nations’ voices for the other 51 weeks of the year. During the Black Lives Matter movement, there were a lot of calls for people to not rely on just being “not racist” but to work to actively be antiracist and I think that sentiment is shared in Get up! Stand Up! Show Up!. In terms of the Arts, it’s a call to start implementing policies within our organisations to ensure change, and to implement that change on all levels, I often hear the excuse “well there are no First Nations designers or producers” but if organisations are serious about making an effort, budget for associates, provide opportunities, borrow artists from neighbouring disciplines, actually make the effort to have representation. The last few years have seen an increase in First Nations people represented on stage, but we need to represent across all departments.

What role do you think the Arts play in the broader struggle for First Nations justice and decolonisation?

There are people that believe the arts should be apolitical but we are in this wonderful position where we have the opportunity to put people in front of hundreds of audience members and let them speak. Because of this what we chose to put on stage is inherently a political choice, whether we want it to be or not. The arts should be conscious of this when programming and deciding what voices to put on stage, but it doesn’t mean that the content we share has to have a political message or stance. I think the role the Arts play is about creating space for First Nations people to speak, as well as allowing them the right to self-determine the way our stories are told. The Arts also are fairly self-governed so we can listen to the broader issues of First Nations people and create our own policies around them, like working on January 26 and offering a day off later in the year.

What’s inspiring you at the moment?

I’m very inspired by pop culture I guess, Harry Styles’s new album is my current obsession, the Amazon show The Boys is also great, (horrible but very smart). I’m currently reading The Dreaming Path by Paul Callaghan, which is about embracing First Nations way of thinking. I also tend to work with other artists in a collaborative environment so am always inspired by the people around me and their interests, I work a lot with my good friend and Set Designer Tyler Hill who is currently on a mission to “live his best life” so we’ve been collectively been inspired by activities such as Hot Girl Walks, and trying to reduce our caffeine intake.

Who are some First Nations artists and voices that you think everyone should be following?

There are so many so I’m just going to list them:
– Ian Michael (current Richard Wherret fellow at STC and emerging playwright and director)
– Taree Sansbury and Thomas Kelly of Karul Projects
– Marliya Choir + Spinifex Gum (performing in Melbourne this week)
– Nathan Maynard
– Deborah Brown
– Abbie Lee Lewis (currently a fellow at Belvoir, emerging director)
–  Kambarni (visual Artist)
–  Musical Artists like Beddy Rays, Tessa Thames, Miessha and Emma Donavon
– Number one inspiration to all First Nations artists and anyone in the arts who wants to do better. Ali Murphy-Oates.

A white woman in a summer dress sits jauntily on the shoulder of a white man in a plaid shirt. It is night and they stand in a sea of theatrical haze, partially illuminated by the headlights of a car parked behind them. The picture has the appearance of a B-Movie film poster. Throttle by The Farm, with lighting design by Chloe Ogilvie

Chloe Ogilvie is a Yamatji Nanda woman from Western Australia. She trained at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts in Lighting Design. She works full time as a Lighting Designer and occasional Production Manager. She is a core member of The Farm, the Gold Coast based contemporary dance-theatre company, for whom she has designed a number of works.

Read more about Chloe here.

In everything we do, we acknowledge that we live on Aboriginal land and constantly learn from the wisdom of First Peoples.

Where we are and the history that precedes us informs how we work and how we move forward.