I met Jo Pollitt when she popped into my store on a shopping trip. An obviously warm hearted, friendly character, she definitely sparked my interest, so I got chatting to discover that she is one of the clever gals behind BIG Kids Magazine, a new publication for the young generation. I wanted to know more, and thought you would too, so Jo has kindly agreed to answer some questions for our first Creative feature of the year. Claire
Official job title: Creative director at BIG Kids Magazine
What is Big Kids Magazine?
An Australian-made creative arts print magazine for kids that publishes the artwork of children and artists side by side to disrupt traditional hierarchies and provoke creative response and new ways of viewing. It’s the first of its kind for kids and already the first edition has sold out online (you can still get a copy at selected stockists, and can pre-purchase edition two here!).
Summarise your career background and how you’ve come to where you are now:
I am a dancer who has always written. I worked as a company dancer while always making my own work and left to work independently at 25. Since then I have combined writing, dancing, teaching, creating, travelling and mothering and increasingly am working as mentor and dramaturg. I got an MA in creative arts 10 years ago and have been an obsessive researcher ever since. My eldest son (age eight) and ‘senior’ editor of the BIG pages led me to the magazine-making, and he is an integral part of the BIG work. Both the ongoing dance and the BIG work provoke each other daily.
Where do you work on the magazine?
In the middle of a shared family room with children flying by, a fit ball underfoot and a very big paper mountain with multiple digital devices all open and working, and the intersection of various projects strewn together in wild and perfect chaos!
What is the best thing about working on the magazine?
Coming up with the ideas, inviting artists and kids to contribute, the ongoing creative collaboration with my co-founder Lilly Blue, the way the work feeds into my arts practice and vice versa, the deadlines, the artwork and the potential of the BIG work.
Take us through a typical day of your work:
Making list after list, blog posting, responding to emails, thinking about the BIG picture and the actual page numbers, dealing with stockists, artists, kids, parents, supporters, volleying with Lilly on numerous points of discussion all overlapping-from meetings to interviews to lack of sleep to inspired cover-artists, to changing plans, to surprises to curatorial debate and crises. Sending out mags as part of our one for one scheme, reading other people’s work, liaising with printers, paying bills, dreaming up stories late in the night, juggling the domestic demands of three kids, coffee in the park and beginning a second day after dark to do it all again til about 1am clock off. Mad.
Illustration by BIG Kids Magazine co-founder Lilly Blue, from a series entitled Conversations.
What music do you listen to whilst you work?
I’m currently working with Paea Leach on a new dance work called Amplified Beast to be shown at Venn Gallery in March and we have a musical dramturge in Mace Francis of the MFO so at the moment it ranges from big band to bluegrass to Dolly Parton (oh yes) to Angus and Julia Stone to Patsy Bisco. Indeed.
What are you currently working on; what’s coming up for BIG Kids Magazine?
The Treasure Maps edition is big on our radar right now, sorting pages and curating the side by side work of artists and kids. It will be released end March and available in all major Australian galleries and fab stockists from April 2nd. We are working on some incredible collaborations that are still a bit secret but exciting! We are also accepting treasure inspired maps from kids and artists until Jan 30th for this edition – check out the blog or our facebook page and send us your treasure.
What has been your proudest achievement?
Publishing the first edition of BIG Kids Magazine and then buying a copy from the Art Gallery of WA. Showing a short dance work at the mecca of contemporary dance in New York earlier this year. Each year group of 3rd year dance grads that finish the improvisation year with me at WAAPA. Saying I invite the unknown into my work (dance and mag-making) and actually practicing it. My happiest days were the three when my little people were born and I’m proudest of the way they each embrace life so vividly.
Which local artists/musicians/creatives do you admire?
Independent artists who live full and generous lives and embrace the art-life collision head-on. Artists set on a course driven by bravery imagination and generosity. I am also a very big fan of rigor and vision. I love artists who inspire kids to think beyond Mario and Luigi like the recent Awesome project “Twyping” of James Berlyn and the tireless work of our local theatre companies. In retail, Future Shelter and The Eco Store are visioning bigger than the shop front and I admire that kind of larger looking. I am a fan of Artrage and very much looking forward to Fringe World.
Any advice for those trying to enter into the creative community in Perth?
Just ask. Perth is known for its open-ness and invitation to participate-ness! The dance scene is extremely supportive as is the independent arts scene in general. The amount of independent retailers, mini festivals – Beaufort and William Street – small bars and cafés totally make me wish I had more time to walk the streets!
What do you love about Perth?
That there is distance between things and entire villages within one city.
That most of my family is here. Space.
What does Perth need?
I was going to say a Spiegeltent but we have it now in the Fringe!
Most frequented coffee spot?
Veggie Mama in Mt Lawley – it has been my ‘office’ since Dylan first began and now with his move I just have to drive a little further – which in summer means I get take away and continue down the road to Hyde Park with my little treasure girl. Ya.
Best live music venue?
Depends who is playing, but I loved seeing the Necks play at the Bakery.
Cottesloe, and I love the river.
Rottnest or Margaret River?
Dunsborough and Pemberton.
Thank you, Jo!