Introducing Jo & Lilly of BIG Kids Magazine!
“BIG Kids Magazine is the founding project of BIG, a creative arts organisation built with Bravery, Imagination and Generosity. The magazine promotes creativity in children, opportunities for innovative collaboration and world class artistic exchange.
The creators of BIG are two professional Australian mother-artists, Jo Pollitt and Lilly Blue, who are passionate about the rigor of quality art practice neither as elitist or hobby but as a holistic way of thinking and an everyday way of engaging viewing and responding to the world.
This is a little bit about them:
An ingenious Hobart Rose brought Jo and Lilly together for a year, 12 years ago. It had been 10 years since they last saw each other. No longer Island girls, both Jo and Lilly have widely traveled the world and now live and work on opposite sides of the country. They have still not seen each other, but inspire and write unedited responses to each other at all hours of the day and night. Jo’s world is dance. Lilly’s is art. They are both in love with their tiny BIG baby girls.
Jo has worked as dancer, choreographer and writer for over 15years. She holds a Master of Arts in Creative Arts (WAPPA) and has worked with various companies and artists including Tasdance (as dancer and education officer), Terrapin (where she played ‘Alice’) and Rosalind Crisp(in Sydney, Perth and Berlin). In the year she left Tasmania she was the Co-director of the 1999 Hobart Fringe Festival and last returned as dance curator of Boiler Room, a National improvisation festival in 2002-03. Jo has created many works includingRoom in 2004 for the Perth International Arts Festival and Re-render, a solo for Chrissie Parrott at His Majesty’s Theatre in 2009. Jo is the director of the ‘response project’ (since 2000) – a practice of improvisation that involves writing and directing ‘long distance dance’ across various countries as well as close up in the studio. Jo works part time as a lecturer in dance at WAAPA, is mentor to several Australian artists and the author of several published articles. When not swinging a leg, or walking with her three children, she is madly imagining and finding her way into the world that is becoming the BIG Kids Magazine.
Lilly is a visual artist and educator with a background in physical performance, installation and community arts. She has lived across the world in places both vibrant and remote including 7 years in New York as Director of Arts Programming with Catskills IDEA, Artistic Director of Kidscirque and conspirator to Nancy Siegel developing creative programs based on yogic principles. Lilly continues to collaborate with Erin Maile OKeefe of CircusYoga and remains passionate about inspiring opportunities for connection, reflection and action through arts practices. Her interest and research into co-authorship is fueled and fed by her partnership with Jo and the unbridled emerging world of BIG. Represented by Art2muse and Galerie LWS Lilly exhibits and sells her art work in Paris, New York and Sydney.”
Tell us about your background and how did you get to where you are today?
We came to BIG via careers in dance and ink. I am a dancer and writer, Lilly is a visual artist and we both balance lives as creators, educators and seekers of responsive exchange. In a mad moment of future dreaming last year, I imagined a magazine that would invite kids into pages of curious possibilities to spark and support the creative worlds my 7yr old son was diving into at the time. I watched his mini magazine and story making and I wanted to support his dreaming – not by reinforcing the plethora of commercial characters or known story-lines but through creating a navigation of surprise through awesome artwork, ideas and a responsive map of ideas that he could direct. I could SEE the magazine and practically hold the whole thing in my hands when a chance encounter with Lilly’s work (which I bought for my new baby girl) prompted me to send a note to share the idea with her. I had not spoken to Lilly for more than 10 years but her response was immediate, unbridled and absolute. In the space of the following weeks, we arrived together at BIG.
Where do you call home?
Wherever our children are! I mainly swing a leg in Perth but am pretty much obsessed with long distance response projects. Lilly spills ink in Sydney but has lived in New York and romanced the potential of Paris. BIG lives somewhere between us and is definitely a citizen of the world.
Tell us about your business
BIG came to us in a small boat and surprised us with such bravery, imagination and generosity, that we could do nothing but sail into the headwinds and catch what we could. It has been a quiet and furious collaboration and a daily cross fire of worlds unfurling between us for nearly 8months without a breath and we are still firing. Now leading up to the BIG launch, the drive is relentless. Where it will all land, we can’t predict but our collision and collaboration has been a wild unfurling of dreamlands with doors flying open at every turn and people peeking out from cracks in more potential that ever was seen through a single porthole. And we are pretty thrilled and overwhelmed with the view.
We’re basically hoping that our BIG work will respond and reflect the creative and curious everyday of childhood and maybe even help to invigorate a brave, expressive and contributory generation of thinkers and leaders along the way!
Who or what inspires you?
Kids who make-up and change the world just by walking into it. Art as a holistic way of thinking and an everyday way of engaging, viewing and responding to the world. Adventures in creative collaboration. Gutsy independent mother-artists and awesome child-artist collaborative projects. We love Lea Redmond’s smallest post office: http://www.leafcutterdesigns.com/, Australia’s Field theory: http://www.fieldtheory.com.au/,
Dallas Clayton: http://dallasclayton.com/ and magazines like Spoonful: http://spoonfulzine.com/, Uppercase: http://uppercase.squarespace.com/uppercase-journal/category/creativity, and Okido Magazine: http://www.okido.co.uk/
What have the highlights been since starting your (BIG) career?
Signing our names on the registration papers. Beginning the ‘books that grow” http://www.bigkidsmagazine.com/2011/04/co-authored-land-of-grumpilotta-and.html collaboration between us. Pre –BIG defining moments were most notable in Hobart, Paris, New York, and in the backyard of Bayswater.
Were you given any memorable advice that you would like to share?
Keep going even when it is impossible to see. The time is now/the time will never be enough so land with the minutes you have, and accept the wave and roll of both feverish action and exhausted endings. Each informs the other.
Do you have a favourite project?
The BIG Kids response project (top secret folks; will be unwrapped with the first issue!) Anything that is created side by side with someone else (both proximal and on either sides of the world)
How do you maintain a balance between your work and your life? (or not?)
BIG work flows with the tides of our children. Sometimes it is clear sailing and other times a shipwreck. We always carry an imagination of provisions to go the distance either way.
Describe your favourite paper item
Books, letters, artwork, photographs, brand new journals, childhood diaries, paper tree finger puppets, miniature envelopes, magazines, lolly wrappers.
Do you have a “usual” day?
The BIG work is defined by the ideas, links, leads, and promise of paint and words as well as the moods and sleep cycles of our small girl-children. BIG says thankfully, there is no set navigation with the two captains alternately charting where and what they don’t yet know.
What is your favourite place to hang out?
The backyard, and the backyard of BIG.
What do you love most about what you do?
The unexpectedness of it, the daily anticipation of what we will find and where we will land, and the curious passages and secret entrances of our very own shared Faraway Tree.
Answer these short questions:
Black or White? Black. And white.
Tea or Coffee? Tea
Heels or Flats? Bare feet
Short or Long? Micro moments and Longest everything else
Sweet or Savoury? Sweet days, savoury nights
Day or Night? Night owls, daybirds
Thank you so much Lilly & Jo for taking the time to share your BIG moments with us.