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The MAN Festival Day 4 – Independent Producer/Dance Artist Sandi Woo

Mother Artist Sandi Woo is an independent producer/dance artist based in Broome WA who has had a wildly productive and creative year with many upcoming projects set to continue her amazing mix of art and motherhood.

Sandi Woo and son Eddie Mailer Photo by Kathryn Santospirito September 2012 – Broome, WA

What do I have to say about juggling arts practice and parenting? More like – what don’t I have to say and where do I begin?

I’m currently in the ‘gearing down’ phase of the busiest year of my life. I have delivered two community based projects in Broome and the Kimberley. YouTube Me Dance 2012 & Gallery Moves. Which are also written about here & here.

I am currently working on my third project for a local organisation – Theatre Kimberley – called Staircase to the Moon. A locally written, produced and performed music theatre production that will christen the newly refurbished Broome Civic Centre in early November.

Exciting. Exhausting. Exhilarating.

I have been doing plenty of soul searching about how to balance my creative yearnings and my family responsibilities. One thing I knew was my creative desires were more powerful BECA– USE of my family. But they were also the ones most affected by the ‘busy schedule fall out’ and stood right in the firing line of one frazzled and exhausted Mum.

Two young boys call me ‘mum’. Dear, sweet Eddie (4 yrs) who we think is forming strong aspirations to be a breakdancer, but is probably more of a contemporary performer. And Frank (1 year) who at this early stage is showing signs of being either a professional boxer, or just a school yard bully. Either way he enjoys moments of contact improvisation with his brother.

It would not be possible to write about juggling motherhood and creative practice without crediting my husband as the real reason I am still standing and the family is still (relatively) happy and healthy! Seriously. After starting work at 5am, he finishes at 2pm. This allows me to get a few hours of work in at the end of the working day. He hangs out with the kids from 2pm and helps to complete a large portion of the home duties too. It frees me up for rehearsals, meetings and important bonding time with my computer. He is also the sounding board for all the good and bad twists and turns we go through on the ‘project super-highway’. Oh, he’s a reasonable copy editor too! Thanks Darl!

Karli Linaker, Susan Rush, Sete Tele Photo by Abigail Workman(Man at Work Media)Sept 2012 – DACOU Gallery, Broome


As hard as this year has been logistically and administratively, it has been the most creatively fulfilling year of my life. Possibilities feel endless and the rich and fertile community I’ve started to work with seem at the ready. All these wonderful elements converging and I have never been more ‘time poor’ in my life! It’s amazing how much you get done in 2-3 consecutive hours of uninterrupted work time. And lets not forget all the thinking time in between hanging out washing, folding washing, cooking dinner, feeding the chooks and packing up the toys (over and over again in a day). Not a minute of the day is wasted! Hang on, is Facebook time wasting?

Really, it’s not surprising that motherhood and creative practice go so well together. Both provide amazing, life changing moments you cannot plan for. And both require a ‘concept plan’ of some sort – an overarching vision – but you kind of work out the details as you go. You ride the ebbs and flow, you find yourself in a difficult moments, which make you relish the joyful bits even more.

My next project combines motherhood and creative practice. I am exploring the relationships between children and their parents/grandparents. I want to test my own notions of parenting by building a creative environment where the children lead the parents. Why? Because of the seemingly constant requests I make of my toddler to live his life at an adult pace. Also, I have been inspired by the work of BIG magazine. I want to provide other parents (and grandparents) an opportunity to have a creative experience that is shared, led and centred on their children. I’ve conceptualised a project so I can play in the studio with my own children. I will be mentored through this project by inspirational and talented Mother Artist- Felicity Bott.

My stomach backflips at the thought of what lies ahead next year. And, after reading Sally Richardson’s MAN article, of what lies ahead in the years to come. I amgoing to the post box everyday to check if my copy of Rachel Power’s The Divided Heart – Art and Motherhood has arrived. Excited much?

Thank you BIG Kids Magazine, thank you MAN.

Bravery is … stepping out into the unknown and enjoying the ride

Imagination is… a wonderful gift

Generosity is… putting others needs before your own

The Mother Artist Network (MAN) is an initiative of Jo Pollitt and Lilly Blue and BIG Kids Magazine. This inaugural mini MAN Festival has been curated in collaboration with guest editor and mother artist extraordinaire Vivienne Rogis to whom we are so grateful!
The Mother Artist Network is a place that invites BIG ideas and discussion about creative practice and motherhood. Through a forum of ongoing blog posts the MAN will feature voices of mother-artists at all stages of artistic engagement and motherhood. We very much hope you will contribute to the conversation by commenting below or emailing us at [email protected] to add your story to the mix.

on Nov 7, 2012