In the spotlight: Rachel Burke

We are all surrounded by a multitude of things; our lives are literally overflowing with objects. Despite our best efforts at decluttering, sometimes we need to take stock of our stuff.

Rachel Burke is an artist, designer, photographer and stylist who has tapped into her unused household objects and found inspiration in their mundanity.

This August Engage Arts will collaborate with Rachel Burke to present her on-going craft project The Magical Mundane that transforms the most boring household rubbish into bedazzled works of art. Rachel will invite you to unleash your creativity in a series of DIY drop-in activities and workshops held at The Pod in Brunswick Street Mall, Fortitude Valley.

Magical Mundane isn’t Rachel’s only on-going creative project; Rachel’s inventive output includes the community art and craft ventures like ‘I Make, You Wear It’, where she raised funds for charity by making a new dress each day for a year, and ‘Apomogy’ a project that encourages people to send anonymous apologies using pom-poms.

With such a diverse creative practice, we can hardly wait to see what Rachel will present for her upcoming residency and we jumped at the chance to ask her more about it.

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Magical Mundane object by Rachel Burke. Image courtesy of the artist.

 Kerry: You work full time as a women’s wear designer but still manage to maintain your own creative practice. How do you keep up your creativity every day?

Rachel: I make a conscious effort to schedule in time for my creative practice, as it is incredibly important to me, and something I look forward to each day. I do all of my personal making projects late at night or on the weekends. I have been balancing it this way for so long now that this practice has become second nature to me.

Kerry: Much of your work invites people to participate, and to connect with a seemingly simple idea or object. Is the idea something you have in mind when starting a new project or does it evolve?

I am an extrovert by nature and find that I get a lot of energy and inspiration when working with, or at the very least, involving other people in what I’m doing. I also find that there is more to learn by including others in what I’m doing – other people will reveal things about my own ideas all the time. For me, this always leads to more interesting conversations and results.

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Magical Mundane object by Rachel Burke. Image courtesy of the artist.

Kerry: Can you tell us what inspired you to start The Magical Mundane project?

Rachel: A few months ago, I decided to clean out my pantry. As soon as I started, I was struck by how many unused products I was holding to (aka hoarding!!) and in turn, how difficult I found it to let go of products I wasn’t using. I started to realise that this was a trend that was echoing throughout my house – my bathroom cupboard was also filled with things I wasn’t using, but couldn’t bring myself to let go of.

I decided to gather all this stuff up and really assess what I was holding onto. All clumped together on my kitchen bench, the collection represented all the mundane things I was overlooking and neglecting in my household. After this assessment, I decided to continue holding onto the items, but instead of shoving them back into the pantry, I decided to decorate them and begin a process of transformation.

This experimentation started to develop and the more I did it I realised I was truly changing these everyday products, elevating from the dark spaces of my cupboards, and bringing them to the foreground. I continued to explore this further, and have begun scanning supermarkets for things that I want to highlight in my collection of mundane items. Generally, I search for products that I think might be unpopular, seen as strange (like tinned tongues), or things that simply speak to my personal aesthetic.

In addition to decorating products, I have also set my sites on other mundane items like rocks and discarded rubbish.


Magical Mundane object by Rachel Burke. Image courtesy of the artist.

Kerry: Your practice covers visual art, styling, photography, and design yet maintains a strong influence from craft. Can you tell us how you got started (and stayed) hooked on craft?

Rachel: I have always loved making things, but was always pretty focused on honing my skills for the purposes of garment design. However, along the way I developed this immense love for the materials I was using and making things purely for the sake of experimentation instead of wearability. I have a fairly addictive personality, so when I am interested in something, I can’t help but seek to repeat the process across all aspects of my life, and in this case, my artistic mediums. For example, my love of pom poms has translated into garments, pom pom themed photoshoots, I had pom poms at my wedding…and I started an art project using pom poms (Apomogy).


We can’t wait to see The Pod sparkle! Stay tuned for the program details!

All images courtesy of Rachel Burke.

BrisAsia Festival 2017 | Live @ the Pod

Engage Arts presented Live @ the Pod, a program of community focused events and temporary art activations for Brisbane City Council’s annual BrisAsia Festival. The program was held at The Pod in Brunswick Street Mall, Fortitude Valley from 27 January to 19 February 2017.


Anna Yen during her Grandma performance

Engage Arts worked closely with artists across diverse artforms to offer a program of workshops, artworks and performances that invited the public to interact with artists and performers. We encouraged the public to explore and experience elements of Asian culture and be part of the artworks and performances though hands-on activities that celebrated the diversity of Asian arts and culture. The interactive program included:

  • Lunar Wish, an interactive art installation by Brisbane-based artist Sue-Ching Lascelles that invited participants to fold origami wishes
  • Kirigami papercutting workshop celebrating Year of the Roster with Brisbane-based artist Brisbane-based artist Elysha Rei
  • Grandma comedy performed by Anna Yen
  • Live music gigs performed by local musicians Mayuresh and Imraan of L A C I D
  • Traditional Sumi-e and Shodo (Japanese calligraphy) ink painting workshops with master calligrapher and Sumi-e artist Yumiko Kigoshi
  • Artist talk and podcast recording session with Elysha Rei and Fringe Art + Culture
  • Live painting demonstration with street artist Phil B
  • Pop-up exhibition of children’s artworks from Tammy’s Art Studio.
  • WunderWalk Travel App D.I.Y culture walk starting point

The Live @ the Pod program included successful collaborations with artists and independent Brisbane organisations including; WunderWalk Travel App, Fringe Art & Culture and Tammy’s Art Studio.

Over 500 visitors experienced the Live @ the Pod program. Families with children, couples, teenagers and adults of all ages were welcomed and involved in the program. During the program we met people of many nationalities, hailing from as far afield as Europe, to our closer neighbours from across Asia and Oceania. Along with national and international visitors we engaged with plenty of local Brisbane and Valley residents.


Engage Arts also designed and implemented a print and digital marketing campaign to promote the Live @ the Pod program. The whimsical “Year of the Rooster” illustration was created by local designer Lisa Dino and we utilised Engage Arts’ social media platforms, partner sites and online event listings to share the event. Brisbane City Council kindly supported the print campaign with print and distribution of posters and cards.

Engage Arts would like to thank Brisbane City Council Valley Malls for their support, and all the artists, contractors, volunteers and participants that brought the Live @ the Pod program to life.

Feature image: origami wishes created for Sue-Ching Lascelles’ Lunar Wish.

INK WORKSHOPS – Live @ The Pod

Yumiko Kigoshi is a visual artist who teaches the ancient art of ink painting (Sumi-e) and Shodo (Japanese Calligraphy). Yumiko shares her connections to Japanese art and culture through painting workshops and will demonstrate the essential skills of brush stroke with ink at The Pod.

Yumiko is hosting two Ink Workshops at The Pod in Brunswick Street Mall, Fortitude Valley for Brisbane City Council’s BrisAsia Festival. We invite you to make your own artworks using this timeless technique. The workshops are free of charge and all materials will be supplied. No bookings or prior experience is necessary – just drop by The Pod!

  • Venue: The Pod, Brunswick Street Mall, Fortitude Valley
  • Workshop 1: Friday 10 February, 12-2pm
  • Workshop 2: Saturday 18 February, 12-2pm

The Ink Workshops are part of the Live @ The Pod program 27 Jan – 19 Feb 2017, produced by Engage Arts.

Image: Yumiko Kigoshi, artwork detail. Courtesy of the artist.