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Bastian Fox Phelan


Address: Suite 1, 111 Hunter St, Newcastle
Hours:  by appointment
Property Donor:  Iris Capital
Launched: 25 August 2017

Bastian Fox Phelan
e:  Bastian
b: blog
f:  moonsignband
i:  moonsignband

Who are you?
I’m a writer, musician and zinemaker. My zines include ‘Ladybeard’, ‘Thank You For Your Love’ and the series ‘How To Be Alone.’ My writing has been published in The Lifted Brow and Tincture Journal. I’m currently completing an MA (Research) at the University of Sydney, under the supervision of Dr Beth Yahp. For my MA, I’ll submit an extract from a memoir I’ve been writing. It’s about female facial hair, PCOS, and gender identity. I also sing in the dream pop synth duo Moonsign.

What do you do?
I previously ran Totoro’s Tea House, a Renew Newcastle project, in 2009. This is my second time as a member of the Renew family. My first experience was so wonderful that I had to come back for more! I love how Renew Newcastle has created more space for artists in Newcastle, literally and figuratively. Totoro’s Tea House was the first experience I had where someone said to me, “We like your idea – go for it!” And it worked! The space brought people together in a unique way: strong friendships and artistic collaborations were formed, and people still recall the importance of that space and the special place it has in their hearts. This time, I applied for an artist studio so I could continue to focus on my own personal project: bringing a very unique story to the public realm, in the form of a memoir about my experiences as a female with facial hair. I’m someone who is visibly marked as different. I’ve chosen to embrace that part of me, and in that process, I’ve had to redefine what is considered normal, healthy, acceptable and beautiful. My book is going to carve out more space for people to truly be themselves, and in that sense I think what I’m doing mirrors what Renew Newcastle is constantly doing for this city: acknowledging, embracing, and celebrating diversity as the natural way of the world.

What are you doing in your new space?
I’m going to finish writing the book I have been working on for the past four years, and get my Masters major work and exegesis ready to submit in January 2018. I’ll also be recording vocals for my band Moonsign’s next album. I’ll be looking for opportunities to collaborate, facilitate workshops and start getting my writing published more frequently, as well as looking for a publisher for my book.

Tell us about the space – what was its previous use? Anything unique about it? Your response to the space?
To me it feels like a big lounge room – it’s spacious, it has a nice view over Hunter Street, I can easily see where my next coffee is coming from… I love that there are so many artists working in this building. There’s something to be said for the ‘hive mind’ that comes from working near other artists. It helps you stay focused, and it helps you avoid the persistent feelings of isolation that tend to haunt you when you work from home. In this space, it feels that I am out in the world, and it’s easier to see the contribution that my writing is making to society, because of that sense of connection. I love being down in the centre of town where you can hear the sounds of actual live human beings. It helps me make the link between the internal and external world that is so vital to my work.