Polyglot Spot – edition #12

Curious creative community during COVID-19 

A Sound of Drawing production photo. Three children wearing colourful puffer jackets stand behind a table covered in paper. They are wearing black headphones and drawing with pastels. The middle child has his mouth open in surprise and delight.

Thursday 1 October 2020

This week, artist and maker Trina Gaskell introduces herself in Meet Polyglot, and artist Leisa Prowd offers the career advice she’d love to share with her younger self in Brain Food.

Photograph: Sarah Walker


Meet Polyglot

Meet the team that powers Polyglot. CEOS, creatives, production, admin, board. We work together to keep the colourful cogs turning!

Name: Trina Gaskell
Title: Artist
Years with Polyglot: 2 years stretched over 20!

A photo from Wild Heads. Artist Trina Gaskell, wearing a straw hat adorned with greenery, a black hoodie and khaki apron, smiling. There are green trees and bushes visible behind her.

What is the ‘elevator pitch’ description of your role at Polyglot?
My role at Polyglot has been working as designer and maker on projects, usually in the form of collaborating with a team of Polyglot artists and kids in residency-based projects such as 5678 Film Club in 2019, Shadow Bus, Trailblazer, and way-back-when on The Noise Factory in Mallacoota. My role has also included many hours alone in a workshop making things, like the Ants costumes. Or working alongside other makers on earlier puppet-based works such as The Floating Zoo and Headhunter. And I’d have to add that there’s been a fair bit of work fixing puppets and props over the 20 years of being a Polyglot Artist.

What is something about being a Polyglot artist that would surprise someone who doesn’t work in the arts?
Something that is important as a Polyglot artist is being flexible and creative to deal with the many unexpected things that can happen when making art with kids. You need to be able to go with the flow, see how things unfold. If you have a fixed idea of how something will run, you may be in for a shock! But that’s kind of life isn’t it? So, I’m not sure if you’d say it’s surprising.

What part of your work with Polyglot do you most look forward to?
I really love working with other artists during the development of a new project, also the early stages of a project with a team of Polyglot artists and kids. It’s the life blood to be in a creative space to brainstorm. No ideas are bad at that stage, everyone is just in the moment, mining the gold of creative thought and activity, trusting and supporting each other. Birthing new ideas can be hard work, scary, exciting, and you might even feel like vomiting. There’s no baby at the end, but the beginning of a project that will be nurtured by the company and end up having a life of its own.

What and where did you study?
I studied a Bachelor of Applied Science (Speech Pathology) at Lincoln School of Health Sciences, Carlton and then Latrobe University, Bundoora when they amalgamated. The informal study path of workshops, classes and volunteer work for theatre companies is how I began the journey from health sciences to work in the arts. 


Brain Food

Considered commentary – Polyglot and beyond

A short statured woman in dark clothing and a small child in glasses stand looking down at a light. A woman wearing dark clothing sits next to the light. They are surrounded by green foliage, some illuminated with stage lighting. A silver mirror ball hangs overheard, casting a pattern on the wooden floor.

What is the career advice that you’d like to share with your younger self?

Leisa Prowd, Artist

  • Relax! You are still young. You have plenty of time to work things out. I know it feels like there is a lot of pressure to make up your mind RIGHT NOW to decide the direction you want to take FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE. Fact is, there is plenty of time and you don’t have to stick to just one idea. There is nothing wrong with delaying that decision and, in your final years at school, doing subjects that you are good at and enjoy. In fact, that will possibly help you relax and come to a more informed decision later. If you realise later on that you should have taken a particular subject in order to get into a university course, you can always take that up at TAFE later on. There is always a way around it.
  • And here’s another hot little tip – you don’t have to go to university straight after school. There’s nothing wrong with taking a year off and working in your part time job. Actually, do that. Take a year off and decide later. You’ll gain some new life skills out of school while being more responsible for yourself. Learn about managing your own finances and how life works, because then you’ll be ready for the new responsibilities that come with tertiary learning. Work at your job, keep in touch with your friends, learn about budgeting and how to pay taxes and bills – all the things they never taught you in school! (No, you won’t be using algebra any time soon, if ever!)
  • Only you know what’s best for you. Trust that thought and trust yourself. Yes, everyone might be telling you that you would be perfect for “this” career, or they might even be telling you that you should do “this” course because you’re good at that. However, listen to your own instinct. If you aren’t excited about it, if you have any hesitations, don’t do it. The only person you need to look after right now is you. You’ll know what’s right for you when you find it. It will fill you with joy and confidence.
  • It is NEVER too late to do what you have always dreamed. It may be that you finally discover what you want to do with the rest of your life when you are forty. Again, that is not too late and it’s not too old. There will still be plenty of life to live. You want it? Go for it! You’ll have plenty of life experience behind you. You’ll know more about yourself and you’ll actually have a lot more drive and ambition to succeed. There’s nothing to lose!

Photograph: Carla Gottgens


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