“Vulnerable” – an upcoming new artwork series

I've found that it's of some help to think of one's moods and feelings about the world as being similar to weather.
Here are some obvious things about the weather:
It's real.
You can't change it by wishing it away.
If it's dark and rainy, it really is dark and rainy, and you can't alter it.
It might be dark and rainy for two weeks in a row.
It will be sunny one day.
It isn't under one's control when the sun comes out, but come out it will.
One day.
- Stephen Fry

Never has this Stephen Fry’s quote resonated to me more than now and, especially, in the past year. With many uncertainties and setbacks. The ‘stormy and rainy days’ were frequent and, at times, relentless. Indeed the rain would pass, the darkness would shift, it would be sunny again, but before I knew it, the storm would come. 

Surrounded by the sound of rain, I often retreated to reflective solitude. There I was, confronted with my own vulnerability. I tried to set it aside and quiet it down, but, with the pandemic pause, there were not enough hustle-and-bustle of the day to drown it. Perhaps, it was the first time I truly listened to myself –to my vulnerability.

Last year, I planned to embark on creating a new artwork series, but the setbacks ensued as the pandemic struck stopped me at my track. The epiphany on vulnerability has prompted me to revisit the envisaged series of my new artwork project in a different light and focus. 

Many people are experiencing mental health setback due to the current pandemic and restrictions. One of the possible causes is the uncertainty of the future, which makes many of us feel vulnerable and exposed. As someone with lived-in experience, in supporting and raising awareness of mental health disorder, it is therefore fitting that Vulnerable is the focal theme of my new artwork series. 

Prior to embarking on creative development, it was crucial for me to conduct a foundational work exploring the meaning and nuances of vulnerability and establishing a methodology, a framework from the exploration. The foundational work was completed today, January, 25th evening with paths set for the next stage for further development.

Admittedly, it was not a straight forward, nor it was a linear process. It was difficult at the beginning; mainly because I was doubting myself and was so often stuck because I emphasized defining vulnerability intellectually, detaching myself from it in a bird’s eye view way that I avoided putting in my heart. Only when I started exploring wholeheartedly that the foundational work truly gained momentum.

Did I achieve what I set out to do? Yes, I did, but not in the way that I had initially envisaged it. My exploration and the foundational journey turned into a dive into the meaning and value of authenticity and acceptance of the impermanence.

This foundational work has not only set the core and the heart of a new art series journey but a voyage of a renewed art direction and unrelenting radical acceptance of the vulnerable, authentic self. To me, that is when art can truly flourish.

I shall share more update on my new artwork series at the next development stage.

My sincere gratitude to Moonee Valley City Council (MVCC) in granting me the COVID-19 Art Recovery Grant late last year to conduct this Foundational Work towards the creation of new artwork series “Vulnerable”. MVCC’s community recovery grant scheme has supported many local community groups, businesses, and artists to bounce back from the setback brought on by the pandemic. In my case, MVCC’s support and belief on the project have indeed made the difference and given me the push (and accountability) to pursue this endeavour. Thank you.

A Quiet Start of the New Year

To say that it has been an interesting year is an understatement. Many of us face challenges to stay afloat, being apart from loved ones, and some of us may still unable to come home. Thoughts and prayers for life lost and sadness surrounding the year that was 2020. Hopes and Acceptance of what we cannot control, and of the unknown for the year that is 2021.

A quiet start of the year is what I need and what I am having, luckily with a Seeing Eye Dog puppy that I am fostering by my side.

I hope you have the type of new year start that you need. Peace and love.

Shadows of a person walking a Seeing Eye Dog Puppy. The 3-month-old black Labrador puppy wearing a Vision Australia Seeing Eye Dog in training vest is partially seen on the left bottom corner.

Inclusive Design & Wellbeing Discussion restaged for 2021

Hello all, 

It sure has been a topsy turvy period since my last update. I sincerely hope that everyone is well amidst the present challenges and ahead. In light of the ever-evolving pandemic situation and restriction, this Inclusive Design discussion is undergoing a restaging process. This discussion has my heart and my mind, so while I cannot give the exact certainties of the revised plan yet, I can advise you that the discussion will indeed take place, albeit restaged for early 2021 (date shown currently is a placeholder – TBC).

Please kindly bear with me while I am ironing out a few wrinkles at my end.  

Thank you very much for your support and understanding. I will issue another update in due course.  In the meantime, keep well and take care.

Sincerely, Sonya

Update: Inclusive Design & Wellbeing Discussion – further postponement

Inclusive Design & Wellbeing Discussion – October 2020

A lot has certainly evolved in the last three weeks, since my last update to you

In light of the evolving public health safety issue, current restriction and further advice from the State and Federal Government, this Inclusive Design & Wellbeing interactive discussion is moved tentatively to Wednesday, 21st October, same time and same place. The date shall be re-assessed closer to date, sometime in late September or early October, subject to the official advice at the time.

Thank you kindly for your understanding and support.

I will keep posting updates through my website and social media. The links are below https://www.instagram.com/sonyasonnyveronica/, https://twitter.com/SonyaVeronica, https://www.linkedin.com/in/sonyaveronicaiskandar/

Please do not hesitate to contact me through my personal email address (sonya@sonyaveronica.com) or university email (siskandar@swin.edu.au).

 In the meantime, please do take care, keep safe and keep well. Till we meet in person.

Inclusive Design & Wellbeing Discussion is postponed to Wednesday, 29th April

Event registration has been updated: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/inclusive-design-wellbeing-tickets-76432161653

Thank you all firstly for those who have registered to attend this Inclusive Design and Wellbeing discussion and also for those who have signed up on the waiting list. It is very encouraging indeed.

Please be advised that in light to the current public health situation, as a precautionary measure, Meat Market is closing its door from 2 pm today till the end of March and this Inclusive Design and Wellbeing discussion has been postponed and moved to (tentatively) Wednesday, 29th April, same time and venue. 

The date will be reassessed in early April; All attendees, including those in the waiting list, should have received emails notifying them of the postponement.

I recognized that there has been a great interest in attendance for this event. Come early April, aside from reviewing the date, I will also endeavour to review the venue within Meat Market and discuss with them to see if there is a possibility of moving to a slightly larger space to accommodate those who are in the waiting list. 

I will post updates to my website and social media account (Instagram and Twitter). To follow, social media addresses are below: 

https://www.instagram.com/sonyasonnyveronica/, https://twitter.com/SonyaVeronica

Please do not hesitate to send me an email either through my Swinburne email address (siskandar@swin.edu.au) or website email (sonya@sonyaveronica.com), or both.

Although this is not an ideal situation, this is one of the ways to “flatten the epidemic curve”.

In the meantime, please do take care and keep safe.

I look forward to the day till we all can finally meet.

Au revoir,

SBS French Interview on Inclusive Design Discussion, 18/03 & a bit on the Lido Jazz session on 20/03

So, yours truly was interviewed by Jean-Nöel Ducasse from SBS French, in my broken French – comme d’habitude! (pledging to make true effort to improve!).

We talked predominantly about the upcoming Inclusive Design & Wellbeing, which is part of Melbourne Design Week 2020, on Wednesday, 18th March and a little bit on my upcoming French jazz session at Lido Jazz on Friday, 20th March

Here it is: https://www.sbs.com.au/language/french/audio/melbourne-design-week-la-conception-inclusive-et-comment-est-elle-liee-au-bien-etre

photo by Aaron Kwan, SBS

Sonya Veronica Quartet at Lido Jazz – Friday, 20th March

We are playing at Lido Jazz on Friday, 20th March, from 8 to 10 pm, with yours truly on vocal, Mark Fitzgibbon on piano, Howard Cairns on double bass and Alex Spicer on drums.
Bien sûr, there will be some french tunes (a bit Gainsbourg, Misraki) and jazz standards. Please click here and here for some snippets from our last Lido’s session.

Do come along and join us on the day. Please click here for booking and ticket.

Sonya Veronica Quartet

Inclusive Design & Wellbeing Discussion is Fully Booked

Hello all, please be advised that the Inclusive Design & Wellbeing discussion is fully booked.

I have activated the waiting list registration, so please register your interest and when tickets become available you will be contacted.

Thank you for your interest and support.


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The event is currently fully booked – waiting list is available

Inclusive Design & Wellbeing – an interactive discussion, part of Melbourne Design Week 2020

Inclusive Design & Wellbeing – an Interactive Discussion by Sonya Veronica Iskandar

Late last year, as I was discussing with my supervisor how my PhD resonates with Inclusive Design as the overarching design principle and how ultimately social inclusion can contribute to wellbeing, I question what we, as a society at large, understand on what inclusive design is. There is no shortage of information; reading materials, articles, guidelines and blogs as well as research and activities. So suffice today that it is a widely known principle or concept. However, what is the current understanding of Inclusive Design, how does it vary from different perspectives and how can Inclusive Design affect or relate to wellbeing, particularly for individuals with disabilities within the public built environment design?

When I embarked on my research degree, I was planning to do this quietly in the background with little noise, which I did. But the question lingered on and I thought, what if I do something about this, what if I am the one who put together a discussion between panels and public? But who do I think I am to do that? Even though I perform as a vocalist, putting myself out there without the bandmates and “musical shield” is an entirely different matter. Anxiety disorder, past traumas and bullying are something that I constantly push forward to overcome, this includes social and public engagement. The thought persisted and I said to myself, if I say that I am advocating for Inclusive Culture, then I need to do something about it, instead of just saying it. So, with the support of my supervisors, I am giving this a go.

So, may I humbly present, Inclusive Design and Wellbeing – an interactive discussion, to be held on Wednesday, 18th March 2020 from 6.30 to 8 pm, at Meat Market Meeting Room, part of Melbourne Design Week 2020.

For for information and registration link, please go to the MDW 2020 Inclusive Design & Wellbeing section on my website. I will be posting more updates and profiles of panels as we inch towards the event date.

Thank you ShawContract for sponsoring the event and Swinburne University (especially my supervisors, Dr Nanette Carter, Dr Kirsten Day and Prof Mark Taylor) for supporting this endeavour, as well as to the panels who generously volunteer their time to be part of this event. Thank you for Melbourne Design Week committee for giving this discussion a green light to become part of Melbourne Design Week 2020.

Stay tuned and in the meantime, the journey continues…