Renita grew up from a home base on the beach in the south-west corner of West Australia; between countries and cultures, as the family travelled regularly throughout Asia and Europe on remote scientific projects for international agencies and diplomatic posts representing Australian government.
Until the age of 12, schooling took place between the kitchen table (wherever home was) and the classrooms of the local public institution – for social and cultural reasons more than academic; which in retrospect has most likely seeded her passion for the arts and her humanitarian outlook in the community.
After high-school, Renita successfully immersed herself in the bohemian lifestyle of being an arts student at WAIT (now Curtin University), which consequently inspired more possibilities than could possibly be grasped. As a twenty-something in the eighties, she over-indulged in the educational freedoms on offer by studying hard across architecture, sculpture, textiles and interior design; as well as taking full advantage of the midnight til dawn sub-culture playing even harder behind the bar in Northbridge nightclubs.
Several excursions back to Europe, Asia and the Middle East in the nineties working in fashion, music and the magazine industry stimulated a burning desire for a deeper cultural identity and sense of community. On returning to Australia, she found the best place to do this soul searching was back in the forests and beaches of the south-west; and with time on her hands as a single mum she was also able to birth several home-based-arts-businesses in the community.
This put her in good stead for the years of adventure that followed in the central Australian desert. Not sure quite how it all happened – certainly not by any conscious engineering or design – but this is where she stayed for 15 years, learning about culture and community and completing a masters degree in international development.
Fast forward another decade and Renita has been practicing as a cultural community development specialist in a project management and advisory capacity for both NGO and Government initiatives in digital media, communications and the arts. In her negotiations with individuals and organisations at grass roots level through to local councils, senior government and international aid agencies, her dialogue remains the same: realizing the value, importance and potency of the arts within the community identity (PYMedia, 2002-05; Ethos Global, 2005-2015; Karungkarni Precinct, 2014-16).
A significant part of her career in this space has been dedicated to working with regional and remote Australian Indigenous communities to develop capacity for cultural tourism and cultural business opportunities through exhibitions, festivals and performance. Importantly and intentionally, these activities also support the community’s need for ongoing cultural maintenance – through both intergenerational transfer and digital archiving of significant traditional songs and dances (DanceSite, 2007-13).
Through her work as an artist and creative producer, Renita advocates for the arts as a tool for social change and cohesion in the community; and that its innate capacity for passive diplomacy – to build bridges between different cultures and disparate social groups in difficult places and challenging spaces – is unparalleled. Moreover, she believes that participating in art and culture is essential and elemental to our human well-being.
In the past she has consulted to and worked directly with community based not for profit organisations such as PYMedia, 3C Projects, Ethos Global Foundation and Artback NT, to facilitate community arts and cultural development projects in remote locations in Australia and internationally.
Currently, Renita is working as an advisor to the Northern Territory Government; in the portfolio of arts, museums, libraries and screen industry.
Primarily, her applied skillset is based in an ability to:
- Implement recognised international management and project development practices, to assist passive diplomacy and advocacy with marginalised Indigenous groups.
- Consult and communicate cross-culturally, with 25 years experience in participatory planning and management in program design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation in remote communities.
- Establish and maintain networks across the Australian Indigenous communities; from individuals and organisations at grass roots level through to senior government and international aid agencies.
- Develop and manage of Australian government policies and programs including initiatives for increasing services, employment and infrastructure in remote areas.
Most recently, her focus has shifted to the role that inter-disciplinarity plays in community development; the creative space that is occupied by scientists and artists alike, where collaborative energies can really transform existing patterns of thinking and seeing into new ways of doing.
As an artist, Renita’s solo exhibitions (Relics 2003 > Relics, Look Again 2013) have explored the repetitive journeys we make between places of inspiration (inhalation-centrifugation) and allocation (exhalation-communication); and the transient beauty in discarded or forgotten objects.
If you would like to contact me to find out more about what I do, send me an email here