Design Canberra Festival 2020 logo

Shine Dome, photo: Adam McGrath H Creations
Shine Dome, photo: Adam McGrath H Creations

Two Minutes to Midnight

DESIGN Canberra’s new Two Minutes to Midnight series invites thought-leaders to debate the spaces and values we need in a post-pandemic world. It’s a clarion call to the design sector, to care.

We’ve brought together a fantastic and experienced line-up of speakers from across Australia for three very important debates. Each event is hosted by a provocateur to encourage honest debate beyond the hyperbole. The provocateur frames the debate, the topic for discussion and identifies two high impact proposals to help build a future which is as yet unwritten.

Tickets are strictly limited in this small covid-safe event at Midnight Bar in Canberra‘s popular Braddon precinct. Please, book early to avoid disappointment.

Two Minutes to Midnight – Meet the Makers

Arts, culture and creativity are integral to everyday life, especially in Canberra, a global city of design. The arts provide extensive economic, education, mental health and tourism benefits to our community – enhancing the liveability of a city and building a sense of place to attract residents and investors.

Financial viability in the arts is essential to maximise the ability of artists to develop rigorous and sustainable creative practice; yet the COVID-19 crisis hit the arts hard and many artists were excluded from income support.  What changes are needed to ensure that artists, designers and creatives can continue to live, work and make?

Mon 9 November, 6-7.30pm, $25
at Midnight Bar
Buy tickets

Meet the speakers

Esther Anatolitis—Provocateur
Esther Anatolitis is one of Australia’s leading advocates for arts, culture and the creative industries. Her leadership, facilitative and consultancy work promotes a critical reflection on practice and active civic engagement. Most recently Esther was Executive Director of NAVA.

Esther is Deputy Chair of Contemporary Arts Precincts, who have recently opened Collingwood Yards, and a former board member of ACMI, Elbow Room, the Arts Industry Council (Victoria), and Regional Arts Australia. In 2020 Esther was appointed Honorary Associate Professor at RMIT School of Art.

Kate Fielding
Kate Fielding builds creative platforms for intercultural conversations. She is a cultural strategist, a company director, a writer of narrative non-fiction and an advocate for social change hairdressing.

Kate is currently the Program Director for A New Approach, an independent think tank championing effective investment and return in Australian arts and culture.

Working across the government, not-for-profit and private sectors, Kate’s particular skill set combines high-level analysis and problem solving, cultural awareness and an in-depth knowledge of Australia’s arts, cultural development and creative industries.

Jennifer Kemarre Martiniello
As a contemporary urban based Aboriginal (Arrernte) glass artist, Jenni Kemarre Martiniello produces traditionally inspired works that pay tribute to traditional weavers, and provide recognition for ancient cultural practices through the contemporary medium of glass within the aesthetics of both. In her current artistic practice Jenni concentrates on the incredibly beautiful forms of traditional woven eel traps, fish traps, fish scoops, dillibags and weave baskets.

Jenni has a strong connection to the Canberra arts community: she is an Accredited Professional Member of Craft ACT: Craft + Design Centre; creates screen printing at Megalo; and has a studio at the Canberra Glassworks.


Two Minutes to Midnight – This is Suburbia

2020 represents a time of rapid change in our city and nation’s history. In this time of uncertainty, is good design an unaffordable luxury or the best possible use of public money? If our public spaces reflect the society that creates them, how will the decisions we make today about our suburban environments express our concerns and hopes for our community, our city, and our world? Could the response to the coronavirus, and the lessons being learned, point to more caring solutions in the future which will design and build a good life, a fair society and a healthy planet?

Mon 16 November, 6-7.30pm, $25
at Midnight Bar
Buy tickets

Meet the speakers

Shelley Penn—Provocateur
Shelley Penn is an architect, urbanist and educator whose work has been recognised through awards, publications and exhibitions. Through her practice, advocacy and advisory work, and in all of her roles, Shelley is driven by an enduring commitment to enriching culture, improving social outcomes and to sustainability through advancing the quality of the built environment.

Shelley is currently the Monash University Architect and a member of State Design Review Panels for Victoria, NSW and the ACT. She has held a number of significant positions including Chair of the National Capital Authority and the National President of the Australian Institute of Architects. She is a member of the ACT Suburban Land Agency board and in 2014 she was named as one of the AFR/Westpac 100 Women of Influence.

Andrew Leigh
Andrew Leigh is the Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury and Charities, and Federal Member for Fenner in the ACT. Prior to being elected in 2010, Andrew was a professor of economics at the Australian National University. Much of Andrew’s economic research has been devoted to the vast challenges of reducing poverty and disadvantage and he has written multiple books including Battlers and Billionaires and The Luck of Politics and Randomistas.

Andrew holds a PhD in Public Policy from Harvard, is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Social Sciences, and a past recipient of the ‘Young Economist Award’, a prize by the Economics Society of Australia to the best economist under 40.

Catherine Simpson
Catherine Simpson is an urban designer and landscape architect educated in New Zealand and Scandinavia with a passion for healthy urban design, walkable urbanism, placemaking and green cities design.

Catherine is committed to regeneration and climate change adaptation. She is the co-founder of Green the Street, an initiative dedicated to making Australia’s streets greener, shadier, walkable and cyclable places – both for the health of the city and for the planet. She has a passion for the intersection of design, health and innovation and has worked across sectors including healthcare, urban centre renewal, defence, public space, parklands, greenfield and play.


Two Minutes to Midnight – Design Revisited

For those in the know, Canberra is a mecca for mid-century architecture. However, many buildings need investment and contemporary reimagining. The Civic and Cultural Precinct (located around Civic Square and the Canberra Theatre) proposes a contemporary vision yet resonates with Canberra’s design history from the 1912 Griffin plan to mid-century national capital ambitions. How might Civic Square and the Civic Offices (Roy Simpson of Yuncken Freeman Architects, 1959) use adaptive re-use principles to create resilient, sustainable and adaptive places? How can the revitalisation project give life, connection and flexibility while promoting meaningful interaction between artists and communities, retailers and commercial offices, public spaces and architecture? Is it possible for mid-century buildings to remain sensitive to their design beginnings but become fit for purpose for years to come?

Mon 23 November, 6-7.30pm, $25
at Midnight Bar
Buy tickets

Meet the speakers

Kate Brennan—Provocateur
Kate Brennan is a cultural planner and strategist. She has a career history of Executive and Board roles in not-for-profit, civic, community, cultural, leadership, multicultural, educational and tourism organisations.

Kate was CEO of Federation Square from 2005 to 2013, during which time it became the heart and focal point of Melbourne’s community and cultural life. Kate has expertise in providing for inclusive, creative and collaborative cities and provides consulting advice across private sector, government, university and arts organisations with a focus on spatial and activity planning, the intersection between the public realm and community and cultural experiences. Kate is a member of the ACT Government City Renewal Authority board.

Kelvin Ho
Kelvin Ho is an architect and the founding director of one of Australia’s finest design firms Akin Atelier. Akin Atelier is a multi-disciplinary practice spanning global retail, hospitality, hotels, resorts, public space, set design, and private residential projects. Creatively driven by skate, art, film, and fashion, Ho’s style is characterised by a deep knowledge of client/brand, a dedicated focus on concept, and meticulous planning. Clients include Merivale Group, QANTAS, Dion Lee, AGNSW, SaturdaysNYC, bassike, Camilla and Marc and TRANSITGroup Japan.

At the centre of Kelvin’s approach to design is a curiosity for bringing spaces to life. He believes successful spatial design merges a narrative with contextual, historical, and social reference points with physical spatial qualities, whilst expressing the DNA of a brand and creating an emotional response or connection for the audience.

Annabelle Pegrum
Annabelle is an architect, a Life Fellow of the Australian Institute of Architects, and Adjunct Professor in architecture at the University of Canberra.

For ten years she was the Chief Executive of the National Capital Authority responsible for the planning and development of Canberra as Australia’s National Capital. Most recently she was a member of the NSW Independent Planning Commission determining state significant developments including for infrastructure.

Annabelle is recognised as a leader and advocate for excellence in city-making and has managed various promotional campaigns and communication strategies to foster an awareness of Canberra as the National Capital.