Back in February I was nominated by some brilliant Banyule artists to become a mentor in the DESIAP (Designing Social Innovation in Asia-Pacific) transnational Women’s Mentoring Program 2022. I met the team, headed in Australia by the amazing Yoko Akama (Associate Professor: Communication Design at RMIT) and decided that this was something right up my alley! I absolutely love working closely with artists, supporting them through different aspects of their practice, projects and professional growth, and this program provided an opportunity to do just this with artists from across the Asia-Pacific region. What's more, the program also includes fantastic support for mentors through peer mentoring sessions, bi-monthly catch ups with all program participants, and ready advice available from the DESIAP program team.
I have now run two sessions with my mentees - a creative from Hong Kong who is living in Tokyo, and an artist from regional Australia who has moved to Melbourne (we have lots to share about our reverse journeys from region to city/city to region!). The style of mentoring is somewhat different to what I am used to. One of my mentees works in a very different field to me, and rather than one-one support sessions are run as a group of three. Both mentees are hugely accomplished, talented creative women, and I initially wondered what value I could truly bring through my mentorship. As we explore and test out how best to make the sessions and the relationship work I am expanding my understanding of mentoring, shifting my perception of my role in this setting to that of a facilitator and enabler. Encouraging three way conversation, asking the right questions, digging into challenges, celebrating successes and offering advice/guidance/suggestions/referrals where appropriate. So far it is (I hope!) working well - I have certainly gained a huge amount already from being part of the program, and from having fascinating discussions with two brilliant creative women.
The idea of mentoring and what it means in different contexts and across different cultures is something we are also exploring through the DESIAP program. As mentoring becomes a bigger part of my work and my focus I'm keen to continue to explore this and work out how I can use this experience to support, encourage and empower other artists and creatives I work with.