Kirk Robinson Award – Alysha Herrmann

Alysha Herrmann, 2013

Alysha Herrmann, 2013 Photo: Sarah Jean Creative


The Australian Council’s Kirk Robson award recognises young Australian CACD artists and art workers whose work is based on the values of inclusiveness, consensus, self-determination, reconciliation and social justice. Alysha Herrmann was one of the two recipients of the 2015 Kirk Robson. She has been noticed for her use of performances to inspire individuals and communities to reclaim and reinterpret their personal stories into art. Recently, she was also awarded as the 2014 Channel 9 Young Achiever Arts Awards.

Alysha Herrmann first encountered theatre when she was eighteen, on a project called Random Girls. After the first workshop for this project, she turned her doubts into beliefs and became so committed with this project that it led her to pursue acting and arts afterwards.  Art transformed her life and made her explore all the possibilities she could achieve. At present, she is a writer, performer and creative producer at ExpressWay Arts at Carclew Youth Arts and creates #tinytwitterpoem on Twitter.

Creating Australia asked Alysha three questions:


Q1. How important are artistic mentors? Can you tell us about any artistic mentors you have had – particularly in your work as an artist working in communities.


Mentors are super important! In obvious ways mentors are an important gateway to new skills and networks, but I think mentors also are a really important part of helping us define ourselves and benchmark ourselves and just a great confidence boost when you know you have these really outstanding people cheering you on.


For me personally I’ve had both formal and informal artistic mentors at various times and for various reasons. Some of my mentors have been there to ask challenging questions and provoke me into taking new leaps. Other mentors have been there to reaffirm my skills and help build my confidence. Some mentors have been there just as a source of moral support to bounce ideas off or talk through challenges and fears. Some mentors have been intensive relationships that have remained active across projects and others have been a conversation once or twice during a peak time. All of them have been equally important in different ways. I think working regionally mentors have been particularly important for me to feel less isolated and more connected to a broader artistic community as well.


Particularly in my CACD work, my artistic mentors at different times (and different ways) have included Caleb Lewis, Steve Mayhew, Alison Howard, Lucien Simon, Maude Davey, Georgie Davill who’ve all contributed to the way my work and I have developed.


Q2. Where do you see CACD practice going over the next 25 years?


I think CACD practice is becoming more ‘mainstream’ (for lack of a better word) and more accepted as a process that can also lead to excellence. I think sometimes there’s been a perception that CACD is some kind of daggy/poor quality product but as so many fantastic companies and individuals are proving, the process and the outcomes of CACD practice can absolutely demonstrate excellence in artistic outcomes. I think CACD practice over the next 25 years will continue to blur the lines between disciplines (artistic and non-artistic) and begin to find a wider audience and support through digital mediums. My gut tells me that CACD practice is going to become more and more wedded to shifts in educational practice and in a move back towards hyperlocal communities. I don’t know what this will look like exactly but I think it’s really exciting to be part of whatever comes!


Q3. How can the CACD artists and organisations better collaborate with the Major Performing Arts Organisations?


Great question and one that I’m probably the worst person to answer. I suffer from a lot of ‘impostor syndrome’ so I often hold back from exploring these kinds of collaborations. Which is actually probably really stupid of me because CACD practice does have a really important role to play in ensuring that MPA’s consider, engage with and represent more diverse voices. I think CACD and its potential for developing  both artists and audiences is a really crucial part of MPA’s remaining relevant to a broader demographic and ensuring that MPA’s are part of creating cultural legacy rather than just repeating what’s already there.


Youth ensemble perform Duplicity

Youth ensemble perform Duplicity
Written by Alysha Herrmann. Dir. Mirian Vanderwoude
Renmark 2009
Photo: Nic Tubb

Write This Picture of a River Concept by Olivia Allen

Write This Picture of a River
Concept by Olivia Allen
Alysha Herrmann and son Zach as models
Target, Renmark 2010
Photo: Italo Vardaro

PressureLands Adelaide Fringe Tour Set

PressureLands Adelaide Fringe Tour
Photo: Nic Tubb

Young Social Pioneers participants, Melbourne 2014

Young Social Pioneers participants 2014
Alysha Herrmann holding daughter Amaya in second row
Melbourne, 2014
Photo: Foundation for Young Australians