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Open Right

Asphyxia

Author, Entertainer, Storyteller/Performer

Asphyxia is the author of the magical series, The Grimstones. She is an experienced motivational speaker and loves to inspire people to be more creative and open-minded. She is an avid art-journaler and generously shares her process to help others benefit from this amazing life tool. Asphyxia is also a Deaf activist, sharing details of Deaf experience. She handcrafted her Grimstone family of puppets and their world from upcycled junk, and has since toured the world with the acclaimed, award winning theatre show, The Grimstones. Now Asphyxia is ready to inspire students to create their own art journals and miniature worlds from ordinary household rubbish. Check out her free online Auslan (sign language) course at www.asphyxia.com.au.

Where were you born?

Melbourne, Australia

What other jobs have you had?

I grew up doing ballet, became a circus performer in my 20s and a puppeteer in my 30s. I have also run an urban eco-farm where I raised the majority of my family’s food. Now I divide my time between writing, public speaking and workshops, and creating visual artworks which I sell over the internet and from my studio at the Abbotsford Convent.

What themes are recurring in your work?

My work celebrates the acceptance of difference and explores themes of family, love and loss.

What are you passionate about?

Nothing gives me more pleasure than making things. I write, draw, paint, sew, sculpt, weld and more. I am passionate about living with the smallest enviro footprint possible, and all the making I do goes hand in hand with this, as well as creating a lifestyle that is rich in personal meaning. I also want to make Australia a better, more inclusive place for Deaf people, and I post regularly on Facebook  and my blog to share ways we can do this, and videos that teach the basics of Auslan.

Listen to an interview

Asphyxia was the subject of a story on ABC Radio National on 3 October 2012.

If you prefer, you can visit the story on the Books and Arts Daily sub-site of ABC Radio National.

Watch a video of Asphyxia

Testimonials

Both our staff and students really enjoyed having Asphyxia come to us and talk to us about deafness. She really opened our eyes to things we didn’t know about deafness and the deaf community, and through her thought provoking stories, our students have a new insight into deafness and how to outwardly show their compassion and inclusiveness. A wonderful visit that was enjoyed by all!

—A. Dawson, Elwood Primary School, August 2017

Last week you spoke at Melbourne Girls’ College and my daughter was in the group whom you visited. I wanted to tell you what a strong impression you have left on her. She didn’t even get inside the front door of the house before she was telling me all about you and what you do and how you presented with a translator. She then spent the next hour on your website and loves what she sees. As a result of her seeing you last week, we have all decided to learn some Auslan – four words a day, from your videos. So far we have hello, please/thank you, yes and no. So, thank you for your time and for sharing your experiences with others. You have made a big impact on my daughter and now on all of her family.

—J. Garner, Parent, Melbourne Girls College 2017

The boys were so excited about the possibilities for artistic expression that you modelled for them at ArtPlay, that they are spending their Saturday night drawing, writing and pasting! You are very inspiring. Thank you.’ 

—M. Spillsted, Parent, 2016

The grade 5s and 6s were very responsive to Asphyxia’s performance and her q and a. The students were fascinated with the puppets, interested in the process of story writing, and asked some really intensive questions.

Although the questions ranged from professional to personal, Asphyxia was very open to all questions and the students later stated they learnt a lot from the experience, about puppeteering, authorship and the process of writing, Also, the books are now reserved up to 4 months in advance!

—N.Burke, St. Leonard's College, August 2014

A bit of internal feedback today! I was lucky enough this morning to be invited along to Westgarth Primary to see Asphyxia present to the students there. Along with the students, I was captivated as the puppet Martha (pictured right), narrator of The Grimstones books and one of the stars of Asphyxia’s puppet show, Hatched, rose from her handcrafted bed. This incredibly lifelike puppet wowed the whole audience as she rose, made her bed, and began writing in her most precious diary. Here, the session took another direction, as Paula (Asphyxia’s Auslan translator) began reading the segment aloud. This was followed by the history of the book, the puppets, and Asphyxia’s own personal journey. I, the students and the teachers were captivated by this beautiful, warm, lively and expressive performance.

—Bec Kavanagh, Booked Out, May 2012

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