Life has much to teach us if we’re prepared to listen, says this director
Aportrait of actor Deborah Mailman in theatrical make-up takes pride of place in the cosy Surry Hills home of Sydney Festival artistic director Wesley Enoch.
“Deborah and I went to university together, and we did a show called The Seven Stages Of Grieving,” Wesley says.
The pair co-wrote the show and Deborah Mailman was its sole cast member.
“It toured the world and it was the beginning of my directing career, really,” Wesley says.
The photograph by Julian Watt is on the living room wall, and sums up an important period of Wesley’s extraordinary life.
Now that he constantly travels, Wesley is grateful to live near the train station, with easy access to the airport.
“I just did three overseas trips in seven weeks,” he says. “I arrived back about two weeks ago and I’ve done four interstate trips (since then). That’s the nature of my job and the nature of my life.”
Wesley’s partner is The Australian Ballet artistic director David McAllister, who is based in Melbourne with the ballet company.
The pair share the Surry Hills flat when David is in Sydney. They also have a Melbourne home, plus Wesley has another base in Brisbane.
But Surry Hills is Wesley’s main home. Its open-plan design and absence of internal doors, except for the glass doors opening on to the long balcony, enhances the sense of space.
A huge tree directly in front of the balcony filters sunlight into the flat and creates a feeling of privacy that is so important in the city.
Wesley is trying to de-clutter by “being a little bit more tech savvy”. Instead of his 2500-strong DVD collection, he now downloads films.
“You try to live with things that have meaning in your life, that have a lesson to teach you,” he says. “Because having objects is not just about accumulating material possessions.”
My found chair
I got this chair from scrap in Brisbane. I kept promising I’d get it fixed and eventually got it reupholstered. So often things are discarded. But if you think about it, you can create value from it.
Teacup and saucer
I bought this on my first trip to Japan. I thought it cost $28 but it was $280. I was so intimidated by it. But I gave it to a friend. Sadly, she died of cancer. She left me the cup and saucer in her will. The message was, beautiful things need to be used.
My parents, Doug and Lyn
Mum and Dad got married 50 years ago. I look like both of them in so many ways. Dad died three years ago. At 68 mum is a great-grandmother.
Headdress My waterproof radio
I listen to radio and I change channels and dip in and out of things. We spend too much time listening to ourselves and listening to people like us and feeling quite smug about it all. I talk to cab drivers or people on public transport, to get a sense of the world that isn’t the arts bubble.
This is a little shrine to my father. These are the clapsticks with which we sung to bury him. These were his own personal clapsticks with my clapsticks. Dad is buried on Stradbroke Island where the family comes from. This is a traditional headdress from the Lardil mob from Mornington Island. I used to do dance classes in Brisbane with some people from Mornington. I never thought I’d wear it, but it’s a lovely reminder of a different kind of ceremony.
Cut glass knob
I stole this from the Queensland Theatre Company when I was 15. I was a poor kid growing up in Woodridge, and I thought it was the most beautiful thing. We did a tour of the storage area and that’s where I swiped it. I was on scholarship there at the time. I like to think of it as the top of a cane, but it could be a door knob.