Postcard from Perth

Team Leader Christina Pickard shares discoveries from Australia 

Briefly introduce yourself. 

I am Christina Pickard, (slightly!) older sister of Jeremy, captain of Superhero Clubhouse. I lived in London, UK for over a decade before making the move to my husband's hometown of Perth, Western Australia in January 2013. I was an actress until my mid-20s but have spent the past 5-7 years as a wine writer/educator, focusing particularly on 'natural' wines made with little-to-no chemical intervention in the vineyards or winery. I have very much enjoyed working on Earth, particularly with my brother, my oldest artistic collaborator! It was nice not to talk/write about wine for once, and to get back to my 'creative roots'!

How did you approach the topic of overpopulation?
It's so easy to get bogged down by the sheer size of such a theme (both literally and metaphorically!) and to create some preachy diatribe on the impending doom of earth and its inhabitants. But Jer and I both felt it would be much more engaging to explore the smaller picture. Seeing as I am expecting my first baby in October, I focused on a very personal approach to this vast topic by covering issues like my hopes and fears about parenthood, inner conflicts about bringing yet another human into the world, along with the paradox of creation versus destruction taking place right on my own street thanks to rapid population growth. This more personal focus hopefully makes the scene easier to connect with as well as creating a microcosm reflecting the much bigger picture.
How did the impending arrival of your first child influence your thought process as you approached creating work for the piece?
I think it was the other way around! Creating this piece actually influenced my thoughts on having a child and forced me to think more about what's really happening. It may seem strange considering the physical changes all pregnant women go through, along with the acquiring of 'stuff' and the inevitable 'baby talk' that occurs around you, but it's all-too-easy to become disconnected with the reality that you are growing a human being inside you. So really, I have the piece to thank for helping better connect me with this crazy life-changing experience! 
What other themes or topics are you wrestling with?  
I try to remain as environmentally conscious in my daily life as I can, and so I am very aware the impact bringing another person into this world has in terms of consumption; the inevitable waste and energy usage that occurs in their wake as babies and toddlers, no matter how conscious you are to avoid it. I'm also aware that this adorable baby will grow up. I think as a culture we have a bit of puppy syndrome about children. Everyone wants a cute cuddly baby, but we forget they'll spent most of their lives as adults. And then what kind of mark will they make on this planet? I don't expect my daughter to change the world, but I do hope she will tread sensitively upon it and, even better, do some good for it.

How did your environment or location influence your work?   
Western Australia is quite a paradoxical place at the moment. It is the most isolated city on the planet and also the fastest growing in Australia. Its weather is glorious, as are its beaches. Its capitol city is clean, its trains efficient, and its economy booming. It's one of the only places in the developed world that still eats in season, thanks to its isolation, with local produce available year round (you can't get a peach in the winter, but they're gloriously flavoursome in the summer). 

The population growth has brought many positives, like a thriving music and arts scene, and an increasingly diverse and eclectic choice of restaurants and bars. Yet WA also faces a constant struggle to deal with the rapid influx of people moving to its shores, all wanting to live close to the coastline. After all, Australia is only habitable around its edges--no one wants to live in the desert, including the native animals and plants. And this is precisely the problem. As a state--and a country, because much of Australia is wrestling with similar issues--how do you protect your pristine and unique natural beauty while also providing people with houses, convenient highways to get them to those houses, and all of the other infrastructure needed to accommodate a growing population, not to mention the constant conundrum of water shortage? Unfortunately, particularly with the current government in place both in WA and in Australia, the environment does not seem to be a priority, and destruction in exchange for financial and personal short term gain is widespread and devastating. These things were all on my mind when working on the piece.

Share any of the discoveries you've made along the way. Has anything surprised you in the process?
In choosing to structure the scene as a letter to my future daughter, I surprised myself by discovering the depth of emotions I already had towards her. Plus I've gone away from the experience with a wonderful time capsule for her to open when she is grown. Bonus!