ArtKeeper Checking Out: Nadia Milford

ArtKeeper Checking Out: Nadia Milford

Checking out of the ArtKeeper program next is interdisciplinary artist Nadia Milford.

Nadia's aim was to unpack her complex and remarkable family history, conducting historic and family research to find her voice and tell her story.

Hear from Nadia on her time in the ArtKeeper program and the evolution of her project.

You know the drill. 10 words or less – sum up the experience. 

Deep interrogation of unthinkable possibilities. Trying, leaping without knowing.

Talk us through how your ideas around your play have progressed during your time at HOTA. 

The more I investigated my great grandmother, more interesting facets to her story emerged: royal mysteries of a fairytale princess, horrendous discrimination from the White Australia Policy, complex yet powerful familial dynamics, an oppressive patriarchy. Alongside all this what evolved strongly was a nostalgic depiction of my youth as an Australian bush kid questioning the secrets of her rich cultural history. I realised I was the link between her story and the present. So, if I'm the living fairytale, is being a princess all it’s made out to be? I think the beauty of a one-woman show is its intimacy and I felt a desire to utilise this within my work. I certainly never thought when I started this piece that I'd be researching intergenerational trauma! But I hope that by opening this space of vulnerable sharing and questioning people can be both in awe of her incredible story and then think more deeply about how these stories live within us and have the power to shape both our present experiences and our path forward.  

Nadia talking to students from Palm Beach Currumbin State High

Nadia talking to students from Palm Beach Currumbin State High

You’ve also been simultaneously working on a short film. How have the play and the film influenced each other? 

The short dance film documentary was an opportunity for me to showcase all the incredible parts of the story I was discovering through conversations with historians, librarians, researchers and family members that I realised might not make it into the play. Doing the film meant I could let some of that go within my playwriting and focus on the personal direction it was taking - too many big ideas muddy the message. With a project like this, that’s so broad and ever-expanding, it felt like the best way of honouring all that research and time. I also wanted my family’s faces in the work somewhere, plus Dalby. Having those visuals and voices just felt right. Then once we got to the edit, watching myself dance by the giant gumtree I used to play in, crystallised some deeper understandings for me that I wouldn't have concluded from the cognitive research I was doing. I saw in my movement, how much her story ran through me. Sometimes five seconds of dance can say what a thousand words can’t.  

What’s next for you?

Next I’ll be jumping straight into rehearsals with the awesome Phluxus2 Dance crew for a quick rehash of a contemporary dance-theatre show I performed in last year called ‘Angelmonster’. We’ll be performing at Edinburgh Fringe Festival for the month of August. It will be nice to take a break from making and jump into somebody else's work. I’m also keen to see as many shows as possible and get some input after months of output! I’ve planned an extra month off the back of that tour to see shows and take dance/theatre classes and workshops around Europe (plus a little surf trip to Morocco) which I can’t wait for. When I get back, I will do a regional tour with the amazing Ironing Maidens from Cairns doing some wacky and hilarious back up dancing. From London to Bundaberg! Haha. After that I’ll likely be taking some time to do the joyous task of grant writing to get the funds to employ some wonderful people to bring this play to life with me in its next development in 2024 - can the year really go that quickly?

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HOTA proudly acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we are situated, the Kombumerri families of the Yugambeh Language Region. We pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging, and recognise their continuing connections to the lands, waters and their extended communities throughout South East Queensland.