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Still Here: LGBTQIA+ Lab

Still Here is a lab which privileges the visibility of LGBTQIA+ creatives in Western Australia. Commencing in January 2019, six local artists were selected to work beside internationally acclaimed transgender artist Cassils, in partnership with the Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts (PICA) and Perth Festival.

Engagement with the visiting artist served as a launching point for Still Here participants to engage in critical dialogues and creative responses. These emerging artists were provided with a studio space at PICA, where visiting artists facilitated roundtable discussions around ideas of queerness, performance making, and art as an embodied experience of identity.

Lab Participants

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Aisyah Aaqil Sumito

Aisyah Aaqil Sumito works with printmaking, illustration and sculpture to explore personal narratives regarding socio-political cultural influences, mental illness and queerness.

They are a current student at North Metropolitan TAFE, a Studio Artist at Paper Mountain, a co-director at Cool Change Contemporary, a co-facilitator of Belonging, a community arts initiative platforming CaLD and ATSI youth in the arts, and manage an online community support network for LGBTQIA+ and women artists in Western Australia called Queer & Women Artists of Perth.

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Ethan Blackburn

Ethan Blackburn is an emerging photographic artist based in Perth, WA.

Graduating from Curtin University with a Bachelor of Arts Majoring in Photography, Ethan uses photography to explore a wide variety of themes; ranging from Perth's relationship with serial killers to interrogating notions of hegemonic masculinity within Australian culture.

Ethan's work can be described as conceptual, bold and abstract.

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James McMillan

James McMillan graduated WAAPA’s Bachelor of Performing Arts course in 2016 and since has worked in differing roles within Perth’s independent arts scene.

Recently he directed, wrote and designed Court my Crotch (FUGUE, 2018) and was a part of Black Swan State Theatre Company’s 2018 Emerging Writers Group where he wrote SCOFF. Performance highlights include Aeon (PICA, 2017), iOTA in the Average Joe (Summer Nights, 2017) and Neon Laneway (Perth Winter Arts Festival, 2016). He directed and wrote Arteries by Ancestry (FUGUE, 2017) and directed, performed and co-devised PARADISE (2016) winning the TILT audience award and later touring to Adelaide.

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Noemie Huttner-Koros

Noemie is an emerging theatre-maker, writer, director and interdisciplinary artist and a recent graduate of the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (Performance Making).

Noemie a co-founder of KAN Collective, an all-female interdisciplinary arts collective making immersive and intimate performance in Perth. Noemie was apart of the 2018 Perth Festival Emerging Artists Lab and was awarded WAAPA's 'Most Versatile Performance Maker' award in 2018.

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Patrick Gunasekera

Patrick is an emerging interdisciplinary artist who works with performance, theatre, and poetry. He uses his creative practice to disrupt social sites of power and challenge the conditions of colonialism to engage in a destabilisation of systemic oppression across different social contexts.

From 2016-17 Patrick studied a Certificate IV in contemporary visual arts at North Metropolitan TAFE, and his creative process draws from visual culture and the politics of representation and gaze to investigate and challenge shared public and artistic contexts of sociospatial colonialist kyriarchies.

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Sam Nerida

Sam has a Bachelor of Performing Arts (Performance Making) from WAAPA, and has been working as a performer, writer and director since graduation in 2015.

Their training and practice lies in the realm of the contemporary and the political; in queerness and in humanness; in the dismantling of shame. They have studied with One Year Lease Co (NYC/Greece), Second City (Chicago) and ATYP (Sydney), as well as having worked as a director, performer and producer in Perth with companies such as FUGUE, Maiden Voyage and Static Drive Co, the latter of which they are a cofounder.

Still Here: Open Studio

13 - 20 April (excl. Mon), 10am - 5pm
Education Room, PICA

Explore the processes and works-in-progress of the Still Here LGBTQIA+ Lab participants. Still Here offers an opportunity to interrogate what it means to be queer and make art. Through introspection and provocation, participants have been encouraged to create their own artistic responses to their experiences.

Still Here: Artist Talks

Wednesday 17 April, 5.30pm - 6.30pm
Education Room, PICA

Six emerging creatives share their thoughts and experiences from the Still Here LGBTQIA+ Lab. Featuring: Aisyah Aaqil Sumito, Ethan Matthew Blackburn, James McMillan, Noemie Huttner-Koros, Patrick Gunasekera, and Sam Nerida.


Taking part in this program has allowed me to reflect on my queer identity and think deeply about the importance of queer art. Moving forward, I think I will look back on this program as a catalyst in my art practice.

Ethan Blackburn


Perhaps it just goes to show that challenging of critically engaged artistic practice can always coexist with a consideration of the safety and boundaries of trans, gender diverse and queer youth. Especially those that experience multiple intersections of marginalisation beyond being LGBTQIA+.

Aisyah Aaqil Sumito


Cassils is an incredible ground breaking artist and it was beautiful to be able to work with them. It’s made me question my practice as a queer artist and maker, and how I position the body (queer bodies) within my work. 

Noemie Huttner-Koros


This lab to me feels like an opportunity to more deeply interrogate what it is to be queer and to make art, to be queer and to be seen, and to be queer and to form community. In a small place where queer narratives are not exactly ‘gatekept’ but are often drowned out by the loudest or most socially acceptable one, it feels validating and important to acknowledge the diversity of queerness and the individuality of those experiences as a person and an artist.

Sam Nerida

Further information

The Youth Week WA KickstART Festival 2019 is presented by Propel Youth Arts WA, and is funded by the State Government of Western Australia. The KickstART Festival is also supported by Lotterywest, the City of Perth, and the Perth Theatre Trust.

All enquiries can be directed to or 08 9328 5855.