At only 22 years of age, Jessi Lewis is a tireless creative juggernaught dedicated not only making his own art but championing the art of others.
A fast rising Melbourne personality, Lewis (pictured) is an acclaimed artist, performer, community TV host, and director of his own theatre company. Next month he will add venue owner to that list.
Same Same catches up with this arts rogue with an unstoppable passion for the arts…
Most people are quite familiar with your performance work. But you’ve also recently started hosting a wonderful monthly Arts segment on Bent TV / Channel 31 called ‘Babble’. What inspired you to get into television? And why an Arts show?
The decision to produce a show all about art was a simple one; it’s what I am passionate about. I understand that to the outsider, the process of creating art can be a little daunting and Babble aims to educate and entertain people whilst demystifying the process.
You’ve already interviewed some huge international stars for the show. Who have you enjoyed interviewing most and why?
It is a close call between Margaret Cho and Phillip Adams – both for different reasons. Margaret (picture 5) is evidently a huge inspiration with in our community and I was surprised by her drive for the recognition of equal marriage rights. You could just tell that she felt passionately when the topic of conversation moved into this territory.
Phillip Adams, being somewhat of a demi-god in the dance community, was an amazing interview. During it he spoke of devising a bird like language from classical music score sheets – that is so fun!
You’re also the head honcho of a new theatre company, Metamorphis theatre. How is it going?
Metamorphis started off strong in 2010, with our launch party in September. Since then it has moved away from being a company with core members, into something that is more organic that partners with new members and directors for individual projects.
Metamorphis has grown nationally with director Kevin McGreal staging a production under the company umbrella in early 2011, directing the successful season of NIGHT LIFE for Mardi Gras 2011, working with the likes of Bongo Jones from Rouge Traders. Shortly after this; LUMINA played a 5 night season here in Melbourne, simulcasting the opening night performance to capital cities across Australia.
Metamorphis is coming back this Spring, we have a new show in the pipeline directed by Mathew Grant (founder of the Butterfly Club) who will be bending the works of Shakespeare into something rather radical.
And now you’re about to add venue owner to your list. Do you ever sleep? Can you tell us a bit about these developments and who you co-own the new business with.
I’ve spent the past few years developing and present my own performance work to audiences. But I also want to move out of the lime light some of the time and get excited by the incredible artists. Being able to share it with others, producing and presenting the Babble arts program on TV, and now opening a new arts venue, allows me to do this and is an extension of that desire to stimulate and showcase great art.
Andrea Jenkins (picture 3) is my business partner at ONE SMALL ROOM. We met whilst living together at The White Elephant Arts Space. Her company Kurunpa Live Arts is dedicated to strengthening the relationship between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians. We draw inspiration from similar sources, and what I love most about Andrea is her youthful determination – it’s a determination we both share.
What is your vision for the new venue? What sort of events will you host there? Who is this venue designed for?
ONE SMALL ROOM (pictures 4 and 5) aims to offer a space that is professional, affordable and supportive of the needs of individual artists. That’s where I see it going.
It’s situated in a historic barn conversion nestled down a blue stone alley in the heart of Brunswick. From there we set out to design an interior that emanates a feeling of creativity and life but respects the historical overlay, with fresh flowers and plants, works of art adorning the walls, and there will be a series of chandelier made from the pages of books which will hang above the heads of visitors.
After our opening night Eleven, we have everything from HEAVY SCIENCE (a night of electronic music which will become a monthly event for us), Andrea’s solo show HOME ADDRESS, which is actually being performed in a purpose built tent, along side this is the new work CANNIBAL BASTARD KING and a season of THE KEYTAR KID, which has just finished a sold out season at KaDo for Melbourne Fringe.
ELEVEN – the official opening party for One Small Room is on 11 November 2011, 7-10pm, at 144b Sydney rd, Brunswick.Tickets are $15, on sale at here or on the door, and places are strictly limited.