Founder of Sydney-based contemporary label and design business Gaawaa Miyay, Lucy Simpson is passionate about creating, sharing and celebrating story in visual, tactile and practical ways.
A Yuwaalaraay woman, in 2014 Lucy participated in the British Council’s ACCELERATE leadership program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. We asked her about experiences in the program and what leadership means to her.
What did you learn from your ACCELERATE experience last year?
ACCELERATE was an amazing experience for me. As part of the program, I spent time in England, Scotland and Wales, meeting and connecting with many wonderful people, experiences and stories. I also spent time with objects from community currently held off-country in different UK collections, and found connecting to these inspiring and grounding while so far away from home.
During the time in the UK I learned a lot about myself. I learned the importance of listening to, valuing and sharing my voice and the power of story and connection. The time spent overseas also reinforced the notion of the journey or process being as important as the outcome or final destination – to enjoy this time, take in as much as possible and be open to new encounters and opportunities.
I learned that anything is possible if you believe in it and are prepared to work hard to achieve it.
What is ‘cultural leadership’ as you understand it?
For me personally, leadership in any form is about understanding, about passion, and about drive. For me a leader is a person who is honest, true to their instincts and core beliefs. It is someone who represents their communities and strives to do as they have been taught by those they admire. Leaders, I believe, often forge their own paths while drawing strength from those that have gone before and those whom they walk alongside. Leaders are proud and have a true love of what and who they represent.
What do you think is the most important trait a cultural leader should have?
Passion, pride, honesty, and strength.
What advice would you give your past self about leading others?
Leadership is a tricky label and one not to get too hung up on (as I have in the past). I believe that as long as you are true to yourself and continue to work to achieve the things you believe in, the things that make you happy and your family proud, then you can never be on the wrong track. If this inspires others and brings about the things you aspire to create and achieve then that is wonderful.
What’s next for you?
I am currently developing a new body of ceramic and fibre-based work to be exhibited in Sydney later this year. I have also been invited to return to Scotland in June to talk on my experience and share story at the Small is Beautiful conference in Glasgow.
ACCELERATE is a tailored leadership program designed to provide Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with the skills and networks to generate, take up and excel in leadership positions within the creative industries.
Including leadership development training, industry mentorship and a fully funded trip to the UK, ACCELERATE offers recipients a chance to fast-track their careers and develop as leaders in their field.
Applications for the 2015 intake open 27 May and close 6 July.
For more information on ACCELERATE