Westies at Work Archives - The Westies

Kon Gouriotis – It’s Our Thing: More History on Australian Hip-Hop (Part II)

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Blacktown Arts Centre has a great exhibition running at the moment – It’s Our Thing: More History on Australian Hip-Hop (Part II). The exhibition showcases 14 artists and the explosion of hip-hop culture in Blacktown during the 1990s, along with its impact on current artistic practices, with works to be found both inside and outside of the centre. We chatted with one of the shows curators, Kon Gouriotis – a Western Sydney native, born in Fairfield and now living in Casula. Kon has an impressive resume with 13 years as director and curator at Casula Power House, before moving on to be ‘Director – Visual Arts’ at Australia Council for the Arts; and then a short stint as Director of Australia Centre for Photography. He edits and writes for Arts Profile and while I could go on, all you really need to know is that he is a great guy and absolute champion for the Arts. We chatted about the beginning of his career and how a project in Blacktown has led him to be on of the most respected names in the Australian art world.  Continue Reading

Toufick Chami – Meraki Merchants

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Meraki Merchants cafe has quickly become a favourite of The Westies, serving up Parramatta’s best coffee – yep, we called it-  and good quality simple food that never disappoints. Owner, cook and barista Toufick Chami is constantly experimenting and developing new additions to the menu, proving space is not something you need to make a delicious meal. In this small cafe a strong sense of wonder, a cup of ambition and a serving of friendly hospitality are the ingredients that make for a great cafe experience – that and the cakes (home baked by Toufick’s mum – YUM!)  Continue Reading

Natalie Anne

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One of Australia’s best hairstylists – Natalie Anne has strong Western Sydney roots growing up in Punchbowl before moving to Moorebank and now living in Croydon where she can walk to work at her beautiful salon, where she employs 13 staff.  We chatted about leaving school at a young age, working for free and where she see’s herself, five years from now.  Continue Reading

Danny Elacci

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After following the conventional (read safe) path of going to uni, getting a degree and then starting his own business in security, Danny Elacci decided it was time to follow is real passion. Acting – which had been something that attracted him since he was in school and after seeing a friend perform on stage – he changed direction and headed down the acting path with a bag of determination and healthy dose of life experience. With a short film that has just been screened at Cannes, a couple of feature international films in the works and most recently playing the role of Ali in Urban Theatre projects Home Country, Danny may have started later then some but is coming out leaps and bounds ahead of the rest.  Continue Reading

Amalina Aman

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Amalina Aman knows a thing or two about challenges. Having been told from a young age by the community around her that fashion design wasn’t an appropriate career choice for an Australian Muslim woman, Amalina set out to prove them wrong by releasing her line of modest fashion that has now been seen on catwalks around the world. The Westies sat down for a chat about the journey so far and how Lakemba will always have a huge influence her designs. 
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Stories of Strength – Abdullah Sankari

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The Westies love a good story and believe that it is our individual story that makes us human – each of us have one that is as unique as our finger print. It is in sharing the story that we come to empathise with each other and start to see that the commonalities are far greater than our differences.

‘Stories of Strength’ is a project run by Bankstown Youth Development Services, which is about showcasing local Bankstown stories, focusing on experiences of strength and resilience. These stories are generated through a series of interviews conducted by local young people, who interview selected community members. Through inter-generational sharing of cross-cultural stories, the project aims to highlight the strength that individual experiences bring to create a strong and resilient community.

We had the pleasure of meeting a wise young man named Abdullah Sankari who interviewed Ilona Abou Zalouf, his best friend’s Grandmother who grew up in Germany during the Cold War for the ‘Stories of Strength’ project. We chatted about his experience with the project and what he learnt about strength and the power of sharing stories. Continue Reading

Peggy and Sean Wilcox – Mooney Real Estate

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After several years in a less-than-fulfilling job, Peggy Wilcox decided it was time for a change and to finally follow that little voice that had always wanted to try working in Real Estate. Not to spoil the ending but things worked out well and now, three years down the track, she owns her own agency – Mooney Real Estate – along with husband Sean. Katrina chatted to both of them about starting the agency and what it’s like working with your spouse.  Continue Reading

Nick Atkins – The Joan

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One of the most impressive buildings standing in Penrith is The Joan – a building that inspires, impresses and slight intimidates. Take one step inside and you find a state-of-the-art facility quietly turning out productions that go onto to play on stages all over Australia and the world. We recently spoke with Nick Atkins, a producer at The Joan, who is in charge of The Q – a specifically designated division for developing and producing theatre “in and from the heart of Penrith”. Nick and The Q are instrumental in making the arts accessible to a region that is seriously under-funded and under-represented yet bursting with talent and local stories to tell. Continue Reading

Bank of Queensland – Penrith

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Why is it that the most important things in life are almost always seen as the most boring? Like banking – none of us get together over a drink to discuss home loans and interest rates (well some of us might but only to whinge about it). Banking is important, it’s part of our everyday lives yet it’s something most of us would rather not speak of. Checking your balance can cause more anxiety than that well overdue trip to the dentist.

 So we decided to rip the bandaid off and have a chat with Drew Clegg who has been with Bank of Queensland Penrith for 10 years now which is just about as long as they have been open.

 Drew is a lovely guy, generous with his time and has a great way of making you feel comfortable instantly; however when he suggested that the best way to know about the banking experience with BOQ Penrith is to speak to a customer – that is exactly what we did. The customer, Robert, has also been with BOQ Penrith for 10 years. Robert runs his own business and has purchased two houses at actions with the support of BOQ, here is what he told us about his experience. Continue Reading

Bradley Eastman – BEASTMAN

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Back in August the students at Nepean Creative and Performing Arts High in Emu Plains played host to a pretty special artist in residence, Bradley Eastman better know as Beastman. Over the course of a week and though sunshine and rain Brad turned a once boring concrete wall into a huge piece of artwork in the unmistakable style Beastman is know for. Brad grew up in the north west of Sydney and now travels all over the world working on commercial projects, transforming public spaces and infusing the world with colour and geometric shapes you can stare out for hours, taking a new meaning out of each time the piece is viewed. We managed to track Brad down in between projects and were lucky enough to have him answer a few questions for The Westies.  Continue Reading