AWESOME CERTIFIED: Adelaide/Yogyakarta (Haneen Martin aka Zombie Queen)

Awesome Foundation Adelaide is proud to celebrate its latest winner of 1000 awesome dollars the wonderful, illustrious and ultra-switched on and switched-in curator, print-maker, sometimes-writer/illustrator and student, Ms Haneen Martin from Zombie Queen Art & Consulting. Haneen’s project, ‘Adelaide Yogyakarta’ will fund an exhibition for two contemporary Indonesian and local artists later on this year. Awesome chatted to Haneen about her work and process, what the funding will help enable and why she is totally awesome.

We had a chat with Haneen about her project, her passions and what the 1k means to her.

Tell us about yourself and your project?
The project came about as something that I realised I always wanted to do since I found out that you could curate as a job. I studied Indonesian and have a Diploma of Languages in that. I really want to do honours as well and I just happened to meet a couple of artists from a city that I might be going on exchange to in Indonesia and thought to myself: Wow, I just really love their work and want to have a chance to exhibit their work here.

How did the idea for this exhibition come about?
Actually, the idea is something I had before I had even met the two artists – I knew I wanted to do something cross-cultural. I did a lot of essay writing in the final year of my Indonesian Diploma and found it really difficult to find any information on contemporary artists at the time. So I just wanted to be able to contribute to that. I found these two insanely popular young Indonesian artists on Instagram and as luck would have it, was able to meet them in Melbourne recently. We kept in touch and things have just grown from there.

What is it about Yogyakarta and the art?
Yogykarta is an incredible art community churning out amazing work all the time. There are a lot of exchanges between Australia this place – they have a really well established art school which allows for young emerging artists to support themselves and it is really successful without them all being commercial. There also seems to be a lot of collectives, a lot of proactive people doing a lot of amazing things, which is not something we really have here.

What I mean is, I think that a lot of artists are a bit shy about promoting themselves here [in Adelaide] whereas over there, there are a lot of collectives (not too dissimilar to the Mill or Tooth & Nail) but in Yogykarta it seems like artists are more willing to put themselves out there and say “hey! this is the work we did today and this is what we are working on – take a look.”

What are you passionate about?
I’m really passionate about creating more of a relationship between artists and their communities, particularly in terms of contemporary art in Australia and other countries. I feel that it’s incredibly important to document contemporary art a little better – I know when I was studying Indonesian I couldn’t really find any information beyond interviews that could give me the academic background on the works I was engaging in. It was hard to find what I was looking for and so I thought why not work on introducing a concept to people who may not have thought about it in that way before, and document these things in the process of in order to build that knowledge.

I am fascinated with contemporary art as a movement, as in art that is happening right now. This is ultimately what the role of contemporary art is after all. It is important to see how we are developing on traditional skills and whether we are utilising them well. I think it is also crucial to see whether we are coming up with anything new. Contemporary art is about playing with what you can get away with really and I think we have a really solid mix of art with meaning and art for the sake of art and I am just interested to see where that goes

What’s your background?
I went to art school for a year at Central School of Art and then I actually studied architecture (which I am still trying to finish off!). In my second year of Architecture I discovered printmaking and got really into that and then realised I do also really like that academic side of things as well as that whole ‘making things happen’ side of things and so I fell into curating pretty quickly after that.

Who is Zombie Queen?
Zombie Queen is my consulting business [running out of The Mill] that seeks to help artists promote themselves or at least help to promote them on their behalf: to put them out there because we have all these really talented but extremely shy people in South Australia who I believe just need a bit of a push to realise that it’s not a bad thing to show what you are working on (while you are working on it).

What do you think of the contemporary art scene – and art community more broadly – in South Australia?
I’d say that what makes the standing of contemporary art in South Australia so characteristic here is that the community is TERRIBLY supportive – in a good way – people are so supportive of each other and everyone wants to see everyone else succeed, particularly around the better artists, and the leading artists in South Australia.

I think it can be hard for artists here because there aren’t really that many platforms for contemporary artists to get noticed beyond their own galleries and community spaces – I think that’s really difficult and that’s where Melbourne and Sydney, for example, have their advantages.

As it stands now, even though we do have a lot of talent, artists are not necessarily getting the recognition they deserve, which in part is due to self-promotion as well. But I also think we have somewhere to go and I have a lot of faith in Adelaide – it’s just constantly improving and changing. Basically I love Adelaide and really want to help be a driving force in it. And I think those that love Adelaide the way I do also want to see it change and support it, which is really lovely.

What does winning Awesome mean to you?
Firstly it’s incredibly encouraging that Awesome believed this was an idea worth investing in. It gives me energy to promote and develop my ideas further. The idea is something I had kept relatively close to my chest and was not something I had talked about very much. But now that I have won, it just really feels like I’m moving in the right direction.

Awesome is a great stepping stone, especially in terms of it being a group of people having faith in something that other people would as well. My experience in funding is minimal – this is the first grant I have applied for and I found the whole experience really easy – it was just really straightforward and I knew what Awesome wanted. There was no messing about. There was no room for me to get distracted.

It was very much this is my idea, this is who I am. Further, in terms of financially it’s really going to help promote and ship the work from Indonesia for the exhibition. And I would also like to publish a little zine about the project. Awesome has helped fund my vision to curate and promote cross cultural artists and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who has ideas they want to try out!


How Zombie Queen proposes to spend the Awesome Fund:

– Exhibition in Sept/October 2015 with 2 x Indonesian and local contemporary artists
– Costs for curating, shipping and protecting art
– Associated fees and costs
– Published zine on the exhibition

Haneen’s Tips for Applying to Awesome:

1. It’s really easy and quick to apply (only took half an hour to write application!)

2. Be confident in your idea – there is very little space to describe what you want to do so you need to refine it down (use a word document while drafting)

3. Talk to people about your idea to help refine it

4. Use awesome to get an idea you may have been percolating in your head out onto paper and just see what happens

More Awesomeness about Haneen and Zombie Queen
Zombie Queen is based at The Mill complex at 154 Angas Street, Adelaide, South Australia.
Check out some of Haneen’s illustration work at the upcoming Zombie Queen Art and Consulting/Mill Zine Swap to be held at the Mill on May 14th ( in association with the ‘feels’ exhibition and Zine release).
She is also exhibiting a solo show in July. Check out more of her work here and here
Or contact Haneen at

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