Open Navigation

Artist Spotlight: Bonnie Cowan

April 11, 2016

Meet Bonnie Cowan, the artist behind the immersive art event Unravelling. Exploring the notion of personal story-telling, Unravelling questions honesty in a world dominated by over-sharing and over-exposure.  We caught up with Bonnie to find out more:

Bonnie Cowan. Image courtesy of the artist.

Bonnie Cowan. Image courtesy of the artist.


Hi Bonnie! Tell us a bit about yourself and your practice:

22. Hobart-born, recent Sydney resident. Myopia to the prescription of -7.00 and -6.00 (respectively). Not interested in the weather, interested how it reminds you of a sunny January day exploring the beach with an ex-lover.

I’ve started using the title ‘Performance Maker’ recently, even though I know my Nanna is confused by what it means. As a recent graduate from the University of Wollongong’s theatre course, 2016 for me is about emerging as a creative practitioner and making as much art as I can. Installations, site-specific works, one-on-one performances. I love humans and the way we interact. I love our stories and our habits and our emotions. My 2016 is dedicated to being poor and feeling emotions and being. Just being. Here. With you. I am here and You Are Here (sorry, it’s a cheap line, I know).


What inspired you to create unravelling?

I am totally enamoured with string. Like, it’s mildly unhealthy. I directed a performance last year that had myself and three other performers creating this web of string in a space and tangling audience members into our net. So I’m no rookie to the string game. And I am all about aesthetic; I love the implied texture of string in a space. Also, as an extrovert, I tend to unravel a little when I’m left on my own for too long. Like an excitable puppy, I get inappropriately bouncy when I have human contact after 37+ minutes of solace. I like the idea that the piece reflects my own emotional unravelling and reaching out to talk to anyone willing to connect.


What exactly can audiences expect from the work?

Smooth pebbles. Darkness. 15,000+ metres of string.

For any budding critics, I’m recommending the use of words such as “atmospheric”, “immersive” “entangling”. Just some suggestions.


In your work, you explore ideas of honesty in an over-stimulated digital environment. What’s your experience of remaining honest in this increasingly hyperbolic and curated world of social media?

I feel like social media (I’ve only got Facebook – I’m not savvy enough to understand the endless internet platforms!) is such a vessel for creating the ideal image of yourself. I post semi-regularly, probably daily, but my writings and/or images are always so considered. I post at 7pm after a productive afternoon, not at 1am when I’m unsure who I am. In saying that, I always post honestly. Honesty through omission, perhaps, but honesty none-the-less.


Tell us a fun fact – about anything!

I wear this ring on my left hand, middle finger. It’s silver and chunky. Inscribed on the inside are the words “Journey well, Bonnie” and my birthdate. My parents gave it to me as an 18th gift. A few days after said birthday, I took the ring off, sitting it on my lap while I applied sunscreen. When I realised I hadn’t put it back on, it was too late. Guilty 18-year-old Bonnie remedied the problem by buying an identical ring, engraving it with the same inscription, and not telling her parents. I’m sure the original is still buried in a carpark somewhere near Eaglehawk Neck, Tasmania. But for now, I wear the duplicate.


What YAH 2016 events are you most looking forward to seeing?

Literally everything. Although, I am super keen for the Let’s Stay In Tonight collections [here, here and here]. I just want to be in people’s homes having them perform intimate art for me. I am excited for Metasystems: Duplication as I saw a performance by James Batchelor yesterday and am mildly fan-girling over his choreography. Also, like, the Post-Mortem party. Because, wine.