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AAV Artists Talk – Beau Windon on Authenticity

“When things stated to really change for me, and my art is when I started to remove that armour.” - Beau Windon

Beau Windon

AAV Artists Talk is a video series that feature Deaf and Disabled artists sharing their experience. This video features Beau Windon. Beau is a neurodivergent writer of Wiradjuri descent based in Melbourne. In this video, he discusses authenticity in his arts practice and the impact it has.  

(Video description: Beau Windon is standing in front of a wall covered in hanging art. He has brown stubble, long hair and is wearing a colourful Pokémon t-shirt.)  

The series was filmed as part of a co-design workshop series to develop programs for young Deaf and Disabled artists, creatives, audiences and arts workers. Each artist responded to one of our values. We will be releasing a video each Tuesday from 14 March to 4 April 2023.

 Click here for more info about our programs for young people.

This program is in partnership with Engage!, VicHealth and Cassandra Gantner Foundation.

Artist in focus

Beau Windon:

Being on stage and allowing myself to have a shaky voice as I’m reading my poems and allowing myself to be shaky and be anxious actually lends a lot to what I’m sharing.

And, again, after I finish these performances, I always get a lot of people coming up to me and saying that was so powerful.

I love that, how much of yourself that you put into it.

So I’m here to talk to you guys about authenticity.

So a bit about myself.

So I guess I am a multidisciplinary, artist, writer.

I dabble in theater here and there, but mainly I write so like genre fiction, YA fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry.

I also do a lot of spoken word poetry and performance poetry.

So I thought I’d start by talking about my personal journey to an authentic writing practice.

And the initial pushback that I had to, I guess being authentic in my work and art as someone that always looked to my creative practice as being a method of escapism.

Because that’s what I liked to delve into when it came to reading books, watching movies, TV shows, anything like that.

I was always very much about what can take me out of my own head space and allow me to pretend that life is a bit better than it is.

And so that was what I was like really keen on creating myself and why I write a lot of fantasy and weird speculative genre stuff.

I think as well something to do with creating something so far away from me is that it gave me a real feeling of safety and not having to expose myself like that.

Growing up and going to school in the 90s before people were more sensitive and empathetic with things, I often found myself a target for bullying and abuse.

When I first started taking my creative practice seriously, I wanted to keep that part of me as far away from my work and art as possible.

Where things really started to change for me when it came to my art is when I removed that armor, that blanket, and had some…Removed the separation between my desire to create a form of escapism and something that was so far away from myself, and bring parts of myself into my practice.

And so I spent a lot of time thinking, what is everyone else doing that’s allowing them to do better.

And I don’t think it was even that they’re doing better, it was just that I was so self-critical.

And one of the things that I came to was when I was binge watching one of my comfort shows, this anime, Naruto.

And I was thinking, why do I like this show so much? There’s a lot of really good TV out there, but I always gravitate towards this.

And the thing that I figured it made me gravitate towards it, it wasn’t all of the cool fighting scenes and everything.

It was the fact that I felt a connection to certain characters.

Characters like Rock Lee, who were just horrible at their practice, their ninja practice.

Characters like Gaara, who had this isolation.

It was like figuring out that, well, that’s the reason why I actually really enjoy this is because of that moment of connection, that small moment of relatability.

And that was when I started to bring more of myself into my work and my creative practice.

My writing really started to level up, and my work started to connect with more people because I would put small things that I personally went through that weren’t always shown in media, in art, in any creative practice, and show it off in a way I guess that wasn’t pandering.

And so bringing that into my creative practice, like when I’m writing this fantasy novel about a kid at a magic art school.

And just weaving those little parts of myself in, so this character will never touch door handles and I don’t, I guess highlight it.

It’s just something that’s kind of there in the background and it’s something that I know if I picked it up and read and just saw it as not a highlighted feature, just like a small detail, it would be something that would really affect me because it’s something that not many people have or do or think about.

And so I started bringing all of these different little quirks or things that I have into my fantastical genre based work.

And that was when, I mean, I got some pushback as well with people being like, well, that was a bit weird.

Why is he doing this? Why doesn’t he just talk to that character, that would solve everything.

It’s so simple.

Just talk to them.

And then I would have to explain, well, I’m writing this from an autistic lens.

And so this is something that I really want to expose readers to.

And then the next statement I’d get is, oh, well, you should really blow it up then.

Make it more obvious, really state that like, oh, because of my autism, or because of my such and such, because of my OCD.

And I was like, no, no.

But if I was reading something like that, then I would just think, OK, well this writer is mocking me or it would cause a disconnect.

And so I had a lot of butting heads and that kind of way with wanting to share myself and more of myself and the small things that I go through.

But not wanting to have it seem like I’m trying to create an educational thing to educate people about difficulties that I have.

I wanted it to be something that anyone could pick up and read and enjoy.

And just along the way, they, I’d given witness to characters that have these small little differences.

Bringing more of my authentic self into my work, even when I wanted to be as far away from myself as possible, was kind of that space where I found myself really enjoying the act of creating.

And it started to come a lot easier when I started bringing myself into it and just thinking, OK, I’m just going to put myself in this character’s shoes and run wild and basically trash write everything that’s going through my head.

And so then I would weave in more of a explanation or more exposition just to ground it and frame it more there.

It did, it made creating so much easier for myself and so much more enjoyable and cathartic.

Yeah, thank you.