Mariam Arcilla is a curator, writer, digital marketer, and placemaker. In her own words, “to have a solid career in the creative industries, you’d have to become a carousel.” Named one of the 50 Best and Brightest Queenslanders by the Courier Mail, Mariam is the co-founder of culture shifting hubs Rabbit+Cocoon and 19 Karen on the GC. Today, @marzigold is in the driving seat of the @Uber_QLD Instagram and Twitter feed for #MYUBERCITY. So, as Mariam prepares to introduce us to her Brisbane, we want to introduce you to Mariam Arcilla.
How did your career start?
My career started the day I graduated from uni, when I stumbled upon a quote by Eleanor Roosevelt: “Do One Thing Each Day That Scares You.” From that moment onwards I learnt to trust my instincts, and to keep asking questions, and to recognise which risks were worth pursuing. It’s been working out ok so far.
Which project are you the proudest of?
Establishing a gallery business when I was in my 20s, and securing funding and spaces for programs that have resulted in jobs for artists.That and also being able to meet and work with people whose artworks I had admired, and once photocopied and pasted into my visual journal at university.
What are you working on right now?
I’m styling an upcoming music video for a new single by electronica musician Michelle Xen. Tomorrow I’ll be interviewing a Transylvanian artist for a Melbourne publication…and now that I think of it, I’m half-tempted to ask the artist about this antique Vampire Cookbook I found at the Lifeline Bookfest (check out my @Uber_QLD takeover for more!) it has some pretty strange ingredients! I’m also exploring project collaborations and artspaces to stake out New York and LA, where I’ll be heading in May.
Who/what are your inspirations?
Chicks on Speed are phenomenal and genre-toppling! Two stormy women who create visual art, produce music, edit films and invent interactive sculptures. They’ve turned a shoe into a guitar, and a cigar box into a synthesizer, and their shows and gigs always have this great energy! I’m also inspired by the artist Ben Quilty, and his ability to emotionally snapshot some pretty significant moments and people through his painting. He is also a brilliant storyteller and restless advocate for human rights, and I have no doubt he will go down in history as being one of the most bravest and remarkable voices in contemporary Australian art.
Instagram is also a constant source of inspiration. I’m a night owl, so I do my infinite scrolling between 11pm-2am because that’s when America and Europe wake up. After a solid visual fix of runway shows, memes, magazine covers and artwork previews I go to sleep…only to find some Instagram posts creep into my dreams, and branch off into their own stories. I suppose you could say I Insta-sleep?
In your opinion, what is “Quintessential Brisbane”?
The quintessential Brisbane is WARM (both in weather and in spirit).
How would you describe Brisbane’s arts scene? How does it compare to other cities in Australia?
I like how Brisbane and the Gold Coast (my hometown) have long been the starter points for creativity. Sure, people talk about how artists tend to leave these towns, but I’m more interested in witnessing the many ideas, projects and opportunities that take their first breath here. The juncture for trial and experimentation is encouraged here, which is crucial.
You have a day off in Brisbane – what do you do?
It’s my day off today actually! And since it’s Friday the 13th my friends and I are throwing a Black List dinner party tonight. We’re putting a spread of home-made black cuisine, stuff like squid ink risotto, wild rice, caviar, sesame ice cream and blueberry ice. And for sips, we are making Black Russian, root-beer float, Sambuca, and black tea. Actually now would be a good time to try out a recipe from that Vampire Cookbook!
Plus, I’m thinking of dark sugary treats from Doughnut Time, truffles from Black Pearl, candles from Black & Spiro…and maybe some vampy accoutrements from Molten Store Pop Up, because of course, the dress code is #allblackeverything. I’ve got this ridiculous Goth Marge Simpson wig that will complete this Morticia fleek that I’m trying to rock. Just need a bunch of roses to dye black, oh gosh, maybe I’m running out of time!
You have a friend visiting from overseas – where do you take them?
Paddington Antique Centre – I’ve scored some sweet yesteryear gems from this treasure trove! Parachute skirts, prismic hats, rare Doc Martens, obscure jewellery – my eyes always get strangled in here for hours. When I die, I’ll most likely be buried in top-to-toe garments from this place.
Coffee Anthology – their coffee menu is incredible and revolves daily. I love how they get really hardcore about their coffee technique and presentation, there’s definitely a Soup Nazi vibe here.
Hakataya Ramen Centre – the best belly-warming ramen you’ll ever have! I became obsessed with ramen after seeing the film The Ramen Girl. True, the movie was pretty cheesy, but it did lead me on this search for ‘the best ramen’ in Brisbane, and I’m pretty sure this is THE ONE. It might get messy, so make sure you grab a paper bib from the counter!
…and before my guests head home, I’ll order them some delightful Australiana memento from Everingham & Watson! Perfect way to take a piece of our wonderful country home!
Your 3 favourite Brisbane-ites?
Ruby + Prankstar – metal-smithing and leatherwork label. I got to know Kirsty Morgan, the owner behind R+P, when I co-curated her works into a couple of exhibitions years ago, and it’s been great to watch her career and ambition grow from there. She used to run an atelier in Winn Lane, and it was there that she custom-made for me this chunky leather and pyrite bracelet. It looks and feels so otherworldly that each time I clasp it on my wrist it makes me feel like Wonder Woman! Kirsty is off to Morocco soon for an artisinal residency, which sounds exciting.
Alexander Lotersztain – designer
I had a chance to interview Alex for a blog years ago, and was struck by how many projects and collaborations he had brewing. He is an octopus who designs furniture, objects, interiors. He played an instrumental role in the interior spruiking of my favourite hangs, Depo, Alfred & Constance, Kwan Brothers and Alfredo’s.
Jose is one of the most thrilling curators working in Brisbane, and he has this immaculate eye for good photography and film. He had the guts to approach the great David Lynch to see if he’d be interested in exhibiting a retrospective of his works, and the result is David Lynch: Between Two Worlds opening next month. Can’t wait!
What’s your favourite Spotify playlist at the moment?
I make my own playlists, and it’s mostly mood-curated tunes and epic movie soundtracks with a dash of cringe-pop thrown in. My latest one is Songs To Clean The House To. I also make annual playlists called End of Financial EARS, which I burn onto CD and mail to friends at the end of each financial year. Just to make those number-crunching struggles a tad easier. But more people are turning to the cloud for their musical digest, so this year I’ll be emailing them the above link instead. Still nothing beats imagining a friend coming home to a glitter-and-puffy-stickered parcel waiting on her doorstep with a mystery CD inside!
What’s the most common Uber trip you take?
Trips to Fortitude Valley to catch a live gig at or an art show, and a decent hamburger.
Your best Uber experience?
We were on the way to an art fundraiser at The Walls on the Gold Coast, and our driver Tony was having a giggle with us about our outfits (our faces were caked with gold foil, and our clothes had all sorts of neon going on). We told Tony we had a night of dancing ahead of us, and so he advised us to grab the free bottles of water in our Uber car. He was right, we boogied for 3 hours solid, so boy did water come in handy!
If we gave you a car as a blank canvas, how would you fit it out – inside and out?
Well, I recently bought this pocket-sized projector from America, which you connect your iphone to, so it’d be cool to turn this Uber into a double-decker roving movie theatre. If money (or logic) was of no option, I’d have the vehicle decked out as a cross between a Mighty Boosh car and the Spice Bus. That way, a ninja could deliver cult magazines to my car-door step wherever I may be, and I can take my entire wardrobe with me so there’s clothes and costumes for every occasion. Also, the licence plate must spell VAYCAYLYF.