‘I’d broken up with my fiancée and suddenly realised I was by myself. It was just me and I thought, well, I don’t need much. At the same time I was also dealing with stress anxiety from working a lot and the lifestyle that comes with that. Even though nobody was pressuring me in the slightest, I felt that way. I felt that you’ve got to live a certain way to make your parents proud and your friends happy.

‘I studied a bit of art when I was a teenager and had left it for about 20 years. When I started it again about two years ago, I found it very meditative and felt very stress free. I realised how much I missed it and that this is my real love.

‘I left all my jobs. One of the biggest challenges of doing that was the fear of whether I would be good enough as an artist because you honestly don’t know. It’s not always about skill level in art either – it’s about finding your own voice and your own style and telling a story through it.

‘At my age, it’s hard to get back in to paid employment – trying to apply for a job when you’ve left it for two years – they’ll take someone who’s currently working in the field and a younger person as well. There was always that risk. If I had kids and a mortgage I wouldn’t do it because you do it for your kids – you work. I can be a little bit selfish because it’s just me. I can’t go out every night with friends and go to fancy restaurants but I get to do what I love every day.’

‘I really feel for womankind. I think a lot of us beautiful women are torn in so many different directions with all the responsibilities we have. The time out thing is so important and a lot of girls don’t get it.

‘It’s really hard for teenage girls too because they can feel really insecure. They’re going through lots of changes and there are so many pressures now on girls – more so than when I was growing up. I wish for them to have happiness and not worry about body image – just pamper themselves and surround themselves with people that are going to make them feel good – it’s the most important thing.

‘I love the style, the glamour, the elegance of the vintage era – not only just in the fashion side of it but in the way people treat each other with kindness. I think we could all learn from those times to slow down and to be kind to each other. Things are too fast now. We need to be a bit gentler on ourselves and be our own best friends because if we are, everything else works out in life.’

‘One of the most challenging times in my life was when my mum died when I was 23 – it was a really devastating thing – particularly at that age.

‘I write most of my work from personal experience. My new album (“Eternal Return”) was written at a time when I was falling in love so I was trying to capture the joy and the openness of that.

‘Both the difficulties I’ve gone through as well as the highs in my life have inspired what I’ve done.

‘The most important thing I think for a musician is to listen to their own instincts because there are a lot of people who have opinions about what you should do and how you should do things. I’ve always found when I’ve followed my own gut; it’s always worked out well for me. That’s all you can really do.

‘There have been only a few times where I’ve gone against my gut instinct but luckily only with minor things. It’s always kept confirming to me that no one knows what’s best for you, more than you do.’

‘I feel scared. Who’s going to protect me at the end of the night? I don’t know if they’re watching me, or not. My family gets scared when they see things like this. They don’t want me to work anymore. They said what if they come next time and you’re there and they know I will defend myself and things will be worse.

‘Last night about half an hour after I finished work I received a call from security. They told me you have a break in or something through your windows. I was at the city with my friend having a cup of coffee and relaxing after work so I had to come straight back and found the police here. I saw my whole front door is smashed and I was surprised and shocked and really, really upset about it.

‘Also on the Friday my window cleaner told me to come and see what they’d scratched on the window. They’d written “F*** Arabs”.

‘I don’t know why this guy or guys think I’m the leader for Arab people or I’m the leader for Muslims – they’re calling me to abuse me about what’s happening overseas or something like that which is not my fault. I’m not doing nothing wrong here.

‘This is not the first time. For the last 7-8 months, every month, 2-3 calls were received threatening and swearing – talking in a racist way. I’ve been here 14 years. I’ve never had problems like this before.

‘I don’t want to know who did it. God will forgive them one day. I will forgive them if they stop doing this but I’m a bit surprised about the media. Usually if a Muslim guy does something, they put it on the TV next half an hour but if something happens to a Muslim guy, they’ll think about it a hundred times before they put it on.

‘I need the police this time to take it more seriously. It’s happened before, (they take a) statement, things happen but they never come back to me. I never heard from them again.

‘The whole community (here in Newtown) – the people, they’re really nice. They’ve been supporting me all day today – calling me, saying sorry – I love Newtown, it’s a beautiful place.’

‘When I was a kid I loved to draw. I loved creating stuff and imagining things but slowly over time it disappeared and I stopped drawing.  When I hit my 30s, I decided to start getting up 15 minutes earlier before work each day. The first time I did it was really strange because I was just sitting there with this blank piece of paper and didn’t know what to do. It just grew bigger and bigger and now it’s about 1½-2 hours a day.

‘I used to see these two older men outside this café in Glebe. I drew them and imagined a story that perhaps they’d fallen on hard times but really they secretly controlled all the money in the world. I became friends with one of them and discovered he was a fine arts student back in the 70s or 80s. He’d actually been an artist all that time so it was a cool moment where the story I’d imagined came in to clash with a reality.

‘I always thought that I was normal as a kid – the way I thought – until I started talking to people and then I realised that maybe I’m not so normal – maybe I’ve got a slightly different perspective. I’ve always connected dots A & G rather than A & B. There is something inside me that just tries to connect things that are seemingly unconnected and so I love creating stories about the people I draw.

‘This whole process of rediscovering art has changed me a lot. It’s shown me possibilities and it’s helped me to connect with a whole bunch of people that I wouldn’t have before. It expands the world and it makes me much more empathetic for people. I’m now more patient and humble in how I try and understand them.’

Oscar Finch will be holding his first Honesty Box Gallery Exhibition at the HON Live launch event on Saturday 5th September. He will be also roaming the crowds incognito drawing people and creating stories about them.

Further info: www.oscarfinch.com/pages/honestybox and www.oscarfinch.com/blogs/art

humansofnewtown; humans of newtown

‘I spent 3½ years photo-documenting enslaved prostitutes in Cambodia – Vietnamese women who were trafficked across the border.

‘These women were being raped repeatedly. One of the women’s wrists was covered in suicide marks and she was one of the women who knew what she was going in to. The state of mind, the cultural beliefs that are engrained in to these women or young girls, I can’t grasp it. It was a big hurdle for me to get over and I realised I can’t; it’s not a hurdle for me to jump.

‘I was back in Sydney and got an email from the NGO I’d been working with over there saying the raid had been performed and the women had been rescued as a result of my work. Up until that point, I had very little faith in what was happening from the NGO point of view. I got the impression that they were only investigating the shacks (brothels) while I was over there. Unfortunately it took a 9 year old child’s presence in that brothel to perform the rescue. Human trafficking is illegal and the police knew there were women in there that had been trafficked. I asked them what it took to perform a raid and the Cambodian police said to me they had a thousand other brothels like this one, why should they choose this one?

‘This whole experience has definitely challenged me. I had to see two psychiatrists while I was away. It centred me a lot as a person but it’s made me sad. I’ll never forget those women – especially the first girl I photographed – she was crying and curled up in a foetal position.

‘I feel proud now about what I’ve done – knowing that the 9 year old girl is now being educated and the NGO will give her a job when she finishes school as they will with the other women that were rescued in the raid. It’s a breaking of the chain. When the girl grows up, her children will then know they can get an education and get a job.

‘One of my favourite quotes is, “Every waterfall starts with a drop of water”. If I can help someone or inspire someone to do what I did or help in some way, I know I’ve succeeded.’

http://anywherebuthere.photography/

‘It was very late in life when I finally worked out what I wanted to do. I started at the age of 47. I think sometimes things are meant to happen at ages that you don’t expect things to happen.

‘I don’t wish it had happened earlier. I think my life has panned out just nicely. There were other things I wanted to do. I was convinced I wanted to be a beauty therapist and an actress. I did both of those things and then realised they’re not for me.  My passion just naturally changed and I think there is a strong message in that for everyone looking at what they want to do with their life. It’s not too late to change your passion. It was very hard to let go of the acting because I studied for 3 years, did my degree and then wondered how I could possibly stop but I finally gave myself permission to finally let go. This is my new passion and I love what I do.

‘From about 14 I was drawn to vintage clothing. I went through a number of years working in retail, studying acting and always in creative fields. One day I was unhappy with where my life was going. I walked in to an antique shop. I was looking at a shop counter and the guy asked where my shop was. I said that I didn’t have a shop but just loved the counter. He asked me if I did have a shop what would I have and it just came out. I said to him that it would be a vintage clothing shop. I had an epiphany at the moment, walked out and rang my husband and my mum straight away and said to them I know this sounds crazy as I have no stock but I just want to have my own vintage clothing shop. I didn’t buy the counter. Someone else bought the counter and I kick myself to this day that I didn’t but it was the catalyst. It really was like a bolt of lightning. I literally walked on air out of that antique centre because I knew what it was that I finally wanted to do with my life.’