‘They always thought I was a freak – that I wasn’t normal. I just wasn’t the average Joe as they say. It pretty much lowered my self-esteem and I thought I can’t dress this way or be this way and I have to look the same.
‘I used to live in a country town but now that I’ve moved here I have the chance to be myself instead of hiding away. It’s like I’m free now.
‘You can’t let other people’s expectations get you down. Just follow your heart and what you really want in life. If you want to be yourself then why not do it? Nothing is standing in your way. It’s only yourself that’s stopping you.’
‘Recently I broke up with my wife. Having to walk away from that and say I can’t do this anymore was really hard.’
What did you learn from your marriage?
‘Never confuse your projection of someone else with what they are. What you think someone is isn’t necessarily what they are and no matter how much you want to be someone else, they are them. Whoever it is, you’re going to be with, you have to accept them with no conditions.’
‘I felt my parents just didn’t understand. They didn’t see what I saw. Not many people understand what you want to do and what you see; what your vision is. It held me back and it made me feel really insecure about myself at the time. I just had to keep going…and I have to keep going.
‘After school, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I was kind of lost so I just kept on with my dancing. It made my parents angry but it’s a hard road trying to be a dancer. I have a troubled relationship with my parents and don’t live at home so the Ted Noffs Foundation Street University helped me to work on my art.
‘As long as you persevere, have faith and the right support then you will get there. You will show people that this is what you were meant to do.
‘Parents just need to support their kids – that’s what they need. It’s going to be a hard road for both sides but continue to support and see where that gets them. It will take them far.
‘For young creative people, be confident. Post your work online. Tell people about what you do. Show people. Don’t hide it. Don’t keep it to yourself. Go and open up your work for the world to see. There will be someone who is interested.’
Eliam formed The Pioneers dance group who will perform and model at this Thursday’s Fashion Parade at Noffs Shop Newtown launch from 6-8pm – 461 King Street.
‘Salvador Dali said something interesting. He said, “The only difference between me and a mad man is that I’m not mad”. Agreed he used a term that is now offensive to people but his point is well taken that you can be as eccentric as hell; really eccentric to the point that colleagues and friends call you weird, right? But that’s not mental illness.’
Would you consider yourself eccentric?
‘Oh, hell yes! I cultivate it. I do it deliberately.’
‘I’ve been a homeless alcoholic on the streets. I’ve been an addict walking the streets when I was 16 years old up at the Cross and there were no real outlets to get help then. I think one of the strong contributing factors of depression is… when you isolate yourself. You can’t isolate when you feel bad. Just pick up the phone; it’s not a backbreaking thing to do. We have the technology now – mobile phones; the internet. There are support programs anywhere and everywhere. There are phone numbers advertised on TV. You know, Beyond Blue and all that.
‘When I was younger, there was nothing you know. I just got barely through by the skin of my teeth; I really did. It was really hard dealing with depression then. There are better support avenues out there now. You need to talk to someone. Even if you’ve got one friend, one is better than none – there is always someone around.
‘Busking is like my best anti-depressant. It fills that void. It’s a guarantee that every single time I go busking, I go home feeling on top of the world. It’s always 100% guaranteed.’
‘I love music. I can’t play so I feel like I need to organise musicians instead! I do all the logistics in booking bands for festivals and gigs. I make sure the bands show up and know what time they’re playing.
‘It’s good to see local festivals and events pop up – the local scene gets encouraged and they look for local bands. It’s really great. The international bands have cornered the market a little bit and people need to see that there are still great bands in Australia and that they need to get out there.’
‘I’m a Professor of Geography at Sydney University and a Newtown resident since 1989. I’m doing a lot of work on global food security issues, nutrition, links with climate change and the environment.’
What kind of trends are you seeing at …the moment?
‘My sense is that there are a lot of problems. It’s a pretty grim future. There are problems regardless of climate change in terms of feeding upwards of 9 billion people by the year 2050. And the environment is becoming more degraded and we’ve got a more uncertain climate. These are big issues that there are no easy answers for.’
From a local perspective, what can individuals do?
‘There is a lot of good stuff that’s happening. I think part of the answer is to be more resilient which means a bit more local food – supporting local businesses. I think the old model of big companies shipping food around the world is becoming less reliable in the future. I think we have to rely on more local production. The Inner West is a great place for local start-up businesses in the food and beverage industry. Some restaurants do local sourcing. There are of course urban gardens, community gardens, backyard gardens – a lot of things happening around this place. If it can happen in the Inner West, it can happen anywhere!’
‘I used to be a high school teacher in maths and geography. 30 odd years ago I went to England and I was teaching over there for a long time – long enough to get married, have a daughter, get divorced. You know…the usual story. When I came back they’ve changed the rules on me. I’m no longer qualified. They consider me a new starter. I haven’t got a specialist teaching qualification so despite the fact that I’ve got 30 years’ experience including head of department I can’t teach without going back to uni for another year. I can’t afford that so I’m making scarves to keep myself above the streets rather than below them.’
‘If I sell a few scarves a week, I’m happy. The first couple of scarves buys all the wool I need. The next one buys me food for the week and the next one puts some petrol in my home.’