August 2015

The Crinolinecycle combines a steel-boned dress (Crinoline) with a 3-person tricycle powered by two pedal-monkeys. It was an exciting commission for a musical performance at a 2013 Digital Media event in Northbridge.

Here I would like to document the process of tackling this fascinating challenge as an artist with very little engineering training:

(Bonus diagram for sewing LEDs toward the end)


Live projection at Blazing Swan fundraiser

August 2015

 Blazing Swan, the official West Australian chapter of Burning Man, put on an awareness and fundraising event in 2013 called Synchronicity. It was scheduled to coincide with The Burn.

I packed projector, netbook, and graphics tablet into my bicycle basket and arranged to meet some friends from the Perth sketchgroup.

We managed to squeeze in a 15 minute session with the theatre screen. Joe tackled the new interface gallantly, and after a few frustrated remarks and some determined linework, handed the stylus to me for rendering. Tina supervised and advised on colour selection.

Later we found a dance studio with a blank wall; the room also contained most of the hyper-active children from this family-friendly event (cue handstand competitions with a 10 yr old). Tina kicked off the projection proceedings and astounded the children, who all clamoured to be allowed to have their turn next. There was no lack of references to internet memes in their drawings.



Black and White Blues: A Saucy Little Secret

September 2013

In 2012 HMS popup launched a Musical that explored the careers and personal lives of five of the most influential Blues women of the 1920s.

With a dazzling cast and sensational band, they played to sold-out crowds at Ellington Jazz Club in Perth.

In 2013 they toured in Melbourne, and again in Perth. Next year they hope to take the show to Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

My black and white illustrations, projected onto the dark wall of the jazz club, set the stage for a grungy, gritty series of sassy monologues.

Photos by VJzoo



A preview video from the first season:



Magnus Danger Magnus…………….Maitre D

Kali Caramia (2012),

Di Shaw (2013)………………….Ma Rainey

Libby Hammer……………………Bessie Smith

Odette Mercy……………………Gladys Bentley

Natalie Gillespie……………….Ethel Waters

Harry Deluxe……………………Alberta Hunter



Leah Van der Muelen……………..Musical Director

Almore James……………………Guitar

Dominic D’Leno (2012),

Shane Lankester (2013)…………..Drums

Lewis Moody (2012),

Chris Foster (2013)……………………Piano

Robert Bresland…………………Trumpet



Melanie Bainbridge………………Writer

Erin Fuery……………………..Director

Harry Deluxe……………………Director

Jenna Downing…………………..Set Designer / Artist



Daine Spowart…………………..Sound Engineer

Meghan Fuery……………………Lighting Engineer

Shireen Sampson…………………Wardrobe


Special thanks:

Graham Wood and the Ellington Jazz Club Staff




make a zoetrope!

May 2012

I initially developed this workshop for Scitech‘s school holiday program in January 2012 and ran it again for Propel Youth ArtsNational Youth Week in April. I love this workshop so much because once the kids understand the mechanics of the stroboscope and moving image, they go wild with ideas. The constraints of a 13 frame loop allows them to complete at least one animation and see it in action with time to start developing a second. By the time they have to go home, they have  a full understanding of the animation process and a kit to practice with.

I was interested in animation at an early age, but pursued illustration instead, not seeing an obvious facility or incentive to do the tedious re-drawing. I had seen zoetropes and praxinoscopes and phenakistoscopes in museums and exhibitions but never thought of them as something I could take home! I started working on various iterations of the zoetrope kit in late 2011. Many designs were for lasercutter and some even had handles and gears. When a deal fell through just before my first workshop with Scitech I was forced to come up with an incredibly simple and fast design that could be made with cardboard and wire. I managed to make 30 kits in a day. Of course the zoetrope was a popular toy in the early 20th C and there are kits out there; but as far as I can tell my design is sturdy, easy to repair and replicate, and spins for much longer.

Here is an instructable on how to make one yourself!


Propel Youth Markets

May 2012

Propel Youth Arts have a wicked annual event for National Youth Week. Here is a video by Jeremy Tan that makes us all look amazing!

I was pleased to be involved again with a live painting event, an old-school animation workshop and a stall at their weekend markets.

(The incredible nautical installation was created by Matt McVeigh and Calvin Chee)

This year instead of selling things, I pitched my portrait stand and set about drawing faces as fast as i could. I came early and used my lovely stall mates as a warm-up. The kids were awesome fun, they all sat so still and most of them had that awkward ‘I’m still smiling for the sake of my parents’ smile. Cute! The portraits were cheap and cheerful such that no-one had an excuse not to have one done; I had a queue for most of the day.

My buddies Jeff and Jo also had portrait gigs that weekend and together we must have clocked-up well over a hundred faces!


recent sketches: feb/mar

April 2012

I recently upgraded my phone to a Galaxy Note, which also replaced my netbook, my point-and-shoot and my nintendo DS drawing tablet. Well worth the extra I paid to import it early!

I got the Note specifically for the integrated Wacom stylus and the large OLED screen which give it a few advantages over iPad and made it the first seriously portable drawing tablet that could stand up in daylight and last more than 2 hrs. The resolution is way higher than the nintendo DS and the sketch apps more plentiful, however the homebrew Colors! program was certainly the benchmark and I searched long and hard for equivalents.

Among the drawings are my cousin playing video games, a lecture at LCA, some movie stills, a trip to the zoo with the Sketchgroup for Sketching as a Group in Perth, and Perth Fringe.



Live painting for MasterPEACE

December 2011

Let me tell you from start to finish from Jenna Downing on Vimeo.

Somehow through my sketching escapades (namely at the zoo of all places), I was invited to organise a group painting/sketching event as part of MasterPEACE, a one-night visual art exhibition at the end of the ARTillery festival (Amnesty International’s human rights festival). This year the organisers wanted more live components to complement the static works and engage the audience. There were musicians, solo painters, an open chalkboard event, and I wandered with my sketchbook.

I organised a pre-recording of the live group painting that would screen on the night and develop as people meandered around the exhibition. The piece was arranged around the simple theme of presence/absence, anonymity and disembodiment. I wanted to use silhouette and started scouting for the largest windows. Frisk Cafe agreed immediately to my outrageous request to completely cover their window in paint and then take it off again. Plenty of fellow sketchers jumped at my idea also, making it a really fun conclusion to a very intense preparation process (oh, but then comes the editing)..

Interesting note: standard wallpaper paste is the most amazing thing for sticking paper to glass – it stuck immediately and peeled off like a plastic sheet. I had come prepared with scrapers and brushes but only needed to give it a quick rinse.

Jane Chang
Renae Coles
Joseph Filocamo
Nadia Johnson
Tina Lam
Chi Lito

Special thanks:
John Downing and Mark Splittgerber for documentation,
Frisk Cafe for trusting us with their beautiful window.




Dr Sketchy’s Santa Special

December 2011

After the 5min poses (the best of the night!), Santa disappeared backstage and returned in FULL viking armour. Two senior members of the Grey Co gave a flashy show of brute-swordsmanship. No frills, all grunt.

Santa did not return. The holiday cheer was replaced by lust for booze and blood… But behind those amazing cheek-bones – and lithic ability to keep a straight face – was a warm, fuzzy demeanor. Was anyone else reminded of Asterix?

As an interesting aside, and shout-out to the Bakery to think about cleaning their floor one day: the ground was so sticky i broke BOTH flipflops on my way across the room to get my camera. MC, Dr Barry Umenema: “They should put zis shit on ze shuttles so astronauts can go for space-valks! SSCHLooOIP-PUK!”

Pen and water-brush:


Young master Jeffery has also posted sketches from the night!


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wearable electronics at Scitech!

October 2011

Brother and I survived 6hrs of holiday workshops at Scitech with 7-14yr-olds after developing a blinky-light bracelet kit.

Luckily the kids were all very focused and switched-on. Many of them knew a thing or two about circuits, but that didn’t stop them tangling their conductive threads terribly.

We designed (and extensively tweaked – see images below) a twin oscillator board to demonstrate beat frequencies. We ran out of time for the explanation, but the pulsing was pretty.

Instructions and diagrams to come soon!

Special thanks: Scitech, Perth Artifactory, Sparkfun, Toysdownunder, Altronics, Element14


Accumulated Gestures

September 2011

A very talented friend of mine, front man of The Accumulated Gestures, recently launched his smoking new album at Deville’s Pad.  I arrived a little too early.. What does one do at a bar at 7.30?  Sketch the interior!

Drawn on a nintendo DS using Colors