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My LINK festival experience

In February 2015, I received funding through a Quick Response grant from the Tasmanian Regional Arts to attend LINK festival in Melbourne. The main agenda for LINK festival revolved around design, technology and social change, all of which I am concerned with in my jewellery practice. 


Prior to LINK festival, I navigated the program to select workshops and events that would offer the most relevance to my arts practice. There were various formats for events, so I tried to cover a mix of both interactive workshops and lectures over the two days. This is my documentation of the experience.



Monday February 16th & 17th. Fed Square, Melbourne.


[LINK festival statement]


"Link Festival will bring together Australia's leading and emerging social innovators

to explore how design and technology can create change in our backyard

and the world. With inspiring speakers and a focus on genuine connections -

this forum is about creativity, big ideas and working together to make

the world a better place. 


At Link, you will experience hands-on workshops, immersive sessions,

create genuine connections and hear from inspiring speakers.

Everyone who attends will leave equipped with the knowledge

and networks necessary to apply their skills

to solving real-world challenges. "




LINK festival participants arrived at Federation Square show began early on Monday morning. We were given some time to engage with and get to know other attendees. Each person was gifted a showbag that contained our own op-shop sourced reusable mug to use throughout the festival, a roll of toilet paper from 'Who Gives a Crap" and a notebook to write down ideas and inspiration taken from the festival. The mugs acted as a conduit for interaction between strangers; some people had more interesting mugs than others, so mug comparison become a good ice breaker. 


The first presentation was by Angus Hervey and Tane Hunter from Future Crunch. They gave an inspiring account of the future of technology and converging trends, putting a positive spin on the direction technology could lead us.  They also discussed the potential for collaboration between the fields of medicine, technology, science and wearable tech (jewellery), and how these things all are converging to improve the prospect of life expectancy and quality.

I left feeling uplifted, and they reconfirmed what is known about the amount of bad news we are fed through the media, where there is a plethora of exciting things happening out there.


After morning tea, we were given a choice of 5 breakout activities ranging from participatory workshops and panel discussions to short talks. I went to Bring out your inner design thinker-crafting Your own tools for change,  a workshop on prototyping run by Ben Crothers, a design strategist from Atlassian.  

We were divided into small groups and were shown four different strategies to work through prototyping ideas. As a group, we discussed what we were focused on in our respective practices and came up with an idea to workshop from that. SerendipitioulSerendipitouslyy, our group consisted of an industrial designer, a medical technician and me, so we all had a shared interest in incorporating wearable tech into jewellery.


Using reliable, simple tools, coined ‘Lo-Fi’ tools (pens/sticky notes/paper) we worked as a group and attempted two different methods at the beginning of the prototyping process. In a similar way to a scientific experiment having a hypothesis, aim, apparatus etc., we looked over all the variables that came into prototyping a piece of wearable medical tech. This process was very useful to me directly because talking through the ideas surfaced issues and strategies that I hadn’t otherwise considered in my jewellery.


The main thing I took away was a new way of approaching the problem of wearable technology faces: do we want another device in our lives?  To appeal to a wider consumer group, it needs to have versatility in design. Designing a discreet gadget that could be worn on an existing piece of jewellery would be the most ideal solution. This workshop directly influenced the work I made for the Connected exhibition as a part of 10 Days on the Island. (see images below)


Throughout LINK there were several other workshops and talks I attended, but a highlight was hearing Leah Heiss speak about her work in the technology and jewellery field. I was encouraged by what she had to say in that I have had a lot of the same thoughts independently. Heiss is further along in her career than me, but it confirmed that I am heading in the right direction towards my goal of working with medicine, jewellery and technology.






Opening speakers from Future Crunch, LINK festival 2015, Fed Square

Workshopping ideas as a group, exploring 'design thinking' LINK festival, 2015

"Engaging the head, heart and hands to initiate change for good" Ben Crothers, Design Strategist, Atlassian

Prototyping process flow diagram

Supported by:


Building the prototyping toolkit with Lo-fi tools (sticky notes, coloured pens)

The things I have taken away from my experience at LINK festival are:


-Affirmation of the processes I already take designs through, especially when working with clients on private commissions.


-Using drawing as a tool to communicate ideas visually


-Collaborating and outsourcing if there’s someone who can do a better job than me


-Openness to potential outcomes, open-minded approach


-Developing a prototyping toolkit for design ideas


-Strong foundations for future projects from set of guideline questions developed at LINK


- Furthering skills in articulating what it is I want to do, and why


-Networking, making contacts in fields I would otherwise not have had exposure to, such as medical engineering, architecture and micro brewing


-Hearing Leah Heiss speak was very inspiring. Afterwards, I made email contact with her but have had not yet recieved a reply. Nonetheless, I gained more knowledge about the future of wearable technlogy from Heiss's perspective and experience


-Sharing what I learned with colleagues and passing on information that is relevant to other practicing artists in Tasmania


-Post LINK, going over the experience with my mentor Susan Cohn and the making the connections to my practice to continue to grow my skill set.


I would strongly recommend attending LINK festival to my friends and colleagues. It was inspiring, practical and is worthwhile to inform and grow businesses not just in the arts, but engineers, architects, and any industry with a social and environmental conscience.


The official LINK website closes down post event, but more information can be found here

Bike biofeedback device bracelet developed after LINK,  Emma Bugg, Connected exhibition, Arts Tasmania. March 2015

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