Latest Published Writing
Bri writes about: law, art, fashion, culture, pop culture, politics, food, social issues, and feminism. She specialises in features, interviews, and essays.
Ben Quilty in Bleeding Colour
1 February 2019
Now may be a good time for artists and art institutions to be asking questions about masculinity and mortality, but a better time might have been 20 years ago, when Ben Quilty started painting a series of Holden Toranas. The 46-year-old’s way with colour and grand scale – elements that have remained consistent through distinct periods of moral inquisition and advocacy – has fortified his position as one of the most acclaimed and popular contemporary Australian artists. Now he readies himself for the first major survey exhibition of his art, titled simply, Quilty.
Also in 2011, the Australian War Memorial commissioned Quilty as an official war artist in Afghanistan, where he worked with personnel involved with Operation Slipper. It is telling that the major body of work resulting from that role depicts the soldiers nude, stripped of their uniforms, and choosing their own poses after deep conversation with Quilty back in his Australian studio, away from the violence. Also resulting from his time in Afghanistan was the painting Bushmaster (2012), which depicts an armoured vehicle designed for safe passenger transport, destroyed. Considered simultaneously, the Toranas almost sparkle in cerulean and titanium white compared to the Bushmaster wailing in rust, charcoal, and dried-blood red. The threads illuminate.
Forecast: Angela Tiatia
vault australasian art and culture magazine: issue #25
1 February 2019
Angela Tiatia’s latest exhibition will be her biggest yet, but the heart and drive of her practice has stayed remarkably focused since her first solo exhibition eight years ago. Like a compass pointed simultaneously inward and outward, Tiatia’s work explores themes of post-colonial reclamation, women’s bodies, identity and representation, regardless of the varied mediums she travels through to see her messages manifest.
The Perfect Lie
Feature Article for Harper’s Bazaar Australia
I’ve just returned to a bustling, thoroughly-Instagrammable Paris after spending two weeks in a tiny village in the West of France without Internet. Anyone who has been on a digital detox will tell you the first few days are confronting: how often you must fight random impulses to check your phone for notifications, and how you mourn the missed opportunity of photographing a perfect outfit or plate. I was no exception. I’m addicted to the instant gratification of ‘likes’ and the dopamine hits of new followers—we all are. That’s how it works. The trouble is, that isn’t the only way it works.
Queensland’s flawed bill of rights draft
Reportage for The Saturday Paper
8 December 2018
Dr Robyn Holder was the Australian Capital Territory’s victims of crime coordinator for 15 years, responsible for the protection and promotion of the rights of crime victims – both before and after the ACT enacted its Human Rights Act in 2004. “I was in part a rights-promoting advocate,” she says, “in part like an ombudsperson, so I’d receive complaints and concerns from victims.”
Now a recognised expert in law reform and public policy, and research fellow at Griffith University’s criminology institute, Holder has joined several legal experts and organisations in voicing her concerns about Queensland’s draft bill of rights legislation.
Sharing our stories is the strength at the heart of #MeToo. We must repeal gag laws
Opinion for THe Guardian
19 November 2018
…Another discrepancy surfaced into the public consciousness recently. Following months of preparation and advocacy, End Rape On Campus Australia (led by Walkley award-winning journalist Nina Funnell) and Marque Lawyers launched the #LetHerSpeak campaign. Tasmania and Northern Territory are the only jurisdictions in Australia which have laws prohibiting all survivors of sexual offences from publicly identifying themselves, unless a court makes an order allowing them to do so. In Tasmania it’s section 194K(1) of the Evidence Act 2001 and in the Northern Territory it’s section 6 of the Sexual Offences (Evidence and Procedure) Act. The online petition these advocates launched calls for a review and repeal of the gag laws.
Queensland Debates Abortion Law
Reportage for The Saturday Paper
22 September 2018
Heather Douglas is a professor of law at the University of Queensland, an expert in issues of domestic and family violence and a former committee member of Children by Choice, a non-profit based in Brisbane. Launched in the 1970s as the Abortion Law Reform Association, for nearly half a century Children by Choice has offered counselling services and advice to women in Queensland who are experiencing an unplanned pregnancy. During the organisation’s entire existence, abortion has been illegal in the state. “We know that there are over probably around 10,000 to 14,000 abortions taking place in Queensland each year,” says Douglas. “It’s difficult to know statistics because we don’t count them the way somewhere like South Australia does, but clearly they are taking place. It’s just a lot harder for some people to get access to them than others.”
My Inbox After #MeToo
Personal Essay for The Saturday Paper
8 September 2018
I had braced myself for the messages from strangers. But the first wave came from people I knew. It didn’t matter that I’d changed my privacy settings on Facebook and set up a new public-facing email address. These were friends, family, colleagues, and friends from school and university, people who had my number, pouring their stories out to me over text message and asking if they could call me. It was late May, days before my book, Eggshell Skull, would even be officially released.
'On Rape' is not good enough to be truly controversial
Critique for Crikey
6 September 2018
On Rape is a tiny book with a gargantuan title. Coming in at a bit over 10,000 words, it is part of a larger Melbourne University Press series (alongside Sarah Ferguson's On Mother and Leigh Sales' On Doubt, which are between 10,000 and 15,000 words each). That’s a nice, long essay; enough space for other authors to achieve a structured and specific pondering. But Greer’s approach is to split the book into nine even smaller sections with titles like “Joystick or Weapon?” and “Cure, Kill, or Castrate the Perp?” Rather than focusing our attention on smaller facets of the issue to build a discernible argument, the result is rambling.
Nuance & Negligence
vault australasian art and culture magazine: issue #23
1 August 2018
The #METOO movement crashing into the art world has left us with murkier matters than simple two-sided debates over aestheticism and censorship. The first casualty of call-out culture can often be nuance, but these reckonings—these truths coming to light—are also necessary and important. When our art reflects our society and culture back to us and that reflection is ugly, the challenge is what to do next. It would seem that the art world has quickly acquired a firm backhand for non-artists whose behaviours come under scrutiny.
Exclusive: Christian lobby academic heads law school
News for The Saturday Paper
21 July 2018
Two months ago, the University of Queensland announced Professor Patrick Parkinson as the next head of its TC Beirne School of Law and the school’s new academic dean... ...The official announcement made no mention of Parkinson’s affiliations with religious lobbying groups, including the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL), nor his conservative advocacy. It did not address the role Parkinson and his research played in both the marriage equality vote and the opposition to the Safe Schools program. Since the announcement, staff, students, alumni and LQBTQIA+ legal professional organisations have expressed concerns about Professor Parkinson’s appointment to The Saturday Paper.
Why does Season Two of The Handmaid's Tale sound so good?
Feature Article for Double J
20 June 2018
There’s a reason most people stick to violins and timpani for soundtracks—they’re universal. Instrumental scores can build tension until you’re cringing, or they can let the soul soar with elation. Use some percussion and strings (and maybe a dash of a horn section) and there’s about 80 percent of your audio accompaniment needs. But what about the wants? What about what might be possible? Season two sees The Handmaids Tale join the ranks of Stranger Things, Fargo, and (arguably) Girls as a series that nails the tunes and makes good television great. Music supervisor Maggie Phillips has taken over from Michael Perlmutter (who got comprehensively burned by Pitchfork for his season one choices) and it’s banger after banger.
How Australian Courts are Stacked Against Victims of Sexual Assault
Legal Analysis for Crikey
12 June 2018
Much has been written about jury trials since the #MeToo wave came crashing through society. The movement that began with questioning men’s behaviour towards women has now rolled swiftly through to a questioning of the systems and establishments that either implicitly facilitate or expressly encourage sex offending. I’m interested in turning this critical lens in on the legal process itself. In Australian courts the judges decide matters of “law” and juries are tasked with determining questions of “fact”. It’s a critical distinction, albeit with blurry edges.
How sci-fi soundtracks shape our imagining of the future
Feature Article for Double J
5 June 2018
Books and movies set in the future tell us not just what we think will happen in the future, but also what we hope and what we are afraid will happen in the future. So, what does this mean for music in film? What does the future sound like? We’re close to the year 2020, which means we’ll soon be living a reality that so many people always pegged as the far-away future. “Twenty-twenty” has long been full of targets, hopes, and terrors. More specifically, we’re close to 2019, the year in which the original 1982 Ridley Scott Blade Runner film was set.
Listening to the soundtrack now, the warping, fuzzy tones are offset by the undulating, non-stop keyboard arpeggios. It is both tense and dragging. Almost entirely in minor chords, of course, it follows the same building of dread and unease that the film cultivates with the decrepit, almost-recognisable post-apocalyptic Los Angeles.
How to Know if You're Ready to go to the Police? What I Learned
Comment for The Guardian
21 May 2018
It will take a long time and there’s no rushing it. For me (and for others I’ve spoken to), the decision to finally make an official police complaint about a sex offence wasn’t so much a “lightbulb moment” as the gradual knocking away at a tall wall with a small mallet, brick by brick.
Not just any old wall of insecurities, either. I’m talking about the wall that you started putting up from the moment you realised what had been done to you. The one that’s taken years and been fortified by all the casual sexism you absorb every day. The bricks that people added when they didn’t believe the other women you saw come forward, and the bricks you added yourself when you realised how expensive it would be to start seeing a psychologist.
an interview with lyn & tony -
vault australasian art and culture magazine: issue #22
1 june 2018
A lot changes in the life of Lyn & Tony. The duo split their time between two drastically different home studio locations – one in inner-city Sydney and the other among cane fields near Byron Bay. They have multiple projects with multiple collaborators constantly underway. Although they started out in fashion photography, their practice spans art photography, jewellery design, sculpture, installation, fragrance, and a combination of all of the above. The only constant in their lives, it would seem, is each other.
Associated risk - an edited extract of eggshell skull
published in good weekend magazine and syndicated across the sydney morning herald and the age
19 may 2018
It was a sweltering January in Brisbane, and day one of my new job as a judge's associate at the Queensland District Court. I had finished law school at the end of 2014 and returned to my home state in the new year after two months of travelling around the United States, eating hotdogs and drinking Budweiser.
New stretch marks at my hips were itchy from my fast increase in weight over the holidays. Sweat was soaking into the underarms of the shirt I'd ironed that morning. Things were off to a bad, and late, start.
I took a deep breath and knocked on Judge's door. He looked up and gave me a big smile. He invited me to take a seat and I remembered how nervous I'd been a year earlier, sitting in the same chair for the job interview. But as we chatted I also remembered how much we'd laughed together, how much I admired his lack of pretension.
The Darkest Web: exploring the ugly world of illegal online marketplaces
an interview with author elieen ormsby for The guardian
22 march 2018
It’s an arresting concept: the idea that rippling beneath the internet there is a dark twin breathing and growing. A place where drugs are sold; where hitmen advertise their services; where material to match any sexual urge can be found.
What pulls you through The Darkest Web isn’t its often-nefarious, sometimes-gory details, but Ormsby’s handling of three progressively intense narrative arcs. Split into sections, the reader is introduced to a few key characters in the dark web world at each level: Dark is about the marketplaces that popped up after the owner of Silk Road was arrested in late 2013 (he was later jailed for life); Darker follows one man who is determined to have his wife killed but who doesn’t realise the hitman site he’s found is a scam; and Darkest takes the reader through the nightmarish world of “child porn” (which many people believe is the wrong terminology for child exploitation material) communities.
young lady, that's inappropriate
an essay for griffith revew: 56 - millennials strike back
After graduating from law school, I spent a full and disturbing year working as a judge’s associate in the District Court of Queensland. The role required silence and discretion, and each week I sat, mute and powerless, watching things unfurl in front of me both in and out of court that made me want to get up and run. Forever the youngest in the room, often the only female, things that were normal to the seasoned lawyer unsettled me. I used to think all the time: Is anyone else seeing this?
Interestingly, however, the AIC noted a difference in perceptions of crime by gender: significantly more women than men reported beliefs that ‘a lot more’ violent crimes were being committed compared to previous years. Similarly, sticking out in uncomfortable contrast to the trend of a decrease in violent crimes, Milne noted: ‘There were 21,380 victims of sexual assault recorded by police during 2015. This was an increase of 3 per cent on the previous year, and the highest number of sexual assault reports we’ve seen in six years.’
Risky relationships: why women are more likely to die of a broken heart
an interview with dr nikki stamp for The guardian
24 february 2018
Takotsubo cardiomyopathy – commonly known as broken heart syndrome – is rare but real. As a heart and lung surgeon, Dr Nikki Stamp has seen a few cases herself, and the phenomenon provides a compelling opening chapter to her first book, Can You Die of a Broken Heart? The title reminds us of when Debbie Reynolds died “of a broken heart” the day after her daughter, Carrie Fisher, passed away in 2016, but this book rises far above the online pseudoscience accompanying those reports. It is possible to be so affected by grief or shock that a predisposed heart simply cannot cope, and Stamp uses this as an opener to explore the myriad ways modern medicine is only recently understanding (and admitting) to the connection between body and emotion.
Larger back catalogue
VAULT Mazaine: Issue 20 – “Urban Art Projects” an interview with Daniel Tobin
VAULT Magazine: Issue 19 – “What Fashion Means” an interview with Ingrid Verner
Griffith Review 57: Perils of Populism – What Ripples Beneath
Kill Your Darlings – ‘Memoir at any Age’ six-part interview series – featuring Lech Blaine, Fiona Wright, Anita Heiss, Richard Fidler, and Patti Miller
Griffith Review 56: Millennials Strike Back – Young Lady, That’s Inappropriate
Catalogue Magazine – The Breast Friend interview series (Five individual interviews published as part of a weekly series)
Kill Your Darlings – The heart of the matter: An interview with Laura Elizabeth Woollett