Fran is the current WOW Vice Chair. She is a graduate of NIDA (National Institute of Dramatic Arts), a street performer and the recently retired Head Teacher of Drama at Wollongong High School of Performing Arts. Fran has fallen easily into a relatively new role of playing grandmother to little Josie. A very versatile and talented woman, as well as serving on WOW’s committee and at times as a trainer for the Performance class, Fran is involved in a number of other educational and community groups. These include Speech and Drama, Illawarra Film Society and a couple of community bands.
Gabrielle is a local Visual Arts and History teacher, who has worked across government, private and ‘alternative’ schools as well as UNSW and various museums and galleries. She loves to combine her skills in artmaking with storytelling and has taken her storytelling to playgroups, pre-schools, the classroom even as far as dinner parties. Gabrielle joined Circus in 2017 after being lured in by Angela to be part of the Performance Club, just in time for an International Women’s Day gig in Wollongong. Since then, she has found Stilts classes to be her new thrill. Thrown in at the deep end, Gabrielle’s enthusiasm and energy has helped the WOW committee which she joined at her first AGM.
Libby is a multi-award-winning visual artist. She has long been involved in community work and projects, creating the Bubbles Ball which raised funds for breast cancer in the Illawarra. She was also the the inspiration for the On the shore outdoor sculpture exhibition that was part of the Thirroul Seaside Festival. It was seeing the Stilt Mamas on really tall stilts pushing really high prams in the 2007 Viva la Gong parade more than 10 years ago that made Libby first go WOW! Aged 47, she joined the circus high life and is still one of the WOW stiltwalkers frequently seen at community events. Libby also does hoops, and loves to dance. As WOW’s Gigs Manager from 2012-2018, Libby’s creativity can be seen in many details of gigs and costumes where she has a real knack for making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, for example, a whole set of costumes out of old lampshades. In addition to organising gigs, writing quotes and proposals, Libby has written grants for WOW. What thrills Libby the most about WOW is the combination of using her creativity and physical skills along with the friendships of working with other women to do amazing things.
Ella, a professional bookkeeper, followed Circus WOW from afar for some time, getting the newsletter and sometimes seeing the women in action at community events and performances. When, in 2017, she offered to do the Circus WOW books in 2017 we were thrilled! It took a major challenge away from the committee, as we knew the management of our finances were in confident hands. Ella has not yet had the time to participate in many WOW classes yet but managed to get to a few hoop classes – and brought her Mum. She also managed to do a fantastic job catering at Portraits of WOW despite being hampered by injuries to both her hands! WOW women just do what needs to be done!
“Standing on the shoulders of giants.” —Bernard Chartes, 12th Century
Circus WOW would like to thank and acknowledge the significant contributions made by previous Committee members. It is through their motivation, experience and areas of expertise which have contributed to further build Circus WOW, which has allowed the Women of Wollongong to gain access to a fun and vibrant community of people.
Above is Ellen de Jong standing on the shoulders of Chantelle Pickett. But there are many shoulders to stand on for this Act. When Ellen couldn’t come to Viva La Gong, Jem worked on the act with Chantelle… reworked it in a bit of a different way. We now have two current versions – same costumes, different people. Credit goes to the original Strong (Wo)men Act was created by Libby, Gaetane and Jen Marshall. It has been performed with different people adding a different character to it each time including Jen Webster, Louise London, Ella Hogan.
2019 Committee: Ellen Curtis – Chair; President; Fran Curtis – Vice; Fiona McKay – Secretary; Ella Whyman – Treasurer; Ella Hogan – Public Officer; Libby Bloxham – Gigs Coordinator; Ella Whyman- Bookkeeper; Gabrielle Quigley, Tammy Davidson, Angela James, Sophia Belgrove and Helen Richards – committee members.
2018 Committee: Fiona MacKay – Chair; President; Gabrielle Quigley – Vice; Ellen Curtis – Secretary; Sharon Pusell – Treasurer; Ella Hogan – Public Officer; Libby Bloxham – Gigs Coordinator; Ella Whyman- Bookkeeper; Chantel Pickett, Angela James, Kobie Clifton – committee members.
2013 Committee: Ellen Curtis – President; Stacey Hansknecht – Vice president; Kate Clarkson – Secretary; Jen Webster – Treasurer; Ellen Dunn – Public Officer; Libby Bloxham – Performance and Outreach Coordinator; Ella Hogan, Helen Richards, Angela James – committee members.
A trained screen printer with Redback Graphics and mosaic artist Sharon has been a supporter of and contributor to the cultural development of Wollongong for many years, recently helping to organise the Love, Art, Music, Politics festival at Mt. Keira. She is also a seasoned social and political campaigner who has been involved in many campaigns such as those to improve the rights of women, the unemployed and refugees. Her daughter’s interest in circus classes many years ago alerted Sharon to the presence of WOW. However in wasn’t until 2015 that she joined a hoop class and became an active member. She has since joined the performance group but hoops are still her first love.