Neha Kale

is a Sydney-based writer and critic.

By this author

Culture September 30, 2023

Artist Josipa Draisma on Me and Daphne

When multidisciplinary artist Josipa Draisma was researching the history of migrant women working in Australian factories, she came across Martha Ansara’s 1977 film Me and Daphne – and found her grandmother.

Culture September 16, 2023

Sarah Giles on the cartoon Ren & Stimpy

A childhood love of Ren & Stimpy allowed award-winning theatre director Sarah Giles to see that creating art from the silly and absurd is an act of bravery.

Culture September 02, 2023

Trent Parke on the music of Max Richter

Max Richter’s haunting and expansive compositions became the soundtrack for Magnum photographer Trent Parke’s latest work, Monument.

Culture August 19, 2023

Mark Isaacs

Leonard Bernstein’s virtuosity as a musician and composer – and his courage – was an early model for Mark Isaacs.

Culture August 12, 2023


In charting the disintegration of grand historical narratives, Newell Harry’s new exhibition, Esperanto, reclaims forms of knowledge that are fragmented, fleeting and overlooked.

Culture August 05, 2023

Laura Woollett

The emotional immediacy and complexity of Ennio Morricone’s iconic score for The Good, the Bad and the Ugly opens possibilities in Laura Woollett’s work.

Culture July 22, 2023

Suzie Miller

Internationally acclaimed playwright Suzie Miller first discovered the power of theatre to knit conflicting realities in Robert Lepage’s The Far Side of the Moon.

Culture July 08, 2023

Danny Estrin

From listening to triple j as a Perth teenager to Eurovision stardom, the metal band Type O Negative has always been there for Voyager’s Danny Estrin.

Culture June 24, 2023

Robin Fox

When audiovisual artist Robin Fox attended an AC/DC concert in his teens, the viscerality of the experience changed his relationship to sound.

Culture June 10, 2023

Marc Fennell

For broadcaster Marc Fennell, the cult hit Donnie Darko opened up the dark ambiguities of ordinary life.

Culture May 27, 2023

Shelley Lasica

Accomplished choreographer Shelley Lasica’s fascination with temporality has been nourished by the Nicolas Roeg film Bad Timing, with its loops, missed communications and lost possibilities.

Culture May 13, 2023

Artist Mithu Sen

Mithu Sen, one of India’s most acclaimed contemporary artists, brings the linguistic mischief of a poet to her visual work.

Culture May 13, 2023

Paul Capsis

Singer and actor Paul Capsis is inspired by the damaged beauty of Kurt Weill’s music, a signature of the Weimar Republic.

Culture April 29, 2023

Ben Cobham

New York artist Gordon Matta-Clark’s radical imaginings of space and light showed designer Ben Cobham how to reveal what is often unnoticed or discarded.

Culture April 15, 2023

Simon Laherty on Britney Spears

Britney Spears’ lifelong struggle for respect and autonomy strikes a deep chord for Back to Back Theatre ensemble member Simon Laherty.

Culture April 01, 2023

Matthew Thorne and Derik Lynch

The cross-cultural friendship between award-winning filmmakers Matthew Thorne and Derik Lynch has deep echoes of Rolf de Heer and David Gulpilil in the making of Charlie’s Country.

Culture March 18, 2023

Zahra Newman

For celebrated actor Zahra Newman, Louise Bennett’s iconic collection of poems, Jamaica Labrish, is a reminder of the power of owning your own history.

Culture March 04, 2023

Alethea Beetson

The meta-commentary of the Scream horror franchise showed theatre-maker Alethea Beetson how to bring colonisation into a frame that’s both hilarious and vicious.

Culture February 18, 2023

Lally Katz

For playwright Lally Katz, David Lynch’s excavation of the strangeness of ordinary suburbia pointed the way to her own uncanny work.

Culture February 04, 2023

The Huxleys

The sense of danger in the performances of queer icon Leigh Bowery is an ongoing inspiration for artist duo The Huxleys.

Culture January 21, 2023

Pixy Liao

An emotionally honest image by Finnish photographer Elina Brotherus inspired Pixy Liao to step away from her upbringing and explore her creative options.

Culture December 10, 2022

Hannah Diviney

When writer and disability advocate Hannah Diviney first encountered the songs of Taylor Swift as a young girl, she discovered the power of storytelling and how to imagine a different future.

Culture November 26, 2022

S. Shakthidharan

Theatre-maker S. Shakthidharan draws on the great Sanskrit epic poem the Mahābhārata as an enduring wellspring for his art.

Culture November 12, 2022

Lisa Hilli

Meeting Yolŋu master weaver Mavis Warrngilna Ganambarr was a transformational moment for artist Lisa Hilli.

Culture October 29, 2022

Matthias Schack-Arnott

John Cage’s groundbreaking philosophical writings about sound are an abiding inspiration for percussionist Matthias Schack-Arnott.

Culture October 15, 2022

Lee Serle

Lee Serle’s passion for multidisciplinary performance was kindled when he saw the modern ballet Field Figures by choreographer and dancer Glen Tetley.

Culture October 01, 2022

Ewan McEoin

For curator Ewan McEoin, Bruce Mau’s book Massive Change opened a new perspective on the very definition of design.

Culture September 17, 2022

Greg Lehman

For art historian Greg Lehman, a colonial painting by Benjamin Duterrau reveals Tasmania’s duplicitous treatment of First Nations people.

Culture September 03, 2022

Edward Burtynsky

Caspar David Friedrich’s unsettling vision of the sublime is a key inspiration for Edward Burtynsky’s chronicles of human destruction of the natural world.

Culture August 20, 2022

Leticia Cáceres

The delicate empathy of Iranian director Asghar Farhadi inspires Leticia Cáceres’s own exploration of family dilemmas.

Culture August 20, 2022


The Gold Coast’s BLEACH* festival demonstrates the increasing cultural richness of regional centres.

Culture August 06, 2022

Gordon Hookey

Gordon Hookey’s epic series MURRILAND! was inspired by Congolese artist Tshibumba Kanda-Matulu’s rewriting of colonial history.

Culture July 23, 2022

Allison Chhorn

How memory is embodied in the works of German artist Eva Hesse speaks deeply to Cambodian–Australian artist Allison Chhorn.

Culture July 09, 2022

Andrea Battistoni

A rising star on the international music scene, conductor Andrea Battistoni looks to Hieronymus Bosch’s The Garden of Earthly Delights for divine inspiration.

Culture June 25, 2022

Rhys Nicholson

The style, wit and intelligence of Elaine Stritch have been beacons for comedian Rhys Nicholson.

Culture June 11, 2022

Eryn-Jean Norvill

Eryn-Jean Norvill’s powerhouse performance in The Picture of Dorian Gray leans heavily on raw intuition emboldened by the unconventional works of German musician Nils Frahm.

Culture May 28, 2022

Jimi Bani

A book of Torres Strait Island legends illustrated by his grandfather inspired Jimi Bani to discover his heritage.

Culture May 14, 2022

Gary Abrahams

For director and playwright Gary Abrahams, the physical expressiveness of Pina Bausch’s dance theatre work Café Müller is a revelation.

Culture April 30, 2022

Richard Tognetti

A viewing of Solaris as a child introduced Australian Chamber Orchestra artistic director Richard Tognetti to the power of music in film.

The Influence April 16, 2022

Hamilton’s Alex Lacamoire

Hamilton’s Cuban–American musical director, Alex Lacamoire, has drawn inspiration from Frédéric Chopin since he was a child.

Culture March 19, 2022

Rīvus, the 23rd Biennale of Sydney

Imaginative and quietly radical, rīvus, the 23rd edition of the Biennale of Sydney, collapses the hierarchy between nature and culture.

Culture November 27, 2021

Author and artist Shubigi Rao

Shubigi Rao’s unclassifiable writing and visual art wryly unpack the disappearances of Empire.

Culture November 13, 2021

In the fibre of her being

A poignant Western Sydney exhibition demands we pay attention to visions that women have long made material.

Culture May 22, 2021

Artist Maria Fernanda Cardoso

For the past three decades, artist Maria Fernanda Cardoso has blurred the line between the natural world and human artifice, demanding that we look more closely at nature.

Culture February 13, 2021

Know My Name

Know My Name, a thrilling exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia, pays tribute to the radical achievements of Australian women artists – while reminding us that representation is only the beginning of structural change.

Culture October 17, 2020

José Roca, artistic director of the 23rd Sydney Biennale

In his first interview since his appointment, celebrated Colombian curator José Roca speaks about bringing a sense of radical urgency to his new role. “I intend to look for practices that are already under way and let the biennale be a catalyst for the process. One of my guiding principles is to build upon what is already built.”

Culture August 08, 2020

Wiradyuri conceptual artist Amala Groom

For Amala Groom, making art is a collaboration between herself and her Wiradyuri ancestors. Drawing on her history and culture, as well as her legal training, she seeks to subvert the colonial project. “Colonialism affects all of us … To be change agents we have to be inclusive, and Aboriginal culture is inclusive.”

Visual Art November 16, 2019

Japan supernatural

Japan supernatural, the new blockbuster exhibition at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, celebrates the transient nature of existence while challenging the unseen forces that shape our lives.

Culture July 13, 2019

Artist Michael Armitage

With his bold, sumptuous paintings, Michael Armitage is intent on challenging colonial assumptions about East Africa and revealing the region’s complexities. “Sex, poverty and dictators: if you are talking about this part of the world, you always come up against those stereotypes and that’s been very difficult … For me, it’s been important to use an exotic language but show that it is also a form of dumbing down.”

Culture April 20, 2019

Artist Janet Laurence and the cost of living

Artist Janet Laurence explores the relationship between the metaphysical and the physical by giving voice to our fraught but soul-deep relationship with the world in which we live. “My first review read, ‘Janet Laurence deals with nature and the dark side of life and this is not where a woman should be.’ ” She dissolves into peals of laughter. “It was a female writer!”

Visual Art December 01, 2018

9th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art

The 9th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art in Brisbane eschews the Western art world’s reliance on checkbox diversity in favour of genuine immersion in our region.