Yearly Round-Up: Wheeler Centre Staff 2022 Favourites
Before we say farewell to 2022, we’re sharing a list of some of the things Wheeler Centre staff have loved reading, seeing, watching, listening to and more this year, from books to theatre, talks, music and even…memes.
Daniel Coghlan, Head of Digital and Marketing
2022 delivered so many highlights. A new Beyoncé album, a second series of The White Lotus (with an iconic theme remix) and the first full RISING festival.
Following a bit of a reading slump at the end of 2021, some of this year’s releases I simply couldn’t put down included Paul Dalla Rosa’s An Exciting and Vivid Inner Life, Kirstin Chen’s Counterfeit, Yumna Kassab’s The Lovers and Emily St John Mandel’s Sea of Tranquility. The Wheeler Centre’s Spring Fling also inspired me to re-read Helen Garner’s The Children’s Bach, Natasha Brown’s Assembly and Andrew Sean Greer’s Less, which only deepened my appreciation for each of these works. While I tried to cull my cookbook collection, two of this year’s highlight purchases were Nornie Bero’s Mabu Mabu and Julia Busuttil Nishimura’s Around the Table.
Selina Moir-Wilson, Venue and Office Coordinator
Most of my favourite books this year were comics. Michael Deforge encourages us to dream of better futures in Birds of Maine, his graphic epic about a socialist bird utopia on the moon. Tommi Parrish’s Men I Trust is a beautifully hand-painted depiction of how relationships function under precarity. The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For by Alison Bechdel is a staunch and hilarious queer historical document – a great balm against the rising tide of rainbow capitalism.
Poetry! angel wings dumpster fire by Panda Wong and Leave Me Alone by Harry Reid were both bangers. I read Eileen Myles’s selected poems alongside Dear Eileen, by Gareth Morgan, a poetry book written in letters addressed to Eileen Myles. I can’t recommend that duo strongly enough.
Two final things, both awe-inspiring: Mishou Magazine, an all-ages art mag that focuses on intergenerational collaboration; and Fire of Love (2022) which sparked a volcano obsession in me and everyone I know who’s seen it.
Diem Nguyen, Programme Administrator
Reading Tracey Lien’s All That’s Left Unsaid felt like looking into a mirror because I was forced to confront my Vietnamese-Australian identity. Gabrielle Zevin’s Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow is a devastating story about video games, friendship and love and it broke my heart. Bolu Babalola is one of my favourite people on Twitter and her debut novel Honey & Spice, a frothy campus rom-com, did not disappoint.
K-pop always delivers, and my most-played song is the light and dreamy B-side track ‘Hype Boy’ by rookie girl group NewJeans.
I adored the heart-fluttering and nostalgic Korean film 20th Century Girl which is about first love and complicated female friendships. But hands-down my favourite film of the year is the wacky and wonderful Everything Everywhere All at Once.
Xanthea O’Connor, Special Projects Administrator
When I wasn’t trying to compost the scraps from my very-adult fortnightly vegetable box, reinvesting time into the nostalgia tsunami generated by Rollercoaster Tycoon 3 and convincing anyone who’d listen that Monopoly Deal is the best card game ever invented, I read some books.
This All Come Back Now (University of Queensland Press), edited by Mykaela Saunders, is a phenomenal collection of speculative fiction by First Nations writers. Saunders’ introduction to the collection is an illuminating contextualisation for what’s to come and each story has remained with me through the year.
Else Fitzgerald’s Everything Feels Like The End of the World (Allen & Unwin) starts as a story eerily familiar, only to abruptly change gear midway and careen into terrifying, unknown places. Short stories describe the process of an apocalypse in Melbourne, where I was caught between wanting to shield my eyes and stay up all night to finish it. Brutal, compelling reading.
It’s thrilling to see more experimental non-fiction and hybrid works being published locally and Eloise Grills’s Big Beautiful Female Theory (Affirm Press) is no exception. Every page is a gorgeous, colourful wave of funny, smart and ugly.
Madison Pawle, Venue and Office Coordinator
For two whole weeks I listened to almost nothing but ‘salmon cannon me into the abyss’, on my commutes from home to work and back again – a five-track collaborative poetry EP by Panda Wong. Listening to Panda read her work to a soundtrack of pearl extraction, orchestra tuning, cicadas, a clicking mouse and shimmering is so special, and I am obsessed with the way Panda makes mystery and grief and love into the strangest and most beautiful images: the world’s last polar bear forlornly waving from a melting ice floe, a swarm of wasps in a trench coat furtively pretending to be a human. I also loved this talk by Jackie Wang from 2020 (actually, the whole RIBOCA talks program is great) on the psychoanalytic concept of ‘oceanic feeling’ and how it might translate into more collective modes of living – Jackie is so smart and gentle to listen to. On a similar note, throughout the year Another World library intermittently ran a reading group focussed around imagining socially and ecologically just futures which I loved – reading collectively like this was new to me, and so thought-provoking and nourishing.
Veronica Sullivan, Head of Programming
I loved Bernadette Brennan’s expansive immersion in the life and immeasurable influence of one of our most generous and luminously talented writers, Leaping into Waterfalls: The Enigmatic Gillian Mears. Colson Whitehead’s Harlem Shuffle is a cinematic and witty crime caper; the sequel, Crook Manifesto, is out in July next year. Jazz Money’s stunning poems in how to make a basket are powerfully tender and alert to the living world. Maggie Shipstead’s Great Circle is sweeping historical fiction par excellence, a globe-spanning portrait of enigmatic lady pilot Marian Graves.
I saw Wicked on Broadway and wow, justice for Elphaba. My BFFs Dolly Alderton and Caroline O’Donoghue revived their Sentimental in the City podcast so I could snort-laugh with them over And Just Like That….
I rewatched The Lord of the Rings trilogy this year with my sister – her first viewing, my eleventy-first. Then I devoured the flawed but sumptuous Rings of Power series. And THEN I got really into LOTR memes. Help. Other onscreen highlights: the magnificently bonkers, three-hour long Tollywood action/superhero/colonial revenge fantasy RRR; the pitch-perfect Heartbreak High revival (star Chloé Hayden’s speech about autistic representation at Lightbulb Moments was the first but definitely not the last time I cried during Spring Fling); the sheer, queer joy of Our Flag Means Death. Speaking of pirates: Return to Monkey Island came out this year on International Talk Like a Pirate Day, and it is perfect. IYKYK.
Joe Toohey, Head of Finance
Cleopatra And Frankenstein by Coco Mellors and Best of Friends by Kamila Shamsie topped my reading list in 2022. Throughout the year, I also made quick work of Joshua Williamson and Gleb Melnikov’s Robin series; Chip Zdarsky and Carmine Di Giandomenico’s Batman: The Knight; and Mariko Tamaki’s run on Detective Comics.
New albums I had on highest rotation in 2022 were f.e.a.r by Stand Atlantic and Camp Cope’s Running with the Hurricane. The Picture of Dorian Gray at RISING/Sydney Theatre Company was number one on my theatre list, with honourable mentions to Hamilton as well as The Return at the Malthouse.
Finally, on the telly, Saturday mornings with my six-year-old were at their best when we were watching Obi-Wan Kenobi together, whilst the second season of Only Murders in the Building was as enjoyable as the first.
Michelle Tyson Clark, General Manager
Freedom, Only Freedom and re-reading No Friend But The Mountains in anticipation and preparation for Behrouz Boochani’s live in-conversation at the Capitol. I feel so fortunate to be involved in this event.
The Future is Funghi by Michael Lim and Yun Shu – gifted by a friend who understands my obsession with wild mushroom foraging.
Haruki Murakami’s What I Talk About When I Talk About Running – ‘this is the most pointless book ever’, said one reviewer. Devoured it in one hit, bought my own copy, read it again.
My copy of Patti Smith’s A Book of Days is on the way, thanks to my daughter who has excellent taste. I’m not on Instagram, on which much of this glorious book is based, but am very happy with the analogue version.
The Bear – the very frequent and shouty arguing is INTENSE and at times hard to sit through but Jeremy Allen White is brilliant and I can’t wait for series two.
On repeat for much of 2022 was Mr. Maserati – Best Of Baxter Dury 2001–2021. He is so cool. Also, PJ Harvey: B-Sides, Demos and Rarities, Fontaines D.C. Skinty Fia and Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever Endless Rooms. When I need to unwind I either go for a run (see Murakami above) or cook, probably mung bean dahl or attempting kimchi from Billy Law’s Little Korea: Iconic dishes and cult recipes while listening to early 70s Rolling Stones, early to mid-70s Led Zeppelin or Beethoven.
Natalie Williams, Digital and Marketing Administrator
In 2022, I found myself re-examining the way I spent time. I was tripping over my lack of a work-life balance and found myself returning to my simple pleasures. My favourite being big emotions explored in lyrically witty songs with punchy-pop rock guitar accompaniments.
Throughout the year, I explored Lizzo’s Special, Yungblud’s eponymous latest album, The Amazing Devil’s The Horror and the Wild and even Taylor Swift’s Midnights, but my favourite has been the new album from The 1975, Being Funny in a Foreign Language.
Before the recent Tiktokification of The 1975’s lead singer-songwriter Matty Healy, I had loved the pop rock band for many years. I first fell in love with their 2016 album, I like it when you sleep for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it, and had taken a deep dive into their debut album not long after. Since then, I saw them live in 2019 when they toured Australia and found myself using their discography as a soundtrack for different eras in my own life.
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