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Meet our Season 3 Protostars 🎉
We searched high and low for 30 of the coolest passion projects across Australia and Aotearoa – so allow us to introduce you to our Season 3 Protostars!!
Belief is at the core of everything we do.
We believe in the wildest hearts.
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The wildest ideas.
And we support those hearts and ideas to create passion projects that can shape cultures, communities, and identities.
At the Foundation, Protostars is how we manifest and turn that belief into something tangible. We do this by investing in creative young people with passion projects, supporting them on their creative journey, and sharing their stories to inspire more young people to be creative.
From community gardens to co-living experiments to queer theatre shows and photographic series, we’ve funded over 80 creative projects across Australia and Aotearoa. And this year, we’re raising our ambitions by running more cohorts throughout the year!
We’re excited to introduce you to the first 30 passion projects for 2023:
Tyler Bain is a filmmaker from Melbourne and has been working as a filmmaker for the last six years. Tyler is producing a short documentary titled “Territory.” It’s about a proposed transmission tower route slated to begin construction later this year. Once construction begins, it will run through the Lerderberg State Park, significantly affecting the local flora and fauna. https://www.instagram.com/tylerbainofficialfanpage/?hl=en
Temaana Sanderson-Bromley is a young Aboriginal man from the Flinders Ranges, Yorke Peninsula and the Simpson Desert. He runs his own clothing business called Mardlaapa Designs. Temaana will produce his first run of board shorts made from recycled plastics for his passion project. A portion of the profits from the sale of the boardies will be donated to ocean conservation charities. https://www.instagram.com/mardlaapa_designs/?next=%2F
Samuel Drown is working alongside Thomas Walker to create an alternative to social media that makes every month memorable. Their platform is called Memento. The idea is that once a month, you pause to reflect on your month and share your thoughts with your close friends. The platform combines all of these and turns them into a community-sourced digital zine just for you. https://www.mementopublications.com/
Russell He is a third-year uni student with an interest in creative coding and the intersection of art with STEM. His passion project, called Strange Attractors, is a visual exploration of the creative outputs of mathematics. In particular, Russell is diving into a form of differential dynamical systems called strange attractors, which output beautiful graphs that reflect their chaotic states. https://linkedin.com/in/russellhe/
Riannah Burns’s ambition is to influence capital allocation at scale towards social impact. How? Through investing and spreading ideas using her platform Good Young Money. Good Young Money uses ideas and insights to build a better world by sharing timeless lessons from finance and philosophy to inspire new and different ideas. Riannah plans to build Good Young Money into a perpetual capital vehicle funding social impact. https://www.goodyoungmoney.com
Milind Bordia is an electrical and computer engineering student who loves all things Formula 1. For his passion project, Milind and his friends are combining their love of engineering, sustainability and Formula 1 with building and developing a go-kart powered by sustainable energy sources and built out of unused and discarded materials. Milind hopes this project will be an example of how to repurpose materials that would otherwise go to waste and give them a new life. https://www.youtube.com/@gokartgang8576
Michele Gould is a Thai Australian writer, composer and performer inspired by the diverse heroes of today. Sick of stale stereotyped, Michele created “107” – a fun and fierce homegrown punk-rock musical celebrating young people's resilience. For their Protostar project, Michele aims to record and properly produce the music they wrote into an album, “Ribbons in our Hair”, so that it can be available on all streaming platforms. https://www.instagram.com/itsmichelegould/
Mariah Alatipi is an emerging interdisciplinary artist and creative entrepreneur that champions positive social and environmental impact. As someone who identifies as a third-generation Samoan immigrant from Aotearoa and queer person of colour, Mariah advocates for authentic self-expression and intersectional identities. Mariah is creating a zine by queer POC creatives for a creative queer POC called Psyche. https://www.instagram.com/fobmoves/
Marcel Qayoom-Taylor loves creating content, coding projects, cooking and climate action. He’s been coding since he was young and is not studying software engineering. As an avid home cook, Marcel often finds himself with random ingredients in his pantry or fridge and has no idea what to do with them. That’s why he’s creating a mobile app, Pantry Pal, where users can create a stocktake of their pantries and fridges and get recommended recipes to cook based on the ingredients they log. Marcel hopes this app reduces food waste and helps people with daily routines. https://www.linkedin.com/in/marcelqayoomtaylor/
Lucy Wylie is a queer emerging artist and writer from Sydney. Lucy and their friend Hannah are passionate about celebrating Australian-based emerging writers with a connection to nature and have started a new quarterly online journal called Riverstone Literary Journal. Through Riverstone, Lucy and Hannah hope to celebrate writers who identify as queer, First Nations, BIPOC or belong to underrepresented or diverse groups and writers who are differently abled. https://www.riverstonelit.com/
Lotte Sweeney is writing a script for their graduating short film “Gremlins.” The film is a look into bartenders and their drinking and social culture. Lotte hopes to recreate the intoxicating, addicting and sometimes damaging atmosphere of late-night hospitality work. Born in Adelaide and now living in Melbourne, Lotte is a film student with a passion for directing short film dramas centred around people and relationships. Her goal is to become an employed director of narrative storytelling. https://www.instagram.com/_parkinglott/
Liam Milner (aka Luna Tunes) is a Melbourne artist passionate about collaborative community art projects. With the help of 30+ artists, Luna Tunes has created a book called “PORTAL.” Each turn of the page is a portal to a new world, each created by different artists. With the Protostars grant, Liam aims to get this book printed and distributed! https://www.instagram.com/loonatoons/?hl=en
Leila Harris is a composer, soprano, pianist, flautist and writer. Their music draws upon their eclectic training and influences to blur the genre constraints of classical, contemporary and theatre music. Leila’s passion project is “Plain Bad Heroine”, – a queer feminist podcast opera aiming to subvert traditional female operant roles. “Plain Bad Heroine” is a feminist reimagining of the Faust legend, in which a woman pursuing love and knowledge deals with the devil to overcome the barriers she faces. https://www.instagram.com/leila_harris27/?hl=en
Jessie Xue is a final-year biomedicine student passionate about translational research and MedTech. Jessie’s passion project is a wet lab-based project which aims to create synthetic microRNA circuits which interface with endogenous microRNAs for desired outputs such as phenotype recognition or apoptosis in the application of cancer. https://www.linkedin.com/in/jess-xue-3455a024
Jessica Tanto feels there isn’t much room to question the cultural rules and beliefs regulating their day-to-day behaviours. Growing up in Java, Jessica was surrounded by local spiritual practices and elite well-being yoga clubs. She became curious about the appropriation of Indigenous spiritual knowledge within the wellness industry. Jessica’s passion project is “Mega Yoga”, an imaginary satirical yoga lineage that uses humour to reflect upon the issues within the well-being industry. https://www.instagram.com/jessicatanto/
Jennifer Cheuk is a linguistics and English literature graduate finishing their Masters in Creative Writing. She’s also the Editor-in-Chief and Founder of the independent print magazine Rat World. Rat World is an independent print magazine and collective showcasing underground and underrepresented creatives in our community. Inspired by old-school New York punk and Comix magazines, Rat World is all about bringing back the community spirit of old-school print publications. Rat World also publishes individual zines from contributors, provides mentorship opportunities and organises community events. https://www.ratworldmag.com/
Jack Zimmerman and Archie Hancock are producing a 15-minute short film called “KINDLING.” It explores the complex relationship between a mother and her 8-year-old daughter who loot the houses of recently evacuated houses during a devastating bushfire. When they stumble upon a seemingly abandoned baby in an empty house, they are faced with a life-altering choice: take her or leave her. Inspired by Jack’s co-writers’ experiences during the bushfires, we wanted to go beyond the usual stereotype of a ‘looter’ by characterising our characters as empathetic individuals facing uniquely stressful situations. “KINDLING” explores the devastating effects of bushfires and the power of family. https://www.linkedin.com/in/jack-zimmerman-04136a194/
Ivan Medrano is a digital designer interested in Gen Z engagements with the Metaverse. Ivan sees the Metaverse as a platform to empower marginalised artists, as it liberates people from the limitations of physical restriction. Ivan is creating a digital fashion magazine with rendered editorials, articles, and layout design. Through the magazine, Ivan’s goal is to show the world how Metaverse art could be used to empower creatives at the margins and what would be possible if we dissolved the borders around art engagement and valued Metaverse art as a catalyst for diversity, empowerment, and artistic equality. https://www.instagram.com/ivvnvvi/
India Birrell is collecting, recording and artistic presentation of the lived stories of female leaders from various areas of society, a rejuvenated desert island disc for millennials. India has been lucky to have strong female role models who have opened up about their personal and professional experiences to guide, educate, and empathise with their current experiences. By recording these stories and sharing them through a visual-audio medium, India hopes to establish a portal for young women who can leverage the teachings of other generations as a source of strength and knowledge.
Emma Tam is a writer and tattoo artist based in Adelaide. She is passionate about the intersection of art and mental health. Her personal and professional passions centre around her belief in the power of art to facilitate human connection and emotional expression. Emma’s passion project is to research and formulate their own theories about art's role in the grief process. In particular, Emma wants to learn more about how tattoos as a ritual can facilitate the meaning-making in constructivist theories of grieving-- simultaneously approaching this from a therapy/counselling perspective and art theory/ritual/artistic process on the other end. https://instagram.com/stickandpoetry
Ella Kolomyjec is an avid advocate for mental health recovery and innovative approaches to well-being. As a Season 2 Alumni, Ella first launched her magazine, FORTH, last year and has since continued releasing new editions. As the project continues to grow, Ella is looking to create more resources, a community and channels for mental health education. This year, Ella hopes to create an interactive online space where people can access these resources anywhere and anytime, with a constantly evolving network of practitioners and specialists topics. https://forth-mind.com
Claudia Elbourne is a twenty-year-old emerging artist with experience acting, writing, stage managing, directing and designing, and a traditional artist who makes comics and commissions. Claudia is producing a short film that she has written called “How to Eat the Sun.” It explores grief and friendship as a young adult and how these things can shape the people we become. Claudia is producing this film through her company, Little Spirits Productions – a company focused on making passionate work and providing hands-on experience to young creatives. As someone who identifies as disabled and queer, these experiences heavily contribute to Claudia’s focus on inclusivity and accessibility. https://www.instagram.com/littlespiritsproductions/
Chiharu Valentino is an emerging multidisciplinary dance artist based in Naarm and is passionate about collaborating with dance and screen to create theatrical works that interrogate our world's evolving relationship with technology, especially within marginalised communities. Their passion project is a dance performance/ritual within a club setting that will involve over 40+ screens (phones/laptops etc.) that play synchronised screen work. The screens will shine brightly within the darkness of a club space that is the 'church' connecting lineages of young marginalised folk. https://instagram.com/chiharuvalentino
Betty Zhang is the co-founder and CEO of the Melbourne Bioinnovation Student Initiative, which supports young med-tech innovators in multidisciplinary project teams to solve unmet needs in healthcare. Betty’s passion project is “The Lab Academy” – a globally distributed, locally implemented educational program to deliver an industry-recognised digital credential in the emerging field of synthetic biology and its applications. https://www.linkedin.com/in/shuyunzhang/
Ayah Darwich is an emerging artist experimenting with filmmaking, performance, and visual arts. She is especially passionate about film and media, currently acting as a director for ZORA Productions, a company run by POC centred around the diverse experience of womanhood. Ayah is creating a photo series of Arab people in her community, inspired by the themes of brotherhood from a 1993 cult classic, ‘Blood In, Blood Out.’ The photo series will be paired with an article and an interview feature. https://instagram.com/zoraproductions
Antony Tatkovic is creating an affordable, roadworthy, electric motorcycle through the conversion of a bike with an internal combustion engine (ICE). Electric motorcycles are either unattractive, cost $50k, or only travel 30km. At the same time, perfectly good bike frames are often wrecked due to problems with the ICE, which is expensive to replace. Through the conversion of a wrecked bike, Antony can affordably maintain the character of the original motorcycle (solving the appeal factor) and, hopefully, solve the range problem with gearing efficiency. Antony plans to write a manual documenting the process and create a conversion kit.
Annie Henwood is based in the Goondiwindi region in Queensland with a passion for making change within the mental health sector across Australia. For her passion project, Annie runs the “Pieces of the Mind” podcast – a rural mental health podcast that helps shine a light on the mental health of those residing in rural and regional Australia. Since starting the podcast two and a half years ago, Annie now has a total of 13,500 listeners. The podcast covers topics such as depression, anxiety, grief, baby loss, success, failures and much more. https://instagram.com/piecesofthemindpodcast?igshid=YmMyMTA2M2Y=
Anh Van is exploring the theme of lost identity among the different ethnic groups in Vietnam. This issue is especially relevant given the country's history of colonisation and war, which has resulted in the loss of many cultural traditions and practices. Through this project, they aim to create a body of art and an interactive website to highlight the 63 different identities of different Vietnamese ethnicities that are at risk of being forgotten or erased. https://www.instagram.com/vanavanawan/
Alana Liebelt is creating a fully functioning battle bot. Simply put, it is a remote-controlled robot designed to combat another battle bot with the goal of being the last one standing. Alana’s battle bot will look, feel, function and assemble just like the real deal, only sized down to fit the budget and Alana’s knowledge base. Alana loves that the project combines so many fields, stretching from software design right through to physical construction, and leaves so much room for her to expand her current knowledge base and develop her passions into a tangible product.
Abby Shen is an aspiring film photographer passionate about capturing candid street portraiture and the interactions between humans and the physical, built and natural world. Abby’s passion project is a stand-alone website with two parts: interviews with a diverse range of Asian Australians and a database of resources focusing on identity exploration. Abby wants this project to represent everyday Asian Australians and showcase all the amazing things they are up to as individuals. https://www.quietachievers.au
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