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The Big Anxiety top picks

The Big Anxiety Festival starts this week and runs until 11 November! With more than 60 events to choose from, you may be feeling a bit overwhelmed when thinking about what to see and when. So here’s a list of exciting and interesting picks to get you started.

Awkward Conversations

Embracing the awkwardness of human conversation, this program offers a unique opportunity for intimate one-on-one conversations in experimental formats, tackling anxieties, debilitating habits and hard-to-talk-about subjects like mental health. (Customs House, 24 and 27 September.)

The NeurodiversCity Hub

The Hub will showcase works and accessible tours of artists including:
Thom and Angelmouse – Rush Hour at Cloud Heaven 
Rush Hour at Cloud Heaven presents a railway infrastructure fantasy where Sydney trains are personified, taking on characteristics of the artist’s friends to explore Thom’s deep and at times conflicted affection for trains.

Dawn-Joy Leong’s Clement Space in the City
You are invited to discover small, peaceful, accessible sensory pockets replete with multi-textured embellishments. Tulle and organza curtains shield from the frenetic; eclectic wall dressings invite soothing tactile engagement; hideaway cocoons and netted tents furnished with blankets, pillows, and cushions wordlessly beckon. Once inside, these miniature enclosures transform into personalised, intimate apertures of respite.

Dawn-Joy Leong and Theodore Michael E’s An Olfactory Map of Sydney
An Olfactory Map of Sydney (2017) is a set of three whimsical video-monologues about hyper-sensorial journeys across Sydney on public buses.

(Customs House, Mon – Fri: 10am to 7pm, Sat and Sun: 11am to 4pm)

Diversity of Perception

This free seminar will open discussions on making art with, by and for people who have complex needs, embracing rights, personalisation and the rich narrative territory of difference. (AD Space, UNSW Art and Design, Paddington Campus, 22 September 2 -5pm)

Debra Keenahan

Debra stars in Awkward Conversations with audio described sessions on 24 Sept (11am-1pm). She’ll also have her work installed at MAAS (Powerhouse Museum) and there is an audio described and tactile tour of this Saturday 28 October 11am-12pm.


Snoösphere is a responsive sensory environment to roam, touch and explore.  Created by Lull Studios, employing autistic artists’ insight into hyper-sensitivity, Snoösphere engages all of the senses using playful spatial and intelligent design. (Ground Floor, UNSW Galleries, Art & Design, Paddington Campus20 September – 11 November, 10am — 5pm)

Parragirls: Past, Present

Unlocking memories of institutional ‘care’. Parragirls Past, Present is a deeply moving immersive experience, presenting former residents’ visions of the Parramatta Girls Home today. (20 September – 11 November, UNSW Art and Design and out at Parramatta.)


Clive Parkinson’s powerful performance-presentation, dis/ordered is a moving exploration of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), fueled by the conviction that what psychiatry describes as ‘disorder’, may in fact be a legitimate response to the chaos of life. (Veolia Theatre, Museum of Contemporary Art, 23 Sept: 2pm-3pm, 27 September, 6.30pm-7.30pm – this performance will be Auslan interpreted)

Check out the Big Anxiety Festival Access Program for more.