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Plush Magic


Plush Magic, a.k.a. Madeleine Cleeve Gerkens, is a textile artist, disability activist and community arts practitioner from Naarm (Melbourne). Plush Magic builds soft sculptures and toys, and facilitates toy-making workshops for people of all ages and abilities. Plush Magic’s textile practice focuses on the therapeutic underpinning of hand sewing, textile and touch. By bringing toys into the exhibition space, Plush Magic subverts the often-unrecognized value of toys in our society. Her works have been shown at No Vacancy Gallery, Rubicon ARI, fortyfivedownstairs, Brunswick St Gallery, Gertrude St Projection Festival Mini, Schoolhouse Studios and more.

Is there a topic or issue that you wished we all talked about more openly?

Disability and access. 15% of people in the world are disabled, yet the disabled community pretty much gets radio silence in the fight for equality. Many well-meaning people are still too scared to even say the word “disability,” let alone understand how to be a proactive ally to the community. I want conversations about accessibility to be normalised and the inclusion of disabled people to be championed. I think fostering accessibility in the arts is a great place to start.

If you had the chance, what’s something you’d like to tell your 16 year-old self?

I'd whip out a whole bunch of clichés—it really does get better after high school; you’re weird now, which means you’ll be cool as an adult; you don’t want to be Emma, you want to make out with her; trying hard at things is cool!

What's something you'd like to see in your dream locker room?

Respect, kindness, accountability and a comfortable chair.

Can you talk us through one of the challenges you’ve faced during your career?

Balancing my disability and my work. Sewing can be very labour intensive and I have a tendency to get locked on and not take breaks when I’m working on a project. Finding the balance between rest and work is still very much a work in progress.

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