Riffing between artists, architects (& writers)

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I write or polish narratives for architects and designers from behind the scenes but when artist friend, Dave Hickson sent a link to MPavilion/Art Monthly Australia Writing Award, I couldn’t resist. It offered a nice change of pace and appealing rewards. The task was to explore one or more aspects of the relationship between art and design today in a proposal of no more than 200 words. Here is my (edited) entry.

As technology empowered architects to create buildings as sculptures — think Gehry, Hadid — the artist within design appeared set for extinction. There seemed no role for the artist beyond adorning public squares or forecourts with gleaming silver things — the same as extinction.

But a smattering of architects has long believed in working with artists. They welcome the artist into their space. They see the artist’s ability to impart rich cultural meaning to projects, and how their skills and knowledge can broaden design using digital media, 3D printing, parametric modelling. Yet no matter how sophisticated the technology, for designers, this interdisciplinary engagement is not about technology but handcraft.

Many of artworks featured in contemporary design are not add-ons and are integral to the structure. There’s a lot happening internationally with kinetic movement in facades. In Australia, some designer-commissioned artworks are not finite expressions. They take the form of plantings or LED and LCD displays. Many of are not add-ons but are integral to the structure.

Some artists ‘riff’ off the design brief receiving little instruction from the designers, and a few collaborate, deeply. Art in design has a heartbeat.

Marian Edmunds


Services pages @ heart of website

Designing destinations, new narratives

The Writing Business delivered copy for the new website of WATG

We recently completed web copy for WATG, one of the leading and most distinctive designers of destinations globally for leisure, hotel and mixed use properties.

Services pages are one of the most important sections of website, for a design group or any business. Potential clients will check service pages to see that you can provide them with what they need, even if the client does not yet know precisely what they need! It is also where you let clients know how you work.

We wrote seven services pages for WATG. The process involved a questionnaire and interviews with strategy and design chiefs (all over the world and all of whom were travelling) and several drafts where feedback was given and tweaks were made. We worked on the Basecamp project management app so that everyone involved could see and contribute to the project when needed.

We wrote copy for Strategy, Planning, Urban, Landscapes, Architecture, Interiors and Integrated Design. Here follows a few lines from the pages:

‘We are the storytellers of place, fitting together all the pieces of the land puzzle’

‘The strength of this model has always been and will always be in the personal connections made between people who unite in a place, and together create its story.’

‘Some of our most innovative spaces are created between buildings, in spaces where people gather and connect. Here is where they work, laugh, and play and where memories are made.’

‘Landscape is the physical expression of broad master planning vision at its most tangible.’

‘Working in an integrated practice, our dedicated design leaders, supported by discipline specialists and studio teams in WATG’s global network, free our clients from the pressures of sourcing, retaining and managing multiple consultants.’

“Our dynamic design process takes account of consumer and market trends and begins by articulating the guest journey.”

The WATG website is here. Probably best to grab a cuppa as the images are stunning. We have received great feedback on our work on the site. If you would like to discuss  your project please get in touch.

Marian Edmunds, The Writing Business

Proud to announce the release of Henry’s Battle

Henry's Battle. Read it now!When Gloria E. Swan found her father’s World War Two letters, she knew there was a story to tell. The result is Henry’s Battle and it is now launched in print and ebook versions.

We have worked with Gloria for more than two years, working through structural and line redrafts and edits and proofreading. Gloria had already put in several years of work. Her dedication to producing a book of the highest quality is a stand out and made it a pleasure to work with her to see the project through. Now, early readers are messaging to say “great read” and they “couldn’t stop reading’. Why not try it for yourself?

LAUNCHED APRIL 2014: HENRY’S BATTLE, Love and lives in conflict in World War Two By Gloria E. Swan

Henry has big plans, to play test cricket, and to do his 
bit in putting an end to World War Two. Leaving his matchmaking mother, and his home town of Murwillumbah, Henry sets off with on his mission to Cowra for basic training. There he meets Connie, the girl of his dreams. But Henry’s path to true love and world salvation is turbulent as he is posted to undertake dangerous intelligence duties in the Middle East and New Guinea. Again and again, Henry must choose between his career and his family. Inspired by the discovery by the author, Gloria E. Swan, of her father’s wartime letters, Henry’s Battle gives us a glimpse into the challenges faced by thousands of Australian families.

For information here is Gloria E. Swan’s website.

For more information about how we worked on Henry’s Battle and our editing services, get in touch.

Marian Edmunds


Is getting our work seen the greatest challenge of our times?

“The biggest communications challenge is in getting our work seen.” This wasn’t said to me by a young person starting, or someone in a fledgling firm, but by a leader in a successful international group. “If people see the strength and depth of our work then they will understand,” he said.

But how do we communicate the strength and depth of our work? This is the challenge for everyone, educators, writers, scientists, even for the highly successful whom you would expect to be visual and visible.

Talk about your differences.

You can, and probably should use or choose some of Twitter, blog, Facebook, Google +, Tumblr, and send out press releases (that are revealing of you and your work), and email your newest achievements to clients, associates, and friends (who will stick with you always, and recommend you for years to come!) All of this is part of your living portfolio. Some of it will help.

Marian Edmunds

Six. Every. Day.

Six. Every. Day. That’s how many suicides there are in Australia every day. Who are they? For one part of Australian society suicide almost never arose until 30 years ago. Who are they?

I was invited by Anne Summers to write this story about suicide, a topic I would never otherwise have covered. It is difficult and confronting for any of us even to think about it but perhaps by shining more light on the topic it may be possible to ease the great distress that leads many people to contemplate suicide. One person on average dies by suicide every 40 seconds somewhere in the world. In the US suicide has overtaken motor vehicle accidents.

The image in this story is the cover of Issue 5 of Anne Summers Reports. Please click through to subscribe (it’s free) to read my profile of suicide in Australia. It includes a personal story as well as interviews with Ian Webster, chairman of the Australian Suicide Prevention Advisory Council and Dr Diego de Leo, Director of the Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention at Griffith University.
Read too about the hope and assistance being given to Australian farmers through Farmers’ Nights Off and Farmers’ Networks and about financial counselling received at right time can steer may help to steer someone away from suicide.

IF YOU NEED TO TALK TO SOMEONE:                                                        Suicide Call Back Service (24 hours): 1300 659 467;                                            Lifeline (24 hours): 13 11 14                                                                            National Suicide Prevention Strategy                                                                         Kids Help Line for 5-25-year-olds: 1800 55 1800                                            Financial counselling                                                                                     beyondblue 1300 22 4636                                                                                  Sane  1800 18 7263                                                                                         Farmer Power                                                                                           International Suicide Hotlines


Marian Edmunds (The Writing Business)

The cost-benefit analysis of writing about difficult topics

Understanding tourism
Understanding tourism

Making complex topics clear for all.

Should we take on writing jobs that  are painfully complex, dry or draining, and just plain difficult? Or should we run a mile? It depends. If a topic is difficult to the point of being life ruining, then the writer nor the client will end up happy.                             I weighed  up recently whether to work on a feature about suicide for a new magazine. It’s not a cheerful topic, requiring considered interviews, deserving responsible coverage; and journalism offers a terrible rate of return on an hourly rate. Sure, let’s do that. The feature is going through more than one phase of research, interviews and writing.

At The Writing Business we look at each job on its merits. But sometimes we can’t immediately see the merits – such as the opportunity that came up at a PR party at a pub in an Earls Court held to promote Canada’s North Western Territories. There I met a man who led the world in crunching tourism income and costs into something called Tourism Satellite Accounting. It’s a system for how governments and industry measure tourism in the economy. I ended up writing short features and eventually several reports of 7,000 words that explained TSA in terms that officials and directors of tourism could understand and then explain themselves.
My preparation involved reading, comprehending and distilling a complex, and dry-as-crackling methodology and and analysis, as well as interviewing academics, the OECD, tourism officials and government statisticians then turning all of that into a report that was accurate and easily understood. At a global TSA conference delegates gratefully snatched them until they were all gone.

I’ve never made it to Canada’s spectacular North West  for a husky ride but from that one chat in the  pub I visited Nice, Santiago and Vancouver, all of which led to other experiences and opportunities. It also took me to Canberra where in a meeting at the Australian Bureau of Statistics, I asked for TSA reading recommendations. A few minutes later one of ABS representatives reappeared and handed me a report.

With a smile, I thanked him and said I had written the paper. For a while there I had cornered the market.

Marian Edmunds

Contact us about your writing project and we can assess the challenge.


Truth, Lies & Percentages

Increase your confidence in percentages by 100%

Mistakes are often made to obscure the truth. Do you know the difference between a percentage and a percentage point? It’s the kind of question you’d rather not be asked at a job interview.  Luckily, I was  prepped by a friend to expect this question at the Financial Times. It was also the only interview where I was asked about my high school math score. It never  came up at six  previous newspapers, not even at two I edited. It wasn’t something I was keen on talking about having dropped math early, and with my other exam results not being too hot.

I was being interviewed for a position as a contract sub-editor. That wasn’t my long-term goal but I was Australian and didn’t understand yet about the cul-de-sacs, glass ceilings and golden escalators of the FT career edifice. (Later I worked out that life at the FT was what I made it.)

At the time I knew little about world affairs, economics, management or the global tourism and travel sector, or even about writing. I hadn’t studied Economic and Social Policy at the University of London. And I had never thought about percentages and percentage points.
But my friend had advised me well. So when the night editor, IBJ, asked me to name the UK’s biggest company, I was able to say  It was  ICI (then, now part of AkzoNobel). There was no Google then.

At the end of the interview, there was one more thing to do. IBJ handed me an editing test and left me in an adjacent office to complete it. The story was about Gatwick Airport. I was stunned when I read it. No, it wasn’t the detritus of errors bobbing about in a pond of lifeless prose. It was because I’d sat the same test elsewhere. I took this as a bonus.

So how did I answer IBJ’s classic question? It came late in the interview at a point where I’d begun to think he might not ask.
Do you know the difference between a percentage and percentage point?

My answer was “Yes.”

He didn’t ask me to explain. On that day a healthy percentage of self-belief prevailed. But I was ready too just in case. It’s an important answer too, because mistaking percentages and percentage points sometimes unintentionally or deliberately obscures the truth.


 Percentages explained hereMistakes are often made to obscure the numbers

Marian Edmunds, The Writing Business