The Canberra Writers Festival at MoAD: Q & A with Edwina Jans
Next weekend, we’ll be hosting several events as part of the Canberra Writers Festival, running from 21-25 August. Our Head of Heritage, Communications and Development, Edwina Jans, will be moderating ‘Bubble and Squeak: The art of politics’, a discussion between authors Troy Bramston, author of Robert Menzies – the art of politics, and Patrick Mullins, author of the William McMahon biography Tiberius with a Telephone.
We spoke to Edwina about the art of politics, the Canberra Writers Festival at MoAD, and the questions she’s most looking forward to ask…
The event you're moderating is called Bubble and Squeak: The art of politics. What is it about politics that makes it an 'art'?
The art of politics is all about addressing the ‘why’ and the ‘how’ of politics rather than the ‘what’. Politics is about people and relationships, about ideas. It’s about the balance of trust, so that in good times and bad, the relationship between citizens and leaders is kept strong with a shared vision for how the big issues can be addressed.
Why is MoAD the ideal place to host discussions like these during the Canberra Writers Festival?
Old Parliament House is the spiritual home of Australian democracy and big ideas have been passionately debated here for over 90 years. In partnering with the Canberra Writers Festival, MoAD will continue that tradition, bringing leading global thinkers, historians and storytellers together with audiences to explore the stories that have shaped us, the issues of today and ideas of the future.
What can we learn about today’s democracy by looking at former prime ministers Robert Menzies and William McMahon?
These two men had a significant impact on Australia and its place in the world. Their decisions and those of the governments they led have shaped the way we live today. People are always intrigued and fascinated by those who hold power: ‘How did they get there?’ ‘What was it like?’ ‘Could I do it?’ I’m looking forward to delving deeper into the stories behind their legacies and discussing aspects of our history which may not be as well known.
Sit in the Chambers and listen to these stories of ordinary, extraordinary, flawed and fabulous people. This is a place where history happened…. and still does.
What would you say to someone who thinks ‘auspol’ history isn’t relevant to them?
I would say: ‘come to MoAD!’ Sit in the Chambers and listen to these stories of ordinary, extraordinary, flawed and fabulous people. This is a place where history happened…. and still does. Your voice matters here and the Canberra Writers Festival offers an opportunity to learn about the history of our democracy and engage deeply with these stories in conversation with some of our brightest minds from a range of fields.
Is there a particular question that you're most looking forward to asking?
In 1945, after the British Houses of Parliament were bombed, Winston Churchill said ‘we shape our building and afterwards our buildings shape us’. I’m keen to find out from Troy and Patrick what it means to them to be having this conversation in the place where Menzies and McMahon spent much of their careers.