The five places that changed me: Genevieve Lacey

Genevieve Lacey.

Genevieve Lacey.

Genevieve Lacey.


I was born in a tiny village in the highlands of Papua New Guinea. My father was an oral historian, working alongside the Enga people, to learn about their culture and stories. I remember the stillness, the beauty of this place, and I think it was here that I began a life of listening, learning by example from Dad’s work, which would take shape in another form in my own life. Growing up in a developing country shaped the way I experience the world – it taught me of the richness of other cultures, and of the great good fortune of my own life.


I spent most of my childhood in this gracious goldfields town in Central Victoria, a place with a rich musical tradition, where I was fortunate to meet an extraordinary music teacher.  The winters are cold, the gardens abundant, the architecture elegant, and the art gallery full of treasures. Quiet pursuits of reading and playing music felt perfectly in keeping with this environment.


At the age of 22, I moved to Europe to follow my dream of becoming a musician. In Europe, the home of my instrument, the recorder, I felt I could steep myself in its traditions. It was an intense time. In Switzerland, I lived the student artist’s romantic dream, rooming in an attic, studying at a hallowed institution, roaming the woods, reading poetry, walking along the Rhine and grappling with unanswerable questions about life and meaning.


My next stop was Hans Christian Andersen’s town in Denmark, to study with a Swedish maestro. There, I found myself more at home, adopted by a wonderful family of artists. It was in Denmark that I learnt my craft as a musician – long hours of practice, in a climate perfectly suited to contemplative, indoor pursuits. The ties from that time I still hold dear, so every year, both work and pleasure take me back to Scandinavia.


I live in Australia now, and some years back, I was invited to join a project working alongside the Namatjira family: grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the legendary indigenous watercolour artist from Central Australia, Albert Namatjira​. This project took me to his place, Ntaria, and to some of the most life-changing experiences I’ve had. There, I understood that art is not separate from life. Song, story, culture, family, place, language, spirit, ancestors, all are linked.

Genevieve Lacey is inaugural Artistic Director for FutureMakers, Musica Viva’s artist development program.

See genevievelacey杭州夜网m; futuremakers杭州夜网.au

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