MARGARET CAMERON was a Melbourne based performance artist, director and writer with experience in a wide variety of performance contexts, both nationally and internationally.
Her artistic path was affirmed through a vital network of contemporary artists, including a long-term creative association with former Chamber Made Artistic Director, David Young. Numerous projects include A Quarreling Pair based on Jane Bowles’ puppet play, with sold out seasons for the Melbourne International Arts Festival and the Malthouse Theatre, and a subsequent International premiere at La Mama New York, 2009 and Festival dei Mondi, Teatro Patologica, Rome 2010, and Care Instructions, a poetic reverie written by Cynthia Troup created and premiered in 2008 with subsequent performance at Transit Festival Denmark 2009. She engaged in enduring collaborations with influential US choreographer Deborah Hay (USA), and with Australian new media artist Hellen Sky in The Light Room, Melbourne Museum, Melbourne International Arts Festival 2002 and The Darker Edge of Night 2008, Arts House, Melbourne, My Darling Patricia at Performance Space and Arts House in 2009. She participated as dramaturg on numerous projects with video artist David Rozetsky. In 2010, supported by Arts Victoria Cultural Exchange Program and Welsh Arts Council Margaret collaborated as writer on The Threat of Silence – a bilingual contemporary performance work with UK artist Jill Greenhalgh, touring regional Wales and premiering at Chapter Arts, Cardiff.
As Resident Director at Chamber Made Opera Melbourne (2010-12), Margaret directed Chamber Made Opera’s very first living room opera, The Itch (2010) and worked on the world’s first opera for an iPad, Exile (2010). Her long-time collaboration with former Artistic Director David Young fostered a plethora of new and wildly diverse works, with their absolutely epic work The Minotaur Trilogy – which received its world premiere at the 2012 Melbourne Festival – a particular high point.
Margaret’s solo practice had an enduring history. Her first work Things Calypso wanted to Say! 1987, premiered at La Mama Melbourne and continued in performance for over ten years. Her ground breaking work Knowledge and Melancholy was first performed at La Mama in 1998 and has been produced by Performing Lines, Magdalena Australia, Magdalena USA, Rhode Island, The Articulate Practitioner, Wales, Malthouse Theatre and it is still in repertoire. This was followed by Bang! A critical fiction 2001 at La Mama and Beckett Theatre, The Minds a Marvelous Thing, La Mama Theatre 2002 and the proscenium Malthouse Theatre 2005, PICA 2008 and subsequently performed in Wales 2005, Denmark, Rhode Island USA and in Spanish in Piezas Connectadas Festival, Barcelona 2007.
Her final solo work, Opera for a Small Mammal, was developed and presented by us in collaboration with Bell Shakespeare’s Minds Eye and La Mama and was described as:
‘…the culmination of a life’s work by one of Australia’s most important theatre artists… With a linguistic and intellectual richness that is rare on our stages, her performance was redolent with wit, sorrow and sensual passion. Small, but perfectly formed.’
Margaret received numerous awards throughout her life including the prestigious Australia Council for the Arts Theatre Fellowship in 2004, was shortlisted for The Kit Denton Fellowship for Writers of Excellence in 2007 and The Louis Esson Prize for Drama for Knowledge and Melancholy, Victorian Premiers Literary Awards 1998. She received a Green Room Award for Best Ensemble 2001, Playbox Theatre and for Knowledge and Melancholy in 1999 and she was recipient of The Ewa Czajor Memorial Award for Female Directors in 1998, The Gloria Payten and Gloria Dawn Travelling Fellowship in 1997 and the Ross E Trust Script Development Award 2013. Margaret received her PhD in Performance Studies during 2013. Her PhD thesis was published as a book by Lady Finger Press
On Monday 20 October 2014, Margaret died at her home on the Bellarine Peninsula, aged 59. Shortly before her death, Margaret requested her home be opened up to the wider artistic community as an artist’s residency and that Chamber Made administer the residency. We are deeply honored to have been asked and you can read more about the Orange House by the Sea Residency here. Margaret was an exceptional artist and a marvelous friend and she is deeply missed.
She was brave, transcendental and uncompromising. A Total Artist.
Vale dear M.