Creativity Found: finding creativity later in life

Leona Fensome – juggling motherhood and a creative career

July 09, 2023 Laura Broderick/Leona Fensome Episode 79
Leona Fensome – juggling motherhood and a creative career
Creativity Found: finding creativity later in life
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Creativity Found: finding creativity later in life
Leona Fensome – juggling motherhood and a creative career
Jul 09, 2023 Episode 79
Laura Broderick/Leona Fensome

Ever found yourself scrambling to manage your time, juggling motherhood while nurturing a creative career?
In this episode of the Mother of All Solutions podcast, Laura Broderick chats with  Leona Fensome, remarkable mum of three, owner of an independent production company, and a Heritage Projects and Partnerships Officer at the University of Bedfordshire.
This episode is a deep dive into her journey, her lessons, and how she gracefully manoeuvres the tightrope between nurturing her family and nurturing her dreams.

Mother of all Solutions

If you found value in this episode and would like to show your appreciation, consider supporting the podcast through the Support the Show link, or by sending a boostagram , for example in the Fountain app.

CreativityFound.co.uk
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Researched, edited and produced by Claire Waite Brown
Music: Day Trips by Ketsa Undercover / Ketsa Creative Commons License Free Music Archive - Ketsa - Day Trips
Artworks: Emily Portnoi emilyportnoi.co.uk
Photo: Ella Pallet

Click here to send a direct message to the show

Click here to book a 1-to-1 online chat with me to understand more about the Creativity Found Collective, the promotional and networking membership for creative small businesses.

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Podcast recorded with Riverside and hosted by Buzzsprout
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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Ever found yourself scrambling to manage your time, juggling motherhood while nurturing a creative career?
In this episode of the Mother of All Solutions podcast, Laura Broderick chats with  Leona Fensome, remarkable mum of three, owner of an independent production company, and a Heritage Projects and Partnerships Officer at the University of Bedfordshire.
This episode is a deep dive into her journey, her lessons, and how she gracefully manoeuvres the tightrope between nurturing her family and nurturing her dreams.

Mother of all Solutions

If you found value in this episode and would like to show your appreciation, consider supporting the podcast through the Support the Show link, or by sending a boostagram , for example in the Fountain app.

CreativityFound.co.uk
Instagram: @creativityfoundpodcast
Facebook: @creativityfoundpodcast and Creativity Found group
YouTube @creativityfoundpodcast
Pinterest: @creativityfound
Twitter: @creativityfoun

Researched, edited and produced by Claire Waite Brown
Music: Day Trips by Ketsa Undercover / Ketsa Creative Commons License Free Music Archive - Ketsa - Day Trips
Artworks: Emily Portnoi emilyportnoi.co.uk
Photo: Ella Pallet

Click here to send a direct message to the show

Click here to book a 1-to-1 online chat with me to understand more about the Creativity Found Collective, the promotional and networking membership for creative small businesses.

Support the Show.

Podcast recorded with Riverside and hosted by Buzzsprout
Subscribe to the Creativity Found mailing list here
Join the Creativity Found Collective here

Speaker 1:

Hi listeners. I have invited some podcast shows that I admire and think you might like to make guest appearances on the Creativity Found podcast feed. I have chosen an episode from each show that communicates something of the Creativity Found ethos. Please enjoy, and I hope you're inspired to listen to more episodes by today's guest podcaster.

Speaker 2:

Hi, i'm Leona Fensom. I'm a mum of three, three under six and I run an independent production company called Inkslinger's Media, where I'm the creative director. I also work at University of Bedfordshire in the Arts and Culture Projects team and a very long title there It's Heritage Projects and Partnerships Officer.

Speaker 3:

You're listening to the Mother of All Solutions stories from mums as they navigate their return to work With me, laura Broderick. So welcome listeners to Mother of All Solutions. I'm sat in St Albans today with the lovely Leona Fensom. So hi, leona, hello Laura, how are things? Things are good. This is a treat to be sat in the beautiful St Albans surrounding. So you've introduced yourself. So you have many hats, leona, so let's talk through some of those things that you do and who you are and your family situation. So, to set the scene, i saw something on your LinkedIn that really, really made me smile about you, so I'm going to read this. So here we go, listeners. This is Leona's own words. Being a producer, i'm all about running orders and constantly being mindful of time. My partner in three kitties under six years old mimic me always Come on, gang, we're on the clock Now. I can't do your Aussie accent, so tell us more about being always on the clock and the busy life you lead and what you're up to.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, being on the clock is probably more pronounced now, since I've had children and I had my first one, remi, in May 2016. Evelyn was 2018 and the youngest one, nathaniel, was June last year, and the reason why I say that, as anyone that has multiples will know, is that you're constantly running in so many different directions, but also because I have a radio background, you suddenly become hyper aware of time, because that's the thing that kind of dictates your environment when you're working in a live studio. You know place, and I got into radio, i think from memory, about eight years ago. I was probably like February 2015. I've been doing an undergrad.

Speaker 2:

My bachelor of communications was in journalism and PR and I had these amazing lecturers there was three of them that kept saying to me go and get some practical experience out in the real world. Even though I was mature age and had worked a lot, i hadn't kind of done anything in the media space as I was changing careers and I went to my local newspaper. This was when I was living in Perth in Western Australia at the time, so I thought that's an easy win. I was a journalist at the time and I thought they'll certainly give me a little gig you know, being a volunteer doing something, didn't hear back from them. So I went to the local community radio station where I'd been a fan and a listener since my high school days and because I was a music journalist at the time, i thought I'd love to work in the music department, like stocking CDs yeah, i'm that old on the shelves and that would be my happy place. Yeah, yeah, exactly, i remember tapes, all of that and I thought that would be good. That will give me some experience in what community radio is like.

Speaker 2:

So I met the volunteer manager, chris Wilden, and we caught up and he said, uh, not what I thought he'd say, how would you like to be an assistant producer? and I had no idea what an assistant producer was, what they did. And then he sort of set this utopic landscape out. You know, where I could be involved in a three hour magazine format show was to do with current affairs, environment, politics, entertainment. I could go and interview people.

Speaker 2:

There was an opportunity to maybe present, which gave me the shutters, because to this day I'm not a presenter, i love producing and I thought, why not, i'll give that a go. And so, yeah, those three people and Chris pretty much made me do a U-turn in the like pathway that I was going on and that was how I got into community radio and that, yeah, like I said, it's coming up to eight years, and so from there I learned a lot about time, because you're always looking at the clock when you're in radio. Everything's always down to the minute because you've got to hit ad breaks, go to the news, and that really helped me in some kind of funny way, because prior to that I had your classic FOMO and I was a super impulsive person.

Speaker 2:

I was notorious for like double booking myself, launching headfirst into all sorts of adventures, and people would always say that to me. All my best friends used to be like oh gosh, what's she up to now?

Speaker 2:

well, yeah, yeah, leona, i also are guilty of that, and one of my best mates ex-boyfriends had me in his phone as Laura late, because I was always late for things so maybe you were, leona late, maybe you were, and I'm glad you've said that because one of my best friends in Melbourne so I lived in Melbourne in Australia for about 15 years, kerry, one day I was running late, or maybe I had just fobbed her off, it was one or the other, it wasn't very nice and she sent me this text message. She's like Leona, do you know what? when you do this, it's like you just don't value me. You're valuing yourself above me, and that was, i think, in 2007 maybe, and I've never forgotten that, and that really made me think you know what. That's not all right.

Speaker 3:

I really need to start, kind of you know, curbing that a bit, yeah, no, yeah, but perceptions different to intention, so that text message and getting into radio has now made me less impulsive, and it's all about the clock and it's all about the clock.

Speaker 3:

So then, thinking about the clock and motherhood fitting in with that. So now you're juggling, work, creative director, producer, but also working for a university. You also, i believe, have plans for an academic kind of career in other ways as well. So, like, how, how do you fit the three kids in around that? are you like a schedule person or is it just that you are really kind of just aware of everyone's needs and you just make it work?

Speaker 2:

I think I've always been really productive, like even in saying. You know, this impulsivity is kind of waned by the nature of having kids as well. A lot Prior to that, i always had two jobs. You know, like when I was in my early 20s, i always had some kind of full-time or part-time gig and I always had some kind of second job, predominant in hospitality, because that was the first industry I worked in for about 10 years.

Speaker 2:

I was typically working in a bar, working in a club that kind of thing, and then interestingly, i always studied because I'm your classic lifelong learner, so I always had something brewing in the background, whether it was like a short course or a diploma or something. So they were the things that really fueled me, and so I guess you know, bringing kids into the mix, your time suddenly becomes I don't want to say much more precious, but you just suddenly have more of a sense of it, and then you've got, you know, little people that demand your time, so you can't always lay out plans and expect that they're going to end up as you've set them out to be. So the good thing about kids is that I think I became a lot more patient. Actually, that was one thing I think that's really benefited me in terms of having children. But, to set the context, i left Australia in David and I, my husband. We left in March 2017 and moved to the UK then, and so we had Remy. She was about 9 or 10 months and really was, you know, three things for me.

Speaker 2:

I wanted to pursue a radio career here. The big dream was the BBC. As many Australians you know, in radio like to kind of see or get realised is that, you know, i do work with the BBC. I wanted to do a PhD before I was 50. And then, the classic thing I just wanted a little. Well, actually no big English country side home, because I'd watched so many of those English shows. What are some of them now? like not homes under the hammer, but you know all the ones about like grand designs, you know all those things where people had these beautiful country homes and fireplaces.

Speaker 2:

So they were the aspirations and what brought us here.

Speaker 3:

Wow, you came for the dream, the beep, the house and the country.

Speaker 2:

I do, yeah, and to answer your question about scheduling, it's been really challenging, you know, because it's not like you're an individual that's embarking on a career and study. You have to throw in a child and all of their needs as well, and then you know when you have a second one. You've got the logistics of, as you know, because you've got two, how you manage that between the two of you and then you throw a third one in. And I met someone a while ago. She had five children and I did at the time ask her when I think I just had Remy, how do you do it? and she's like you know what's funny, after about three they all just kind of fit in and she was so calm and rational and she made it appear to be like a very easy thing having multiples And it's interesting and I'm even conscious of the question that I asked around.

Speaker 3:

Like you know, how do you make it work? because of course you know it's.

Speaker 3:

We don't want to set us up as mothers, to be seen as super women, because you know, nobody is, and that's, you know, an aspiration that can be negative as well, because it can put pressure on us to try and be everything to everyone all the time, but also we do have to acknowledge that we do make a lot of things happen for our own families, our communities around us, and whether that's helping out with school events or whatever it is that you do in your community, and then, obviously, your workplaces, depending on how you manage your work life.

Speaker 2:

So it's a really tricky one to like ask questions like that without putting us on a pedestal, but without diminishing what we are and, yeah, i hope you understood the process of that I'm thinking back to how I actually developed some of those behaviours and, like, my last sort of corporate job ended in 2013, where I quit. I'd been in the role for about six years and it was for a big online media company in Australia called Seek. It's an employment job board and I was in a senior account manager position and it was very much your classic, you know, advertising, recruitment, sales world, where you're working to quarterly budgets and it's that real work hard, play hard philosophy. So we had to do eight to ten meetings a week, so, as you can imagine, lots of talking. You had to hit certain budgets, so you were almost living by some kind of routine, if that makes sense. You were living by a spreadsheet, you were living by a budget, you were living by a calendar and I guess you know that can be detrimental because there is intense pressure around that.

Speaker 2:

But when I left that environment and became a freelance so when I started this undergrad that I mentioned the Bachelor of Combs and I started becoming a features writer and doing my own thing I still lived by a calendar, but it's going to sound so silly I started colour coding my calendar and so what I've always tried to prioritise even though we did talk about not getting to the gym this morning, was that my health? so when do I go to the gym, when do I go for a walk, when do I go for a swim? and that would be a certain colour, and then what are my meeting colours, and then what are my down time colours, and so now that I've got kids there and there, so, as you would know, you've got all the school stuff, all the you know wraparound activities when I catch up with my friends.

Speaker 2:

So, yeah, i live by that. I'm very visual and so for me that's a good indicator of where the load is. Are there lots of kids stuff on? unless me time have I got tons of work things happening? so I try to, you know, make sure that there's an even spread. I don't like to say work-life balance and I try hard not to say that I'm juggling things because, as anyone that you know runs their own business or has been self-employed knows, and especially in the creative industries, there really isn't a balance. I think you have to set boundaries and sometimes we learn that through absolute failings and burning out and high stress points. So I know in myself when I hit a natural point of feeling really exhausted. So then I just take some time out, binge, watch Netflix stuff, catch up with my friends, and that recharges me. But yeah, i don't know anyone that has developed some kind of you know perfect way of you know managing all of that?

Speaker 3:

no, and we all deal with things differently. So let's talk about the radio side. So you got into community radio almost not completely by surprise, but it wasn't like your, it was by surprise. It wasn't on my radar. You're right.

Speaker 2:

Laura, It was not on like the kind of right. this is the direction I'm going with this degree. I wanted to be a magazine features journalist. You know the glossy magazines. When I was a kid I used to go to the news agency I lived in the north of Western Australia and buy smash hits and the face magazine and Dolly and all these things and I'd have big stacks of them, it's an Australian one.

Speaker 2:

It was kind of like a girl or teenage girl version of Cleo or Cosmo, that kind of thing, and so I was always a magazine kid and that was my aspiration from doing the degree. I wanted to write, you know, high profile pieces like interview people and write about their lives. It was always about people's lives, that was my thing, and so when the community media thing came up to get practical experience, it piqued my interest because I thought the newspaper avenue was going to be me and I thought, well, that ties to magazines. But it didn't, because I never heard back from anyone and so then it became radio and I think the thing about radio that really drew me in was the family nature of RTRFM in Perth, western Australia.

Speaker 2:

I worked at RTR or Volunteered and Triple R. They have tons of volunteers I were talking in the hundreds and there's a real collective atmosphere within there. But also it was the transformation I could see with all these individuals that had other things going on, like they were studying that lives had families. There was this amazing transformative effect that happened to them the minute they stepped inside that space and I loved that and I could see from talking to people what it had done for them and to this day, eight years down the line. That is the thing that I've loved about being in radio is what it can do to people from the minute they start something to where they end up, and it's also transferable. Because I come from such a strong employment background as well, that is really crucial for me is to see people either being recognised for talent they didn't know they heard, or developing skills and having that euphoric moment, that aha moment. Wow, i actually did that thing.

Speaker 3:

I made something. I feel like that's how I know you as well. You've been really helpful to me starting the podcasting. if I've needed something to get some advice on, i've kind of bounced a few things off you, so I've seen that myself and so that's really interesting that you've had that in your community radio context and you're still, even though you're not working community radio now, you're still very pro community radio and speaking at events and I think it's an underdog thing, you know and I don't ever like to generalise, but I think one thing about being Australian is we very much go like we go for the underdog.

Speaker 2:

You know we like the little guy to rise up and beat all the odds because everyone's against. You know that person or that situation and I think for me advocacy for community radio is really because you know they're in the heart of wherever you know their locality is and then anyone in that locality has opportunities to come and do something there which I absolutely love and that means they have meaning, their lives are valued and they're contributing.

Speaker 2:

And you know, even though I cut my teeth as a volunteer, i did go on um at Radio Verilum in St Albans, who are now mixed 92.6 to be their ops and volunteer manager, which was a paid contract. And you know, even like through that role I saw and was able to help that transformation, you know, with close to like 90 to 100 volunteers. So I've been a volunteer as a producer, i've been in senior management in community radio, so I've kind of done the whole in a mechanics of you know that world and I think you know it's a really crucial space. Particularly, you know, when you do study media and things like that, you start looking at alternate spheres. Don't you like countercultures and subcultures and places where people can genuinely have diversity and media plurality? and you know that's what's really important to me, especially now that I'm in oral histories is I like people to have a chance to talk about their lives and have meaning, rather than maybe dominant or influential or extroverted people always having the time in the sun to talk about things.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, that's right. Yeah, and so, with that kind of transition to then you developing your career in that that audio space and now being creative director of your own company, inkslingers, tell us a little bit about. Well, i know a little bit about some of your projects, but maybe kind of give a flavour of some of the things you've worked on and just to kind of praise you and congratulate you on. Mike. You received a brand well with a group of colleagues for your tape letters project.

Speaker 2:

Yesterday was it even yesterday or two days, wednesday night, yeah for the audio production awards, so congratulations, thank you so much yeah.

Speaker 3:

So do you want to say a little bit about that project or other projects, or, yeah, your interests in audio?

Speaker 2:

hmm, yeah, so Inkslingers Media Rout, which is the independent production company I mentioned in June 2018, when Evelyn, my second, was four months old. So I never do things in half measures you know, that's just the classic thing.

Speaker 2:

You'll learn about me and you probably know that about me already. Um, and the lofty ambition which I'd had in Australia was that one day I wanted to work on documentaries again. This really harks back to. I like deep dives into people's lives, and so I'd set it up. And then I'd been in that role at Radio Verilum as the ops and volunteer manager.

Speaker 2:

I was freelancing at BBC Radio 4, so media show, saturday Live, woman's Hour, and then I think it was, you know, not really doing much. It had kind of sat there because I was more like in the actual roles that I was in at the babe in the station and I forgot to mention I was doing my honours at the time as well. So I finished the undergrad I think I finished that like in 2017 graduated then, i think, once Evelyn was born, i was like, right, let's do an honours, because why not add more things onto my plate? and that was in community radio volunteer production. So it was all relative.

Speaker 2:

And then, obviously, as we know, covid hit in, you know, march 2020, and sadly, my contract had to end and the BBC work ended because, you know, most programs went in-house in terms of staff and I found myself, for the first time in a really long time, having sort of like an identity crisis, but not in any way that I was like, oh my god, well it's me, but more like what am I going to do? like all my worth was tied to what I was doing and I felt like I was really kind of on a trajectory.

Speaker 2:

And then that was just like the rug had been pulled out from under my feet and I essentially then reached out to a couple of mentors that were in radio drama funnily enough and they said to me you know, what they were seeing was this real, um, like rising people looking back on their lives and thinking about things they've done in the past but never got you know, to fully realize? and I thought, well, you know, i had always loved the long form side of journalism that was me like I'd always loved being. I would sit with people talk about their lives and then I thought, well, how do I do that? and someone said to me well, that's you know oral histories you know if you want to do that.

Speaker 2:

Why don't you start moving into that side of the audio world? because the audio world at that time was filled with freelancers like me that suddenly had no work, no money, the landscape was competitive for anything that was around and everything was going remote, and I was so conscious that I had to be really mindful of the fact that I had kids and I needed to have something in play, and so I thought, well, i'll train up in audio sorry, in the oral history side of audio production. And that was really how I ended up on my journey of getting into the series work that I've done, and I came across tape letters, i think not long after I'd been training as an oral historian, and Wadred was speaking during South Asian Heritage Month, and I'm always drawn to people that are really larger than life and he's full of energy.

Speaker 2:

Right, i'm not mad, i'm sorry yeah, one day you will and you'll see what I mean. And he's absolutely wonderful. And he was bursting off the screen talking about tape letters and how he'd found his dad's cassettes and I thought, oh my god, this oral history project about this British Pakistani community that use these cassette tapes is a radio series. Like I can actually hear this thing. I can actually see myself stopping the car while it's on to hear what is being said. So I approached him and then he was like that is insane, because that's my dream, to make this thing into radio series. I'm like, well, let's just do it, let's make it.

Speaker 3:

I don't know how we're going to do it.

Speaker 2:

But then we stumbled on the audio content fund where we could get funding to make a project, and so we put that in and that's how tape letters was born. And at the same time I volunteered on a couple of oral history projects, one to do with the Marconi company so veterans that had worked at the Marconi company as young apprentices and a local one called a county remembers to do with war memorials and public remembrance. So that gave me practical skills while COVID was happening, to remotely learn and understand how oral histories worked and respect the fact that I was moving into something very different and much more formalized than audio production yeah, super exciting.

Speaker 3:

It's like, yeah, i mean, there are many strings to your bow, kind of, but you're also, as you said, a lifelong learner, so you're not phased by having to, you know, embrace something new and you kind of do that, which is admirable.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, i come from a long line of teachers on my mum's side. They'd all been teachers in Myanmar, which is Burma, and I think you take away positive and negative mantras from family, and the positive one I've always had and I remember this ever since I was little was mum always used to say to me knowledge is power and you know, i remember reading like readers digest when I was little, and lots of books around the house and that was the thing that my mum always, i guess, stood in the shadows with me about was education she was

Speaker 2:

always championing me, learning and even if I did different courses and things, she was always there. You know that's fantastic like you keep going. And I want to be a travel consultant. No, i don't. I want to study human resource management. No, i don't, i'm going to do a business degree.

Speaker 2:

You know, i kind of I don't flip-flop, but you know your life, as you get older you take many different paths right, you go through phases yeah so that was the reason why I guess I did the undergrad, because through all of that I never really had a good kind of handle on finishing stuff.

Speaker 2:

And that is the negative mantra that I guess I wanted to mention for my dad, because it was a really sort of you know, unhappy childhood that I had in terms of family, like my mum and dad always were fighting a lot and things like that, and he sort of had this thing that he used to say to me where, you know, are you just going to be a failure? you're never going to amount to anything. So, coupled with knowledge, his power, i sort of self-sabotaged a lot, you know, in terms of work and things like that. And so when I actually graduated in my undergrad as a mature age student, i mean I graduated in my honours. They have a big deals for me because I realised you know what, i can finish stuff, i can actually commit to something and see it through. And now I guess the icing on the cake is I'm waiting to find out, if my PhD application is successful, where I'll be getting a bursary to study community radio, of course, what else?

Speaker 2:

so I guess life is a funny journey, isn't it? I'm a big believer in, you know, mentorship and surrounding yourself with people that you can soundboard things out with, but then also you know dealing with adversity right like dealing with challenges and things like that. You know, because we can always. I think we can always do something. We have got it in us and that's why I like to help people. When you mentioned you've always come to me. I get so much joy maybe more than from my own achievements when someone says to me do you know what I did this thing? yeah, i got accepted on this thing. It makes me feel so proud yeah, and just those moments.

Speaker 3:

And in your work with the University of Bedfordshire you're sort of facilitating other people's creativity at the minute as well, aren't?

Speaker 1:

you very much yeah, yeah.

Speaker 3:

I don't know if that's an appropriate phrasing of it, but no, it really is. You're right.

Speaker 2:

So Luton, where the campus is located, there's four, but I'm at the Luton one has been overlooked a lot traditionally for funding. So, as a consequence, there's a really radical arts culture there, which is amazing. But in saying that, people have done this off the smell of an oily rag, which is, you know, really quite something when you think about it. Arts and culture thrives often, doesn't it?

Speaker 2:

in situations like that. So my manager, emma Gill, who's an ex-theater practitioner, is an incredible person. She wrote a bid once COVID hit to help support you know that scene in Luton was emerging cultural practitioners, particularly to do with heritage because it's a heritage fund, and so, yeah, that is the bulk of my work. I work one-on-one, mentoring and developing people to realise heritage projects. So there's a lot of heavy lifting. There's a lot of, like I mentioned before, being a sounding board, fleshing out ideas. People sometimes, you know, their confidence can be shook if they've, you know, sort of given a glimpse of an idea to someone and that person said to them oh, how are you going to do that where?

Speaker 1:

are you going?

Speaker 2:

to find the money for that or where's the time you've got the negativity creeps in. That's right it creeps in and then you, you know, downplay your ambition. But I like people to think now you know what that is so wild and bizarre and crazy. I'm going to make it happen, you know? or even how do we reverse engineer it?

Speaker 3:

that's often my approach is tell me what the most you know incredible thing is you want to do, and let's just work backwards from that, yeah, we'll find the practical ways around the idea and yeah, yeah, and I think there's something quite nice about that idea of heritage sitting within the arts right rather than necessarily totally agree with you sort of seeing it as a kind of a static thing. That's just something to be remembered. It's actually something to be interpreted and used.

Speaker 2:

And yeah, no, yeah, you're right or maybe even a thing that is the domain of certain people because you know, coming from Australia, i think the UK is really enriching for me because history's dotted around everywhere. Like you and I are sitting in snowballs and you know it seems so like silly, but you know there's can hear the bells. No, you can hear the bells.

Speaker 2:

It's like timing there you go yeah you know, like the cemetery at the abbey where we are, these beautiful, glorious buildings, and we don't have that degree of you know history in Australia. So for me it was really novel coming here. But then also I know that heritage and history can seem inaccessible to a lot of people, like why would I get involved in that or what can I do? so I like that more and more people are thinking of creative ways they can engage and share history amazing, super interesting.

Speaker 3:

So, leona, it's been so good to get that kind of potted history of your career and kind of get a sense of it, and I hope that the listeners have got a flavour of your journey with that. So let's talk about the sort of the broader context of you know, motherhood and work, because obviously all these things, however much of a learner or however practical or ambitious you are, you know, you're in a context, you're in a society, you're in a place And we met. Well, we only physically met for the first time a year ago, but we'd been like chatting online. That sounds like We'd been internet buddies.

Speaker 2:

I know It sounds odd without the context.

Speaker 3:

I was stalking you on Twitter So you know we'd had like moments of sharing the highs and lows of life, I suppose, especially around pandemic, and thinking about how you are in the world that we're in. So we're coming up to the end of 2022. And I wondered just maybe we could take some time to reflect on, I suppose, where you think things are at. Obviously, we both follow and listen and learn from sort of charities who are in the kind of parenting space, or you're obviously from a community radio background, So you kind of absorb news and journalism And I don't know, I'm not quite sure what direction the conversation will take us in Leona, But you know, for listeners to Mother of All Solutions, they're probably also very similar to us in that way. So I just thought some reflections on, like do you feel hopeful or do you feel like the weight of the recession, or what's your immediate thought?

Speaker 2:

on where we're at Moving into this role that I'm in that we've been talking about. The uni of Bedsbun has done something really quite remarkable to how I think, in that I'm almost completely surrounded by arts practitioners for the first time in a super long time, and so, like when, you know, i think, covid first hit, i started working more with people that were based in arts industries in terms of my audio work, and I feel like life always goes full circle, because in high school I did theatre for the last three years of high school and, funnily enough, i actually got ducks of theatre art. So I thought I was going to have this you know, live theatre career, which you know I never realised. But now I'm literally surrounded by theatre makers, applied theatre people, and it's all very brilliant because I jump in and out of character all day. So I love that.

Speaker 2:

But the reason I'm saying that is because it made me start thinking in a much more unconventional and radical way, in the sense that I think sometimes we I think from a safety perspective because COVID has been so uncertain right, it's thrust all of us into very kind of uncertain and unsettling situations that you know we don't necessarily have to think about things in a linear way anymore And even our histories are not like that to some degree and that memory isn't linear.

Speaker 2:

But how people that I now either work with or are developing or meet with on a daily basis approach things is very much from this experimentation frame of mind and I absolutely love it, like there's so much more validity in play and in playmaking and in piloting stuff and in prototyping stuff And in, i guess, what we would normally call R&D. Like you know, research and development is considered experimentation And through all these different artists I've met, they've talked a lot about, you know, space, like sometimes, if they don't have a maker space or access to space, that compromises that first initial part of pure experimentation. And I love that And I think we can adopt more of that in our lives and sort of digress more away from everything having to be structured, like I know I run to the clock, but you know that's more about time in the fact that I do a lot of stuff, so I don't like to be late, because then I have, like my friend Kerry, the carries of the world saying you don't value me And they're like I do.

Speaker 3:

That's what that's about.

Speaker 2:

But yeah, an answer to your question. Yeah, i really do feel hopeful, and I say that because you know what's that? saying that people use doom-scrolling. I mean, let's face it, we can all doom-scroll ourselves, silly which I have been doing. Sometimes media and the way we absorb information is geared towards, and I know there are counters to that And there's amazing, you know. I guess platforms like Positive News and things like that are trying really hard to uplift you know great things people are achieving, but that's what the arts has done for me is.

Speaker 2:

It's shown me that with nothing, people can be so incredibly. You know there's such ingenuity you know and interaction, And I love the fact you know that it enables anyone and everyone to participate or, equally, look at something and have their own take on it.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, no, i mean, i mean it's super interesting And I think there's some something that I struggle with around the nuance of life, which is, you know, the doom and the practicality of the world that we're in and situations that we're in that are, you know, often tricky or tough, and maybe not for you immediately, but you see that I mean I noticed recently, like I live near Brixton, the amount of rough sleepers in Brixton is just like kind of increased. I mean, the other day I was like walking through with the kids and trying not to ignore it but also thinking like the kids are going to notice this and like you know. So on that sort of level, i believe it's not my day to day life, i'm like conscious of that, but also like I'm also quite a creative person, quite a hopeful, positive person, And I want to kind of keep that in either my day to day sort of being with my kids or in my workplace or whatever it is, and, i think, trying to find that balance again, balance again it's just a bloody word.

Speaker 3:

you know that. how do you marry them both? I think you're someone that does it very well And, i think, trying to kind of especially for parents and mothers in particular, who are in busy situations and maybe are often in tricky situations as well to try and be mindful of the situations they're in but also be creative and in news-holed.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and I've got quite a few children, yeah like my girls very much like for a long time drew on all the walls of the house And I've realised like that's just as much as it gets you go their expression and David and I were forever scrubbing things off walls and they've always got colouring in pens strewn everywhere. They're forever drawing and colouring in The way they think I think is naturally quite creative and unconventional And I have learned to really respect that and honour that about them and sort of go with the flow more And I think sometimes our kids can teach us a lot as much as we're like you know That's so funny.

Speaker 3:

I was listening to Ez Devlin, who's an artist set designer, and she was talking about how she was allowed to draw on the walls as a kid. She was in quite a creative house hold and I was just like thinking about that and, yeah, i'll send you the link because it's interesting.

Speaker 2:

When they do it with sharpies. That's when you really you know, that's sad. I've been there. You put the sharpies away No. I'm scrubbing away trying to get a sharpie off a wall.

Speaker 3:

Hide the sharpie. I mean it's been super interesting because obviously I knew some of your story, but I didn't know all of it and I really hope that you listeners have enjoyed learning a bit about Leona's career and background and some of her thoughts on creativity and parenting as well. So I really hope you've enjoyed it. So, leona, if people want to connect with you, how would they do that? What's the best way?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, probably the website Inc's Thing is Media website. They can find me or please do connect with me on LinkedIn, because I consider that to be like my roller decks. Remember those things? Yeah, i do. As I meet people, i just literally add them to my LinkedIn roller decks, and not because I'm trying to amass like a massive amount of whatever, but more just so I have people you know, other than phone numbers and business cards, it's kind of all there. Or, as my kids say, when I go to work, are you going to go work at the universe today? Or they can find me at the universe. You live in Luton or Bedfordshire and you are one of these amazing arts practitioners or upcoming emerging in the heritage space. You find me at the universe of Bedfordshire. Oh, i love it.

Speaker 3:

I completely love it And I want to thank you for your support to me as well. So thanks, leona, you're welcome. You've been listening to the Mother of All Solutions in St Albans with my guest, leona Fensham. If you've enjoyed the episode, please do share it with your friends. You can get in touch with me, laura, as your host and producer, via at solutions mother on Instagram or Twitter. I'm also on LinkedIn The roller decks, the roller decks, the digital roller decks, just as my name, laura Broderick. Be lovely to connect with you all. So have a great day, whatever you're up to, take care. Bye, bye, leona, bye.

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