A few months ago, during the recesses of what is laughably considered a Sydney ‘winter,’ Sasanki Tennakoon commandeered artist, musician, photographer and future teacher of Disability Education in Primary Schools: Fiona Grace Mcdonald to meet her at a cafe.

Undeniably, Fiona is one of the most down to earth, accommodating and generous people you might ever encounter. Even when things go pear shaped, belly up, Fiona maintains (at least on the outside) an air of calm and pragmatism that I am somewhat envious of. So much so, that when I asked her which was her favourite cafe to meet at she insisted (very politely and gently) that she didn’t mind travelling and we should go instead to mine. After some protestation from me about being a selfish demanding mole, we did end up at one of my favourites, Rustic Pearl in Surry Hills (if you haven’t been there, your tastebuds haven’t lived).

Fiona is also one of the most consistently creative people I have met. When not studying, she is playing bass guitar with her band Dionysus, brushing up on her visual arts skills, taking achingly nostalgic photographs, crafting, or just generally being a kick-ass lady and source of creativity for those around her.

Photo by Scott Sheridan, courtesy of Fiona Grace Mcdonald
Photo by Scott Sheridan, courtesy Fiona Grace Mcdonald

1. Who is one of your biggest creative influences? 


In the art world it has to be a tie between Tracey Emin, Louise Bourgeois or Cindy Sherman but typically my best friends have always been my go to for testing out ideas and advice.

2. What would be your dream job/work environment?

At the moment I’m an aspiring Disability/Inclusive Education Primary School Teacher. I’d love to do something with that which also leads into community engagement & enrichment programs. I’d also love to be a touring band photographer. I love the adventure, community, atmosphere and the unspoken bond between people who could be complete strangers. Solidarity for the win!

3. What have you chosen to study and why?

Currently, I’m doing a Bachelor of Disability and Inclusive Education combined with a Masters of Primary Education. During my Advanced Diploma of Fine Arts/BVA Hons I had made a list of all the types of photography I would love to try as a ‘day job.’

I did everything from events, art exhibition openings, school photography, Santa photography, weddings, gigs, night clubs, etc. but struggled to find something that would satisfy my love of photography without destroying my soul and some manage to pay the bills.

Through assisting my friend with a community workshop teaching people how to take, present and exhibit photos, I was inspired to look at teaching as an option of work.

4. Lastly, what is some advice you would impart to Fiona of a decade ago?

Don’t let indecision hinder progress – it gets better than you could comprehend.

You can follow Fiona’s adventures through her blog: 

Courtesy Fiona Grace McDonald
Courtesy Fiona Grace McDonald


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