Our Team

We came together with the aim of showcasing the ingenuity of ‘craft’ practitioners, and the cultural importance of ‘craft’ for people around the Indian Ocean.

In January 2019 we took the seed of an idea and formed a partnership to grow it.

After successfully delivering IOTA21: Curiosity & Rituals of the Everyday, the team were encouraged to continue developing IOTA. So the partnership was dissolved and a not-for-profit association was set up to present future Triennials in a sustainable way.

The Indian Ocean Craft Triennial Inc. is a not-for-profit organisation with charitable status, managed by a volunteer board.

The IOTA team actively engages with artists, artisans, curators and other visual arts and craft workers and organisations on an ongoing basis, continuously building relationships in preparation for IOTA24 and beyond.


John Cordery
[2022–present, Chair 2023–]

John Cordery is an organisational psychologist whose career in academia spans four decades, including time spent as Chair of the Academic Board at the University of Western Australia and, most recently, as Provost and interim Vice-Chancellor of Curtin University. From 2015 to 2021, he served as Chair of the John Curtin Gallery Advisory Board, coinciding with a successful strategic repositioning of the Gallery to reinforce its position as a leading University Gallery in Australia.

He is currently a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences of Australia and Professor Emeritus at Curtin University. LinkedIn.

Clement Tay
[2022–present, Treasurer 2023–]

Clement Tay has 20 years experience in accounting and business management, is a registered CPA and also completed his MBA at Curtin University. His early experience was in management accounting and commercial analysis within the Public Sector and Oil & Gas industries before moving on to start his own business, Arrival Hall, with his partner Lisa in 2015.

Arrival Hall is one of Perth’s leading designer furniture and homewares businesses and Clement has helped oversee and manage its continual growth year on year in both the financial and strategic management aspects of the business.

Heli Donaldson
[2022–present, Secretary]

Heli Donaldson is a freelance researcher, writer, editor, and community consultation facilitator. With over 30 years’ experience, Heli has assisted in the development of strategic plans and cultural development frameworks for local government and arts organisations, as well as training and quality assurance plans for the mining, childcare, oil, floristry, and health sectors. Previously Chair of Mundaring Arts Centre, Heli was also Community Co-ordinator for major MAC projects Machines and Makers 2016, Habits of Horses 2017, What a Tool 2018, What on Earth 2019.

Heli’s cultural curiosity has taken her on international exchanges and voluntary teaching projects in Changsha and Fujian in China, the Maharaja’s dining table in Jaipur, and participation in an early Garma Festival in Yirrkala.

Jude van der Merwe OAM
[2019–present, Treasurer 2022–23]

Founding Partner, Lead co-curator IOTA21-24; Acting General Manager IOTA24 (shared).

Jude van der Merwe has over 25 years’ experience in the cultural and visual arts sectors and is an independent senior consultant specialising in cultural development, curatorial work, arts and culture policy and strategy and Public Art development and implementation.

She is current President of the World Crafts Council Australia; Senior Vice President of the World Crafts Council Asia Pacific Region and member of the Advisory Board Curtin School of Design and the Built Environment. Past board experience includes inaugural board member and Company Secretary of the Chamber of Arts and Culture WA.

Carola Akindele-Obe
[2019–present, Chair 2022-23]

Founding Partner, Co-curator IOTA21-24; Acting General Manager IOTA24 (shared); Festival Director IOTA21–24; Marketing & Publications Manager IOTA21. 

Carola Akindele-Obe is an independent arts manager and writer with over 25 years’ experience coordinating visual arts and crafts events in Australia, UK and Taiwan. A graduate of Glasgow School of Art, with a BA(Hons) Design in Embroidered and Woven Textiles, City & Guilds in Basketry/3D Woven Design, and HD student for Master of Arts Admin at UNSW, Sydney, before moving to Perth in 2005.

Carola has a depth of experience as a project manager for recurrent events including Biennale of Sydney (1998-2002), Sydney Art on Paper Fair (2001-2005), and Artopia WA (2005-2007). Carola is a co-founder of ‘Maker&Smith’ presenting skills exchange and promotion opportunities, including a short film festival, to enhance the craft sector in Western Australia.

Maggie Baxter [2019–present]

Founding Partner, Exhibition co-curator IOTA21; Fashion co-curator IOTA21; Artist IOTA24.

Maggie Baxter is a textile artist, writer, independent curator, and public art coordinator. She first visited India in 1990 and maintains a textile arts practice in Kutch, Gujarat state.

Her book Unfolding: Contemporary Indian Textiles, which was the first book written on contemporary Indian textiles, was published by Niyogi Books, New Delhi in April 2015. The highly successful exhibition of the same name was held at the RMIT Gallery in Melbourne from March – May 2015 and at the Fremantle Arts Centre from July – September 2015. In 2003 she was the curator of ‘Threads of Life: Textiles from India’ for Global Arts Link in Queensland. As an artist she has exhibited regularly since 1984 in both group and solo exhibitions in Australia, India, Japan and UK.

Dr Qassim Saad [2019–present]

Founding Partner, Conference Convenor IOTA21-24; Curatorial Advisor IOTA21

Qassim Saad is an Iraqi industrial designer living in exile since 1991, holding a BA, MA and PhD in Industrial Design. He has taught design and been assigned for academic leadership roles since 1984 in Iraq, Jordan, New Zealand, Egypt, Germany, and recently in Australia. Qassim’s understanding of design is providing the stimulus for future- looking, dynamic approaches to innovation, building on its nature as inter-disciplinary and applied knowledge culminated by creative practices.

Dr. Saad’s research embraces creative practice outputs and traditional scholarly publications related to design and social innovation ‘outside the centre.’ His aim is to articulate future scope to empower societies, in developing countries, particularly achieving a better quality of life, through applying design methods and practices, as strategic tools, to facilitate their social systems mega problems. ORCID: 0000-0002-5641-9957

Melissa Cameron [2022–present]

IOTA21 lead artist

Melissa Cameron is an Australian artist with Anglo-Celtic ancestry. She holds a BFA(Hons) in interior architecture and a postgraduate diploma in jewellery production from Curtin University, and an MFA in jewellery and metalsmithing from Monash University. Her aesthetic sensibility reflects these twin interests.

Exhibited worldwide, her works in public collections include the National Gallery of Australia, the University of Iowa Museum of Art, and Cheongju Collection in South Korea. She has organised and curated group exhibitions in Australia, the US and Europe, her writing appears on Art Jewelry Forum and Garland Magazine, and she has presented papers, undertaken residencies, and received grants in multiple countries.

Medeia Cohan [2023–present]

Development & Patrons Program Manager

Medeia brings over 20 years of experience galvanising creative people and organisations to realise big visions and achieve seemingly unattainable goals. A resourceful and purposeful leader, known for building powerful networks and inclusive communities, identifying innovative revenue streams, attracting new funding and pioneering leading-edge, sustainable programmes.

Shaheen Hughes [2023–present]

Shaheen Hughes was the inaugural CEO of the Museum of Freedom and Tolerance of WA, recipient of the 2018 UNAAWA Human Rights Award and Director of the In the Zone international conference series at UWA. She is an Art Historian and International Communications expert who has studied, lived, and worked around the world, living on a tanker that sailed the Indian Ocean as a child. Shaheen works at the intersection of human rights, social cohesion, public policy, and the cultural sector and believes strongly in the healing power of the arts to unite us across our differences.

Gerald Sanyangore [2019–2023]

Founding Partner, Conference Coordinator IOTA21; Curatorial Advisor IOTA21

We acknowledge the fundamental role Gerald played in the founding and establishment of IOTA from its first days.

Holder of a Graduate Certificate in Business (Arts and Cultural Management) and BA(Hons) Economics and Mathematics, in 2017 Gerald produced and curated Another Antipodes Urban Axis exhibition and the BREACH African Film Program, the largest international exhibition focusing on contemporary African art and film held in Australia at that time. He is a skilled mental health counsellor with a Master of Counselling and a Bachelor of Psychology (First Class Honours). Since early 2023, Gerald's work as a counsellor requires his full attention and focus on improving wellbeing outcomes for Indigenous communities.



  • Stirling Kain, Festival Coordinator
  • Medeia Cohan-Petrolino, Development
  • Julia Armstrong, Logistics
  • Dixie Battersby, Publicity
  • Regina Ndossi, Conference Coordinator
  • Katie Dukovcic, Admin & Data
  • Dr Ric Spencer, Catalogue Editor
  • Yinka Idowu, Cultural Liaison
  • Shannon Palmer, Social Media
  • Isabel Kruger, Brand & Catalogue Design
  • Órla Larkin, Website Design & Development
  • Christopher Young, Graphic Design


  • Chad Creighton, Curatorial Advisor
  • Dr Anne Farren, Fashion Co-Curator
  • Support Team – Festival, Conference, Marketing: Kelsey Douglas, Lola Faulkner, Jo Malone, Mary-Louise Carbone
    Festival Auspice: Mundaring Arts Centre, Jenny Haynes & Narelle Doran
  • Editors and Proof-readers: Kevin Murray, Heli Donaldson, Carola Akindele-Obe
  • Fremantle Arts Centre: Jim Cathcart and Ric Spencer (until December 2020), Erin Coates (until July 2021), Anna Reece, Tom Freeman, Glenn Iseger-Pilkington and Jane Chambers (from May 2021), Claudia Rayne, Andrea Woods, Rosamund Brennan; and Kathryn Taylor (City of Fremantle); and the installation team.
  • John Curtin Gallery: Chris Malcolm, Jane King, Jann Thompson, Jacqui Monks, Samantha Smith, Sue-Lyn Moyle, Brad Coleman; and the installation team.


  • Sharyn Egan, artist and IOTA21 alumni, Noongar country, Western Australia
  • Darrell Sibosado, artist and IOTA21 alumni, Bard country, Lombadina, Western Australia
  • Sunny Dolat, creative director, The Nest Collective, Kenya
  • Euan Upston, arts management leader, New Zealand
  • Jim Cathcart, arts management leader, Western Australia
  • Andy Flockhart, strategy & risk management leader, United Kingdom