Shout Eastside Shout: Claudia Chan Shaw
Approx. 5 minutes 30 seconds read
Welcome back to my Shout Sister Shout series! This time around I zoom in on the inspiring stories, talents and idiosyncrasies of the women in community media who contribute to the vibrant and diverse programming of Arts, Music and more here on Eastside Radio. My first guest is the ever chic Claudia Chan Shaw.
Claudia makes the airwaves dance each Friday on her Arts show along with Angela Stretch. Claudia shares her immense passion for art exhibitions, artist interviews, local creative and cultural events and current trends with a switched-on and curious crowd of Eastside listeners. Tune in this Friday (and every Friday after for that matter) for a smashing bit of radio. And to learn more about the enthralling story of Claudia, read on…
Sonia de Freitas: Hi Claudia, How are you and where does our interview find you today?
Claudia Chan Shaw: I’m at home in lockdown, dressed for the day, but still wearing slippers! I’m at my desk working my way through a long to-do list. I love it when the list is covered in coloured highlights. That means the task is complete. The list is not looking particularly colourful right now.
SdF: How did you land your first media gig?
CCS: Can we count appearing in my first ad as a five year old!?
In the days before Telecom or Telstra, the overseas calls were done through OTC (Overseas Telecommunications Commission). I appeared in a press ad as a little girl chatting on the phone, supposedly speaking to relatives who lived overseas. My television career started in TV commercials as a teenager, and then as a model on Good Morning Sydney on Network Ten. It would be many years until I was required to open my mouth and actually speak on camera!
SdF: Can you tell me about your professional journey?
CCS: I wear quite a few hats; my creative career spans art and design, photography, curating, television and radio presenting, arts commentary, public speaking, and collecting. I studied for a BA in Visual Communications Design at Sydney College of the Arts, concentrating on graphic design, photography and film. At the time I thought that I’d like to have a career in the television industry. I had deliberately steered away from the fashion design degree at SCA as I had grown up with fashion.
My mother Vivian Chan Shaw is an internationally acclaimed fashion designer who started her eponymous label in 1972. The label is renowned for its exquisite handmade knitwear and jewellery. The designs are represented in the permanent collection of the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney. I had worked with her since I was eleven, working in our boutique after school and during school holidays, and travelling to the USA to establish an export market for the label while completing my degree. On graduation, I joined the business as a partner, co-designer, and marketing director and in 1986 we opened the Vivian Chan Shaw flagship store in the Queen Victoria Building. Fashion has always been in my blood, but during my fashion career other opportunities arose and I juggled several roles, including Regional Director of Fashion Group International Sydney.
I have always collected. I started collecting Humphrey Bogart memorabilia when I was twelve and switched the focus of my collecting to clockwork tin toys and wind up and battery operated robots. The toy collecting led to an appearance on the ABC’s popular long running program Collectors. Not long after, I was asked to audition for the role of a presenter on the show at the end of 2009. I joined the Collectors team as one of the panel of experts and became co-host of the show in 2010. Collectors opened up a whole other world. As a result, I wrote Collectomania – From objects of desire to magnificent obsession, and from there I ended up on the public speaking circuit. My topics range from collecting, to fashion through the ages, design, art history, Art Deco, Art Nouveau, Chinese heritage, and travel. I have curated a number of fashion exhibitions including Vivian Chan Shaw – 40 Years, A Retrospective and Alfredo Bouret Retrospective, a tribute to the great fashion artist.
I was the curator of the Sydney Chinese New Year Festival (2016 – 2018), the largest celebration of the Lunar New Year outside China. And designed public art installations for the festival, including fourteen 3m high illuminated rabbits practicing Tai Chi. I designed the hero illuminated art installation for the Year of the Rat 2020 for the Sydney Lunar Festival. Nine 2.8m high golden animatronic Robot Rats standing on a whopping 8m tall tower of rotating cogs. Huge! I curated the Lunar New Year at World Square, Sydney, and conceived art installations the Three (not so) Little Pigs for the Year of the Pig (2019) and designed The Ratrobats, eight acrobat Rat sculptures for the Year of the Rat (2020), and The Warrior Ox in 2021.
My photography series Poster Boy was selected as part of the 2016 Head On Photo Festival and I held a solo exhibition Obscuriosity at Art Atrium gallery in 2018. I’m also a cultural tour leader for The Art Gallery Society NSW in association with Renaissance Tours. I lead the Art Deco to Art Now tour series. Since 2015, I have taken Art Deco lovers to Shanghai, Miami and Cuba, New York and Wellington. When COVID curtailed our travelling the focus turned closer to home with Art Deco Sydney and Art Deco Potts Point tours. I’m currently working on a new TV series…coming soon…!
SdF: Why do you volunteer at Eastside Radio?
CCS: I appeared as a guest on Natascha Moy’s show about 7 years ago, and she asked me to join her as a presenter. Now, I present Arts Friday. I love the arts and am inspired by creatives. I learn from my guests every week and enjoy the research that goes into the preparation of an interview. Plus, I really do like a good chat! Anyone who works in the arts will tell you they don’t do it for the money! I think that the arts deserve a voice and hope that I can contribute to sharing the stories and spreading the word.
SdF: What advice would you give your younger self?
CSS: Do you really need another pair of black shoes?
SdF: Tell me about a place to find creative inspiration.
CCS: I have some of my best thoughts in the shower! And I’m always inspired by gallery visits and other artists.
To keep up to the minute with Claudia Chan Shaw’s creations follow her instagram page: instagram.com/claudiachanshaw/
To learn more about Claudia Chan Shaw visit her website: claudiachanshaw.com/
Keep an eye out for my next interview in the Shout Eastside Shout series where I interview Melanie Christodoulou.
Did you miss the previous Shout Sister Shout instalment? Read the Epilogue here.