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Jen Rae

Artist, Researcher, Reworlder

Country: Australia
Cohort: CCL Australia 2023

jenraeis.com centreforreworlding.com

"​Creative climate leadership encompasses intergenerational thinking/knowing/doing, the ability to take a bird’s eye view to the complexities and uncertainties of the climate context and the ability to engage in deep relational processes with humility and creativity. It embraces experimentation and risk taking, holding firmly climate emergency urgency in one hand and relational accountability in the other. Collaboration, inclusivity and justice are at the heart of this work which means ensuring that perspectives and knowledges at the thresholds of being lost, overlooked and/or ignored in dominant discourses are represented."


Dr Jen Rae (she/they) is an award-winning artist-researcher of Canadian Scottish-Métis descent based in Djaara Country/Castlemaine, Victoria, Australia. Jen’s practice-led expertise is situated at the intersections of art, speculative futures and climate emergency disaster adaptation + resilience. Her work is predominantly articulated through transdisciplinary collaborative methodologies and multi-platform projects, community alliances and public pedagogies. Jen is Co-founder and Creative Research Lead at the Centre for Reworlding, a member of the Australian Task Force for Creative Recovery and a 2023 Creative Australia Fellow.

To hear more from Jen, she features in the CCL podcast, episode 6.

Project Highlights

Screen shot of the film REFUGIUM (2021) by Jen Rae and Claire G. Coleman. Screen shot of the Centre for Reworlding's website.


(C∞R) is a collective of Indigenous, people of colour, settler and LGBTIQA2S+ artists, scientists, thinkers and change-makers with a track record of collaboratively working at the intersections of art, the climate emergency, speculative futures + disaster resilience. We are bridge-builders and connectors with diverse and intersecting practices. Our growing body of critical work subverts conventional platforms for engagement in the climate emergency by centring the role of artists.

Grounded in First Nations knowledge systems and protocols, our focus is working towards intergenerational justice, building creative resilience and applying intersectional collaborative approaches in how we work. Our mandate is to amplify arts + culture’s leadership capacity in climate emergency, disaster risk-reduction + resilience contexts via:

• The development and presentation of multi-platform art projects
• Our innovative labs and workshops
• Cross-sectoral partnerships and collaborations
• Research and advocacy.

*REFUGIUM (2021), by Jen Rae and Claire Coleman is an award-winning short film of speculative fiction that led to the formation of the Centre for Reworlding (in real life).

Collage of images from PORTAGE


PORTAGE (2019-2021)


Commissioned by Arts House Melbourne for the REFUGE project (2016-2022)

PORTAGE is a complex multi-platform project in four stages: Raft, Flotilla, Shelter2Camp and First Assembly of the Centre for Reworlding with intersecting creative works/workshops including REFUGIUM and SHELTER: WEAVERS WALK + WORKSHOP. PORTAGE offers survival skill workshops that explore in tangible ways the themes of displacement, evacuation, mobilisation, and shelter, allowing the public a visceral experience to the potential upheavals wrought by climate catastrophe. Following the workshop series, each year PORTAGE culminates in an activation (FLOTILLA, 2019 and FIRST ASSEMBLY OF THE CENTRE FOR REWORLDING, 2021). The project seeks to unearth overlooked skills, knowledges and values that might offer salvation in the years ahead. Both timely and willing to take the long view, PORTAGE is a call to mobilise, collaborate and arrive at purpose. Full description on the website links.

Each of these works are grounded in First Nations knowledge systems and protocols, exploring themes around colonial trauma, climate breakdown and intergenerational justice.

Collaborators include Mittul and Munir Vahanvati from Giant Grass (RAFT – Y1), Marco Cher-Gibard (sound Y1 + Y2), Claire G. Coleman (REFUGIUM + FIRST ASSEMBLY OF THE CENTRE FOR REWORLDING) and weavers Aunties Vicki Couzens, Vicki Kinai, Bronwyn Rezam and Muhubo Sulieman (SHELTER and SHELTER2CAMP – Y2). Over 200 people participated in the RAFT, SHELTER (Y1) and SHELTER2CAMP workshops including local community groups from the Carlton, Kensington, North Melbourne and Flemington estates, Red Cross and State Emergency Services (SES), emergency and climate resilience professionals, government workers, museum and academic staff, friends and family.

Video excerpt on PORTAGE (year 2)

A montage of images from REFUGE 2016-2022 including creative works by Jen Rae, Dawn Weleski, Latai Taumoepeau, Lee Shang Lun and Keg de Souza. Photo credits: Byrony Jackson and Emma Byrnes.


REFUGE 2016 – 2022, Arts House Melbourne
Numerous partners and collaborators. Jen Rae was a core artist of REFUGE as well as creating collaborative multi-platform artworks each year.

This is NOT a drill – Produced by Arts House (Melbourne), REFUGE was a multi-year (2016-2021) transdisciplinary project between artists, emergency management professionals, local government, Indigenous and local communities, and academics exploring the role of artists and arts organisations in climate-related disaster preparedness. Central to this work is Isabelle Stenger’s concept of the ‘cosmopolitical’, how de-centering fact-sharing with values-alignment creates more meaningful participation, and how speculative approaches activate the public imagination informing feedback loops of research, policy and creative practice in the REFUGE project.

Every disaster is different. Every community is different. Therefore, every action in disaster preparedness, response and recovery is context-specific. Each year, new questions are explored in-depth as we collectively determine the imagined climate-related disaster scenario and what we will practice together. In 2016, it was a FLOOD; 2017, a HEATWAVE; 2018, a PANDEMIC; and in 2019, displacement. The Covid-19 pandemic moved REFUGE from North Melbourne Town Hall to online, where we revisited our collective work in Refuge: Pandemic with 3-part digital series. And, in 2021 we explored the vast multifarious dimensions of cumulative impacts, pandemic recovery, care and community relations.

You can find out more about the REFUGE project as a whole by visiting Arts House’s webpage and searching events, vimeo channel, or the University of Melbourne (partners in REFUGE evaluations).

REFUGE short documentary 2021

In the Time of Refuge: A Collection of Writings and Reflections on Art, Disaster and Communities (2022, eds. David Pledger and Nikos Papastergiadis).

Project Gallery


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