Year 12 Visual Art student, Bella Fitzgerald, has just landed a fantastic role as a virtual art director for the ‘Uprising Club’ in Melbourne’s CBD.

“Many people think ‘club’ equals strobe lights and very loud techno music,” Bella admits. “But some clubs are reinventing themselves as immersive art experiences that provide an immediate and powerful experience from the moment you walk in the door.”

The progressive and obviously creative Uprising Club wants to bring this phenomenon, now popular in Europe and North America, to Melbourne.

When a friend told her about the art curation role, it was a lightbulb moment for Bella who had already been wondering why club owners seemed reluctant to try new ideas.

Naturally she applied for the position.

When she heard she was the successful candidate, Bella says she was “ecstatic” and also relieved that club accepts she cannot fully take up the role until after her exams.

In the meantime the club, and Bella, are using the current lockdown period as an intense planning phase.

So, what exactly will Bella’s role entail?

“I need to find art pieces that fit with the club’s weekly themes,” Bella explains. “The first week we are out of Covid restrictions the theme will be ‘Unleashed’.

“Initially some of the works will be bought, but most will be hired. Then, over time, we hope that artistic patrons will be a source of artwork purposefully made for the specific themes.”

Bella shares the ambitions of the managers for the success of the club and they expect to use some of her own work—art and photography—at the club.

“This unique opportunity came along at exactly the right time,” she says. “It’s opening up my future in a way I had not dreamt possible.”

But her plans for the future extend way beyond the arts.

Back in Grade 4, Bella, the daughter of farmers with a passion to care for wildlife on their farm, went on a school excursion to IMAX where she saw the movie Born to be Wild.

She was utterly enthralled, and equally appalled, about what she learnt was happening to two intelligent natural treasures: the orang-utan and the elephant.

At the end of the film there was an explanation of how people could apply to spend six months of their lives in the jungle working at the orang-utan sanctuary in Borneo.

Bella immediately made up her mind—not only that she would one day do this—but that she would change her life so that she was not contributing to the suffering and demise of these and other animals.

You won’t find her using products or eating anything that contains palm oil that has been produced at the orang-utan’s expense. And you won’t find her using products tested on animals.

You might have even seen her, before Covid, selling chocolates around the college to raise money for her trip to Borneo.

The work being done in Borneo is focused on two aspects. One is caring for the orang-utans, especially those orphaned by the violence meted against them by those clearing the forests for palm oil plantations.

The second is building facilities that provide new homes for the orang-utans.

“I also sponsor an orphaned orang-utan named ‘Poppy’ and who I’ll actually get to meet if I’m accepted into the program.”

The organisation is understandably particular about who they allow to join them and the application process is complex.

To give herself the best shot at begin accepted, Bella has been building her skills, and proving her passion for the wellbeing of creatures in general, by taking VET Animal Studies and volunteering at Woodend’s ‘Pet’s Haven Foundation’.

“We seem to forget that, as humans, we too are animals,” she says. “We’ve put ourselves on this pedestal as though we are completely above the cycles of life, yet we cause so much suffering.

“And we don’t realise how much is going until it’s gone.”

Now, in her new role as Art Director at the Uprising Club, Bella has already raised the possibility that one week their theme should be raising awareness about creatures we are presently decimating.

“I think we need to speak for all animals—whose voices cannot be heard—so we can be the change we want to see.”