Call for Presentations – 2020 Australian Fairy Tale Society Conference

Artist: Erin-Claire Barrow 2018

Magic Mirrors:

the Seen and the Unseen

8 June 2020 9am – 4.30pm Heffernan Hall, Hannaford Community Centre, 608 Darling St, Rozelle NSW 2039

Please submit your proposal (Subject heading: Conference Proposal 2020) to by midnight 14 February 2020.

The imagery of fairy tales is as potent as any spell, whether through the power of the words to conjure carriages made of pumpkins or blue bearded villains, or the art that can present those words to our sight in illustrations, sculptures, jewellery, costumes, photography, paintings, food decoration, masks, puppetry, automata, garden design, doll houses, toys, quilts, and all manner of other arts.

The Australian Fairy Tale Society was established to investigate, create, and communicate fairy tales from an Australian perspective.  Our previous conferences have been on The Fairy Tale in Australia, Transformations, Into the Bush, So Many Mattresses, and Gardens of Good and Evil.  Local Rings gather five times a year to explore specific fairy tales.  We have an irregular Ezine and are working hard at creating an original Anthology, South of the Sun: Australian Fairy Tales for the 21st Century.

In our 6th annual conference we want to look (pun intended!) more closely at these visual and artistic representations in Magic Mirrors: the Seen and the Unseen, and we invite you to submit proposals for what you could present at our conference in a variety of forms, because diversity is one of the delights of an AFTS conference.

We are looking for:

  • Talks of 20 minutes talk with an option for 5 minutes Q & A.  It is possible that, if we receive many high quality submissions, we may invite several people to collaborate in a joint presentation.  Please indicate if that would not be acceptable to you.
  • Performances of storytelling, puppetry, theatre, singing, music, dance, etc, of no more than 10 minutes performance with an option for 5 minutes Q&A.  Please include either a video or audio clip of your performance or the name of an AFTS or Storytelling Guild member who can act as a referee for your performances.  We could also arrange an audition time.
  • Panel presentations or discussions of no more than 25 minutes total including Q & A.
  • Workshops (eg art, writing, storytelling, puppetry, gardening, cake decorating etc) of no more than 30 minutes total including set up time.  These might be for a family audience if Inner West Council wants to open these sessions to the public, or might be exclusively for the adults attending the conference.
  • Displays of your books, art, puppets, toys, costumes, etc for sale, or to decorate Heffernan Hall.

Feel free to contact us with a new idea!

Here are some possible themes you could explore:


  • How Australian and international artists have interpreted fairy tales.
  • How Australian artists (of all formats, of all cultures) could interpret fairy tales.
  • The use of Australian imagery in fairy tale interpretation.

Perceptions of

  • Character and identity.
  • Relationships – between characters and archetypes in stories; fairy tale family dynamics; relationship of Australian fairy tale arts to international works and to multicultural Australian arts.
  • Truth, deception, unreliability.
  • Future – hope and fear, beauty and destruction.
  • Scenes (as well as Seen) – how stories have been and can be structured and arranged to shape responses, how perceptions can be changed.


  • The heart as a mirror.
  • Seeing ourselves, our families, our cultural representations, in classic and contemporary fairy tales eg representations of people with disabilities, various cultural backgrounds, LBGTI representations, age, “beauty”, etc.
  • Past – negotiating our history in representing what is Australian.
  • Reversals of fortune and perception.


  • Binaries in fairy tales:  male and female, young and old, life and death, good and evil, light and dark, world and underworld etc.
  • Multicultural identities in Australia and Australian arts and stories.

Truth, deception, image

  • Disguises, masks, secrets, trickery, tunnels, secret doorways etc in fairy tales.
  • Costumes, masks, theatrical representations of fairy tales and fairy tale characters.
  • False representations in fairy tale creators eg the Grimms and their ”folk collections”, Andrew and Nora Lang, Australian fairy tale writers using English or Aboriginal sources.

Fairy tale mirrors

Eg In Snow White, Beauty and the Beast, Snow Queen, Mirror of Matsuyama (Theodora Yei), The Magic Mirror (a Turkish version of The Firebird), The Three Brothers (Arabian), and how these relate to Australian culture.

Australian fairy tale retellings

How Australian fairy tale re tellings have or could reflect self, nation, the world.


As always, and in accordance with our Objectives, our focus is on the Australian interpretation of fairy tales, particularly contemporary multicultural, diverse Australia.

Including any elements of participation will be positively regarded.

Please submit your proposal (Subject heading: Conference Proposal 2020) to by midnight 03 February 2020: 

  • A summary of 100-200 words of what you will communicate and how you will present this.
  • Bio of max 150 words
  • Your experience in communicating or investigating this material.
  • Any special needs for your presentation or expectations of what we should provide including AV.


If your presentation is accepted for the conference we will ask you to provide:

  • A colour photo in high resolution, preferably a close-up of your face, suitable for inclusion in a printed programme.
  • An introduction which can be used by the MC.
  • Permission to use the material you have given us, including your photograph, in any conference promotions. If this includes interviews with radio stations or other media we will discuss this with you first.
  • Permission to use elements from your presentation eg photographs, summaries, links to your publications in future AFTS publications, such as the Ezine.  We will discuss these needs as they arise.

Your conference registration will be discounted to $75 including your annual AFTS membership fee for 2020-2021.

We intend to respond to your submissions by the end of February in order to announce the program in March 2020.

South of the Sun: Australian fairy tales for the 21st century

South of the Sun is an illustrated anthology of Australian Fairy Tales, produced by the Australian Fairy Tale Society in partnership with Serenity Press.

Support our Pozible Campaign 

What is an Australian Fairy Tale? This is a question South of the Sun explores. We are challenging assumptions that fairy tales are for children, are European, and must contain fairies and pale, passive heroines. Through stories, flash fiction, poetry and illustrations we are producing inventive, intercultural new Australian fairy tales for young adults and older fantasy readers.

We are also soliciting work from new and emerging writers and illustrators, with submissions from writers closing on 13 December and from illustrators early next year. We plan to pay all contributors. If you are interested in participating, please see further details on the anthology website:

South of the sun teaser