Balancing a career in brewing, art collaborations and bike riding tours, 2008 Caulfield Alumnus Aidan Kempster’s passions have taken him on a rewarding journey.
Aidan originally studied chemistry at Monash, developing his knowledge on the science behind the systems and molecular dynamics at the heart of our physical world. It wasn’t long though before his heart pulled him in another direction, towards the bigger, wilder world outside of the lab.
This initial passion has grown and pre-COVID Aidan dedicated most weekends to taking others bike riding through Victoria’s proposed Great Forest National Park. He enjoys the opportunity to inspire others to appreciate the natural environments he explores and loves.
“I’ll never stop learning about how stuff works and looking for ways to share that knowledge with the people around me”, Aidan says.
Through throwing himself into nature, Aidan has found a passion for environmental protection. Similarly to many young people, Aidan finds the state and federal lack of support for the natural life-support systems of the planet incredibly distressing. As he learns more, he hopes to discover ways to respond meaningfully to ecological crises.
Aidan has also recently developed a passion for brewing. He uses the knowledge he gained at university in his quality control job at a large independent brewery where he is involved in the chemical, sensory and microbiological testing aspects of the brewing process.
“I made a choice to keep my ears and eyes open for opportunities, and have always had a willingness to look and walk down the paths less travelled”, Aidan says.
“Often it’s been projects that have seemed totally outside of my realm of capacity that have yielded the most fulfilling results”.
This is how Aidan fell into his artistic passions; he was called upon by a friend to help build and burn a piece of art. This drove him to delve into the world of woodworking, developing a skill set and confidence to pursue his own creative visions. Now, Aidan devotes a healthy amount of time to building art and furniture out of recycled materials and collaborating with other artists and build crews to assemble and burn large artworks.
Ngarrang is one such piece Aidan collaboratively delivered alongside Wiradjuri man Pete Ingram, backed up by a team of talented contributors. Created from sustainably sourced natural wood from local forests and farms, the piece pays tribute to how it always was, and always will be, Ngarrang’s country.
Aidan would love to see more money being made available to artists and activists, especially those whose work focuses on celebrating culture and the environment. As many creatives know, striking the right balance between work and art is often a struggle.
“Art makes life worth living, and artists shouldn’t have to starve to make our lives better. I am so glad to have found art as a hobby, a therapy, a practice, and I think everyone has artistic potential. I am concerned that there is a social focus on being successful in an economic sense, this misses the point of art a lot of the time. To me, a successful artist is somebody who realises that life is art, art is life, and somebody who finds happiness in their art is a successful artist”.
Aidan is passionate about pursuing what you truly love and defying the odds: “I like to imagine that anything is possible and ask myself what I’d do with my time if I didn’t have to worry about money. And then do that. It’s not without significant privilege however and I have always been aware of the safety net my upbringing has provided”.
All in all, Aidan is most thankful for the people around him, who have inspired him to pursue his own path, as well as moments of uncertainty that have allowed Aidan to really appreciate the process.
“There’s been a few false starts and pitfalls along the way but it’s made me a better-rounded individual and taught me to find pleasure in the simple, little things”.
Seeing himself whittling spoons in the evenings, building art every other day and enjoying a simple life in the forest as the plan for his future, Aidan recommends building your life on listening to and trusting your intuition.
“Believe in your own dreams because nobody else will be able to see a better way for you to fit into the world than you can”.
Check out some of Aidan’s own writing via his blog, Riding for the Great Forest.
Jacqui Kitchen (Class of 2008) is another Grammarian dedicated to environmental conservation and protection. Read more about her efforts.