Associate Professor Bem Le Hunte is an international author and an expert in the field of Creative Intelligence. Over the past three decades she has worked across a broad range of creative industries, from advertising and journalism, to publishing and new media. She’s been a creative consultant, creative director, brand consultant and copywriter (in the UK, Australia and India) for over 500 brands across a diverse range of media – covering the world’s most successful blue chip companies to social enterprises and start-ups.
In her professional life, Bem has focused on digital innovation, educating consumers, clients, students and colleagues on the creative potential of next generation technology since the time she was creative director on the launch of Microsoft Windows ’95.
Bem’s research interests lie in the thinking, theory and practice of creativity and in trailblazing educational innovation. She also has a research interest in cross-media innovation, storytelling and the social, cultural and political impact of media consumption.
At UTS, Bem is the course director for the Bachelor of Creative Intelligence and Innovation, responsible for the interdisciplinary integrity and inspiration behind this flagship combined degree. She teaches creative thinking, theory and practice across disciplines from Anthropology to Media and Creative Writing – and works with academics from across all faculties at UTS as well as with industry stakeholders, to create this world-first, future-facing transdisciplinary degree.
Currently, Bem is working on her fourth book. Her novels, short stories, articles and commentaries are published internationally to critical acclaim. Her most recent passion is a start-up with fellow authors at www.wutheringink.com – the world’s first author-run portal for published writers.
“Quite remarkable...The Seduction of Silence is a work of persuasive imagination, of such scope, power and narrative charm that it does make you wonder, as with Salman Rushdie and Rohinton Mistry and others, whether all good modern writing has an essential connection with the Indian sub-continent.”
Thomas Keneally, Booker Prize author of Schindler’s Ark.
“Bem Le Hunte is quite simply a wonderful novelist.”
Geraldine Brooks, Pulitzer Prize winning author of March
“Le Hunte’s trans-continental, generational saga [The Seduction of Silence] is a complex of ambition, esoterica, spiritual questing and down-home realities. Part family history, part Hindu chronicle, it’s rambunctious, eccentric, otherworldly and carnal; literary with a potentially wider audience, it explores diverse spiritual and cultural values with a knowing humour...Touted by her publishers as ‘the publishing sensation of the year’, it’s getting bells-and-whistles promotion. Such hyperbole usually whets critical appetites but this time the PR seems close to the mark.”
Murray Waldren, The Australian.
“Although few of us have the inclination to truly take on life as a journey – we should at least find reasons to read books such as this one.” [Seduction]
Matt Dickinson, Herald Sun.
“A splendidly conceived saga weaving the history of an entire culture into the portrait of one family: vivid, compelling, utterly fascinating.”
Kirkus Review, US.
“It’s impossible to read There, Where the Pepper Grows and not be moved... in fact the heart of the book beats... it’s hard to imagine that this rich and dazzling story will not change all those who read it.”
David Gilchrist, The West Australian.
The tapestry of Le Hunte’s sweeping story is intricately weaved, linking disparate cultures with desperate people in an unforgettable narrative.”
Jan Hallam, The Perth Sunday Times.
Literary awards / prizes
- Won the NSW Premier’s Literary Fellowship (2001 – $20,000)
- Won an Asialink Literary Residency (Completed 2003 – $12,000)
- Shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize (2001)
Can supervise: YES
· The Seduction of Silence (HarperCollins, Penguin – 2000)
· There, Where the Pepper Grows (HarperCollins 2005)
· Dandelions and Helicopters – editor (Royalties Press, 2012)
· Father of all Stories (Royalties Press, 2016)
· Creativity and the Sacred (Royalties Press, 2016)
Short stories / Book chapters
· Stories from Prakriti – (2001 – HarperCollins)
· God of Gatecrashers (Penguin Books - 2002, in Big Night Out)
· What the Servant Saw (2011 – Southerly / The Long Paddock online)
· The Final Christmas (2011 – Heads Up – The Royalties)
· Eve Teasing (June 2012, The Monthly)
· Kindness / Udarta (RMIT & Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade, 2012)
· Three of a Kind (2012 – Optima)
· Indian Winters (2011 – The Australian)
· Abode of the Gods (2003 – Yoga Journal)
· Edible Blessings (2004 – Yoga Journal)
· Both Sides Now (2002 – The Bulletin with Newsweek)
For more publications / creative outputs:
Bem Le Hunte is the Course Director for the Bachelor of Creative Intelligence and Innovation, responsible for the interdisciplinary integrity and inspiration throughout the four years of this combined degree. She teaches creative thinking, theory and practice across a broad range of disciplines, from Anthropology to Media and Creative Writing, and ensures full integration with talented industry stakeholders to maximise student potential and industry engagement.
Le Hunte, AA 2016, Creativity and the Sacred, Wutheringink, Sydney.
Art practice began as a quest for the sacred and continued with this focus until the Renaissance. This thesis begins by questioning this spiritual inheritance of the creative endeavour and exploring the possibility that our historical search for the sacred may still have relevance for today's artists and writers. I postulate that creativity always was and still is used to bridge the gap between the known and the unknown, as it served to bridge the gap between heaven and earth in previous times.
My first chapter explores theories that conceive of heaven and earth as separate: the sacred and profane realms in opposition to each other. I cover religious traditions that conceive of the sacred as 'wholly other,' or existing in a realm that is separate by nature, by virtue of being unknown. My second chapter digs deeper into esoteric traditions and searches for themes of unity rather than separation – for streams of thought that assert continuity between the sacred and profane spheres. Here I introduce the idea of union – union between people, and between reader and writer. I look at sociological concepts that consider the sacred as a sum of human parts – as a product of the group, and I look at novels that have taken transcendence or union as a central theme.
In my third chapter I study the boundary lands between the sacred and profane and the role of the writer or artist at this juncture. I look at the Chinese origins of language – a language that was conceived as a bridge between these two domains. I also examine the politics of representation and the dangers of sitting at the gateway between heaven and earth – of helping to construct the cosmos from this precarious juncture point.
In my fourth chapter I consider how language bridges the gap between the concrete and the abstract – how it serves to help people live beyond reality and how artists have exploited this quality to re-present the world as we know it. I also look at the process of creativity and the r...
There is no abstract - this is a short story.
Le Hunte, AA & Golembiewski, JA 2014, 'Stories Have the Power to Save us: A Neurological Framework for theImperative to Tell Stories', Arts and Social Sciences Journal, vol. 5, no. 2, pp. 1-4.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
The evolutionary advantage of humans is in our unique ability to process stories – we have highly evolved 'narrative organs.' Through storytelling, vicarious knowledge, even guarded knowledge, is used to help our species survive. We learn, regardless of whether the story being told is 'truth' or 'fiction.' Humans place themselves in stories, as both observer and participant, to create a 'neural balance' or sweet spot that allows them to be immersed in a story without being entirely threatened by it – and this involvement in story leads to the formation of empathy – an empathy that is integral to forging a future humanity. It is through empathy, we argue, that stories have the power
to save us.
The hippocampi process narrative details. Situated alongside are the amygdalae – organs that place the reader in the story. The temporal lobes store 'story nuggets.' Finally there's the frontal cortex to inhibit full participation in narrative, so that the story can be experienced vicariously.
Le Hunte, B 2011, 'What the Servant Saw', Southerly, vol. 70, no. 3, pp. 1-8.
Le Hunte, AA 2017, 'Gamestorming the Academy: On Creative Play and Unconventional Learning for the Twenty-First Century' in Pike, D, Lynch, S & à Beckett, C (eds), Multidisciplinary Perspectives on Play from Birth to Beyond, Springer, Sydney.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Studies show that businesses the world over are looking for more creative managers, and creativity requires an innate ability to play with problems, scenarios, methods and possibilities, and to make mistakes whilst doing so. Moreover, the new generation of knowledge workers will be required to fathom and negotiate more complex, networked, dynamic and open problems. They will need to navigate unknown spaces and challenges that currently don't exist. This chapter looks at how tertiary institutions can respond to the needs of the future workforce by creating a more creative curriculum that goes beyond the teaching of expert knowledge and fact: a curriculum that uses play, and frameworks for discovery, to educate students in that ability to navigate the unknown. If students can begin to feel comfortable within the liminal, divergent phase of discovery, and liberate themselves from thinking only in the standard convergent, linear ways privileged in universities, they would be far better prepared for the big challenges ahead.
Le Hunte, AA 2016, 'Father of all Stories'.
Father of all Stories is about how all of us, at some point in our lives, have to invent ourselves in order to transcend the seemingly concrete nature of reality. In essence it is a coming of age story exploring a threshold in time where invention can be at its most radical and potent – and yet at its most fragile.
Carla has a lot of inventing to do. She has a passion for books and an extreme talent for writing, but was born into a family that has no value for education and parents who want to kick their kids out of their council home the day they leave school. However, a passionate high school teacher and a crusader for equality persuades her gifted young student to imagine an alternative narrative. Putting in hours of her time, she takes Carla on an inspirational journey through literature and helps her to win a place to study English at Cambridge.
The fairytale story imagined by the two of them falls short of a successful new beginning when Carla finds herself completely incapacitated by feelings of inadequacy once surrounded by the 'Queen's children' at Cambridge. Desperately lonely, she returns to her hometown scene in London to seek the familiar and join a writing course with some friends. This group of friends are young and vulnerable, hungry for success, for love, for acknowledgement. Destabilised already by their desires, they enter the circumference of Gurdev – writing teacher, manipulator and God man, who encourages his young students to go beyond the limits of their creativity: to break down distinctions between the real and the unreal – to enjoy the liberty of the unfamiliar – a place that he is all too familiar with.
Carla finds herself pulled into Gurdev's magnetic field through an unstoppable physical attraction, but she is not alone. Everyone in this awe-struck group of young writers who call themselves the Post-Bloomsburys is defined and created by their encounters with Gurdev. And while some are attracted to him, others are repelled, feel...
Creative work - no abstract
Le Hunte, AA 2014, 'Poland', Poetica Magazine, Poetica Magazine, USA.
Le Hunte, B 2014, 'Digital Air-borne Chariots', Only Connect, Brass Monkey Books, Melbourne, pp. 11-24.
Love notes are no longer written on scented paper Battles are fought in cyberspace. Government and corporate intelligence are hacked for public consumption. Technology has rewritten all the rules and radically changed the way we look at the world and at ourselves. Whether we like it or not, we speak a different language today, as techno-speak creeps into pubic and private exchanges. The stories in 'Only Connect', from India and Australia, reflect on this deep impact of technology on our lives, our relationships, and our ways of seeing things and each other. Every story has a fresh approach; each story probes the way in which digital technology has altered our world for better or worse.
Le Hunte, B 2013, 'Australian / Indian Diasporic Perspectives: Eve Teasing in India; Indian Winters; A Sense of Place', The Monthly, The Australian, Australia-India Literatures International Forum, The Monthly, Melbourne.
Le Hunte, B 2012, 'Spiritual Realism: Two Hundred Years (and Counting); The Final Christmas; Kindness / Udarta;', Dandelions and Helicopters, The NSW Writers' Centre, Royalties Press, RMIT, Rozelle, pp. 128-141.
Set in the magical town of Göreme, this episode features hot air ballooning, underground cities, rustic Turkish coffee shops, carpet weaving, and spectacular aerial views. 1,500 stonemasons and workers meet the challenges of the 'fairy chimneys' rock formations in Cappadocia, building two exceptional Geoglyphs in the historic landscape.
Rogers, Andrew & Le Hunte, AA 2008, 'Rhythms of Life, Nepal', National Geographic, Ovation.
Nepal is a country of great topographical features – the highest mountains in the world and the deepest gorges. This episode is inspiring, breathtaking, and logistically challenging, with excellent aerial shots that deliver the viewer a final encore. Here two of Rogers' artworks are sacred Buddhist symbols from Nepal's ancient past.
Le Hunte, AA & rogers, Andrew 2008, 'Rhythms of Life, Slovakia'.
Rogers meets the Romanian Gypsies and with them creates Earth Artworks which connect them to their past. A visit from a large contingent of school children provides a vibrant local interaction during the episode. Gypsy music, dance and local art and culture infuse the building and a spectacular end ceremony exudes the colours and traditions of the Romanian Gypsies.
Rogers constructs two geoglyphs in North America's Mohave Desert including a construction based on a 3000-year-old petroglyph of a native spear thrower. For the closing ceremony he participates in a smoke ceremony lead by well known actor Steve Reevis, a Native American who appeared in the Academy Award-winning 1990 film dances with Wolves.
Le Hunte, B 2005, 'There, Where the Pepper Grows', HarperCollins Publishers, Sydney, pp. 1-361.
This novel was internationally published to critical acclaim, and was a number 1 bestseller in Australia. 'Bem Le Hunte is quite simply a wonderful novelist. Drawing on her own rich background in India and the West, she weaves a dazzling story that carries the scent of spices and the true sense of other lives. There, Where the Pepper Grows is set amid the gathering darkness of wartime Poland, and the almost unbearable brightness of Calcutta, where a group of Jewish refugees finds an unlikely haven. It is, above all, a love story: one subtle enough to reveal the many ways in which love can be expressed throughout a lifetime.' Geraldine Brooks, Pulitzer Prize Winner 2006. 'It's impossible to read 'There, Where the Pepper Grows' and not be moved... in fact the heart of the book beats... it's hard to imagine that this rich and dazzling story will not change all those who read it.' David Gilchrist, The West Australian. The tapestry of Le Hunte's sweeping story is intricately weaved, linking disparate cultures with desperate people in an unforgettable narrative.' Jan Hallam, The Perth Sunday Times. 'No reader could fail to be deeply moved by the plight and flight of Benjamin and his loved ones, and to be surprised and intrigued by the safe welcome they receive in warm, mothering India.' Susan Kurosawa, The Australian. "'There, Where the Pepper Grows' is a moving story and a prayer for tolerance as Australia confronts serious issues today about its treatment of refugees.' Carlene Ellwood, Sunday Tasmanian. We are sailing down the Hooghly River, inland towards Calcutta. I am a younger man, and I travel with a group of Polish Jewish refugees. Our lives are cheap and our pockets are empty... I do not know what the future will hold for any of us. I do not know when we will be able to stop wandering... This is the story of Benjamin, who fled his native Poland during the Nazi occupation, aiming to fulfil his father's long-held dream of settling in Palestine. But al...
Le Hunte, B 2002, 'The God of Gatecrashers', Big Night Out, Penguin Books, Sydney.
Le Hunte, B 2000, 'The Seduction of Silence', HarperCollins Publishers, Sydney.
'Quite remarkable...'The Seduction of Silence' is a work of persuasive imagination, of such scope, power and narrative charm that it does make you wonder, as with Salman Rushdie and Rohinton Mistry and others, whether all good modern writing has an essential connection with the Indian sub-continent.' Thomas Keneally, Booker Prize-winning author of 'Schindler's Ark' ('Schindler's List') 'Passion, grief and glory infuse this novel, which is at once wholly original and yet squarely in the tradition of the great family sagas. In prose as vivid and arresting as a marigold, Le Hunte gives us five generations of seekers. Her account of what they find, and what they must lose is irresistible. I couldn't put it down.' Geraldine Brooks Pulitzer Prize-winning author of 'March' From a haunted room in the Spiritualist Church of Great Britain to the breathtaking hills of the Himalayas, 'The Seduction of Silence' takes us on the spiritual and emotional journeys of five generations in a remarkable Indian family. Aakash, venerated sage and healer, is the founder of Prakriti - an abundant ayurvedic farm in the Himalayas. From this soulful mountain home, his children and grandchildren set off to make the journeys that create their destinies: Ram to search for enlightenment; Tulsi Devi to a convent in Lahore where her life will change forever; Rohini across the world on a painted bus to a new land and a radical new kind of freedom. Encountering aghoris who smear themselves with the ashes of the dead and eat food out of human skulls; eunuchs who dance, tease and lure; and a midwife as radical as any witch burnt at the stake in years gone by, 'The Seduction of Silence' is an important debut of immense power and magic.
waldren, M 2000, 'Inside the Outsider', The Australian.
Article about me in the Australian
Conferences and public engagement / literary engagements include:
- Sydney Writer’s Festival
- Wordpool, Brisbane
- Australian Society of Authors
- Australian Society of Women Authors
- Trading in the Imagination – a conference at the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney
- Calcutta University, India
- Burdwan University, India
- Rabindra Bharati University, India
- UTS, Sydney
- University of New South Wales, Sydney
- Stanford University
- Science and Non-duality Conference (2009)
- California Kolkata Book Fair, India (2007)
- Perth International Arts Festival (2006)
- Inaugural Jewish Writer’s Festival, Sydney
- Soirees Littéraires, Sydney
- The Sydney Salon
- The NSW Writers’ Centre
- Australia-India Literatures International Forum (2012)
- X-Media Lab
- 11th Annual International Conference on Communication and Mass Media (2012)
- Rangsit University
- Various bookstores around the world, including publisher-financed tours of East and West coast of the US
Bem also works with Macmillan Publishing Solutions on the world’s first portal for published writers at www.wutheringink.com.