Australian Office

Annie Hsiao-Wen Wang

This week, ‘40 years, 40 stories’ brings you Annie Hsiao-Wen Wang – award-winning Australian-Taiwanese visual artist and author. Life in Australia has taught her to always listen to her inner calling as she carves out her own unique path. She shares her story:


For the first 10 years of my life, I lived in the compound of my grandfather’s factory in what is now New Taipei City. Back then, Taiwan was going through a rapid burst of economic growth, and much of Taipei was still very industrialised. My first visit to Australia was the day my family moved to Perth, and I remember waking up in the morning to the biggest, brightest sky I had ever seen in my life. The shock of how much space was now around me and available to me was startling—a revelation of the possibility of a different way of life.

It’s funny, but one of the most memorable things during that time was how my brothers and I had come out of our first day at school at Koonawarra Primary, looking at each other with a mixture of confusion and astonishment. “Did you get any homework today?” we asked each other, followed by a shake of each of our heads, then excited giggles as we realised it was the first time in our schooling life that we’d been sent home without homework. We were encouraged to play, to participate in sports, to draw, and to write creatively instead.

As insignificant as they may seem, I think these formulative experiences helped me later in life to find my meandering path from being a Mechanical Engineer in the mining industry to eventually becoming a visual artist and an adventure fiction author. The diversity that comes from having my roots in both countries informs my creative practice, and I love exploring and pushing the boundaries between the two cultures. Australia and Taiwan both continue to feature prominently in my books, and elements of the East and West can always be found in my artworks.