THE ARTIST VS THE ARCHIVE
Curated by Nat Randall and hosted by a series of curators at some of Australia’s national institutions, these off-site artistic trips opened the doors to private collections for intimate and personal tours. The institutions designed each of these experiences, and alongside a sharing of knowledge, was an acknowledgement of the role of artists in accessing and working with these extraordinary collections.
NATIONAL FILM AND SOUND ARCHIVES (WED)
Host: Peter White
Senior Curator Peter White and the Indigenous collections team invited Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander delegates (only) to an afternoon at Australia’s Living Archive. Here they were given an introduction to the Archive’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander holdings, which showcased a number of titles and encompassed the archives extensive oral history collection, and films which form the extensive Film Australia Collection (which reached 100 years in 2013). Delegates also heard how the NFSA was rising to the challenge to ensure Australia’s Living Archive appropriately represented and engaged with the world’s longest continuous living culture. Finally, Peter invited delegates to afternoon tea and an informal chat about the potential for new projects and residencies and long terms plans at NFSA.
NATIONAL ARBORETUM (WED)
Hosts: Hannah Semler and Pip Buining
Events and Venue Manager Hannah Semler and Canberra based artist Pip Buining invited delegates along to the National Arboretum Canberra. An arboretum is a place where trees are cultivated for conservation, scientific and educational study and display. The tour lead participants through the forests of rare and symbolic trees from Australia and around the world. The Arboretum is a significant recreational and educational resource for visitors and plays an important role in the protection of world-wide tree diversity and the generation of new knowledge on tree growth and survival, biodiversity and water management. Throughout the tour Pip and Hannah facilitated a discussion about the possibilities of the artists role at the Arboretum in the future.
AUSTRALIAN WAR MEMORIAL (WED/THU)
Host: Stuart Baines
Education Manager Stuart Baines invited delegates on a guided tour of The Australian War Memorial – the central place of commemoration for Australians and a world-class museum. The Memorial is a place of story: a museum that lets the visitor look into the lives of others and try to make sense of the world that they found themselves in. Stuart’s knowledge of the collection allowed delegates to look deeper into these stories and connect with Australia’s military history; and opened up a discussion about the many ways artists, past and future, could engage and work with the collection.
NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY (WED/THU)
Host: Karen Vickery
Karen Vickery, Manager of Access and Learning, and NIDA graduate and lecturer, invited delegates on a tour through a selection of the National Portrait Gallery’s Collection offering a brief history of performing arts portraiture in Australia. The purpose of the National Portrait Gallery is to increase the understanding and appreciation of the Australian people – their identity, history, culture, creativity and diversity – through portraiture. In this tour of the National Portrait Gallery Karen uncovered selected portraits of performers past and present in a range of media. The commissioned digital portrait of Cate Blanchett by artist David Rosetzky featured in this tour – a portrait that explored the art of acting and the performative aspects of portraiture itself.
NATIONAL LIBRARY OF AUSTRALIA (WED/THU)
Hosts: Fiona Hooton and Liz Lea
Event Manager Fiona Hooton welcomed delegates to the National Library to discuss the different ways artists can plum the Library’s depths from anywhere in the world. Fiona uncovered the reasons why the Library is a world leader in digital preservation techniques and outlined the range of research opportunities available to artists to engage with their national collection. Dancer and choreographer Liz Lea showcased her production InFlight and discussed how cultural institutions’ collections have inspired her work. InFlight included archival images, film and sound from the National Library of Australia and the National Film and Sound Archives. Curator Matthew Jones finished the tour by showing two items of special interest in the Treasures Gallery.
Hosts: Cris Kennedy and BOHO Interactive
Director of the CSIRO Discovery Centre, Cris Kennedy and the then artists-in-residence, BOHO INTERACTIVE invited delegates on a tour of one of the largest and most diverse research agencies in the world. CSIRO undertakes a wide range of research to inform and improve the health, welfare, sustainability and productivity of people, communities, regions and industries. Over its 87 year history the CSIRO has played host to a number of arts residencies. Fans of the artist Ex De Medici might recognise the moth wing patterns in her Midnight Oil portrait hanging in the National Portrait Gallery, resulting from her many years of informal residence among the million-plus specimens housed on CSIRO’s Black Mountain campus. Cris took delegates through his handpicked selection of the research divisions at the CSIRO Discovery Centre and BOHO INTERACTIVE discussed their residency and resulting new work, Word Play.
NATIONAL GALLERY OF AUSTRALIA (THU)
Hosts: Robert Bell and Micheline Ford
Robert Bell, Senior Curator, Decorative Arts and Design, invited delegates into the Collection Study Room of the National Gallery of Australia to present a selection of costumes from the Ballets Russes from 1903 – 1933. The NGA began building a decorative arts collection very early in its history, and its presence is now well established with a dedicated department encompassing the Australian and international collections. The Gallery has continued to acquire the work of leading designers and craft practitioners who have influenced design and the decorative arts since the late nineteenth century. In this tour delegates had the opportunity to get up close to a selection of some beautiful and fragile costumes and were able to talk with Robert Bell and the textile conservator Micheline Ford about the process involved in the art of conservation.
NGA SCULPTURE GARDEN (THU)
Host: Karla Conway
Karla Conway, Canberra Youth Theatre Artistic Director invited delegates on an afternoon tour to Canberra’s best-kept secret, the Sculpture Garden at the National Gallery of Australia. Displayed between the shores of Lake Burley Griffin and the NGA are outside ‘rooms’ that are home to 26 sculptures. Acquired during the early 1980s, the abstract and industrial aesthetic of the sculptures is reflective of the time. Karla led delegates through the garden on a tour of her site-specific work, 35°17 SOUTH: a multi-reality, location-based game inspired by the Sculpture Garden. Karla discussed her developmental process and working with a national institution. The tour concluded with James Turrell’s work, Within without.