To Sir, with Love
As the opening of my exhibition approaches, I reflect back on my time here at The Dowse Art Museum. I’ve had the pleasure of working with our amazing team, especially Emma Bugden, who have imparted to me some of their knowledge and wisdom. Over the past year I’ve seen the team work together to put on some great exhibitions, get through some tough times together and run some innovative events.
One memory that springs to mind more clearly than others is my interview for the role of the Blumhardt Curatorial Intern. Unfortunately, this is not one of my proudest moments. Emma and I still laugh about it. I kept my composure during the plane ride, quietly repeating “it’s just like any other interview”. I managed to get through my presentation and was going steady until I was asked:
“What kind of curatorial approach do you think you will bring to this position?”
And there it went. All the “cool cards” were out the window and I was stumped. I’d practised my answer a million times and my mind went blank. The only thing I could think of when they asked me was Jim Vivieaere. Jim was an artist and curator of Cook Island descent who played a huge role in our Pacific Art community. Like many others who were fortunate to have met him, it wasn’t until his passing that I realised how much of an influence he had on me.
During my first experiences, and even still, I often look to others around me as examples of how to exist in the art world. And at that moment I realised that Jim was one of them. I admired Jim’s quiet nature and although his artistic and curatorial practise directly challenged museums and cultural displays, he never needed to yell in order to be heard. The connections he made with younger artists are an example of his humble nature and open minded approach.
In my approach, I envisioned my exhibition as one large installation that places the artworks into conversation that push the boundaries between decorative arts and contemporary art. While some artworks directly challenge the framing space of the museum, others show unique connections between decorative arts, contemporary art and digital art. This approach to curating reflects Jim’s own attitude, layering traditional and contemporary to make new stories.
I hope in moving forward into a career within the arts sector that I’ll be able to make many unique connections with different people and create opportunities for our Pacific people – just as Jim did.
Faka’apa’apa atu (with respect),
Ane Tonga, Blumhardt Curatorial Intern 2012