Gallery makes history with handpicked works

Gallery makes history with handpicked works

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WA art academic Ted Snell has relished the nostalgia of curating Curtin’s Director’s Cut exhibition. Photograph – Aaron Van Rongen.

Celebrating its 20th anniversary as Australia’s largest university art museum, the John Curtin Gallery has thrown open its doors to a rich history of local art.

Former curators and Perth art personalities Ted Snell and John Barrett-Lennard have joined current curator Chris Malcolm for Director’s Cut, a handpicked selection of works from throughout Curtin’s art history, as well as a keen cross-section of local work.

“It’s always great to have an exhibition at the gallery, particularly now when it represents so much great work from the local community,” Mr Snell said

“That’s particularly important for the university community, as they do own the gallery itself.

“I do have that personal connection to it though, so it’s been really exciting to see it at this stage because it’s always been exciting to see how the gallery develops. “Because it’s more of a community gallery than any one private group’s ideals, it’s always had a bit of a life of its own.”

Opening in 1998, the John Curtin Gallery has been home to a wide-ranging set of collections, from a noted historical exhibition on Curtin himself to many exhibitions of award-winning local work.

“It’s actually been really interesting to put the exhibition together, because of course Chris, John and myself come from different angles when it comes to deciding what we like,” Mr Snell said.

“Full credit to the university, because I think one of the big successes of the Curtin Gallery is how it hasn’t held on to any one idea.

“It’s often been transformed for specific shows and has generally changed according to who’s curating, and basically what the tastes and wants of the university and wider community are.”

Mr Snell said the exhibition, and the gallery in general while being located on Curtin’s campus has long been established as a public gallery, open to anyone who has an interest.

“The gallery is tied to the university and the art faculty itself, of course, but it’s always felt like something bigger than that,” he said.

“You only have to see the work that Curtin graduates have done in the wider industry to see how important contemporary art is to the university, and the gallery is a great middle-ground between that often insular world and the wider public.”

The Director’s Cut exhibition is at John Curtin Gallery, Curtin University until July 8.