Trained originally in Adelaide as a secondary art teacher, but with aspirations to be a scribbler and painter, champion sportsman and traveller, my background has been diverse, interweaving education, creative arts, management, farming and gardening, curatorial work and roaming various parts of the planet.
In 1981 I ceased lecturing in fine arts and commenced a career in arts administration. I had been Director of the Jam Factory Crafts Training Workshops and gallery and prior to that served as Executive Director of the Crafts Council of South Australia for four years–when I put my painting practice and writing for The Advertiser on hold and travelled to Sydney the long way. I then commenced 16 years as a Curator and Manager with the Historic Houses Trust of NSW.
My first Museums Adviser consultancy commenced in the Upper Hunter in 2009. Subsequently I took up a museum advisory role with Lithgow City Council and became Museums & Galleries Adviser in adjacent Blue Mountains City Council, also in 2011.
Of the three regions with which I am in on-going contact, the Lithgow LGA has some of the most enthusiastic cultural workers who have developed a local network meeting monthly for joint promotions, professional support and exchanges, advocacy and fun.
Museums in this area include a priceless armoury collection in a site dedicated to precision engineering; social and industrial history undertakings; and folk life engagingly kept alive in a chockfull shed in a beautiful but remote locale.
The Blue Mountains region is being well-served by an umbrella organisation of museum workers, amateur historians and academics that regularly produces a comprehensive, on-line periodical, plus occasional talks and workshops: the role of the Museums & Galleries Adviser here involves supplementing this considerable existing service and offering more concentrated, sustained and individual assistance.
A relatively new Council, the Upper Hunter Shire contains four proudly independent centres and a dozen museums and keeping places–some traditional and rich in local history, some suffer from changing times while others are on the drawing board or in the making. The newest and presently most challenging project for the Museum Advisor is with a handful of citizens in faraway Cassilis developing a proposed 24/7 tourist-access archive amongst surviving boom-time buildings of the main street.
A recent consultancy facilitating a major overhaul of a museum run by the historical society – exemplified the positive exchange that occurs working with impassioned volunteers: in being a sounding-board, analyst, urger and supporter offering practical and conceptual possibilities, an Museum Advisor can prompt gratifying, creative, cooperative enterprise, developing a deeper appreciation of museum practices and encouraging ongoing endeavours. Being part of a struggle and seeing confidence growing, projects happily realized and gaining their own momentum, is most rewarding.
The most rewarding aspect of being in the Museum Advisor program is the interaction with dedicated, proud citizens finding viable ways to keep stories of their forebears alive.