My Melbourne with Kelly Gellatly

September 13 / 119

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What’s your role at the University?

I'm the new Director of the Ian Potter Museum of Art, which is the University's art museum.

How long have you been at the University?

Nearly four months, so I am very much a newcomer to this environment, but it is very exciting.

How would you describe your typical day?

I think the nice thing is there is no typical day. At the moment it tends to be me running across campus running late for meetings because I don’t yet know the campus well enough. But it can be everything from meeting with colleagues from the different cultural collections which is exciting; finding out what they're doing and what their collections hold; meeting with members of the art world externally, whether it's artists, or curators, or other museum directors; and doing the day to day of running the museum which is working with our curators on exhibitions or education staff, so it’s very varied.

What’s the best part of working for the University?

Being able to sit at the table with colleagues who are really knowledgeable and passionate about their respective areas. I think that's a real privilege. It's amazing just to be able to look through your email address book and realise there are incredible speakers that you can just send an email to and ask them to come in and share their knowledge. That's really exciting.

What’s something about yourself your colleagues may not know?

There are probably many things my colleagues don't know about me. I’m a bit of a frustrated maker. I realised long ago it was art history that was my passion not the actual making. But I suppose I am a bit of a try hard crafter. It’s a way of kind of working through frustrations or tensions, but in my house they're known as 'sad crafty delusions', because I never actually finish anything.

Can you share a good piece of advice you’ve received?

I don't know if it’s the best but it’s certainly one I’ve held onto. I can't even remember who gave it to me initially and I’m sure they lifted it from somewhere so I’m not attributing it to the right person. But it was, "it's better to fight for something than be against something".

Are there any upcoming exhibits at the Potter that you'd recommend?

Always, that's my job after all. We've just had a great exhibition open - The RAKA Award - which is an indigenous art award that was originally established by the late Emeritus Professor Bernard Smith in memory of his wife Kate Challis. Every year it cycles through a different discipline in the arts, so this year it’s come back to the visual arts after five years and we have nine artists in the exhibition. It was recently awarded to Mabel Juli who is quite an extraordinary elderly artist from the Warmun community. She's created very beautiful paintings but she's just one of the artists in the show. We’ve also got our next exhibition coming up, by Gigi Scaria, who is a celebrated contemporary Indian artist. His exhibition opens in mid-September and it’s called Dust.

Image: Richard Timbury


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