Something’s stirring in Bendigo. It started 10 years ago at the local art gallery which has transformed from regional road stop to national cultural institution. Senior Curator Tansy Curtin is responsible in part, joining Karen Quinlan to help execute its reinvigoration. Since then Bendigo has hosted some of its first ever blockbuster exhibits. With the gallery now entering a new era with a major extension, we find out how she helped change the agenda to host some of the most exiting exhibitions Victoria’s ever seen.
Many A Masterpiece
Tansy: I started here eight years ago on a one-year contract and haven’t looked back! I knew how great Victoria’s regional gallery sector was and when I saw the job advertised I jumped at the opportunity. Now that we have such a strong reputation we are often approached by other galleries and museums.
We’ve been building our profile over the last eight to 10 years, beginning with photography exhibitions from the National Portrait Gallery (London). Our first collaboration with the Victoria & Albert Museum (London), The Golden Age of Couture (2008-09) certainly proved our capacity to stage major international exhibitions. It also highlighted that people are interested in fashion exhibitions and few galleries or museums were engaging with the history of fashion and textiles. Since then we have collaborated with the Victoria & Albert Museum on three further exhibitions and built relationships with other major international institutions including the Royal Academy of Arts (London), George Eastman House (New York) and the FIDM Museum (LA).
I think a lot of outsiders saw [Grace Kelly: Style Icon] as a turning point for the Gallery but for the Director and Curators we had been working on international exhibitions for quite some time. One of the great things about Grace Kelly: Style Icon was that it proved to Australian audiences that you can host outstanding international exhibitions (attracting substantial numbers) in a regional gallery.
Undoubtedly my recent favourite exhibition was Genius and Ambition, an exhibition drawn from the collection of the Royal Academy of Arts (London). I was lucky enough to be able to work closely with staff from the Royal Academy and having the opportunity to work with paintings by some of the greatest British painters of the 18th and 19thcenturies was a wonderful experience. Another favourite exhibition was one I curated in 2011 titled American Dreams: 20th Century Photography From George Eastman House. I was given the opportunity to travel to George Eastman House in upstate New York to research their archive and select works for the exhibition. I am very passionate about American photography and this was an incredible once-in-a-lifetime curatorial experience.
Regional galleries have the opportunity to develop exhibitions which sit outside those of the major state capitals – we can push the boundaries a little. In our case (and that of other towns in Victoria) we are well placed to attract audiences from across the state – those wanting a cultural road trip to experience the art and history of places such as Bendigo and perhaps have a couple of days at a slower pace.
For [the future of the gallery] I envision bigger and better things! We have come so far over the last twenty years, but there are always opportunities to further develop and new relationships to build.
My family and I go to café Cortille every Saturday morning for our coffees and baby cino for my two-year-old. The staff are lovely and welcoming and they make a great coffee!
Bendigo has two wonderful handmade/craft boutiques which I regularly visit to get all my gifts for friends and family (or sometimes just for me!) They both pride themselves on supporting local artists and artisans and upon entering the respective boutiques, you are embraced by the fun, quirky atmosphere. Bob Boutique and View Point Hand Made.
I absolutely love New York, such a wonderful place to visit, soak up the culture and enjoy the vibrancy of this international city!
Walking – I enjoy walking around my neighbourhood, talking walks with my two-year old and retired racing greyhound, as well as going on longer family walks exploring different places. It’s the best way to experience a new place.
Chiko rolls were invented in Bendigo!
Best Road Trip
Family road trips as a child, travelling to Kangaroo Island or Coffin Bay in South Australia. Having a barrier of pillows between me and my brother since we couldn’t be trusted not to harass each other. Yet still managing to drive our parents batty!
Dream Road Trip
Travelling with my family having as much time as needed to explore all the wonderful regional towns in Victoria (and further afield).