Off in search of in­spi­ra­tion

Gallery man­ager So­phie Davis is off to Tai­wan and Ja­pan for the Asia NZ Cu­ra­tors Tour.

The Wellingtonian - - Front Page -

How did you find out about the cu­ra­tors pro­gramme and why did you want to en­ter?

The Asia New Zealand Cu­ra­tors Tour pro­gramme has been on my radar for quite a while as some of my col­leagues have par­tic­i­pated in the past. I ap­plied this year as it’s a great op­por­tu­nity to ex­pe­ri­ence the artis­tic and cul­tural con­texts of Asia, and I’m lucky enough to have sup­port to par­tic­i­pate from En­joy Pub­lic Art Gallery, where I work. The ex­pe­ri­ence of­fered by the Cu­ra­tors Tour is in­cred­i­bly unique— it’s an op­por­tu­nity for learn­ing and re­flec­tion on the ground. I feel ex­cited to be a part of it.

What are you hop­ing to get out of the trip?

I’m par­tic­u­larly in­ter­ested in the op­por­tu­nity to start di­a­logues with in­de­pen­dent spaces in Tai­wan and Ja­pan that could serve as the ba­sis for ex­hi­bi­tion ex­changes. More gen­er­ally, I’m ex­cited about learn­ing more about the ma­te­rial cul­tures of these coun­tries.

Are there par­tic­u­lar art forms or sub­jects you plan to fo­cus on while overseas?

At the mo­ment, my curatorial fo­cus is on ex­per­i­men­tal and con­tem­po­rary art, or work that’s be­ing pro­duced by emerg­ing artists in the early stages of their ca­reers. I’m also par­tic­u­larly in­ter­ested in re­la­tion­ships be­tween art, craft, graphic de­sign and pub­lished me­dia. That said, I’m keen to take it all in!

Can you ex­plain what your day-to-day role, as a cu­ra­tor, en­tails?

As well as be­ing the cu­ra­tor of En­joy Pub­lic Art Gallery, I’m also the man­ager there. We’re a small non-profit or­gan­i­sa­tion with two staff mem­bers, which means my daily tasks are var­ied. I over­see our ex­hi­bi­tion pro­gramme, events and pub­lish­ing ac­tiv­ity, as well as man­ag­ing our fi­nances and fundrais­ing. Like many peo­ple my day con­sists of lots of emails, but also can in­clude work­ing closely with an artist in­stalling their work, writ­ing a grant ap­pli­ca­tion, de­vel­op­ing pro­gram­ming and plan­ning ex­hi­bi­tions. So the tasks are both cre­ative and prac­ti­cal.

How im­por­tant is it to form re­la­tion­ships with other art spaces around the world?

I think work­ing in Aotearoa it’s im­por­tant to see our­selves within an in­ter­na­tional con­text, par­tic­u­larly within the Asi­aPa­cific. Most of the ex­hi­bi­tions I work on have a na­tional scope, and re­al­is­ing projects with an in­ter­na­tional fo­cus can be dif­fi­cult without ad­di­tional re­sources and sup­port. In the past, the Asia New Zealand foun­da­tion has been a re­ally im­por­tant part­ner in de­vel­op­ing En­joy’s en­gage­ment with Asia and Asian artists, en­abling us to form new re­la­tion­ships.

Where is your favourite place in New Zealand and why is it a favourite?

Tough ques­tion! Prob­a­bly Wharariki Beach in Golden Bay. I grew up in Nel­son and it’s a favourite to visit. It’s very rugged but beau­ti­ful, with big sand dunes and seals.

Can you de­scribe a per­fect Satur­day?

A sleep, a yummy break­fast in town and a wan­der around the vege mar­kets, fol­lowed by a walk at Owhiro Bay.


TALK­ING ‘‘The ex­pe­ri­ence of­fered by the cu­ra­tors tour is in­cred­i­bly unique — it's an op­por­tu­nity for learn­ing and re­flec­tion on the ground. I feel ex­cited to be a part of it.’’ So­phie Davis

En­joy Pub­lic Art Gallery man­ager So­phie Davis has been se­lected for the 2017 Asia NZ Cu­ra­tors Tour. PHOTO: DAEGAN WELLS

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