Off in search of inspiration
Gallery manager Sophie Davis is off to Taiwan and Japan for the Asia NZ Curators Tour.
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