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Week one is in the bag for our new director, Elizabeth Caldwell. We are very excited to have her on board, but how does she feel? Q&A with Elizabeth Caldwell.
Who or what inspires you most?
Artists! They are amazing. Their skill, imagination, generosity, inventiveness and ability to give form to the intangible never ceases to amaze and impress me.
What three things does the world need more of?
First I’d like to replace the word need with want or like or what would it benefit from... In the immortal words of the Burt Bacharach/Hal Green song, the answer is love, and added to this knowledge of and confidence in self and focus on the positive. Staying with a social, values based position, but a bit less abstract, a greater understanding of the role and position of government (specifically the notion of public good that underpins its purpose), equitable access to education and recognition that the needs or wants of those in charge of resources are not necessarily the needs/wants of those on the receiving end.
My whole world view is coloured by the fact that I work in the art sector, so a third take on this question is a cultural one. With that in mind I would say the world would benefit from more resources being given to artists and those that work on their behalf, more opportunities to engage with art and having a greater understanding of the value and benefits of culture.
What do you think have been the biggest changes in the creative industries over the last twenty years?
An increased emphasis on engaging with audiences and an increased interest in the explication of objects (in addition to the traditional role of collecting, caring for and maintaining collections) and in association more attention being given to differently abled people and recognition that we are living in a plural society, the role that new technologies play (for makers, the presenting and interpreting of work and engaging with audiences) the rise, fall and semi-rise-again of the ‘blockbuster’, an expanded and increasingly international environment for artists (more and greater diversity of infrastructure).
Classic Hits or Radio New Zealand?
They both have their place depending on your mood and what you are listening for. We are fortunate to be living in an age where you can put together your own audio programming with a couple of keystrokes!
If money was no object, which international artist would you programme for the City Gallery Wellington?
There are far too many for me to just name one! It would be great to be able to programme the likes of James Turrell, Janet Cardiff, Ernesto Neto, Marina Abramović, Antony Gormley, Louise Bourgeois, Martin Creed, and, and, and…
Finish the sentence. When the going gets tough…
…keep going. I’m modifying or rather merging the famous quotations by Joseph P. Kennedy and Winston Churchill when I say that and I would just add, make sure you look after yourself as you keep going.
What part of the creative process excites you most?
The point at which you have wrestled with all of the various and elusive strands of a great idea and they coalesce into a workable shape.
Shoes or handbags?
Shoes – hands down!
What are you most proud of?
I'm proud to be part of a family of incredible people, of professional initiatives that I have driven such as the Craft/Object Strategy at Creative NZ that saw the establishment of Objectspace, or NZ’s inaugural presence in Venice and I’m always really proud when I know I have helped someone (in a meaningful way).
What’s on the top of your bucket list?
I don’t have a bucket list. I think it is really important to fully engage with the present.
Where do you call home?
Wherever I hang my hat, that’s my home (kudos to Marvin Gaye).
What would you not be seen dead in?
Anything yellow around my face, I jut look as if I have hepatitis (shame really as I love the colour yellow).
Finish the sentence Art to me…
…is infinitely fascinating in its capacity to capture and reflect back to us humanity at its best – compassion, debate, mutual respect, a sense of purpose beyond the immediate, love, kindness, generosity, intellectual provocation – art has the ability to encourage and help you think about all of these things. Great art is very whole in the way it engages the mind, body and soul.
What advice you do wish someone had told you about working in the creative industries?
Hang in there! It can be hard and it can take time to get any job, let alone one that is the right fit, but it is worth the effort rewarding and nourishing your spirit in all kinds of ways. Don’t do it for the money…
Shaken or stirred?
Stirred (but I’m happy with either an olive or a twist).
What can we expect to see more of at the City Gallery Wellington?
City Gallery is already a by-word for lively, engaging and stimulating exhibitions and you are going to see more of that and continue to enjoy its ability to be alluring, accessible and thought provoking.