CURATING ACCESSIBLE ART

DATE

9 April, 2024

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Returning home to Tasmania was like sinking into a comfortable, old armchair for Megan Dick (‘88). As a former student who attended the school with her siblings Andrew (‘91), Katrina (‘87) and Rowena (‘93), the Curator of The John Glover Art Prize was seeing the landscape of Scotch Oakburn from different eyes.

“After leaving school, I didn’t have much of a connection with Scotch, but now it is quite nice to be amongst it,” Megan said.

“You only realise when your children go back to school how nice it is to have that school history. My grandfather, Max Beaumont (Scotch, ’1927), was Dux. Many, many years ago, I’d go into the Chapel and see his name on the wall. And Nanny, Jean Parsons (MLC, ‘1929), went to Methodist Ladies’ College.

I like passing on my school history to Matilda (Year 5). I think it gives her a sense of belonging.”

Admitting that she enjoyed school and sort of did okay, Megan had an interest in the arts from an early age.

“I was quite fortunate when I was at school to travel overseas with my family and I saw a lot of art and exhibitions. I always had an interest in that industry and I found the school subject really enjoyable. I had a curiosity.

I was into doing art, but I actually realised that I didn’t have that creativity to become a professional artist. I remember there were a couple of students that were technically very good, but I could also see that there needed to be more.”

After studying the Arts in Hobart, moving to Melbourne and then onto Sydney for 15 years, Megan opened Mick Gallery in the inner-Sydney suburb of Paddington.

It was here she pursued her career in curating and selling fine art and molding her talents that would finally bring her back to Launceston and to the Glover Prize.

“After Matilda was born, I ran a show from home at Paddington. Technology was evolving and I could still sell at exhibitions, have pop-up exhibitions and rent a space and have shows”, she said.

“I didn’t need a physical space. The first couple of years I was back (in Launceston) I would continue to have exhibitions at rented space in Sydney.

It (Glover Prize) was not a job I anticipated getting when I moved.

When I took over the role, the original curator was resigning after 14 years.

It took me a while to realise how very fortunate I was. John Glover was hugely innovative and he came to a new country in the 1800s at the age of 63. He invented a new way of looking and depicting art.

I feel very privileged to be involved in the group that presents one of the nation’s most prestigious landscape art prizes… and involved in an organisation that is very open-access in the arts.”

Community and connection is something that Megan has relished since returning home. Not only has she reconnected with former teachers at the school by the likes of Sue Fletcher, Simon Longstaff, Melissa Smith and John Woodroffe, she also wants to foster and nurture the talents of the next generation.

“One thing I am quite interested in is lessening the veneer of arts and making it more accessible for people”, Megan said. “The Glover annually has over 1000 school children come and visit each year and that is not really about teaching them how to paint or giving them painting skills, it’s more about just putting an opportunity in front of them.

We all come from the prism of our own experience, and we have very differing experiences and people come to view the art prize with different expectations of what that is.

I think it’s really interesting that education now focuses on not the questions and the answers, but the gaps in between, and it is really important for any discipline to have that creativity to sort of be questioning and looking for differences, not just putting two things together, but to work out your own answers.

If someone says ‘I don’t like that painting’, I think that’s a good thing. People are passionate and you know, good art, dance, music, literature brings out a passion so people can be passionately negative.

But it’s all okay, it’s okay to have an opinion. (With the Glover Prize) school children can see there is no right or wrong and it’s okay to have differing views.”