From Klutz to Curator of the East End Gallery

Being the face (and the mouth) of the East End Gallery has resulted in a steep learning curve for me during the last ten months. I love being in the Gallery. I love its history, its atmosphere, the artworks and our band of fantastic artists who have supported us, had faith in us, believed in us and the Gallery.

But sometimes this role is challenging, even daunting. I have never worked in any other position like this. Cleaner, steak knife salesman, data operator (which I loathed), optical receptionist, aged carer and education assistant have been some of my paid jobs. Parent, advocate, and autism contact dominated my life over the last twenty-five years. Now I suppose I am the East End Gallery curator. Every time I even think of the word “curator” I tend to look around for the person in charge. Then I realise that it’s me!

I know the artworks. I know our artists. I have created a catalogue. I have mastered the EFTPOS terminal, much to my surprise. We have worked hard to present the Gallery as a welcoming place for all our visitors, where you can share a cup of tea and a muffin with me, sit in one of our tub chairs or the couch, read the weekend papers, the Beverley Blarney and enjoy the art and space. We are forty-five square metres away from renovating the entire three hundred and ninety square metre building. I am so proud of our achievement, particularly since Michael and Gary have been the primary renovators since the beginning.

So, I am confident about certain aspects of this job. Except, it’s not just a job. There is pride and passion and enthusiasm and love. I can easily express myself on some levels. Where I’ve had difficulties is when a visitor asks me a curly question such as “Is that painting done with oils or acrylics?” or “How has that photograph been taken?”. There have been times I’ve bluffed my way through my ignorance or admitted I haven’t a clue.


I’ve improved my knowledge. I  also decided I needed to improve my appearance, to look like a  Gallery co-owner and manager. If I’m going to pretend to be a curator, then I have to look the part. So I visited “Lucky Find” up Vincent Street and bought three new dresses for summer – a uniform of sorts. No more joggers.


It’s alright for Michael – he’s the metal artist and chief renovator, so he can slop around in jeans and a tee shirt, which usually end up with welding burn holes in them. He likes to disappear into his workshop, where he can produce more of our spiders or work on his new sculpture “Unhinged”. I’ll let you all into a secret, though…he will be so pleased to finish the renovation of the building. He is over it.


So, my first day in a frock, I arrived at the Gallery, juggling my bag, computer bag and two containers of cupcakes. Somehow, on my brand new clean dress, I smeared vanilla icing across the front. Beautiful. I was trying so hard not to look like a dag.


Sponging the mess off, I relieved Michael who had opened. We then had quite a busy day, with visitors and friends dropping in. One of whom was Mandy Evans. Mandy is a great girl and a really talented artist. She had also studied web design and installation at uni. She knows lots of useful information, all of which is currently gobbledegook to me.


So, Mandy’s taking me in hand. I hope to learn new computer skills, like how to link websites to Facebook and my blog and the Gallery and our Gallery page. She showed me how to schedule posts on the East End Gallery Facebook page. I have also explained that I need idiot proof instructions. I fear that this could be a long slow process…


And my quest continues – opening the Gallery without any icing on my dress!

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