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    Industry insights: Anais Lellouche, curatorial director

    By Annette Wagner

    As I continue my Industry Insight quest to explore, discuss and spotlight the many diverse creative industries women are leading and making their mark in, I wanted to feature a career that has been on the my list of 'what I want to be when I grow up' for a long, long time: a curator.

    Before speaking with Anais Lellouche, curatorial director at Anna Schwartz Gallery, I knew there was much more to being a curator than what Charlotte on Sex in the City alluded to.

    Read on to share her insightful feedback on how Anais become a curator, what the role actually involves and five tips for how an artist finds gallery representation.

    What lead you to become a curator?

    I was very fortunate to have had a passion for art from a very young age and I started gaining experience in the field at the age of 16 years. I knew I would work in the arts but was not exactly certain in what capacity, whether as an artist, gallerist, in a museum, or auction house. So I tried them all! This is how I found my way; I kept moving ahead with experiences in the field until it felt right.

    In a contemporary art environment, a curator is a person who selects and often interprets works of art. In addition to selecting works, the curator is often responsible for many other aspects, and it is by nature a multi-tasking role. What does your role as a curator at Anna Schwartz Gallery involve? 

    Anna Schwartz Gallery is a very special place, which has been the home for leading contemporary art in Australia for over 30 years. My role is to support artists in the presentation of their works, whether at the gallery, in museums or with other projects and commissions. The best part of my role is working closely with artists and external parties and to develop opportunities for them to create and exhibit their work. I am fortunate to work closely with the founder, Anna Schwartz, and to draw from her relentless enthusiasm and experience supporting artists to achieve their visions, with no compromise.

    You recently collaborated with Chiharu Shiota, for her inaugural exhibition at Anna Schwartz Gallery and Public Art Commission of the Melbourne Festival. How did this collaboration come about, what was your role and do you have any recommendations for managing a creative collaborative process?

    Jonathan Holloway, the Artistic Director of the Festival had been interested in Chiharu Shiota’s work for many years and since the gallery represents her, it was a natural collaboration. The articulation of gallery space and public space offered the possibility for the artist to showcase different parts of her practice and thereby reach a wide audience. Shiota’s projects were a real collaborative effort from the early stages, working with engineers to ensure that the 7 metre tall mobile home the artist wanted to create was achievable, all the way through to the students and volunteers who worked with the artist to create the installations.

    My recommendation for managing a collaborative process applies to any other profession: trust your instincts, pay attention to detail and approach this role, not as a job, but as if it were your very own project.


    Pictured, curatorial director, Anais Lellouche and artist, Chiharu Shiota. Courtesy of the artist and Anna Schwartz Gallery. Photo by Zan Wimberley.

    Temporary exhibitions increase in cultural importance, just as the traditional role of galleries and museums with well known and established collections follow the call for ever changing exhibitions as well. What are the challenges of curatorial strategies when planning future exhibition programs?

    Galleries support artists in the long term and our exhibition programs are more consistent as a reflection of this commitment. That being said, I am also animated by developing new relationships and dialogues for the artists we represent alongside other leading international artists; to exhibit artists for the first time in Australia and to support and expand the local cultural scene.

    Can you provide 5 tips for how an artist finds gallery representation?

    1. My first tip would be to develop a unique voice. To gain experiences in different cultural contexts, through travelling, but also through research, stepping beyond the local field of expertise and interest, to nurture an original approach.

    2. Another tip would be to socialise and develop a networks of peers; to show your work; to discuss ideas, and to share a cultural life together.

    3. Don’t be too eager to be represented by a gallery, it is preferable to be ready and to align the right match; this often takes time.

    4. Believe in yourself wholeheartedly; because if you don’t, no one will.

    5. And lastly, be resilient, and never, ever let go.

    Annette Wagner is a designer, marketer, creative consultant, artist and writer. She is also on the board of the Creative Women’s Circle. Obsessively passionate about the arts and the creative process, she is determined to not talk art-speak and instead focus on supporting and sharing concepts and insights most creative types crave to know.

    Posted by: Emma Clark
    Categories: Advice and Tips, Interviews with Creative Women, Marketing and Social Media Basics | Comments Off on Industry insights: Anais Lellouche, curatorial director
    Posted on

    The 10 benefits of handmade


    By Emma Clark Gratton

    In theory, we all know the benefits of handmade. The anti-globalisation catch-cry of ‘Think global, act local’ has definitely hit home, with handmade and craft-based micro businesses popping up everywhere. But the very real, tangible benefits of making, using and buying handmade products have an effect that goes beyond a simple business transaction. We’ve outlined ten ways that the handmade economy is a win-win for everyone.

    For the maker…

    Keep craft skills alive

    Traditional skills such as crochet, macramé and embroidery have had a comeback in the past couple of years, despite few people actually needing these skills in the same way that we did 100 years ago. Keeping these skills alive and active is an important part of our cultural heritage, and worthy of support.

    Spread joy

    The reason why most people start handmade or creative businesses is because they are passionate about what they do. They love their work, and want to share it with the world. Buy handmade and support the spreading of joy and happiness!

    Support the person

    When you buy handmade, you are literally supporting a person, not a faceless corporation. The products might be made on the kitchen table in between school pick ups, or by a particularly creative lady who left the corporate world behind to make unique products. And the (small) profit they earn will go directly to them, not to line the pockets of some guy in a suit.

    For the buyer…

    More unique

    You only need to look at the shelves of your local Woolies to see the range of products dwindling in response to cost-cutting measures. With out the ‘make this cheaper at all costs!’ impetus of most mass-produced industries, the handmade economy throws up way more creative, unique and customised outcomes. This diversity is of huge benefit to the consumer – mo’ money, mo’ problems (or something like that).

    Better made

    Again, without a corporation’s bottom line looming over every detail of a business, handmade products are generally much better made than mass produced goods. Plus, if something does break, the maker is usually more than happy to repair your product.

    Fuller experience

    A study researching cheeses in America found that consumers prefer buying ‘artisan’ cheese because they feel it provides a fuller ‘sensory experience.’ This is a factor of both intrinsic properties, like better taste, and extrinsic properties, like the joy of finding something you really love. Even just the knowledge that a product was handcrafted contributed to the feeling of a better experience because there is a relatable, knowable back-story.

    For everyone…

    Much, much greener

    This is an obvious one, but buying local handmade products is a trillion times more sustainable. Less transport, less overheads, less waste. Work done by hand takes less energy than a mass production assembly line, which makes it more environmentally sustainable.

    Support the economy

    Studies have shown that locally owned independent businesses —many of which sell wares produced by hand— return a higher percentage of their revenue to their communities than the bigger chains. This means that by buying local, you are pouring money back into your local community, rather than the money heading off overseas.

    Decreasing dependence on multinationals

    Frighteningly, there are only ten companies in the world that own almost everything we buy. The same company that owns Pringles also owns Duracell, Hugo Boss and Oral B. Supporting handmade means sidestepping the global corporations, and securing our economy for the future.

    Handmade is forever

    There is a cheeky thing in the mass-market design world called ‘design obsolescence.’ This means that a product is built to fail after a certain amount of time, so the consumer will need to repurchase the product (I’m looking at you, Apple.) It is a relatively new phenomenon, which is why your nana’s Mixmaster is still going strong after 50+ years, while your new Breville broke after three years. After a few decades, this has created a culture of ‘if it’s broken, don’t fix it – just chuck it out’.

    And this is where handmade excels - there’s no need for an upgrade as it is perfect already. And the nature of handmade products means that they will literally last as long as the materials will- so think of it as a good long term investment!


    Emma Clark Gratton is the Head of Content at Creative Women's Circle, a staff writer at ArtsHub and a podcaster who, alongside her husband Lee, runs GRATTON, a timber furniture and architectural joinery company. She blogs occasionally at Worst House Best Street and posts endless photos of her sons on Instagram at @emmamakesthings.

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    Posted by: Emma Clark
    Categories: Advice and Tips, Growing a Business, Starting a Business | Comments Off on The 10 benefits of handmade