EVENT RECAP: How to maintain longevity in the arts

Inspiration was in full supply at last week’s CWC Sydney panel event—‘Longevity in the Arts’—presented by CWC members Fiona Chandler and Saffron Craig to a full room at the Manly Art Gallery & Museum in Sydney.

Amanda Penrose Hart had everyone laughing with tales of her journey as a visual artist, from its rocky beginning—‘I had to get a taxi to my [art school] interview because my parents refused to drive me’—to her current status as a respected contemporary painter.

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Amanda shared a wealth of practical tips, from reinvesting half of all earnings into materials so you can always ‘keep going’ to setting aside enough money for GST; having your work ‘gallery ready’ 2–3 months before a show to allow for photography and publicity; and always working with more than one gallery. ‘Don’t be satisfied with one space,’ she advised. ‘Always try to get more. Remember, the gallery is working for you—you’re not working for the gallery.’

Much of Amanda’s work is inspired by trips around the world with a group of other artists. Her favourite way to travel with wet oil paintings? Stack them in back-to-back pairs with sticks used as spacers to prop up each pair, then wrap the whole stack in cling wrap, secure it with masking tape, and pack it in a suitcase.

Next up was actor, coach, and visual artist Amy Kersey, who kept the laughter going with tips for sustaining yourself in a creative career, including working other jobs, having variety in your work, and, most importantly, learning from mistakes and flukes. ‘You have to create the optimal environment for mistakes,’ she laughed. ‘Really go for something on your own terms and let yourself make a really big mistake.’

Amy talked about balancing the fine line between making work your client needs and honoring your creativity, sharing her version of the serenity prayer: ‘May the universe grant me the discipline to deliver the work as it needs to be, the courage to let it be what it wants to be, and the presence in the moment to know the difference.’

The last speaker was Katherine Roberts, curator of the Manly Art Gallery & Museum (MAGM), who exuded enthusiasm for her work enabling artists and developing and managing exhibitions. ‘My work provides a genuine creative outlet, even though I’m not an artist,’ she said. Having known from the age of 17 that she wanted to work with artists, she landed early at the MAGM and expressed great gratitude for her long tenure there. ‘I love it every day,’ she smiled.

Fiona Chandler, Amy Kersey, Saffron Craig and Amanda Penrose

Fiona Chandler, Amy Kersey, Saffron Craig and Amanda Penrose

Closing the evening, Fiona Chandler looked back on the past couple years of organising speakers for this panel. ‘The crux of the message is that it’s all about opportunities, saying “yes” to things, and being brave.’

For more about Amanda Penrose Hart, visit her website or follow her on Instagram (@amanda_penrose_hart). Amy Kersey can be found at her coaching website, on Facebook, and on Instagram (@kerseyink). To learn more about Katherine Roberts, check out her profile on LinkedIn.

Julie Mazur Tribe is an editor and book-publishing consultant who loves working with authors, books, and creative ideas. She can be found at BrooklynBookStudio.com and on Instagram at @brooklynbookstudio.

Photos by Saffron Craig.