IN what was surely the fastest, smoothest media call on record at the National Gallery of Australia, the incoming director Gerard Vaughan this morning introduced himself to the assembled media, forestalling any attempts to discuss the provenance of Asian artworks, praising the smooth working of the Gallery he has inherited and expertly fielding questions.
The importance of the Gallery as a centre of visual culture, he told those present would be evidenced in the December James Turrell exhibition, which he predicted would see sell-out crowds.
It was, he said, the perfect example of a “blockbuster” show, a genre which he fully supported as a way of getting the broader Australian public into Canberra and the gallery.
Among the tasks ahead of him, Dr Vaughan said, were the planning of Phase 2 developments, now at an informal stage of discussion, and exciting exhibitions to follow the Turrell. “Watch this space,” he said.
While Dr Vaughan considered that the Gallery was the perfect location for “beautiful and serious exhibitions” like the recent Arthur Boyd show, entirely derived from the Gallery’s own collection, it was the blockbusters could “focus the attention of the nation.”
To questions about his plans to raise funds of $200 million for phase 2, Dr Vaughan, famed as a seasoned fundraiser from his time at Oxford University, British Museum and the National Gallery of Victoria, noted, “all fundraising is a challenge…something I really enjoy in fact.”
And he certainly didn’t dislike the Colin Madigan building in which he was introducing himself before one of his favourite works, “Blue Poles,” pointing to the parallel architecture of the High Court of Australia and praising Andrew Andersens’ new wing at the NGA. The original building, he noted, is already an important national heritage building, to be respected as such.
But any developments would “need to be of their time.
To “CityNews” question about attracting a younger generation to the Gallery, Dr Vaughan said, “youth audiences a high priority for us.” He pointed to the new contemporary space on the Lakeside as a way forward and predicted that the Gallery would be very active in arranging events for younger art lovers, adding that the NGA had always placed emphasis on collecting “art now.”
As for why he had forsaken the academic year, which followed his 13 years at the national Gallery of Victoria, Dr Vaughan had only one explanation: “it’s in the blood.”