Archives for category: work process

Barry Keldoulis

The young Barry Keldoulis studied philosophy before heading overseas to New York. It was here that his career in the art world began. Fast-forward to today and after ten years of operating his own space, Gallery Barry Keldoulis is shutting up its permanent space opting for a more fluid operating model. The incredibly kind and humble gallerist shared his thoughts with arts interview about managing artists, networking and his love of contemporary art.

 Interview by Vanessa Anthea Macris

How do you select and instigate relationships with artists for representation?

Interestingly, only one of the artists I’ve ever represented is somebody who walked into the gallery with his portfolio and that is Hitesh Natalwala. I must say that I was struck by the beauty and stories behind his work and he has proven to be a delight to work with. But generally speaking, a lot of my artists I met through hanging around the young artist crowd while they were still at art school. I gave many of them their first show while they were still studying and the relationship has developed from there. Artists have always given me good leads to follow and so a lot of the other artist I have taken on subsequently have been through introduction by other artists I’ve represented. Finally, there are a couple of others that have come from Sherman Galleries with me.

What is your approach in managing your represented artists?

One of the most interesting aspects to the job is the relationship with the artists and of course the relationship with the work itself. So the approach I take is quite intense when compared to the majority of galleries out there who tend to represent an enormous number of artists and show them on a roster every few years. I’ve always worked closely with my artists. From the beginning I’ve really only been interested in artists whose work would stand up on the international stage. This has led to me developing a strategy, at least for the first few years of concentrating on exclusive representation worldwide and narrowing the focus down through that one channel to best strive on getting their work not only seen in Sydney or interstate but internationally.

What relevance does a physical gallery space hold in the current climate?

When the gallery is working as the model is intended to i.e. where you have a fairly constant flow of work out through the stock room, in order to maintain cash flow- the physical gallery space is great. These days that model is not working as well, mainly because of the hesitant times we are in financially. As such the gallery space has almost become a noose around ones neck in that you know people expect you to be here all of the time, but one has to be overseas and you cant be in two places at once. It will be very interesting for galleries going forward, particularly in Sydney who is a very ‘now’ city, a city that is obsessed with what’s new and what’s coming. I think that it will act well to have pop up exhibitions where you define a time and a place for people to be rather than sitting around in the gallery waiting for someone to come to somewhere where they have been dozens of times before.

What is you approach to networking?

I’m not really one who operates on a model other than just being myself, so I’ve never really thought about it too much. I do make an effort to as the Japanese say “keep a wide face” and be out there as a representative of my artists in contexts that they can’t be in.  I do think that networking is important. It is also important to set an example in the industry through supporting other institutions that are supportive of the artists and the art world in general.




This past weekend saw the official launch of the new Blue Mountains Cultural Centre in Katoomba, which opens to the public on the 17th of November. I am immensely proud to have been a part of this new Cultural Centre’s development for the last three months and during this time I have watched Paul Brinkman, the Cultural Centre’s Director patiently and masterfully navigate his way through the largest project I have been a part of to date. So it seemed fitting that for this week we should interview Paul about the way he works.

Interview by Eliza Muldoon

Why did you take on the job as the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre Director?

The challenge. There are few opportunities in the arts and cultural industry to be involved in a project from the ground up. Also, I had done all that could be done in my role as director of the Cairns Regional Gallery, I had reached my intended goals and it was beginning to become repetitive.

There is never really just one reason though, it was actually a build-up of a whole lot of little reasons, one contributing reason for my family was actually cyclone seasons in Cairns- there was one really scary moment during cyclone Yasi that made us take stock of our decision to live in a cyclone region with a child.

What are the key aspects of you current role?

This role is very unique to where we are now. At the moment I’m a problem solver, HR specialist and building manager- good financial control is also crucial. Once we settle there will be a day-to-day focus on simultaneously pursuing the centre’s short and long-term goals and projects, always ensuring that I’m looking at today as well as 1 month to 10 years ahead. In that regard I need to be an ‘ideas’ person as well as a realist. I also want to ensure that our staff are engaged, happy, motivated and enjoying what we do.

You mentioned that HR is a current key feature of your role, what has guided you when putting together your team of staff?

Regional galleries require people with multiple skill sets and broad specialisations, they also need people that are willing to step outside those existing skills to expand their abilities. I’ve looked for people that have a passion for work and that would be willing to put in extra effort to ensure a dynamic work environment. There are also high expectations of staff within this Cultural Centre and it was important to find staff that are good decision makers, can handle challenges and bring solutions rather than problems.

Admittedly, it also has a lot to do with personalities. All of the staff are highly skilled, but it was also really important to ensure a good team. In this kind of environment, good people are those that appreciate and respect the contribution of everyone else here as we are so reliant on each other to work effectively.

What have been some of the greatest achievements in the project?

Finally opening the doors. Reflecting on the last year, we’ve achieved a lot. When I arrived we had no staff, no policies, procedures or protocols and we needed to establish a clear logistical operations plan. Now we have ideas that have been shaped into a reality, through a lot of a hard work.

Seeing people engage with the space and seeing them go ‘wow’ also feels like an achievement. People know it’s here but they don’t yet know how spectacular the facilities and location are.

What is your vision for how the Cultural Centre will serve the Blue Mountains?

The Cultural Centre is able to offer the highest quality professional visual experiences to audiences that appreciate it. We’ll also have a role in further developing that audience. The Cultural Centre spaces will host innovative programs driven by the interests of the people of the region.

There tend to be two ends of the spectrum in public arts ventures. At one end there are institutions that operate like community centres or pseudo drop- in centres, where the representation of art is secondary. At the other end you have curatorially driven projects where the emphasis is in art rather than the people. This cultural centre will sit in the middle, providing artistically driven, challenging programs but supporting them with tools to encourage engagement, even by reticent audiences.

Darren Hanlon

Musician and globe trotter Darren Hanlon speaks with arts interview this week on couch surfing, writing every day and how to maintain creative inspiration on the road. Hanlon’s interview is the first of our last set of interviews for the year, focusing on the way we work.

Interview by Heather Jennings

Do you currently have a permanent base to call home? How would you compare the way you work when you have a permanent base to when you are touring?

I don’t have a base and in fact the closest I’ve had to anything solid in three years is a space for a couple of months out the back of a Melbourne bookshop. Being a musician, there’s two sides to your working life: introverted and extroverted.

When I’m on tour and out and about there’s no real stability apart from the network of friends and their houses throughout the world where I stay after the shows. It’s a wonderful thing to have this global community. But more and more I’m missing the comfort of just having a neighbourhood and group of people I see every day and grow with.

As for writing, as it requires solitude and silence, it’s difficult to do on the road with any great success. Although if you try hard enough, you can train your mind to switch off and find its own cave to retreat into. You get really good at sitting down in a cafe with a laptop/notebook and looking up again to find its gotten dark outside.

How do you incorporate the diverse scenarios you come across in day-to-day life into your song writing and creative projects?

They always make their own way in. I find that when I’m in writing mode I’m more sensitive and open and observant to things happening around me. I tune into dialogue more. Songs on the radio etc… I always carry a notebook.

Are you conscious of delivering a certain amount of daily creative output when you are on the road, or do you go with the flow?

I try to go with the flow but will inevitably feel a bit low if there’s been no output for a few days. I combat this by writing a daily diary – I have been doing it religiously for years now, plus more polished longhand stories that are easier than songs to accomplish. That way, at least the pen is still moving.

What have you done to work more effectively in changing environments?

As always I seek out places to go (that are cheap) to be alone, to sit in a room and wait (hopefully!) for the good thoughts and ideas to arrive. Outback pubs, caravan parks, Eastern European cities etc. I think another huge reason for low-productivity is internet addiction. I try to stay away from that as much as possible.

Darren Hanlon is currently touring through Europe, find dates here.