Interviews: Q&A Emma Porteus, Creative Producer | Salamanca Arts Centre, Tasmania


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Categories: Interviews Blog

Q&A with Salamanca Arts Centre Creative Producer Emma Porteus

With life starting to settle down post-Ten Days on the Island, we chatted with Salamanca Arts Centre Creative Producer Emma Porteus about the event, their Regional Arts Fund supported exhibition Eyes as big as plates and what else we can look forward to at the Arts Centre in the coming months.


The exhibition was proudly supported through the Regional Arts Fund. Something we are really proud of with the RAF is the impact that the projects have on audiences and communities nationally. What has been the impact of Eyes as Big as Plates on visitors to the gallery?

The Eyes as Big as Plates exhibition was hugely successful for Salamanca Arts Centre. We conceived of the collaboration with the Eye's team as way to help us connect with a new demographic of audience for the centre, and as a mechanism for us to form connections with local aged care facilities that will last beyond the life of this exhibition. This was incredibly successful - we worked with several aged care facilities across the Tasmania to "talent scout" artistic collaborators for the Eyes as Big as Plates Photo shoots and we ended up making eight new Tasmanian photographs for this exhibition. Through this process, the southern aged care facilities that we worked with now have Salamanca Art Centre on their regular outings list, meaning that we can continue our engagement with their residents for every major exhibition that we have. Beyond this, the exhibition itself was incredibly well received across a very broad range of visitors over the 2.5 weeks it was open. we had over 3100 people visit during this time, which is huge for us. Some of the comments in the visitor book include:

- I loved it so much I came back!

- Fabulous! beautiful explorations of age and landscape - so whimsical. Magic.

- The best photographic exhibition I've ever had the pleasure of viewing

- Wow - inspirational, thought provoking, serene and tranquil. Thank you for hosting such a brilliant exhibition

The exhibition is part of the fabulous Ten Days on the Island, Tasmania’s statewide arts festival. Can you tell us a bit about the festival, and Salamanca Arts Centre’s involvement?

Ten Days on the Island has always been a very important Tasmanian festival in what now feels like a very full festival calendar!! Ten Days is special because since 2001 it has consistently financially backed new Tasmanian work for presentation in the festival. This kind of investment is vital for the health of the local arts sector long term. Its also important that an International Arts Festival like Ten Days is creating a platform for local artists to be seen in a National and International light. Salamanca Art Centre is thrilled to be a major partner of Ten Days on the Island and we are already in discussion about the development of ideas for the 2021 Festival, which is really exciting.

This is one of many exciting exhibitions programmed at Salamanca Arts Centre in the coming months. How have you shaped the exhibition program for the year? What other highlights can we look forward to in 2019?

2019 has really been about two key festival offerings - Eyes as Big as Plates for Ten Days on the Island and a whole centre take over for Dark Mofo that is very exciting. I cant say too much about it as the program is yet to be launched, but it features some fantastic female artists who will help fill the centre with a multi art form celebration of liminal spaces and the undefinable: that thing you glimpse out of the corner of your eye, the feeling you can’t quite put your finger on.

Exhibitions are only one part of the Art Centre’s very full and exciting program. What are some other programs that we should look out for this year?

Everything we do is guided by art, place and community. Our strategic priorities are: Art - Supporting contemporary art and artists, Place - Maximising the space available to make and promote art. Community - Creatively connecting with the community.

Our program comprises seven streams and one of the jewels in Salamanca Art Centre's artistic crown is Situate Art in Festivals. Situate Art in Festivals supports outstanding early career artists and creative practitioners to develop new experimental artworks for the festival environment. This year we are working with seven different artists to develop new ideas for presentation at festivals in Australia and Internationally.

You are the Creative Producer at Salamanca Arts Centre. What does a day in the life of Emma look like?

I love the diversity of my job, in any one day I'm working with artists on the ground to help produce new work, Im thinking ahead to the future programming of the centre over the next five years, Im writing grants and liaising with our partners about producing new work. Its a massive challenge and also incredibly rewarding and fulfilling. No one day is the same and I get to spend the majority of my time helping incredible artists make vital new work both in Australia and Internationally. It's a dream gig!

Finally, what are your top tips for visitors coming to Hobart? What should we be seeing, doing and listening to?

Seeing - soak up the view from the top of mount wellington and try and visit Bruny Island if you can - its magic. You should definitely see all of Salamanca Arts Centre and our surrounds, check out what Contemporary Art Tasmania (CAT) has to offer, as well as the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery and of course Mona. The State Cinema also has great movies all week long.

Doing - there are heaps of great day walks, if thats your thing, as well as lots of wonderful restaurants serving up amazing local produce and wine: some of my favourites are Templo, Fico, Dier Makr and Etties.

Listening - keep an ear out for great local music at The Brisbane and The Republic and local female led Meraki Management consistently do great gigs featuring local acts at every stage of their career.

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Image: Karoline Hjorth