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Art On The Move

Written by Gary Proctor, Director ( 2013-03-18 04:30:00 )

A couple of years ago I realised our most valuable asset, besides human relationships and experience, was the natural evolution of a flexible management structure. This helped us tour seven museums in China over twelve months in 2011, because we could adjust and change quickly to meet different situations and the demands of the time. One example - Shanghai Art Museum brought forward the opening date for the first show five weeks at just less than three months out, and those with an idea of exhibition production will understand the pain. But the five week space this created between our Shanghai and Beijing dates also allowed us to show at the Nanjing City Museum, and his was a great show we did on three weeks notice.

Which brings us to Art on the Move.

Touring China meant working in many different museums with different layouts and facilities and safely caring for just under 4 million dollars worth of community art. Normally I would have made our crates but for China we had them made by Art On The Move in Perth. AOTM made great crates for us and now that we are going back to China we are using them again, but I found out that in many cases manpower is all you have and mobility is crucial. Crates cannot be too large nor should they be too heavy. In Western China three museums do not have goods lifts and we will have to carry crates up flights of stairs (three at Hohhot in Inner Mongolia).

Our three largest boxes carrying two rolls of unstretched paintings each will be too big for this and so I decided to cut them in half. This would enable two strong men to carry single tubes in smaller crates as required - up stairs and so on. Paul Thompson at Art on The Move agreed to supply new side panels and other materials and patiently supported our DIY approach out in the bush. But it was the unasked for extras, the rolls of self adhesive foam, the sisal tape and the abundant supply of different tech screws, that left an impression of people in a company dedicated to the arts and doing their work seriously and properly. I hadn't ordered those things; Paul knew they would be needed and included them, and we really appreciate this in Warburton.

Over the years I have often had to re-think working in the Western Central Desert, especially the part where everybody has a job description and they don't step outside it. In remote communities you have to be resourceful and make your own luck, and be endowed with a robust imagination.

But powerful thoughts by themselves don't do it; you must be able to apply ideas at the community level with the people you work with and in good faith bring them to fruition. It makes everything a special case, in a way, because in small town and especially in an arts/culture organisation people have to conjure the shapes of the world as required. It compels you by necessity to do everything pretty much by yourself. All made easier by organisations like Art On The Move and people like Paul.