Seasons of change

The Final Words with Julie McLaren

Being a curator at the Art Gallery of Ballarat is more than just a job for Julie McLaren.

Because it is here, at Australia’s oldest and largest regional gallery, that she has finally found her “people”.

“I moved to Ballarat in 2008 and I planned on commuting to Melbourne to study Masters of Information Management, so I could fulfil my childhood dream of becoming a librarian,” Julie said.

“The funny thing was that, within a couple of months of living in Ballarat, I felt right at home. The other thing that happened was I absolutely hated what I was studying and realised I was not destined to be a librarian after all. My childhood dreams were dashed, and I needed to figure out a new plan.”

Little did Julie know at the time but that change of direction was already bubbling away behind the scenes.

“While studying, I was also working in a vintage shop, working with the Ballarat International Foto Biennale, and training at the Art Gallery of Ballarat to become a voluntary guide. That year of getting to know the gallery’s expansive collection as a volunteer served me well because, at the end of 2009, a job came up as a registration assistant.”

In 2016, Julie was appointed gallery curator and now lives and breathes art, history, and advocating the drawcards of Ballarat.

“I get excited about change and I’m enjoying those taking place at the gallery, including the way we interpret the collection, the kinds of exhibitions we show and even the little things like new wall colours,” she said.

Julie says she has now found her place amongst a never-ending tribe of local creatives and is excited for what the future holds.

“The Art Gallery of Ballarat is a place where I’ve finally met ‘my people’ and have been involved in so many great projects, exhibitions and events,” she said.

“There is always something happening in this town and I love that Ballarat is currently attracting more and more creative types who can see the benefits of living in a regional city – it’s affordable, a little bit quieter but still very connected, and people have a real openness to collaboration. I’m pretty much a walking tourism advert these days.”

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The Art Gallery of Ballarat is not just Australia’s oldest regional gallery but one of its most exciting. Located in the heart of Ballarat’s central heritage precinct, the Gallery boasts a stunning collection of Australian art.

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