Museum & Gallery Services Queensland

Plenary session presenter profiles

Robyn Archer, Keynote address
Debbie Abraham and Donna Fernando, presenters Partnerships / Collaborations / Relationships plenary session
Stella Brennan, artist, writer, curator, presenter Emerging Artforms/New Media plenary session
Sebastian Chan, Head of Digital, Social and Emerging Technologies at the Powerhouse Museum, presenter Collections and Access plenary session
Professor Amanda Lawson, Dean, Faculty of Creative Arts, Wollongong University, Keynote response panel
Jonathan Mane-Wheoki, Professor of Fine Arts and Head of Elam School of Fine Arts, The University of Auckland, keynote response panel
Dr Barbara Piscitelli, presenter Collections and Access plenary session
Professor Ted Snell, Director, Cultural Precinct, University of Western Australia, Keynote response panel
Virginia Tandy, Director of Culture, Manchester City Council, presenter Partnerships / Collaborations / Relationships plenary session
Mari Velonaki, artist, presenter Emerging Artforms / New Media plenary session
Craig Walsh, artist, presenter Emerging Artforms / New Media plenary session

Robyn Archer, Keynote addressBack to top

Robyn Archer is a singer, writer, director, Artistic Director and public advocate of the Arts. In all of these roles her reach is global. Her Wal Cherry (Sept 2008) and Manning Clark (March 2009) Memorial Lectures, and her address to APAP in New York (Jan 2009) have been widely praised and will be included in a publication of her speeches in 2010. She is in constant demand throughout the world as a speaker on the Arts and recent destinations have been Varna (Bulgaria), Perth and all points east in Australia, Vancouver, Prague, Seoul, London, Ghent: there are new invitations to Jeju (Korea), Glasgow, Sydney, Townsville, Mackay, Yolgnu Land (NT).

Robyn is currently the Artistic Director of The Light in Winter which she created for Federation Square in Melbourne and she is developing new events for Western Australia and Canberra.

Robyn was Artistic Director of the National Festival of Australian Theatre in Canberra for three years and of the Adelaide Festival in 1998 and 2000. She was chair of the Australia Council's Community Cultural Development Board, a consultant to the new Melbourne Museum for three years and advisor on the Australian cultural content for EXPO 2000 in Hannover. She created a new celebration of the arts for Tasmania: Ten Days on the Island. Robyn was artistic director of the Melbourne International Arts Festival 2002, 2003, 2004 and created a trilogy of festivals there: TEXT BODY VOICE. For two years Robyn has worked on Liverpool European Capital of Culture, and was adviser to the startup of Luminato, a new festival for Toronto.

In 2008 she curated the Deakin Lectures, served as juror for Culture France's Danses Caribes in Cuba, went to the Australia 2020 Summit, was formal mentor to Arts Mildura, and was juror for the Victorian Premier's Literary Prize.

Robyn is an Officer of the Order of Australia, Chevalier du l'Ordre des Arts at des Lettres (France), Officer of the Crown (Belgium) and holds honorary doctorates from Flinders and Sydney Universities. In 2006 in New York she was awarded the International Citation of Merit by the International Society of Performing Arts. She is the Patron of The Australian Art Orchestra (Melbourne), Brink Productions (Adelaide), The Australian Script Centre (Hobart) and The Arts Law Society (Sydney) and most recently co-patron (with Judge Ian North) of the institute of Postcolonial Studies (Melbourne), as well as maintaining ties with RMIT's Globalism Institute and the International Women's Development Agency.

Debbie Abraham and Donna Fernando, presenters Partnerships / Collaborations / Relationships plenary sessionBack to top

Debbie Abraham
Debbie Abraham has been the Director at Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery in NSW since early 2000. She was heavily involved in the processes of building the new gallery which opened in May 2001 and then consequently the extension finished in 2008. During the past 9 years, Abraham has overseen in excess of 150 exhibitions and projects. In particular, she has been responsible for the gallery building a strong and lasting relationship with the local Aboriginal community through many community and cultural development projects resulting in 90% of gallery programs containing Aboriginal content.

Donna Fernando is from the Muruwari language group in North West NSW. Fernando began her career in Indigenous education, policy and politics at the Aboriginal Research and Resource Centre (ARRC), University of NSW. Fernando worked with the Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Commission and Australian Electoral Commission and continues her work with the Federal Government on Indigenous policy and projects. Yapang marruma is the second exhibition curated by Fernando for Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery.

Stella Brennan, artist, writer, curator, presenter Emerging Artforms/New Media plenary sessionBack to top

Stella Brennan is an artist, writer and curator. Her works examine technology, obsolescence and utopianism. Recent projects include White Wall/Black Hole, shown at the 2006 Sydney Biennale, a video exploring the 1979 Erebus Disaster and Wet Social Sculpture, an installation featuring whale song, psychedelic film and a fully operational spa pool, which was one of four works nominated for the 2006 Walters Prize, New Zealandís most prestigious art award. Co-founder of Aotearoa Digital Arts, a network for new media artists, curators and teachers, in 2008 she edited (with Su Ballard) the Aotearoa Digital Arts Reader, the first comprehensive text on digital arts practice in New Zealand. She teaches at AUT University.

Sebastian Chan, Head of Digital, Social and Emerging Technologies at the Powerhouse Museum, presenter Collections and Access plenary sessionBack to top

Coming from a background in social policy, journalism and media criticism as well as information technology, Seb Chan has been building and producing websites and interactive media since the mid 1990s. At the Powerhouse he has been responsible for driving a strong user focus in design, usability and content, as well as expanding the scope and reach of the museumís suite of online projects. His focus on audiences and usability has led to an interest in Open Licensing and collaborative ways of enabling deeper engagement with the museumís cultural assets.

Under his direct guidance and creative direction the Powerhouse web team is responsible for the museumís online presence as well as a large suite of experimental and collaborative projects, as well as the Museumís collection database Ė one of the first to implement and evaluate user tagging Ė which has won several international awards. These projects have been transformative within the museum bringing a re-evaluation of the role of the collection in a broader society.

He is a researcher in several Australian Research Council Linkage projects researching social media, museums, and technology; and is a regular speaker in Australia having presented widely in the cultural sector and also at technology events Web Directions South and CeBIT. Internationally he has presented at Picnic (Amsterdam), New Zealandís National Digital Forum, Taiwanís National Digital Archives Programme, Berlinís Transmediale, many North American Museums and the Web conferences, and delivered workshops for major museums in the UK, Holland, USA, Canada, Cuba, Taiwan, and NZ.

He is on the international programme committees of Museums and the Web (USA), Digital Strategies for Heritage (Eu), the Horizon.Au New Media Consortium, and is an International Steering Committee member of Culturemondo, an international group of representatives of cultural portal strategists. Seb is also a member of the Australian Government's Government 2.0 Taskforce examining ways of improving citizen engagement with government and opening access to public sector information.

His other interests include electronic music and digital art, and he has directed and curated large scale national and international events and festivals, and also produces related media from radio broadcasts to print. In his spare time he runs a independent music magazine, Cyclic Defrost.

At the Powerhouse he also runs the popular Fresh + New blog covering issues and new ideas around digital media and museums at

Professor Amanda Lawson, Dean, Faculty of Creative Arts, Wollongong University, Keynote response panelBack to top

Amanda Lawson has recently been appointed to the position of Dean of the Faculty of Creative Arts. She became professor and the inaugural head of the School of Art & Design at UOW in 2004. Amanda is also director of the University of Wollongong Art Collection. Amanda brings to the Faculty more than 20 yearsí practical, policy and leadership experience in the arts in Australia. She has been director of several visual arts and craft organisations including the Crafts Council of NSW and from 1998-2004 Bathurst Regional Art Gallery. She has also worked at the Australia Council for the Arts, with NSW State and Regional Development and AusIndustry and as an independent arts consultant. Amanda has held many industry and board appointments and is currently Chair of Arts NSW Visual Arts/Craft Committee and a board member of Wollongong City Gallery.

Amanda gained a BA from the University of Edinburgh and a first class honours degree in Arts at the University of Wollongong before completing a PhD in Australian Literature at the University of Sydney in 2002. Since joining UOW she has taught in the areas of curatorial practice and art history and theory.

Her current research projects include an Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage Project with Museums and Galleries NSW and Object: Australian Centre for Craft and Design exploring exhibition interpretation and audience development in contemporary art and craft. She is also leading a collaborative project, recently awarded ARC Linkage funding, with colleagues from the Faculties of Creative Arts and Informatics, trialling new approaches to collections documentation and access in partnership with the Australian Museum.

Jonathan Mane-Wheoki, Professor of Fine Arts and Head of Elam School of Fine Arts, The University of Auckland, keynote response panelBack to top

Jonathan Mane-Wheoki (Ngapuhi/Te Aupouri/Ngati Kuri) is a distinguished art, architectural and cultural historian, and museum manager. He is a graduate in Fine Arts (with Honours in Painting) and English Language and Literature from the University of Canterbury in Art History from the Courtauld Institute of Art, and an Associate of Trinity College of Music, London. In 1975 he began teaching Art History at the University of Canterbury and later served as Dean of Music and Fine Arts.

In 2009, following a five year term as Director of Art and Collection Services at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Jonathan Mane-Wheoki was appointed Professor of Fine Arts and Head of Elam School of Fine Arts at The University of Auckland. He has served on a range of governing bodies including the Marsden Council and the Arts Council of Creative New Zealand. He is currently a member of the Council of the Royal Society, Deputy Chair of the Council for the Humanities, and a governor of the Arts Foundation of New Zealand.

While he is a specialist in Victorian art and architecture, Professor Mane-Wheoki has published widely in many domains of knowledge, including Maori, modern European and New Zealand art and architecture, art education and museum studies. Renowned for his teaching and scholarship, he has also been responsible for securing and curating many significant art exhibitions, and is in great demand as a keynote speaker. In 2008 the degree of Doctor of Letters (honoris causa) was conferred on him by the University of Canterbury.

Dr Barbara Piscitelli, presenter Collections and Access plenary sessionBack to top

Dr Barbara Piscitelli is a freelance consultant and researcher in education and the arts. Her research explores cultural policy and childhood, childrenís learning in museums, and early childhood visual arts education. Dr Piscitelli has received grants from the Australia Council, the Australian Research Council, Visions of Australia, The Australia-China Council, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the Fulbright Foundation. In 1986, Dr Piscitelli established an archive of childrenís art and has created several exhibitions and catalogues from this collection that she donated to the State Library of Queensland. She is a regular reviewer for the Australian Journal of Early Childhood. Her publications appear in Australian Art Education, Curator, Museum Management and Curatorship, and Visitor Studies Today. Dr Piscitelli was Chair of the Queensland Cultural Policy Advisory Committee from 2004 to 2006, and currently serves on the Council of the National Museum of Australia, as a Board Member of the Queensland Museum and a Director of the Collections Council of Australia. She taught at Queensland University of Technology for 20 years (1984 - 2004) and was Visiting Scholar at the Hong Kong Institute of Education (2007-8).

Dr Piscitelli was recognised in the Australia Day 2006 Honours as a Member of the Order of Australia (AM). The citation for her Award reads: ĎFor service to early childhood education as a teacher, to the establishment of programs in cultural institutions for children, and as a collector and curator of children's art.í

Professor Ted Snell, Director, Cultural Precinct, University of Western Australia, Keynote response panelBack to top

Ted Snell (photo Sonia Payes)
rofessor Ted Snell AM was appointed chair of the visual arts board and a member of Council for three years from 27 December 2006. Ted is Professor of Contemporary Art, and Dean of Art at the John Curtin Gallery, Curtin University of Technology, Perth.

He has made a significant contribution to the Australian visual arts sector through his roles as Chair of Artbank, chair of the Asialink Visual Arts Advisory Committee, chair of the Australian Council of University Art and Design Schools and as a board member of the National Association for the Visual Arts.

Ted has curated many exhibitions and has published several books and catalogues. He has twice been shortlisted for the Western Australian Premier's Book Award. Currently he is the Perth art reviewer for The Australian and has been a commentator on the arts for ABC radio and television.

A practising visual artist since 1968, his work has been shown in solo exhibitions in Perth, Melbourne and Brisbane, and in group exhibitions throughout Australia. Ted's work is represented in many public collections, including the National Gallery of Australia, Artbank and the Art Gallery of Western Australia as well as in private collections in Australia and overseas.

Virginia Tandy, Director of Culture, Manchester City Council, presenter Partnerships / Collaborations / Relationships plenary sessionBack to top

Virginia Tandy has over 20 yearsí experience of working in cultural development in the North West of England.

Following a first degree in History of Art, and Postgraduate Studies at the University of Manchester, she has worked in a variety of roles in local authorities, the charitable sector, and in the North West office of the Arts Council.

In 1994 she was appointed Director of Cornerhouse, Manchesterís international centre for contemporary art, film and publishing, where she oversaw a major Lottery funded redevelopment and the establishment of the United Kingdom's leading visual arts publications distribution company.

In 1998 she took up the post of Director of Manchester City Galleries, where she has overseen a £35M expansion and refurbishment of Manchester Art Gallery, which opened to critical acclaim in 2002. She led the creation of Manchesterís Cultural Strategy, and currently leads development teams at Director level within the museums sector in both Manchester and the North West region, delivering Renaissance in the Regions, a nationally funded transformational programme for regional museums and galleries. She has also headed a national women's leadership network for museums.

She has been involved in a range of national boards and committees, including membership of the Arts Councilís Lottery Advisory Panel; Chair of Manchesterís Creative Industries Development Service; Board Member of the National Museums, Libraries and Archives Council; and Member of the UK Cultural Heritage Skills Advisory Panel. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, and from 2006 to 2008 was President of the Museums Association, the professional body for the sector in the UK.

Mari Velonaki, artist, presenter Emerging Artforms / New Media plenary sessionBack to top

Mari Velonaki is a media artist who has worked in the field of interactive installation art since 1995. Her practice engages the spectator/participant with digital and robotic Ďcharactersí in interplays stimulated by sensory triggered interfaces (speech 1995, touch 1997, breath 1998, electrostatic charge 2000, vision system 2000, light 2003, robotics 2003-06). Her principal contribution to the field of interactive art occurs through the creation of innovative human-machine interfaces that promote intimate and immersive relationships between participants and interactive artworks. She was awarded a PhD in Media Arts at the College of Fine Arts, University of New South Wales in 2003.

Velonakiís installations have been exhibited internationally. Exhibitions include: ZENDAI Museum of Modern Art, Shanghai, Wood Street Galleries, Pittsburgh, Millennium Museum - Beijing Biennale of Electronic Arts, Ars Electronica, Austria, Biennale of Electronic Arts, Perth, Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art, Conde Duque Museum, Madrid, European Media Arts Festival, Germany, Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand, Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane, Arco, Madrid, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, Queensland Art Gallery/Gallery of Modern Art, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Ton-Build-Spektakel, Zurich, Switzerland, Kunsthalle Prisma Aarborn, Switzerland, Aros Aarhus Museum of Modern Art, Denmark.

Since 2003, Mari has been working as an artist/researcher at the Australian Centre for Field Robotics. In 2006, with Dr David Rye, she co-founded the Centre for Social Robotics within the ACFR, at the University of Sydney. Mari is currently the recipient of the Australia Council Visual Arts Fellowship (2007-09).

Craig Walsh, artist, presenter Emerging Artforms / New Media plenary sessionBack to top

Craig Walsh was born in Orange in 1966, and lives in Brisbane, Australia.

Primarily interested in hybrid / site-specific projects and the exploration of alternative contexts for contemporary art, his work often utilizes projection in response to existing environments and contexts. He has been working across a range of artforms including theatre, architecture, public works, gallery exhibitions and festivals.

His work has been selected for major survey exhibitions, commissions and residencies both nationally and internationally, including; the Yokohama International Triennale of Contemporary Art, Japan. Fuji Rock Festival, Japan. Under the radar, Liverpool, England. The National Sculpture Prize & Exhibition, National Gallery of Australia, Havana Biennale, Cuba, Experimenta Vanishing Point, Melbourne; the Anne Landa Award, AGNSW, Sydney; the Adelaide Biennale of Australian Art, AGSA, Adelaide. 2004: Australian culture now, Australian Centre for the Moving Image, Melbourne. Institute of Modern Art Brisbane and Ssamsie space, Seoul, Korea.

He is currently working on a range of public, theatre and gallery based projects including a new video installation for Sendai mediateque, a collaborative installation at Australian Centre For The Moving Image (ACMI) in Melbourne. Media City Seoul, Korea and he has been awarded the Australia Councilís New York studio residency for early 2007