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Happy Mondays - Lynne Seear

This week in Happy Mondays, we talk to Lynne Seear....

Where would we find you on a Monday?
At my desk in the Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital, planning the week. This might involve organising the internal promotion of events we are running, writing about the works in the art collection, or meeting with colleagues about the various ways the Arts Program can intersect with the work they are doing. Having said that, every day is very different here. I might be called on to do a quick tour of the hospital for a visitor, or meet with a teacher in the LCCH school about a potential collaboration. It reminds me of the days I used to spend running between QAG and GOMA – it’s a big hospital and I have to be very quick on my feet.

What are you creatively working on at the moment?
There’s a pretty long list, but the two most imminent things are getting ready for Christmas in terms of what the Arts Program can offer. At the moment I’m working with one of our Arts Program Committee Members, Adrianne Jones, who is in turn liaising with the Queensland Music Festival about a whole day of Christmas/Holiday performances for us. We’re also planning to participate in the APT8 Kids on Tour project here at the hospital early in 2016. This will be in collaboration with our Foundation and the LCCH School, but staged in a very public space, so it has to be managed with military precision.

Favourite arts place or space in Queensland
Of course I can’t go past my old stamping (some might say stomping) ground at QAGOMA. I’m so proud of everything it has become. Even before GOMA opened, the Watermall space in the original building used to lift my heart every day. But I also have to say that this hospital has hundreds of great contemporary artworks chosen with the wellbeing, distraction and enrichment of children and their families in mind. We very much want it to be seen as a community space.

Best Public Art and why
I love any public artwork by Eugene Carchesio, Simon de Groot, Lincoln Austin, Fiona Foley and so many others but I can’t deny my absolute favourite is our monumental sculpture here at the hospital by Emily Floyd, ‘A Little Community’. It features a gigantic family of Eclectus Parrots perching within the Hospital’s main atrium. It so perfectly meets the brief we gave the artist – to be significant, appealing and to confidently occupy the space. It’s such an ambitious work – the engineering is extraordinary – and it was a pleasure to work with a broad team to realise it. I’m gobsmacked every time I walk under it or catch a glimpse from one of dozens of viewpoints. It was worth all the sleepless nights!

What was your first or strongest experience that made you realise the value of the arts?
I know the expected answer to this question is some kind of revelatory childhood experience, and I wish I could cite one, but I can’t. I grew up in rural Victoria and my father definitely took me to exhibitions in the city on a regular basis, which my whole family enjoyed, but I was more interested in books and music. The Queensland Art Gallery opened around the same time I started studying art history as an undergraduate, and I had enough of an interest to want to pursue a career in the field. But I didn’t really feel it on a soul-deep level until I started working on exhibitions like APT, and Story Place and Contemporary Australia: Optimism. There were so many truly ‘revelatory’ occasions during those years, the best of all having the great privilege to work in an institution that believed art belonged to everybody. Personally, the first time I actually understood, for myself, that art can help heal a broken heart, was during my first visit to Ryoanji Temple Garden in Kyoto. I had been warned to prepare myself for it, but being a touch sceptical I really didn’t anticipate the effect it would have on me. One of the principles of the Rock Garden’s design is that from any vantage point, there is always one rock missing from sight, even though you know it is there. We had not long before lost our little boy to a terrible illness and I felt the messages and hidden meanings contained in that garden were just for me – as I am sure is the experience for everyone who visits.

Lynne Seear is a senior curator, writer and arts manager with almost 30 years experience in the visual arts, including 16 years at the Queensland Art Gallery in management roles involving collection development, exhibition planning, publishing and policy development and implementation. From 2000 to 2010 she was the Queensland Art Gallery’s Deputy Director, Curatorial and Collection Development. In this position she oversaw the curatorial programs and projects that were crucial to the establishment of the Gallery of Modern Art, in particular the growth and display of the Gallery’s extensive contemporary collections. During this period she was a member of the senior executive team which planned the Gallery’s major exhibitions including many large-scale international shows, including the Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (2002, 2006 and 2009), Andy Warhol and Picasso and his collections. Lynne was also deeply involved in the development of the Children’s Art Centre and she helped lead the curatorial teams that created a series of groundbreaking contemporary exhibitions for children, attracting new family-based audiences to the state institution. Lynne has extensive experience in writing and publishing and has contributed to and edited several major books and exhibition catalogues. For the past five years she has been developing a multifaceted Arts Program and Collection for inclusion within the new Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital and she has a specialist research interest in the importance of arts and culture within healthcare settings.

Read more about Lynne 

Feature image credit: Emily Floyd, A Little Community 2014, Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital, Brisbane.