This week we meet Tom Gray, Ginninderry’s Arts & Cultural Planning Advisor.
Tom guides Ginninderry on ways in which the Project connects and engages with the local and regional creative community. This includes managing the program of exhibitions at The Link Artspace, providing input into the commissioning of art, and the strategic direction of public art as the community grows.
Tell us a bit about yourself?
Growing up in Sydney, I studied design (architecture), and Fine Arts and have a particular passion for public art. I often find myself treading a fine line between design and art. Early on, as an artist, I called myself a sculptor, and I exhibited in events such as Sculpture by the Sea in Sydney. I later went back to the ‘design world’ and worked with landscape architects and urban designers in Melbourne. In 2008 I returned again to arts, studying a Masters of Arts (Art in Public Space) at RMIT Melbourne.
Before moving to Canberra in 2015, I spent five years in Darwin, where I facilitated a number of large-scale public art projects with Larrakia Nation artists. It was exciting and rewarding to work and connect with a fantastic group of First Nations artists and to play a part in reinforcing to locals and visitors that Darwin is Larrakia Country.
Working with Ginninderry, I enjoy the diversity of projects. I get to provide advice and experience in the arts and how public art, interpretation, and placemaking evolve through the community. One area that exemplifies the balance between arts and design is “interpretation”; interpretation in this context is the ways in which stories of landscape and culture are represented for visitors and residents with text, images and artworks.
In 1995 I decided (over a beer) to cycle to Melbourne over the summer with a friend. About a year later, I had toured over 6000 km on my bicycle, down the coast from Sydney to Melbourne, around Tasmania, across the Nullarbor Plain, and (the next summer) from Gloucester in NSW to the Queensland border to go to a music festival.
While living in Darwin and working with Northern Territory Parks and Wildlife, I was lucky to visit Garig Gunak Barlu National Park (a peninsular north of Arnhem Land) to investigate interpretation and signage projects. I flew there and back in a tiny single-engine postal plane. On the return trip, my luggage included four nice-sized Golden Snapper ‘on ice’ after a quick fishing trip with the ranger.
A little project that came out of this was replacing and redesigning a sign, warning drivers that at one place on the road, saltwater crocodiles cross every night, travelling between the beach and a lagoon and that drivers should ‘give way’. When we checked this out, there was clear evidence on the sandy road that the last visitor was a large ‘croc’ and not a car.