Gallery manager bids a fond farewell
Thursday, 15th December, 2011
By Darrin Manuel
After spending four years as manager of the city’s art gallery, Bruce Tindale’s fond connection to Broken Hill and its people is coming to an end.
Mr Tindale arrived here in 2007 to take up the head position at the Regional Art Gallery after being lured by the challenge of the job.
“I’d been working at Muswellbrook Regional Art Centre for a couple years and had been away overseas, and when I came back I saw the job advertised and thought it would be interesting to have a go at.
“I had a pretty open mind, I’d heard a lot of things about Broken Hill - a remote town with a lot of history, the history of the Brushmen had been widely promoted - and I’d seen Wake In Fright on television in 1982,” he laughed.
The 53-year-old said he settled in comfortably, working with gallery and City Council staff to bring several upgrades to the gallery including a new $1.2 million collection storage area.
“I was fortunate that all the staff I’ve had to work with have been great, so the transition was good.
“And Peter Oldsen (Council’s Manager of Sustainability) has been a fantastic support over the past four years, particularly with the redevelopment of the building.
“His background knowledge in building has been incredibly valuable. He’s helped keep costs down while we’ve been able to undertake quite a big project in the collection store.”
To an outsider the job of an art gallery manager might seem like a quiet and even relaxing position, but Mr Tindale said it was anything but.
It involves long hours arranging exhibitions, attracting touring shows and professional artists, monitoring the collection and ensuring a broad cross-section of the art community is afforded space in the gallery.
“It’s important to strike a balance in the types of exhibitions, the gender diversity, the artforms the age of artists, so it’s not just all older or younger artists.
“It’s about trying to be as fair as possible. You’re not going to please everybody but the aim is to try and strike some sort of balance and have some diversity.
“It’s been challenging, it’s time-consuming. I’ve spent a lot of hours here on the weekends catching up.”
The job does have its rewards though, and Mr Tindale said showcasing exhibitions by Robert McFarlane, Robin Sellick, Virginia Kaiser and a variety of Aboriginal artists were highlights.
Working with West Darling Arts to educate prospective artists had also been satisfying, he said.
Mr Tindale will retain his educational focus when he makes “a segue into the commercial world” in his new position as manager under Sydney art dealer Michael Reid at a gallery in Murrurundi.
Mr Reid has galleries in Sydney and Murrurundi, a small town just north of Mr Tindale’s former home in Muswellbrook.
Although Mr Reid maintains a private collection, he has a strong interest in art education and frequently holds tours, lectures and seminars.
Mr Tindale said he was looking forward to his new job but added that there was plenty he would miss about the Silver City.
“I’ll miss Broken Hill. I’ve really enjoyed my four years here.
“It’s got a great climate and a very interesting community, and the arts community is very lively.
“The local media has also been particularly supportive, you guys (the BDT), the ABC and recently Local Talk - the interest in art has been really beneficial and productive.
“People know about the arts in Broken Hill but to have it reaffirmed and show the achievements of local people on all sorts of levels has been really generous and helpful.”
But of all the locals Mr Tindale has dealt with in his time in the city, it’s the local butchers who have won a special place in his heart.
“The thing I’ll miss most? The lamb chops. I’ve been to several local butchers and they’re all really good. They’re exceptional compared to what you get in the supermarket.”
Mr Tindale will work his final shift at the gallery on Monday.