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Woman with glasses and pale short hair holds up her left hand in a ‘stop’ gesture.

ABOUT

LEADERSHIP AND EXPERIENCE 

Since 2015 in Australia and beyond

As the MCA's Director of Audience Engagement 2015 - 2023, my responsibilities included Creative Learning, Public Programs, Research, Marketing and Visitor Experience.

In my role with the MCA Leadership Executive team, I offered strategic thinking, innovation across learning, creativity, access and thought leadership, as well as managing a team of 129 staff, with 8 direct reports. 

Key deliverables were:


Bringing cultural empowerment: building people’s confidence with and understanding of artists, contemporary art, and the museum;


Overseeing public and learning programs: creativity and wellbeing, audience development;

Supporting visitors and stakeholders: interpretation strategy, resources;

Embedding the MCA as a leader with its approach to access and inclusion, along with a focus on research and evaluation;

Integrating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives; actively supporting the MCA Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Policy and delivering on its ten objectives;

Developing partnerships with Universities and other cultural organisations in order to generate new knowledge;

Speaking at local, national and international seminars and conferences 

 

In October 2016, I was the Australian representative at a two-day International Council of Museums (ICOM) thinktank in Barcelona, looking at the role of social justice with other museums across the world. This experience really crystallised my thinking and since then, my agenda has focussed on developing new ways for cultural organisations to be more inclusive. 

 

In 2019 I was granted a Distinguished Talent visa to enable me to continue to work within Australia. 

Throughout all the programs and projects we ran, I always focussed on research and evaluation.  Being able to measure and articulate the value of the work is essential for the health of the organisation and shoring up its ability to continue to make a contribution.

Woman speaking at a seminar, standing holding notes and a recorder, smiling off to the right.

Image: Matthew Vasilescu

Work from 2011 - 2015 in the UK

Before I moved to Australia to take up my role at the MCA, I ran my own consultancy called lightsgoingon. My mission was to make contemporary art accessible for as many people as possible. 

This happened through a range of workshops, training, projects, events and courses; providing knowledge, skills and increased confidence for individuals, businesses, community groups, teachers and the gallery and museum sector. During this time I worked with the National Trust, Tate St Ives, Arts Council UK, and many more cultural organisations. 

 

Part of a mind-map, with the word methodologies in the middle, written in black on yellow paper.
Gill at age 22 at her BA Graphic Design degree show in 1984.  Young woman stands with one hand in her trouser pocket in front of a display of prints and watercolours

LIFE EXPERIENCE

I started out as an artist, studying printmaking and then making sculptural objects. 

I found out I had a generic hearing loss when I was in my mid-thirties. I began making a series of work about this, and about my body – its internal workings; and then went back to University of Leeds as a mature student to study for an MA in Feminism and Visual Arts; to try to make more sense of the work I was making during this period in 90’s Britain.

I have worn hearing aids for nearly 30 years now. With this lived experience I am aware of the barriers for many people identifying with disability; of navigating spaces and exhibitions that appear inaccessible on a number of levels.  

VALUES

My values are creativity, kindness, integrity, rigour, communication, and collaboration.

These principles determine how I think and act:

I am a creative thinker and also a researcher.

I am kind and have integrity.

I approach everything I do with rigour and respect.

I value good communication in everything – until we know what is happening, we can’t act – communication enables movement and understanding.

Collaboration is at the heart of all I do. 

I am currently collaborating with the wonderful Morwenna Collett as part of her consultancy team to deliver an Arts and Disability Needs Analysis and Audit for Australia Council for the Arts. 

I’m doing a Desktop Review that looks at the needs of the sector and will ultimately inform future strategic thinking.

Jo-Anne Breneger, Gill Nicol and Julie Paterson at New England Regional Art Museum, for Jo’s show Quick & Dirty,Armidale 2021. Three women stand with legs apart, pulling faces, dressed mainly in cowboy outfits.

2023 AND BEYOND

What now? 

I left the MCA in May 2023, to set up my own business to support the cultural sector across Australia, offering training and consulting in contemporary art, visitor experience, interpretation, access and inclusion, audience engagement and development, and creativity and wellbeing.

 

My approach is one of care, kindness, empathy and respect. 

I've recently been granted citizenship which is a bit of a dream come true.  I live in the Blue Mountains on Darug and Gundungurra land, where I work and do yoga and go bushwalking and enjoy my garden and my friends - many of whom are artists.

I'VE WORKED WITH 

in the UK:

Arnolfini, Bristol

Artes Mundi, Cardiff

Arts Council England

Aspex Gallery, Portsmouth

ArtsMatrix

Bath Spa University / University of Chichester

Bristol Museum and Art Gallery

Contemporary Visual Arts Network (CVAN)

Creative Partnerships UK

East Devon District Council

ENGAGE (national association for gallery education)

FACT, Liverpool

Folkestone Triennial

Henry Moore Institute, Leeds

Hampshire Country Council

Ikon Gallery, Birmingham

Mead Gallery, University of Warwick

Midlands Art Centre, Birmingham

National Trust

New Art Exchange, Nottingham

New Art Gallery, Walsall

Newlyn Art Gallery & The Exchange 

Norwich School of Art

Plymouth Arts Centre

Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter

Shropshire County Council

Spike Island / Spike Print Studio, Bristol

Take A Part, Plymouth

Tate St Ives / Tate Liverpool

The Collection Lincoln

in Australia /

New Zealand / Singapore:

Australia / New Zealand / Singapore:

Achieve Australia (current, with Morwenna Collett)

Centre for Contemporary Art, Christchurch, NZ

Creative Australia (current, with Morwenna Collett)

Museum of Contemporary Art Australia

Mandurah Council

National Gallery Singapore

Orange Regional Gallery

Viacom

I look forward to working with museums, galleries, people working in the health sector and creative industries - anyone who wants to experience the benefits that a deep encounter with art and artists can make.

As ever, if you want to have a free 30-minute chat with me about anything arts and audiences,

please get in touch.

Contact
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