Since taking over the role of Executive Director at CACSA last November (following the retirement of the long–reigning Alan Cruickshank), Liz Nowell is already having an impact on the organisation and the local contemporary visual arts scene.
After five years in Sydney working in various roles – including curator at Hazelhurst Regional Gallery, manager of Tony Albert’s studio and co-director of Safari 2014 – Nowell has returned with her eastern states connections, as well as a flavour and flair developed from her experiences away from home. “Coming from Sydney and being part of the national dialogue puts me in a position where I am able to bridge what’s going on nationally, and hopefully internationally, with what’s happening locally,” Nowell says. With CACSA’s 2016 program underway there is already evidence of Nowell’s vision for the organisation coming into play. “I think the vision can be separated in a number of ways from programming to resourcing and also to community,” she says. On the agenda is a focus on trying to relocate CACSA from Parkside to more suitable premises, hopefully in the CBD or the inner city. “We would like a space that accommodates a larger gallery space, a number of artist studios and a workshop area, so that we can employ professional artists to conduct masterclasses or workshops for the general public.” CACSA already held one of these events in March, partnering with the Biennale of Sydney to present a masterclass with Dutch artist Mella Jaarsma. “There is a want, and a need, for these kinds of programs in Adelaide,” Nowell says. “I hope increasingly [that] CACSA can lead the way.” In terms of programming, Nowell is passionate about inclusivity and diversifying the voices that are exhibited. “I really want to change the discourse and normalise women and normalise Indigenous artists in the gallery space without ‘othering’ them.” This year’s program kicked off with the Richard Bell and Emory Douglas exhibition which included an offsite public art project and a mural at TAFE SA on Morphett Street. Currently showing is Planning for Tomorrow and following that will be exhibitions by Justene Williams and James Tylor. CACSA will continue to provide a platform for emerging artists and curators through the project space. Currently exhibiting is Kate Power with exhibitions by Carly Snoswell and Lily Ahlefeldt to follow. CACSA’s publication Broadsheet Journal (as it’s now known) is under the editorial direction of Wendy Walker and will continue to publish contemporary cultural critical analysis and debate of both national and international contemporary visual art. The publication has a new look and has broadened the voices represented in the publication. There are also plans to develop a new website and research hub for Broadsheet. The organisation is in the process of developing an artists’ advisory group to ensure that CACSA is responding to artists’ needs locally. “I definitely want to work closely with the South Australian arts community to ensure that their needs are being met,” Nowell says. “If we are not responding to artists and supporting living artists then we are not doing our job properly.” While people might notice the obvious changes with rebranding and programming there are other more subtle changes. “I think in the broader sense it’s about opening the organisation up, about being generous and inclusive and accessible and supporting artists,” Nowell says. “That is the reason why CACSA exists; that is the reason why all arts organisations exist.” cacsa.org.au