On the Couch with Lisa Byrne

Lisa-Byrne-AAR-On-the-CouchWho is Lisa Byrne?
Director, McClelland Sculpture Park+Gallery, Langwarrin – 45 minutes from City via Monash Hwy or M1.

What would you do differently from what you do now?
I am very fortunate to thoroughly enjoy and be challenged by my work in the field of arts and culture. Throughout my career I have worked in various sized arts organisations across local and state-based institutions and university gallery contexts. Currently in my role as Director of Australia’s first significant private gallery, McClelland Sculpture Park+Gallery, founded in the mid 1960s, I have the priviledge to guide the custodianship of a unique cultural gift to the local community located in the outer south eastern suburbs of Melbourne. Through the foresight of Annie May McClelland this extremely special ‘open air’ art gallery, is truly one of its kind in Australia, now remains for future generations to enjoy.

Who inspires you and why?
People with big, messy ideas and a commitment to taking risks in pursuit of new understandings in their field of expertise, inspire me to remember to think big and challenge myself and my understanding of the world. Artists are very experienced at this way of thinking and being in the world. I am consistently amazed by the many different ideas, some simple, others deeply complex which can be conveyed through visual means. Art does transform us, and often without us being aware of it, that’s inspirational!

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
Respect is my big ‘go to’ in terms of making a difference in the world, it should be embedded in all that we do.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
My favourite holiday destinations are strongly tied to the combination of the people I am with as much as the place itself. For me, people make the experiences so special. Whether it’s my family, friends and new acquaintances I make on holidays, the ideal holiday is a journey that is both restorative and inspiring, connecting me with people, though I would say water is a common quality to some of my most memorable holidays.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
Cultural experiences of various kinds are always a must on my itinerary for visitors. I aim for unique experiences that are special to Melbourne and regional Victoria. Often vernacular encounters that I know my guests and visitors will find inspiring including visits to regional museums and galleries, urban bushwalks up the Birrarung (Yarra River), Botanic Gardens and there’s a wonderful Shell Museum in Inverloch, for example, that some of my younger friends find wonderfully engaging.

What are you currently reading?
My reading is always a mixture. Non-fiction articles on how arts and culture can contribute to new social and development models for our economies recovering from the pandemic, the Alex Ryder series with my son, and a fabulously dense book called Whiteshift by Eric Kaufmann, along with Layla F Saad’s, Me and White Supremacy.

What are you currently listening to?
As I have a 50-minute commute each way to work, I do lots of listening – it’s a combination of current affairs, Radio National, 774 ABC, with podcasts, RRR, PBS FM and ABC Classical FM. Occasionally I dig out random old CD’s, load up the CD stacker in my old car and listen with surprise at what I have selected.

Happiness is?
Downtime with my family, and friends strolling through galleries, bushwalking and camping in summer off the beaten track.

What does the future hold for you?
A renewed post CV-19 world full of arts-lead community building and prosperity. This experience has led us to value the restorative powers of being in nature and to appreciate the inspirational pull of art – so I hope McClelland Sculpture Park+Gallery is on everyone’s ‘go-to’ list offering art + nature in less than an hour from Melbourne.


Lisa is the Director of the McClelland Sculpture Park+Gallery – who have recently developed the online Art and Wellbeing series, Inspired Minds; and announced the winners of the 2020 National Small Sculpture Awards. For more information, visit: www.mcclellandgallery.com for details.

Image: Lisa Byrne (supplied)

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