On the Couch with Rebecca Coates

SAM Rebecca Coates AARWho is Rebecca Coates?
Director of Shepparton Art Museum (SAM), located in regional Victoria – home to one of Australia’s leading ceramics collections in regional Australia, presenting a dynamic program of exhibitions that are locally relevant and engage with global contemporary ideas. Parent of two gorgeous daughters, proud co-owner of 100 olive trees, and a somewhat occasional gardener.

What would you do differently to what you do now?
In grade 3 I wanted to leave school to become a gardener ….  Working in the arts, with great artists, friends and colleagues, wonderful collections, and ever-engaged and engaging audiences is endlessly stimulating, thought provoking, inspiring, and most of the time, great fun.

Who inspires you and why?  
Some marvelously strong women I grew up with, worked with, and learned much from. Or some of the people I meet through living and working in Shepparton, with such varied backgrounds and stories.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
I’m a passionate believer that the arts and artists are essential to a well-lived life. Both allow us to explore and celebrate the unknown, take risks, while often giving us a language and allowing us to share understandings of things that otherwise can be hard to put into words.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
A beautiful place on the NSW south coast that we love. Swimming, books, friends, Australian summer holidays, and some of the best gelati flavours out of Italy. Or the mountains –  I love the grandeur of mountains and snow and ice.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
A visit to SAM is essential. They can swim in a fabulous 50m outdoor pool; lunch at any number of great places; drive out to Tallis or Tabilk wineries; spend time at Barmah on Yorta Yorta country; or visit the wonderful Australian Native Botanic Gardens in Shepparton. In Melbourne, some of our great art galleries and contemporary art spaces. I tend to curate a little visit depending on their interests and what’s on.

What are you currently reading?
I usually have about three books on the go. At the moment, it is Margaret Atwood’s Hag-Seed; a beautiful catalogue on the work of Italian artist Rosa Barba, From Source to Poem produced by Hangar Bicocca in Milan; and I’m re-reading Bruce Pascoe’s Dark Emu on Indigenous agricultural practices.

What are you currently listening to?
Arvo Part; and a mixcloud sound file of soul funk – in no particular order…

Happiness is?
Simple things. Coming home. A Fritillaria or the first Solomon’s Seal in spring. A good cup of coffee. An early morning swim with sparkles in the water. Being back in Italy.

What does the future hold for you?
Much much more I hope.

The Shepparton Art Museum presents a dynamic program of exhibitions including Soft Core – currently on display until 18 March 2018. For more information, visit: www.sheppartonartmuseum.com.au for details.

Image: Rebecca Coates (supplied)