Julie Lomax, the new Director Visual Arts at the Australia Council

Visual Arts Director adds latest from London

4 April 2012 Artery

In 2010, The Times newspaper named Julie Lomax one of the 30 most powerful people in the British art world. Now Julie is halfway around the world working as Director, Visual Arts at the Australia Council for the Arts.

The former Director of Visual Arts, London Region, for Arts Council England, is excited about her new role, which she began in February 2012.

‘What really interested me about this job was the emphasis in Australia on artistic excellence and peer review,’ she said. ‘I’m not saying that we didn’t have that in England, but it’s interesting that there is a lot of support for artists over here. A very high percentage of funding goes into developing artists, and that’s very interesting for me.’

The buzz of the general art scene in Australia also caught her attention.

‘You only have to look at the new addition to the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney, the Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art out of Queensland, the Adelaide Festival and all the interesting things happening around commercial art galleries, and you realise it’s a really exciting environment for visual art. I’m really enjoying the direction Australia faces in the world too, with regional partnerships, such as India and Japan. That’s very, very exciting.’

Julie graduated from the Chelsea School of Art in 1987 with a fine art degree and was as a practicing artist before joining Arts Council England in 2003. She ended up being responsible for a portfolio of 62 visual art galleries, studio spaces, agencies working in digital and media arts, and organisations specialising in live art and inter-disciplinary practices.

She also oversaw visual arts investment through the Council’s Grants for the Arts program, and was a panel member for the Fourth Plinth commission in Trafalgar Square. She was involved in London’s Olympic Park art commissions and was a steering group member for Art on the Underground, which saw many of London’s Underground railway stations host temporary art exhibitions.

‘I think I bring some really practical skills around management and decision making,’ Julie said. ‘But the main thing is that I bring an overview of how the different elements of the visual arts ecology can work together, from the museum sector through to the contemporary gallery style, through to the commercial infrastructure and to individual artists. I was involved in all those components in England.’

She hopes the Australia Council and other stakeholders will want to capitalise on her knowledge of funding, and of bringing artwork into the public realm too.

‘One of the other things I did in my old job and I hope to do here is to develop partnerships between visual artists and people who work in professions that revolve around the visual arts ecology, like fashion, design, film and architecture,’ she said. ‘Bringing together two different practices can create something new and bring new audiences to both practices.’

As Director, Visual Arts, Julie will be providing leadership to the Australia Council’s visual arts section and will be the senior advisor to its Visual Arts Board, implementing its decisions and providing key links between the Australia Council and the visual arts sector.

Julie took over from Kon Gouriotis OAM, who had been in the role for three years.

Image: Australia Council Director Visual Arts, Julie Lomax. Credit: Elliott Bledsoe