Riddoch Arts & Cultural Centre appoints new director
The City of Mount Gambier welcomes Ashleigh Whatling as the new Riddoch Arts and Cultural Centre Director.
The Adelaide born curator has experience working in the arts and cultural sectors in South Australia, Tasmania and Queensland and is settling into her new role in Mount Gambier, a position she had her eye on for a while.
“I am happy to be here and be closer to my family and friends. I really want to understand what this community is interested in and how we can elevate that into art exhibitions that draw people in and tell stories about who we are,” Ashleigh said.
“The Riddoch has an excellent reputation for programming within the regional arts network and I would like to continue to develop that reputation of national significance in terms of cultural conversation.”
In the next 12 months Ashleigh plans to develop a five year strategic plan for the Riddoch Arts and Cultural Centre.
“I’ll be reaching out to hear from the community about what they want the Riddoch to be, including what we do well and what we can improve on,” she said. “I want to learn from the city and then reflect it back to them.
“My goal would be to continue to showcase local talent and to also bring some big names to the region so that we don’t have to rely on going all the way to Adelaide to see some of those big shows, we can develop and host them here.”
“The Riddoch is strongly positioned to become a destination gallery as we are within driving distance of Adelaide and Melbourne.
“We can encourage people from further afield to come and spend time in Mount Gambier and one of the ways we can do that is by having a flagship gallery.
Ashleigh studied a double masters degree in Art History and Museum and Curatorial Studies at the University of South Australia.
Ashleigh plans to build on her previous success with a focus on hyper local content – stories that can’t be told anywhere else.
“Hyper local content is really what will draw people from other places and Mount Gambier is really rich in stories that only we can tell, the volcanic landscape is rich with stories,” she said.
“Artists are always drawn to these dramatic landscapes, so I’m keen for the Riddoch to become a place for original content you can’t find anywhere else.
“I think storytelling is at the core of what regional galleries can do. There is an opportunity to further build connections with our Boandik community and understand our stories and how they relate to the deep history of this place.”