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Vale Janet Walker – The Circle’s Champion for Joy and Truth

Janet Walker 2

Janet Walker, Special Features Writer Victoria, The Culture Concept Circle (2013-2015)

Vale Janet Walker, those who loved you and your achievements will long remember you.

Our wonderful Special Features Correspondent in Victoria for The Culture Concept Circle left recently for another world, one without pain, where she is sure to wow the crowd with her witty and wise writing style as well as her wonderful turn of phrase.

“Wow – this is so me… I can relive my teenage years! Will find the tapshoes, would love to go”… was the message she sent to me when I forwarded her an invite to attend the media call out for The Seeker’s Musical on stage at the Sidney Myer Music bowl in August, 2015.

At the time Janet had reported to me that her Dr had great hope, saying her “cancer has smoke but no fire at the moment”.  However, within a few weeks it had reared its ugly head again and she sent me a note saying she was ‘bored with it and its tantrums‘.

Some may think it’s a cheek that someone who really only knew Janet for just a few shortyears would write vis-à-vis about a quintessential Victorian lady, who in her last year lived where she told me she had always wanted to. Surrounded by the historicity of the city of Geelong.

How long do you have to know someone before you understand that your meeting was a wonderful piece of fate.

Janet Walker & Me

Janet Walker Special Features, Caroyn McDowall Editor in Chief, The Culture Concept Circle. Rendezvous, Melbourne 27th June, 2015

While my encounters with Janet may have been brief in regard to others, I just had to write and thank God for her life because she enriched and emboldened mine so greatly.

Her contribution to our website at The Culture Concept Circle and its growth was defining. Her articles were wide ranging and always interesting and she quickly built many followers.

As well she offered me the warmth of her friendship and loving kindness, which for me will always remain everlasting.

Her last review and interview of which she was most pleased, was with English historian Charles Spencer about his novel ‘Killers of the King‘. He happily and generously answered her questions, sending her a personal thank you note after they were published, and she was very proud.

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Tony Ellwood, Director, NGV – Transforming Melbourne Now

Tony Ellwood

Director Tony Ellwood, courtesy National Gallery of Victoria

Today art in all its forms is fast becoming a desirable and very expansive component of the Australian lifestyle.

Recently I had the pleasure of talking to the very accomplished Tony Ellwood, Director of the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV), about his journey in the arts past, present and future.

Since his arrival at the NGV in August 2012 after already forging an outstanding career to date, Tony Elwood has not rested on his laurels. He happily admits he has extended himself way beyond what he thought he would achieve in every way.

Helping people from all walks of life and backgrounds to both know and understand art involves answering copious emails daily. His amazing energy, commitment to excellence and having the courage of his convictions are all qualities to admire.

At the ‘Circle’ we are deeply appreciative of his contribution.

Q.  Hello Tony, thank you for talking with me. Would you be able to offer our readers a brief background to your choice in careers that has led to you being the Director in charge of what many would regard as Australia’s finest art institution, the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV).  Do you believe there was a defining influence, incident or perhaps a person in your childhood that started, inspired or fostered the growth of your interest in the arts per se?

Has it been a challenging journey?

A.  I was always interested in the arts from a young age and I had a very supportive mother who assisted me to pursue this at tertiary level.  The defining moment for me was a visit I made from the country as a young child to the NGV. It is still embedded in my memory.

I knew at that time that I wanted to work with fine art.  I am lucky to have known for such a long time what I wanted to do so that has made my journey an enjoyable one.

Ellwood & Artists

Tony Ellwood and Artists, Melbourne Now Exhibition 2013-2014, courtesy National Gallery of Victoria

 Q.  The exhibition Melbourne Now in Summer (2013-2014) was a ‘watershed’ show for you following your arrival at the NGV. It highlighted the fact those who lead public institutions today have a big responsibility for ensuring considered cross-cultural as well as in house institutional conversations happen. It’s not a case of either or but both and. Do you feel this keenly?

A.  Melbourne Now was about having multiple dialogues – with both fine artists, designers (a new initiative for us) and a wide range of curators (including some external ones).  I found this a liberating way for the NGV to work.

This process extended us and we gained a lot of new skills and contacts.


The Man of Sorrows in the arms of the Virgin, (1475) {or (1479), Hans MEMLING, oil and gold leaf on wood panel, courtesy National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Felton Bequest, 1924

Q.  At a time when life is so hectic when you look back at some of the extraordinary paintings, superb sculptures and great decorative art pieces achieved by our ancestors do you sometime feel overwhelmed by the skill and craftsmanship that produced them? Can you name a few favourite pieces in the NGV Collection?

A.  I often feel like that. The beauty of collections is that we can develop a relationship with objects over time and really delve into their history.

I have many favourites from a simple but exquisite bowl by Austrian-English artist Lucie Rie from the 1960s, to our stunning Hans Memling painting ‘The Man of Sorrows in the arms of the Virgin’, c. 1475.

Q.  You will be launching the Andy Warhol | Ai Weiwei, your very cool hot Summer Exhibition soon. What can visitors expect?

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