BALLARAT was never part of Julie McLaren’s long-term plan.
“I moved to Ballarat in 2008 and I planned on commuting to Melbourne to study Masters of Information Management, so I could fulfil my childhood dream of becoming a librarian.”
Fate, however, had other things in mind.
“The funny thing was that, within a couple of months of living in Ballarat, I felt right at home,” Julie recalls. “The other thing that happened was I absolutely hated what I was studying and realised I was not destined to be a librarian after all. My childhood dreams were dashed and I needed to figure out a new plan.”
“While studying, I was also working in a vintage shop, working with the Ballarat International Foto Biennale, and training at the Art Gallery of Ballarat to become a voluntary guide. That year of getting to know the gallery’s expansive collection as a volunteer served me well because, at the end of 2009, a job came up as a registration assistant.”
In 2016, Julie was appointed gallery curator and now lives and breathes art, history, and advocating the drawcards of Ballarat.
“We recently had a change of director from Gordon Morrison, who had been the director for 13 years, to having Louise Tegart at the helm,” Julie says. “I get excited about change and I’m enjoying those taking place at the gallery, including the way we interpret the collection, the kinds of exhibitions we show and even the little things like new wall colours. I’m thrilled that Louise and I are in-sync in terms of how we want to display the collection and the kinds of exhibitions we want to show.”
To have this opportunity at what is the oldest and largest regional gallery in Australia is a dream come true. Julie has found her place amongst a never-ending tribe of local creatives and is excited for what the future holds.
“The Art Gallery of Ballarat is a place where I’ve finally met ‘my people’ and have been involved in so many great projects, exhibitions and events,” the 36-year-old proudly asserts.
“There is always something happening in this town and I love that Ballarat is currently attracting more and more creative types who can see the benefits of living in a regional city – it’s affordable, a little bit quieter but still very connected, and people have a real openness to collaboration. I’m pretty much a walking tourism advert these days.”
Click here to find out more about Julie McLaren on The Design Files.