Sun shines again on Gold Coast gallery as ‘master of the arts’ Susi steps in

Susi Muddiman is one of the most respected gallery directors in the country and she’s just the person needed to fill some big shoes at HOTA.

Oct 05, 2023, updated Oct 05, 2023

For a while the arts community was bereft in the wake of the departure of the founding director of HOTA Gallery. Tracy Cooper-Lavery is one of the most dynamic gallery directors around and she brilliantly transitioned into the stunning new 60.5million gallery at HOTA (Home of The Arts) in Surfers Paradise.

Cooper-Lavery has gone to work at the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra which is nice for her. But what about us? The arts community was a bit devastated.

Until we got the good news about her successor, Muddiman. She will take up the role of Director, Gallery and Visual Arts at HOTA next month, after a well-earned break between jobs. This means she will return to run the largest regional gallery in the country. On the Gold Coast. Seems a bit surreal but times have changed and now the glitter strip has a thriving arts scene.

As well as being one of the nicest people in the business Muddiman is brilliant at what she does. For the past 16 years she has been director of the Tweed Regional Gallery and the Margaret Olley Art Centre which is a kind of sacred site in the art world.

The incredible project of creating beloved artist Margaret Olley’s home studio within the gallery has become a national and international drawcard since it opened in 2014. Being the custodian of this has been an honour and a privilege according to Susi Muddiman.

But it’s time for a new challenge.

“And that’s exciting for me because the job at HOTA will be so different,” she says.

“I love the building and I’m familiar with it and Tracy and I have been friends for so long. We’ve had lots of talks about it and I’m still working with her on the sharing of the national collection program which will bring major works to HOTA Gallery on loan.”

Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate welcomed her appointment saying she would make “a significant contribution to the continual development of our arts and culture through her leadership”.

Philip Bacon, executor of the late Margaret Olley’s estate and one of Australia’s most respected art dealers and philanthropists (his eponymous gallery is in Fortitude Valley in Brisbane) is as excited as everyone else about Susi Muddiman’s appointment to HOTA Gallery.

“Susi has long been one of Australia’s very best and most successful regional gallery directors,” Bacon says. “Her leadership of the Tweed Regional Gallery and Margaret Olley Art Centre has been textbook perfect in my opinion.

“She has been entrepreneurial, persuasive, passionate and hugely effective in building the new extension, and in its promotion to a new and ever widening audience.  Thousands of visitors go to Murwillumbah now that once would have never considered it, or even known where it was.”

While her departure is certainly a loss for the Tweed Gallery, it is an absolute coup for HOTA Gallery to which she will bring the same energy and excitement.”

Muddiman says she feels “blessed to have been mentored by Philip”.

“At first with the Olley wing I felt fear and a great responsibility but luckily I could call on Philip and Margaret Olley’s great friend Dame Quentin Bryce,” she says,

Susi Muddiman grew up in Lismore but it was at the University of Queensland where she developed a passion for the visual arts.

“I was there doing a Bachelor of Arts and I broke my ankle and was on crutches at one stage,” she recalls. “So, I had to use the lift and when the lift doors opened where the UQ Art Msuem was that was the beginning.”

She studied art history and cut her teeth in Brisbane working at the QUT Art Museum. She then took on roles in Grafton, Wagga Wagga and then at the Tweed Regional Gallery.

She will hit the ground running (pardon the pun) with a new show entitled Sneakers Unboxed: Studio to Street, which starts on November 25.

For some time she will be delivering exhibitions arranged by her predecessor and that’s fine by her. But she has her own ideas and is a huge fan of print-making so expect perhaps a major printmaking exhibition.

“I’ve always had a penchant for printmakers and the alchemy of printmaking,” she says. “And I’ve always loved works on paper.”

And she’ll be looking for international shows. It’s a big job and the architecturally stunning HOTA Gallery has had more than half a million visitors since it opened in 2021 and has turned into one of the Gold Coast’s major attractions. How times have changed in Tinsel Town.

This article is republished from InReview under a Creative Commons licence. Read the original article.

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