Dr. Malcom Bywaters

Dr. Malcom Bywaters is the Academic Director, Academy Gallery, University of Tasmania, Launceston. He has a Diploma of Fine Art, Ballarat College of Advanced Education, a Graduate Diploma, Victorian College of the Arts, Masters’ Degree from RMIT University and a PhD from The University of Melbourne, Australia.

For the past forty years Dr. Bywaters has worked as an artist, exhibition curator and gallery director. Malcom has curated over sixty exhibitions for prestige Australian venues such as Westspace, Gertrude Contemporary, Linden Art Centre, Monash University Museum of Art, the Victorian College of the Arts Margaret Lawrence Gallery at The University of Melbourne and Geelong Art Gallery, Victoria; the University of Tasmania Academy Gallery & Plimsoll Gallery, Devonport Regional Art Gallery and the Burnie Regional Art Gallery, Tasmania. Before joining the University of Tasmania Malcom was the Founding Gallery Manager in the Faculty of Art and Design at Monash University, Melbourne.

Malcom has an extensive arts sector career and has been appointed to various Australian boards and committees, such as, the Selection Committee for the international Sculpture by the Sea – Bondi Sydney (2017, 19 & 20) and the Australian Federal Government national arts advisory Australia Council Community Partnerships Committee (2009 – 10). In 2021 Malcom was appointed to the Launceston City Council Cultural Advisory Committee. Malcom’s wide and varied knowledge of visual art enables his University of Tasmania Academy Gallery activities and curatorial consultancies to encompass a diverse understanding of contemporary art practice within a global and local community perspective.

Joanna Gair

I have been making paper and paper sculpture professionally since establishing the Dark Fibres Studio in Scotland in 1999, after graduating with first class honours from the South Australian School of Art.

2004-07 I moved to Tasmania to manage Australia’s largest handmade paper mill – Creative Paper Tasmania. I began to look at ways of interpreting the Tasmanian experience through papermaking.

2007-09 I re-established my own paper mill; Joanna Gair Paper, focussing my attention on producing papers made from Tasmanian native plants whilst exploring themes of botany, memory, provenance, water, and pattern. I exhibited my first solo exhibition, Interleaves at the Tasmanian Design Centre. 

2010-2012 I received Craft Art International’s Artistic Excellence Award at the Tasmanian Craft Fair, and Runner-up at Tidal,2012. Offered representation by Penny Contemporary Gallery Hobart. 

2014-2019 Focus on paper as a medium for bas reliefsculpture, using light, book-binding techniques,and watermarks. In 2019 I received an Arts Tasmania loan to purchase new papermaking equipment and develop a new ethos centred-around the production of small-scale papers. 

2020-Date Throughout the Pandemic I’ve been investigating the relationship between paper and the past and working towards a 20-year retrospective at the Burnie Regional Art Gallery, as the featured artist for the Burnie Shines festival. Most recently I have been exploring themes of protection and defence, whilst continuing my focus on provenance and origin.

Ashley Bird

My path to the present is one of many places and jobs to build a career in the arts and cultural sector that I’m proud to be a part of. I started my creative life watching the talented makers and artists of my family build, craft, paint, photograph, stitch and write. From there I have edited video for TV, tailored a frock or two and had fun with many forms of sculptural practice and time-based media.

My arrival here in Tasmania is where the important creative story starts. I was lucky enough to work for Handmark Gallery in beautiful Evandale for eight years getting to know the amazing and unique Tasmanian art community. The ghost of old John Glover wasn’t too far away, and I worked with exciting people who are now old friends. At the same time, I engaged in study at the UTAS Inveresk art school, and over the next decade I went from student to lecturer and back again, falling in love with studio lead research and teaching.

Somewhere in all of that I started a new journey as a curator at the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery. I discovered a new world of heroes and new friends within the walls and in the stores of Royal Park in Launceston. Now I have the huge responsibility of being the custodian of one of the most important collections of visual art and design in the country as their Senior Curator.

I truly believe that this place is a wonderful and rare place to inspire arts from around the country. The Bay of Fires art prize is just as important in its ongoing commitment to bringing the diverse and talented makers of Australia to the magical East coast of Tasmania.