Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Homecoming and new challenge for experienced curator

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Paul Brobbel has recently taken over as director at the iconic Uxbridge Arts and Culture in Howick. Times photo Wayne Martin

Paul Brobbel brings vast experience and a precise vision to his new role in charge of one of east Auckland’s leading arts facilities.

Brobbel recently replaced Vickie Bowers as director of Uxbridge Arts and Culture in Howick.

His previous role was Len Lye Curator at the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery / Len Lye Centre in New Plymouth, named for the iconic Kiwi experimental film-maker and sculptor.

He’s also worked at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa in Wellington and Auckland War Memorial Museum.

Brobbel describes being curator of the Len Lye Centre as one of the “best arts jobs in the country”.

It was a “career move” to come to Uxbridge, he says.

The job is a homecoming for the former Howick local who attended Elm Park School, Bucklands Beach Intermediate School and Macleans College.

Among the skills he brings to his new role is the ability to approach projects and art management from start to finish and having been “a bit of a one-man-band”, he says.

“At the Len Lye Centre I had to have a finger in every pie.

“I had colleagues who did their jobs but I couldn’t sit back and just do what was literally in my job description.

“I had a hand in everything, whether that was merchandising for the shop, running events, creating books and editing publications, doing the marketing, and going on the radio to talk about publicity.”

Brobbel knows the direction he wants to take Uxbridge, a long-established facility in the community.

“I’m not here to reinvent the wheel. It’s about stabilising the programme and raising the experience for our artists and audience.

“So it’s sort of incremental but structural changes to make everything point in a more ambitious direction.

“I want this to be a place where artists have a really good experience. If artists are having a good experience here then our audience is and that’s key to what I want to do.”

He’s keen for the centre to give young artists an opportunity to exhibit their work and to have a good experience in doing so.

“Uxbridge should open doors for young artists and I think they can make the most of that opportunity.

“I’m a big fan of medium-specific exhibitions … but I think as a curator you should ask yourself, ‘what are we doing for this field and for that field’.

“I’d like to start to see more sculpture in the gallery, more drawing, more photography, and moving image.

“I like eclectic tastes. I’d like to see more group exhibitions and artists working together.”

Brobbel is keen for artists to submit proposals for exhibitions and enjoys it when they want to talk to him about their work and ideas.

“My door is always open for conversations about art.”

He also wants to expand the use Uxbridge’s theatre, which was previously a church.

“One of my priorities is how to get the theatre element back into a live format.

“I want to see this as Howick’s leading live venue for music, theatre, and comedy.

“I’d like to see local musicians knowing this is their place. Local artists can do that and I want this to be equal to the gallery space.”

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