We’re excited to welcome WA artist and project manager Emma Buswell to the FAC team as our new Print Award Coordinator. Emma filled us in on some of her arts highlights and what she’s looking forward to for this year’s award and exhibition.

Along with being an arts administrator, you’re an artist yourself and have worked with numerous arts organisations. Tell us about your background in the industry and when it first began.

I’ve always been obsessed with galleries and art, so for me there was really no other option than to study it. I studied at Curtin University and from there I developed an interest in collaborative practice and curatorial processes. Leaving uni and the excellent safety net that it provided, I wanted to work more with individuals and alternative vacant spaces in the city. I think it’s really important to make your own opportunities and in Perth we have an incredible amount of autonomy to be able to do this. In my case, that meant pursuing an ongoing interest in architecture and how unused or empty spaces in cities have the potential to provide platforms for creative practice. I started a little gallery in a two person office space that boasted panoramic views of the city (well, at least the bathroom did) the year after graduating.

I’ve also worked at PICA for several years and most recently as a curator at Success, where I had the opportunity to work with nationally and internationally acclaimed artists. All of this computer work and arts admin is balanced of course by making things and working as a practicing artist.

Also a big welcome to FAC! How does it feel to be part of the team?

So INCREDIBLE!! There are so many talented people in the one place, I mean surely FAC’s the only place that has a Front of House with a PhD. Everyone’s been so fantastic and I can’t wait to work with all the staff more over the next year. FAC has so many artists on staff as well, so we all understand many of the processes that go into actually making work for an exhibition, and the emotional upheaval that goes along with that. It makes for a truly creative and diverse workplace.

Emma Buswell, Mickelmerch: Paying Dues to Wronged Heroes One $ at a Time, 2016, various materials. Photography by Zan Wimberley. Image courtesy of Firstdraft

Emma Buswell, Mickelmerch: Paying Dues to Wronged Heroes One $ at a Time, 2016, various materials. Photography by Zan Wimberley. Image courtesy of Firstdraft

The Fremantle Arts Centre Print Award supported by Little Creatures Brewing has been running for more than 40 years now. How do you feel about coordinating this year’s award?

Pretty excited, it’s a fantastic opportunity and I can’t wait to see what applications we get this year. If the last few years are any indication, it’ll be a whoppa. Simone, who’s managed the award for the past few years, has left such massive shoes to fill and hopefully my disproportionately big feet (literally, they are too big for my height) and I are up to the task.

Every year the Print Award demonstrates the lengths to which artists will go to test boundaries and manipulate the fabric of printmaking, and I can only imagine the kinds of inventive and rigorous work that this year’s award will bring.

As an arts insider, what’re your tips for Perth galleries and places to visit?

Arts insider! Like a spy? I think Freo is the place to be this year. As well as FAC there’s a host of incredible new artist-run spaces opening up, so it’s going to be pretty exciting. Carla Adams is opening a new gallery called SMART CASUAL. Polizia, opened by a few of the Success alumni, is also set to launch in a few weeks. I think it’s really important to see what’s being produced at this level as these are the artists and arts workers who’ll probably end up as the major contributors in Perth and Western Australian art in the coming decades.

Finally the big question: dogs or cats?

Doggos of course, did you really need to ask?

Want to learn more about the FAC Print Award or apply for the 2017 award and exhibition? Visit our For Artists section.