IMA Staff Profile: Sarah Thomson News

IMA Staff Profile: Sarah Thomson

Marketing and Communications Coordinator and ‘the churchie’ Coordinator

26 June 2020

Can you tell us about your role/s at the IMA? 

I’m the Marketing and Communications Coordinator and ‘the churchie’ Coordinator. My role involves managing advertising, social media, emails updates, media, our website, promoting exhibitions and public programs, and more. Recently I’ve taken on ‘the churchie’ coordinator role, helping to manage this year’s prize and finalists’ exhibition.

You have been busier than ever during COVID. Can you tell us about some of the approaches you have brought to communicating the gallery’s story and work throughout the lock down?

Coming from a very busy schedule of events, it has been nice to have the space to reflect on our function as a gallery and our history and story. Even without exhibitions and events on however, there’s plenty to share in terms archival materials and recordings of talks and lectures.

You conceived of the IMA’s Making Art Work project. Can you tell us about Making Art Work and the back story of how the project came to be? 

Making Art Work was conceived early on during the lockdown in an impromptu meeting between IMA Director Liz Nowell, Exhibition Production Manager Llewellyn Millhouse, and myself. We were bouncing around ideas for ways that we could support as many artists as possible while our galleries were closed.

We became interested in the Federal Art Projects initiated by the Roosevelt administration during the Great Depression in the US as a historical precedent, in particular the way that artists were commissioned to make work as part of a broader economic stimulus. Artists were seen as workers and as a valued part of the economic recovery of the nation, which contrasted with the current situation in Australia.

Once the initial framework was in place, the whole IMA team worked collaboratively to curate different aspects of the project—over many, many zoom meetings.

Can you share about any of the commissions you are most excited about?

I’ve enjoyed seeing Sally Old’s essay What can ‘what can writing do’ essays do? come together. She articulates the contradiction that many people working in the arts feel about the ‘function’ of art and writing during a crisis, it’s full of interesting references across the web, and concludes with a proposed ideological showdown “in the vein of the Sperm Whale vs Giant Squid videos you can watch on YouTube.”

I am also really excited about the website design which was created by artist Kiah Reading in an impressively short amount of time. Kiah drew on vintage posters created during the Depression as inspiration and brought a conceptual approach to the digital platform and branding for Making Art Work.

What are you most looking forward to about the gallery reopening? 

Other than being able to physically see art again, both at the IMA and other galleries in Brisbane, I’m looking forward to being back in the office. I miss the chit chat and coffee breaks with colleagues!

The Institute of Modern Art acknowledges the traditional custodians of the land upon which the IMA now stands, the Jagera, Yuggera, Yugarapul, and Turrbal people. We offer our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the first artists of this country. In the spirit of allyship, the IMA will continue to work with First Nations people to celebrate, support, and present their immense past, present, and future contribution to artistic practice and cultural expression.