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Beyond the Gallery Walls: An Interview with Margaret Moore

ByTalenia Phua Gajardo
Beyond the Gallery Walls: An Interview with Margaret Moore

Margaret Moore at MOORE CONTEMPORARY. Image Courtesy of MOORE CONTEMPORARY. Photo by Bianca Woolhouse.

An independent curator, writer and contemporary consultant in Perth, Western Australia, Margaret Moore wears many hats. As the former Curator of the Art Gallery of Western Australia, her extensive experience extends to her current role as Gallery Director of MOORE CONTEMPORARY, offering art consultancy services in many areas.

Scroll down to read all about her remarkable journey to becoming a gallerist and her experience in the field!

Installation view at MOORE CONTEMPORARY: Peripheries, 2021. Image courtesy of MOORE CONTEMPORARY. Photo by Dave Deves

Can you share a little about your journey to becoming a gallerist and what inspired you to establish Moore Contemporary?
I have long been embedded in the world of contemporary art in a career that has been as a curator working in art museums, art festivals and in the private sector. Beyond institutional roles I have worked independently as an art collection advisor and consultant. With a focus on contemporary art practice, I have always considered the artist and the artwork to be central to my work and to my advocacy. I see much purpose and value in mediating between artists, collectors, curators and clients. In hindsight becoming a Gallerist was inevitable and establishing MOORE CONTEMPORARY was a case of the right time for me and the right time in Perth.

As an experienced gallerist, what do you consider to be the most significant changes or trends in the Australian art market over the past decade?

I am not certain that my perception is very scientific, but I do feel there has been an increased recognition of the quality of Australian contemporary artists. Social media, new digital platforms, international participation, and creative curatorship has possibly increased awareness. The 2020 global travel pause may have made the artworld a little more of a level playing field too where curiosity in artists was less event or location centric. The emergence of NFTs and rise in AI doesn't appear to have yet been the disruptor that some might have predicted, though that space is volatile. And perhaps as a consequence of a level of digital fatigue, there appears to be a re-appraisal of the value of the hand, the artisanship and the materiality of art within a time of heightened understanding of the ecological fragilities of our planet.

How do you navigate the balance between showcasing established artists and introducing emerging talents within your gallery's program?

Contemporary art is not to preserve any one generation. I have always felt it important to present work from artists of all ages, career stages and across diverse media. I do endeavour to bring some balance to the program in this regard. It is stimulating to work with emerging talent and see it evolving and it provides great scope to encourage collectors on that journey. For established artists it is more a case of supporting and presenting the integrity and richness of artistic endurance and excellence. Interestingly these spectrums of career development can nourish each other.

Forewarning (Act 4), Demarcation by Jacobus Capone. Image courtesy of MOORE CONTEMPORARY.

Could you discuss some of the criteria you use when selecting artists to represent and exhibit at Moore Contemporary?

Dedication to practice, discernible aspiration, quality of ideas and how this is exacted in practice. For me it is a partnership with the artist, so it is critical that this is mutually appreciated and that you are each working to the same end. Additionally – over and above research and experience – I don't under- estimate the power of an intuitive response and being artwork led. Often, if I have been especially attracted or intrigued by new work, I usually find the artist equally interesting and symbiotic.

There are always more artists who I would like to work with than is possible. In terms of our scale of operations I am selective to ensure the relationships we are investing in are well managed and that we continue to grow our collector interest and satisfaction. It is possibly a more boutique than corporate approach.

What role do you believe contemporary art plays in shaping cultural dialogue and societal reflection, particularly within the Australian context?

Contemporary art and artists can be a powerful conduit in igniting reflection and discussion. As a post- colonial and multicultural society, the strength of our First Nations art continues to be instrumental in dialogue, education and understanding. So too has the emergence of curatorship that considers contemporary art and culture from many perspectives other than purely a Western Canon.

Post Physical by Ian Williams. Image courtesy of MOORE CONTEMPORARY.

How do you see the relationship between technology and the art world evolving, and what impact has it had on your gallery's operations and outreach efforts?

Technological advancements continue to improve efficiencies in administration, communications and outreach. As mentioned prior, digital platforms do offer capacities that helps dissolve geographical boundaries and can broaden audiences and market. These are critical business tools yet the experience of art in reality is largely irreplaceable. I think too artists are taking on this conundrum or context as investigation. Artists such as Tove Kjellmark, or Dan McCabe who I represent have each explored the interchanges between nature, humanity and technology as one core in their art production.

Can you share some insights into the challenges and opportunities that arise when promoting Australian artists on the global stage?

For all that I have said around the positives of digital platforms the tyranny of distance remains a challenge – the work of our artists is still not physically circulating as prolifically and regularly throughout major centres, so recognition of Australian artists can take international clients and curators longer to achieve. Practically art freight costs can also be inhibiting. That said a number of artists who are represented by the Gallery do live in Europe and we navigate their presence and promotion in Australia. It is an incremental business regardless of origin and location.

In what ways does Moore Contemporary engage with the local community and contribute to the broader arts ecosystem in Australia?

As someone who has previously held public roles in differing contexts, I am aware there are many ways to engage and contribute formally and informally to the broader arts ecosystem, whether it is giving time, counsel, education, philanthropy etc. Championing artists and contemporary art as a gallerist is an instrumental filter for so many cultural intents, outcomes and arts growth in this country and beyond. On a practical level I do also from time to time speak at industry events or to curatorial students as a tangible example of participation and mentorship.

At the Gallery, we produce modest catalogues for solo exhibitions often with invited essays that in a small way add to the archival knowledge of artists and provides support for collectors, audiences and arts writers.

Installation view at MOORE CONTEMPORARY, 2024: Rebecca Baumann. Image courtesy of MOORE CONTEMPORARY. Photo by artdoc.

How do you approach the curation of exhibitions at Moore Contemporary?

This is my heartland really. I love the correspondences that can be found by bringing works together. I intentionally hold selected group shows regularly alongside solo exhibitions. It is a healthy way of ensuring that works by many artists receives regular exposure and our audiences seem to value seeing a mix of works as well as solo presentations. Alignments of works that might be conceptual, aesthetic or even oppositional can sing in the space and help inform collectors.

From an annual program perspective, I strive to balance solo projects with the group shows to ensure we are presenting diverse media and artists at differing career stages across given years. This is also balanced with Art Fair participation.

Looking ahead, what are your aspirations and goals for the future of Moore Contemporary, and how do you envision it evolving in the coming years?

Above all I am ambitious for the artists and hope to see careers continue to grow, to channel opportunities for artists and see works placed well, whether it is institutionally or privately. I would like MOORE CONTEMPORARY to expand to more art fairs, although as a smaller enterprise this has to be measured.


Estalished in November 2017, MOORE CONTEMPORARY sits in the Cathedral Square of Perth, dedicated to the presentation and promotion of major contemporary art. Founded and directed by Margaret Moore, the space not only hosts exhibitions but also offers consultancy services in art commissioning, collection advice and management, all thanks to Margaret's extensive experience.

Any views or opinions in the post are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the company or contributors.

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