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  • Jul 26, 2018

Rhana Devenport Appointed Director of the Art Gallery of South Australia

RHANA DEVENPORT has been appointed director of the Art Gallery of South Australia. She will officially commence her role on October 22, 2018. Courtesy Auckland Art Gallery.

On July 26, Adelaide’s Art Gallery of South Australia (AGSA) announced the appointment of Rhana Devenport as its new director. Devenport will officially take up the role on October 22, and will be the first female director in AGSA’s 137-year history. 

Devenport made her start as an arts educator and practicing artist before working with various arts festivals such as Brisbane’s Asia Pacific Triennial, where she was senior project officer from 1994 to 2004. In 2006, she was appointed director of the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery in New Plymouth, where she led the fundraising effort for the development of the Len Lye Centre, dedicated to the New Zealand-born experimental film artist. Since 2013, she has served as Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki’s director. Under her leadership, the gallery expanded its collections, championing contemporary art from the Asia-Pacific region. Most recently, she was the curator of New Zealand’s pavilion at the 2017 Venice Biennale, presenting the work of multimedia artist Lisa Reihana. 

Devenport will be succeeding Nick Mitzevich, who commenced his new role as director of the National Gallery of Australia on July 2. Her appointment coincides with the development of the contemporary art arm of AGSA, tentatively named Adelaide Contemporary, an initiative championed by Mitzevich during his tenure. Adelaide Contemporary will be housed in a separate building, one kilometer away from AGSA. Devenport expressed about the project: “It’s something I believe I can contribute very strongly to: understanding what the project can do for a city, and become a magnet for the creative energy of a city.” It is also hoped that Devenport will bring her international experience to the Gallery to further the global impact of its enterprises, as well as work closely with Indigenous communities and develop AGSA’s permanent collection.

In March, premier Steven Marshall proposed that Adelaide Contemporary—the original plans for which were made under former premier Jay Weatherill—should also dedicate a section to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art. Discussions between potential participating parties, including AGSA, Tandanya National Aboriginal Cultural Institute and the South Australian Museum, are ongoing. Meanwhile, it was revealed in June that Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Woods Bagot will be the architects of the building.  

Christie Wong is an editorial intern of ArtAsiaPacific.

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