Careers in Focus

Careers in Focus with Kat Sawyer, Assistant Registrar – Touring, ACMI

Kat Sawyer

Kat Sawyer at Nicholas Thompson Gallery, Melbourne. Pictured with Christian Flynn’s Cohesion Theory/Patient X 2011–2012, synthetic polymer paint on canvas, 56 x 56 x 3 cm.

Kat Sawyer’s career has spanned a broad range of roles and experiences. Having graduated with First Class Honours in Visual/Fine Arts from the Queensland College of Art, Griffith University, in 2009, Kat created two bodies of work – one was nominated for the Queensland Art Gallery’s Hobday and Hingston Bursary; the other was exhibited in HATCHED 2010: National Graduate Show at the Perth Institute of Contemporary Art (PICA).

Kat continued to maintain her artistic practice while developing a growing interest in Museum Registration. She has worked for the artist Tracey Moffatt seeking image permissions for her video work Art Calls with Tracey Moffatt (2014); as a Registration Assistant with UQ Art Museum; as an Exhibitions Officer with Nes Listamiðstöð’s Regional Arts Program, Iceland; and as a Curatorial and Collections Officer at Griffith Artworks, Griffith University Art Gallery.

This month we caught up with Kat to gain an insight into her most recent role as Assistant Registrar – Touring, with the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI), Melbourne, and to ask what tips she would give students seeking work in the field.

Q: For those unfamiliar with the work you specialise in, could you describe to us some of the main tasks you performed as ACMI’s Assistant Registrar – Touring?
A: As assistant to the Touring Manager and Registrar, I helped to coordinate the shipment and logistics of loans for display in international and Australian venues, as a part of ACMI’s touring exhibition program. So, essentially, I was an art courier travelling with major consignments throughout Europe, Asia and Scandinavia. Our aim was to monitor loaned objects during the installation of ACMI’s major touring shows, such as DreamWorks animation: The exhibition, which has been shown at the National Museum of New Zealand, Te Papa Wellington, the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, Sydney and the National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh. I also provided specialist advice on the handling, packing, installation and storage of artworks travelling to venues hosting ACMI’s travelling exhibitions.

Q: What are the most important skills required to work in Registration?
A: You have to be able to think clearly and remain calm under pressure. It’s good to be flexible in your approach and adapt to the changing responsibilities of the role itself – when you work in Registration, you can often work across multiple teams where roles are divided. It’s also important to have great attention to detail, particularly when checking records.

Q: What do you enjoy most about working in the arts?
A: There’s a great sense of community in the sector and many passionate people contributing to visual culture and caring for cultural assets. The work also provides great opportunities for teamwork, which is conducive to learning and sharing knowledge and skills.

Q: Have you worked much with interns and, if so, what kind of tasks do interns in Registration perform?
A: I’ve worked with interns and volunteers at a number of organisations. Most recently, I worked with volunteers at Bundaberg Regional Art Gallery to install the exhibition Shaun Tan’s the lost thing: From book to film. The volunteer team at the Gallery was energetic, great to work with, and highly skilled.

Griffith Artworks offers a Short Internship Program (SIP) for alumni and current students from Griffith University’s Queensland College of Art. As a Curatorial and Collections Officer there, I worked with interns during the various stages of their program. In this role, I guided the interns through procedures for accessioning acquisitions for the Collection and talked them through the step-by-step process of documentation, condition reporting and storing. I also worked with a number of talented volunteers and interns during my time at UQ Art Museum.

Q: Do you have any tips or suggestions for current students interested in working in Registration?
A: My best advice would be to get a feel for the intuitions you might like to work for and then get involved with them – go to openings and make yourself known!

UQ Art Museum offers a range of public programs and opportunities for students. Register to receive our e-news and invitations and follow UQ Art Museum on Facebook to keep up to date.

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