03/12/2008 - 22:00

Celebrating small achievements

03/12/2008 - 22:00

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Stefano Carboni’s vision is a good fit to Perth’s cultural needs.

Celebrating small achievements

Do you use a tailor?

Not regularly, but I was very happy when I spent several weeks in Kuwait working on a project for a collection there. I found out that buyDo you use a tailor?

Not regularly, but I was very happy when I spent several weeks in Kuwait working on a project for a collection there. I found out that buying wonderful fabric from India, usually silk or very good cottons, and having so many Indian, Pakistani or Bangladeshi tailors there I could have shirts and suits made for less than $100 and I still have them. If I have a tailor it's an Indian tailor in Kuwait.

Do you have a mentor?

I think I have many mentors and a lot of people have helped but a person I can single out is my professor of Islamic characters at the University of Venice, Ernst Grube, who is the person who I'm still very much attached to; he lives in London now. He is the one who pushed me at some point saying, "Stephano I think you have the making to going out into the big world".

What has been your biggest achievement?

My most recent biggest achievement is to drive on the wrong side of the street. If you look at my adult life...I'm from Venice, I spent long periods in London, Cairo and New York and never had the need to drive a car and I come here and this is definitely a different culture. So that's my most recent achievement. In professional terms probably my exhibition of Venice and the Islamic World [2007], which was the coronation of my curatorial work at the Metropolitan Museum.

Do you have a favourite quote?

I think one quote, this is an Italian quote from Federico Fellini, who is a movie director and a great artist, in English it translates, "I don't want to demonstrate anything I just want to show". Often people don't really conceive the fact that sometimes an artist may not want to say something but just show something that comes out of his heart. I like this attitude. I try to be as interpretative as possible when I look at works.

ing wonderful fabric from India, usually silk or very good cottons, and having so many Indian, Pakistani or Bangladeshi tailors there I could have shirts and suits made for less than $100 and I still have them. If I have a tailor it's an Indian tailor in Kuwait.

Do you have a mentor?

I think I have many mentors and a lot of people have helped but a person I can single out is my professor of Islamic characters at the University of Venice, Ernst Grube, who is the person who I'm still very much attached to; he lives in London now. He is the one who pushed me at some point saying, "Stephano I think you have the making to going out into the big world".

What has been your biggest achievement?

My most recent biggest achievement is to drive on the wrong side of the street. If you look at my adult life...I'm from Venice, I spent long periods in London, Cairo and New York and never had the need to drive a car and I come here and this is definitely a different culture. So that's my most recent achievement. In professional terms probably my exhibition of Venice and the Islamic World [2007], which was the coronation of my curatorial work at the Metropolitan Museum.

Do you have a favourite quote?

I think one quote, this is an Italian quote from Federico Fellini, who is a movie director and a great artist, in English it translates, "I don't want to demonstrate anything I just want to show". Often people don't really conceive the fact that sometimes an artist may not want to say something but just show something that comes out of his heart. I like this attitude. I try to be as interpretative as possible when I look at works.

STEFANO Carboni, who started as director of the WA Art Gallery in October, has a vision to explore Perth's potential as an Australasian cultural hot spot and involve more individual donors in the process.

The multilingual Italian-born art historian came to Perth after three years spent as curator and administrator of the department of Islamic Art at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Mr Carboni believes there is a lot to be done to develop the cultural exchange relationship between Perth and Asia, and hopes to build on that aspect and take the gallery to a new level.

"One thing that was particularly attractive to me is the fact that Perth is only four or five hours away form Jakarta, from the south Asian area which is closer to my field of specialisation of studies," Mr Carboni told WA Business News.

"Western Australia has built on the business side with Asia, but from a cultural point of view there's a lot of work that has to be done.

"There is a clear call to be investing more in the relationship with Asia and I think it's an important point; the potential is there."

Mr Carboni believes bolder steps are needed to turn Perth into a city with an obvious cultural dimension, bringing Perth a greater level of international recognition similar to that achieved by other so-called provincial cities such as Vancouver, Canada.

After spending three years in the US, where private donors are the sole source of funding for most museums, Mr Carboni says he would endeavour to develop the culture of giving by private individuals in WA.

"In the present environment one can never expect to live only with public money; fundraising has to be quite aggressive. It has to be more aggressive in terms of going after corporate sponsorship as well as individual sponsorships," Mr Carboni says.

"I know that here there is a culture of large corporate sponsors coming from the corporate world, but it is very important to try to create a culture with individual donors...and here in WA there are plenty who could contribute to the wellbeing of our institutions."

Mr Carboni wants to educate and explain to potential donors the culture of giving that has developed among the wealthy in the US.

While Mr Carboni's profile and vision appear to fit with the needs of WA, his appointment as director of the art gallery was very much a matter of being at the right place at the right time.

"I didn't know much about the art gallery itself when I applied," Mr Carboni says.

"I happened to be in Melbourne in January this year and saw the position advertised. I sent a cover letter of interest with my CV and pointed out I was going to be in Melbourne for three more days.

"The person flew down from Sydney to Melbourne to meet me. I had a good feeling about it from the beginning and obviously there was a good feeling on the other side."

Mr Carboni says he felt he was at the top of his career at the Metropolitan Museum, the Met, and was ready to take on a leadership position.

"I was ready to serve an institution in a different capacity as a manager, a leader...as someone who can be creative to make a difference," he says.

A month into his new role, Mr Carboni says being a director is not something he could have prepared for and the learning curve has been steep.

"My day at the Met was so incredibly busy...because of the many challenges I took upon myself, but I had control over things that I generated," he says.

"The biggest change in this respect is that I am not the one who generates the day, it's my calendar that grows out of nowhere. I have meeting with everyone and the nature of the meeting is sitting, having two minutes to look at what is the next meeting and then to react during the meeting; so it's a level of alertness, and of decision making that is very different and that I have to get used to."



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