La Trobe University is strengthening its visual arts education program in regional Victoria, forging stronger links with local artists. It has also established the La Trobe Art Institute, based in Bendigo, to be headed by accomplished artist and Mildura Campus Director, Neil Fettling.
Vice-Chancellor Professor John Dewar said visual arts courses at the Bendigo and Mildura campuses were being refreshed. ‘Bendigo is already a powerhouse of artistic creativity, not only in Victoria but across Australia.
‘We hope the creation of this Institute will build on the already strong reputation that Bendigo has as a regional centre of excellence in the arts,’ Professor Dewar said.
‘The institute will aspire to be the premier regional art school in Australia that embraces an outward looking perspective capturing both international thinking and a regional approach to the arts.
He said Mr Fettling was an ideal person to head up the new institute, having lived and worked in country Victoria for much of his career. He was born in Castlemaine and gained his first qualification, a Diploma of Fine Art, at the former Bendigo Institute of Technology.
An exhibiting artist since 1977, with numerous solo and group exhibitions held throughout Europe, USA, Asia and Australia, Mr Fettling said it was an honour to be given the opportunity to lead the new Art Institute and the exciting task of developing Australia’s the arts school. He will take up the post in August.
‘The launch of the institute has already had great support from regional arts industry and community organisations,’ Mr Fettling said.
‘I look forward to collaborating with this dynamic and creative network to strengthen an already energetic and vital contemporary arts culture across regional Victoria.’
Potential for a ‘truly great university city’
Professor Dewar said ‘We believe Bendigo has the potential to be a truly great university city along the lines of those you find in Europe and the USA. Initiatives such as the new Art Institute will go a long way toward Bendigo realising that potential.
‘This is part of our commitment as one of the largest tertiary education providers in regional Australia.’
Her said the La Trobe Art Institute aims to bring together institutions such as the Bendigo Art Gallery, La Trobe University’s Visual Arts Centre, Bendigo Senior Secondary College and the Bendigo Institute of TAFE to develop a coordinated approach to visual arts teaching and arts practice.
The Institute will offer resources and leadership in a collaborative venture to coordinate regional arts training, promotion, employment, and overall development.
Board includes NGV and Bendigo Art Gallery directors
The Institute Board includes the Director of the National Gallery of Victoria, La Trobe Alumnus Tony Ellwood, and the Director of Bendigo Art Gallery, Karen Quinlan. Both have been appointed as Adjunct Professors at the University.
Senior Manager Regional Operations at the Bendigo campus, Rob Stephenson, said consultation had begun within the University and the region’s arts community to plan for the Institute, as well as the development of a new curriculum for La Trobe University’s regional visual arts programs.
‘Regional Victoria has a really strong arts community,’ said Mr Stephenson, ‘and La Trobe is keen to play a major role in building on this strength and creating opportunity for our students and arts practitioners.’
‘We will be working with the existing Visual Arts Faculty members and all the key arts leaders in Bendigo and Mildura to shape our visual arts curriculum for the years to come.
’Initiatives such as the La Trobe Art Institute will certainly help us to ensure there is a strong relationship between the local community and major art-related businesses,’ he said.
The new curriculum for La Trobe’s regional arts programs will start in 2014, after a comprehensive consultation and design period.
Students enrolled in the Visual Arts Program have been assured that all subjects will be available to them until the completion of their chosen course. It is expected that many new subjects will be offered under the curriculum renewal plans.