Annual Report 2019

CEO’s message 
Lisa Cahill

This year Australian Design Centre marked five years in Darlinghurst. Delivering programs locally and touring nationally to connect artists, designers and makers with audiences is what we do – promoting Australian craft and design globally across our multitude of platforms.

 The impact we generate is huge – working with over 1000 artists across our programs; generating direct income for artists of $250,000 in 2019 and indirectly much more; 81 creative partnerships with other organisations; 22 exhibitions; 396 events; an audience of over 225,000 people – for an organisation with just seven full time equivalent positions. This is only possible through the many, many collaborations we forge with creative practitioners, partners, donors, audiences and the local community.

A standout project in 2019 was the launch of the next edition of our major series of ADC On Tour exhibition projects Living Treasures: Masters of Australian Craft with acclaimed ceramic artist and potter Prue Venables. Working with Prue to bring this project to fruition was a joy and I know that many people who have seen the exhibition on tour have thoroughly enjoyed connecting with Prue and seeing her magnificent work. Five different ADC on Tour projects landed in 15 different regional and metropolitan locations across Australia in 2019 with some fabulous outcomes. We thank Visions of Australia, the Australia Council for the Arts, Create NSW and our venue partners for their ongoing support for our touring program.

Opening the exhibition Living Treasures Masters of Australian Craft \ Prue Venables, Adrian Collette AM, CEO of the Australia Council said: “ For 15 years since the launch of the Living Treasures series, the ADC has done the Australian public the great service of showcasing our important craftspeople, celebrating their work and honouring their place in our cultural landscape … this organisation, this venue and this magnificent exhibition embody that capacity for arts and culture to bring people together … I’d especially like to acknowledge the work of ADC to champion the vital role of Aboriginal craft and design in our culture.”

 Here in Sydney our First Nations Creative producers and artist Jason Wing brought to life a collaboration with the City of Sydney, the Art and About project Gadigal Mural. Painted by the team at Cracknell Lonergan Architects Gadigal Mural stretches across the back of our building in Barnett Lane connecting ADC as a contemporary place of making with the first makers on this land.

Featuring in our 2019 Sydney program were exhibitions and events that traversed many of the disciplines of contemporary craft and design including industrial design, architecture, furniture, lighting, jewellery, textiles, hybrid practice, ceramics, technology and the impact of design on the future of work.

For our first exhibition for the year we presented STEEL: art design architecture curated by our partners at JamFactory and presented in collaboration with our William Street neighbours Stylecraft. It was a privilege to bring such a fine exhibition to Sydney. Similarly, in April we presented Island Welcome, an exhibition, curated and toured by Belinda Newick, that focused on contemporary jewellery as a gesture of welcome and commentary on refugee and immigration policy.

The Teapot Project had its inaugural presentation with us in April. The project encapsulates what Australian Design Centre is about – a collision of craft and design; and the innovation and industry that is created when collaboration is central to the process.

Other collaborative exhibition projects included WORKSHOPPED19, Small Tapestries from the Australian Tapestry Workshop, new design by students from UNSW Art and Design and the inaugural partnership exhibition with the Jewellery and Metalsmiths Group of NSW, Profile.

Sydney Craft Week, the annual festival we produce for the whole of Sydney, was held for the third year running with substantial support from the City of Sydney and various community and corporate partners. Embraced by professional makers and the community the festival continues to go from success to success.

Our retail platforms Object Shop and Makers Markets enable us to support hundreds of artists each year selling their unique, handmade, collectible work to enthusiastic collectors. 

In 2019 we also undertook our strategic planning for the next four years, this is the centrepiece for making our case to our funding partners to continue support for the organisation into the future. As part of this work many people wrote letters of support for us including these generous words from jeweller, educator, writer and curator Melinda Young,

 “As a crafts practitioner, the Australian Design Centre has played a formative and crucial role in the development of my creative and professional practice over the 20 years that I have been working in the field.

 Over the past 3 years I have been delighted to observe and engage with the ADC in an increasingly meaningful way. The ADC, under the dynamic, community facing steerage of Lisa Cahill and her excellent team, has blossomed into an inclusive, generously supportive organisation that reflects and represents the craft and design community of Sydney (and beyond). In addition to delivering a consistently dynamic and thoughtfully curated in-house exhibition program, the ADC presents touring exhibitions from around Australia and overseas in its exhibition spaces, all of which are supported by a broad range of outstanding public programs and education resources.

 However perhaps the most significant achievement of this dynamic, forward-facing organisation is the inception in 2017 of Sydney Craft Week, deftly filling a space in the cultural calendar of Sydney. As a maker I cannot begin to express the importance of this event. I wonder what we did before? Through Sydney Craft Week, the ADC has provided an umbrella for a community to come together; links have been forged between disciplines, collaborations, conversations; a sense of revival and value have been established.” 

Huge thanks to everyone who has supported ADC in 2019, from our team to our volunteer board of directors, the many and varied partners across all of our activities, the artists who are at the core of what we do and the community who connects and engages with us across the year – your support for creative practice is essential for a creative Australia.

Read the full report here

Australian Design Centre's Annual Report 2019

Read the Annual Report 2019 from Australian Design Centre.

Image: Living Treasures: Masters of Australian Craft \ Prue Venables installation view, 2019. Photo: Rhiannon Hopley.