Curator Inquisition: Centre For Contemporary Photography

Words - Melbourne Arts Club Photos - Evan Mery

CURATOR INQUISITION: Pippa Milne - Centre for Contemporary Photography

Continuing our Curator Inquisition series, Pippa Milne from the Centre for Contemporary Photography (CCP). CCP is a Melbourne Institution, founded in 1986 as a non-for-profit, CCP continues to lead the way with photo-based art, located in the back streets of Fitzroy and housing 5 exhibition spaces including the Night Projection Window


Tell us a little bit about what's currently happening at your gallery? And what upcoming shows can we look forward to seeing there?

At the moment we have two exhibitions on, one is a show I curated called CCP Declares: On the Social Contract. It’s part of a series that we do of Australian artists working in interesting ways. The show involves artists who look at the different obligations that exist (and are sometimes broken) between people in societies.

The other show we have on is an excellent, dense exhibition of videos (and a painting) made by Gordon Bennett. It’s curated by Helen Hughes and Chiara Scafidi and it’s a fascinating way to access the things that Gordon Bennett was making on his computer at the time that he was also making iconic work.

Next up is our fundraiser! We turn 30 this year, so we’ve got an ENORMOUS fundraiser planned, with work from over 70 artists who have been involved with CCP in the past. Everything will be for sale. Prices range from $150-$8,000, so we’re hoping for a whirlwind of energy and excitement.



How did you first get involved in art - were you one of those little kids who always loved being creative, or is it something that came later?

Hmmm. Sort of. My mum was a very crafty woman (I mean that in the dyes and glue sense, not the manipulative way), so we were always doing rainy day activities with plaster-of-paris and paper marbling kits, but I didn’t immediately pursue a career in the arts. I practiced as a commercial lawyer in New Zealand for a little while before I moved to Melbourne to do a Master of Art Curatorship at Melbourne Uni. I’m glad I did.


What's your process for selecting works and artists at the gallery - how do you find new talent? Do you have a particular style of work that you're drawn to?

CCP has a system of taking Expressions of Interest from artists and curators once a year. Each May we received hundreds of EOIs from people. A lot of them come from Melbourne, but also Australia, New Zealand and further afield. It’s a good way to get exposed to interesting practices, things that we haven’t seen before, people who are open to working in ways we might not expect.

With a selection panel (industry experts, practicing artists, board members and curatorial staff) we assess these applications and discuss the pros and cons of various proposals. There are only a few slots into which we need to fit a large number of shows, so this is a pretty gruelling discussion. Our exhibitions are 6 weeks, and we have a few things that are fixed into the calendar already, so it’s definitely a matter of too many good ideas and not enough exhibition slots.

As well as EOIs, we also curate a few things in-house, and we pair with some festivals to bring together exhibitions. CCP Declares: On the Social Contract is an example of an in-house curated show, and our upcoming Melbourne Festival show is another example of this.



How does living and working in Melbourne influence you?

The thing that I appreciate about Melbourne is how much there is to see and listen to. Places like the Wheeler Centre, and talks put on by MUMA, the NGV, RMIT...are just so great. There’s always something that I feel I should be getting along too. This is also, of course, the downside. There’s never any down time.

So that business of Melbourne influences me a lot. I try to soak up as much as possible. It makes me think and read and talk about things that I didn’t necessarily know a lot about before I moved here.

Who or what do you turn to for inspiration on days when creativity just isn’t flowing?

I go for a bushwalk if I can. Or find the neighbour’s dog and have a hug. Sometimes the inspiration just doesn’t flow, but I like to maintain that you need those slow days, they’re all just part of the process.



What is your favourite artwork of someone else’s, and why?

Tough question. Did you happen to see that Ronnie Van Hout’s unveiled a 5m high sculpture that perches on the top of the Christchurch Art Gallery? It’s a creepy, life-like hand with a face on it, it looks like it’s walking along the roofline. It’s completely absurd, I love it.


How is the relationship between your gallery and other local galleries? Is there a good, collaborative, supportive vibe? Are there any galleries you particularly enjoy visiting or find inspiring?

There’s such a nice community around Fitzroy. We are part of an education scheme called FAST, which takes students between CCP, Gertrude Contemporary, Seventh Gallery and Dianne Tanzer Gallery - it’s just one example, there are lots of little ways that we keep in touch with each other and bolster each other when and where we can.


Who in your opinion is the most underrated artist in Melbourne at the moment - or, in other words, who can we expect big things from in the future?

Oh dear. This is another tough question. To be honest, it’s something that I had to think about a lot in curating the current exhibition on at CCP. This is a show called CCP Declares: On the Social Contract. It includes work by seven artists (Cherine Fahd, Mohini Chandra, Miriam Charlie, Tom Nicholson, Katrin Koenning, Pilar Mata Dupont and Elvis Richardson), all of whom are making exceptional work. Some are better known than others, but all of them will be doing great things in the future, I’m sure of it!


Centre for Contemporary Photography

404 George Street Fitzroy Vic 3065 Australia

Gallery Hours Wednesday–Friday, 11am–6pm Saturday–Sunday, 12–5pm