Old Scholar Spotlight - Julianne Mackay

Talk to people who have gone before you, and do your research. There are so many avenues and paths you can take; it doesn’t have to be the traditional route ...

Julianne, a member of the Class of 1992 and Challen House, is an accomplished curator, historian, archivist, and community engagement specialist. Her career path after St Mark’s was not always clear-cut, but a pivotal role at the Perth International Arts Festival ultimately cemented her future in the art, museum, community, and events sectors.

Short & Sweet

  • Class of: 1992
  • House: Challen
  • Tertiary education: BA History Murdoch, Post Grad in Museum Studies Deakin University, Masters in Cultural Heritage Deakin University, Grad Cert in Social Impact UWA
  • Current role: General Manager ART ON THE MOVE
  • Music you are currently listening to: An eclectic mix that harks back to post-punk and early 80s synth pop.
  • Dream dinner guest: Bob Hawke
  • Favourite subject at school: History (any of the Humanities)
  • Your experience at St Mark’s in six words: enriching, challenging, happy, life changing, friendship forming.

A Little Longer

Could you please share your experience at St Mark’s with us?

I felt at home at high school. We had an amazing year group, mostly tight-knit, and I seldom felt unhappy or bullied. I met friends I still have today. I was afforded opportunities I would not have had at other schools, and I liked being one of the early foundation group of students. I look back with fondness and nostalgia. Most teachers were great, encouraging, and supportive.

Where has life after St Mark’s taken you? Were you certain about what career path you wanted to follow?

I had no idea what I wanted to do when I left school; I always liked to write, so I thought journalism was the right path but that didn’t eventuate. I spent years working in travel, events and hospitality before landing a job at the Perth International Arts Festival, a life-defining moment where I changed careers, fell in love with arts and theatre, and decided I wanted to be a Curator. So I went to university in my late 20s and worked as a student for almost a decade, gaining several degrees, holding down full-time jobs in museums and galleries and having children.

What was your role at the PIAF and how did it become that pivotal life changing moment?

As the Travel Manager at PIAF, I organised the travel, visas, and accommodation for hundreds of artists every year. The role was life-changing in that the people I met really were the best of the best, and they made me realise I could do more. So I went back to study and changed my entire trajectory as a result.

How do you think St Mark’s prepared you for life after school?

I don’t know that it did in any way, but combined with a happy and stable family life and a safe and fun school environment, I was confident and equipped to take on life post-school. My education was a rich and rewarding experience, and I enjoyed learning (not maths).

What does a day in your role look like?

My day-to-day is very varied.

For example, this past week and upcoming looks like this:
I flew back last Friday from up north where I was installing an exhibition and a private family archive.
Today I am in the office at my “day job” (GM of ART ON THE MOVE) writing and reviewing artist contracts, reading, preparing grant acquittals, funding reports, and running mind year staff appraisals.
On Thursday and Friday, I am installing an exhibition of student work at St George’s Cathedral.

Which project has been the most rewarding to work on?

I have no one project that is any more rewarding than the other; they all intersect and intertwine, and I am at the point where I can pick and choose what I do. I find a great deal of satisfaction in working with students and young people, diverse and marginalised communities and when I volunteer (which I do at the Army Museum of Western Australia).

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

I tried many activities at St Marks, debating, mock trials and was able to play many sports, I am proud of finishing school, achieving excellent results in History and English in my TEE.

What is your fondest memory of your time at St Mark’s?

I made amazing friends and had excellent teachers who cared and encouraged me; Mrs Giles, my history teacher and Mr Hunter, my Form teacher, were standouts.

What is the best piece of advice you have been given?

That I was good enough.

What advice do you have for students wanting to pursue a career in a similar field to yours?

Talk to people who have gone before you, and do your research. There are so many avenues and paths you can take; it doesn’t have to be the traditional route of university or formal education; a mix of on-the-job, internships, volunteering, and working hard combined with formal qualifications is a good approach. The arts are broad; I have worked in festivals and theatre companies, as an accomplished curator in museums and galleries, and in senior management positions.

Who is your biggest inspiration, and why?

I have been fortunate to work with various people over the years and now call friends; there is no one person. I like smart people with a broad skill set. Remember to always surround yourself with people smarter than you; that’s how you learn.

When you are not working, where can we find you?

In a gallery, a museum, travelling all over the state for my job, and further afield, being a mum, making art, reading, cooking.