Then the time comes when everything is cleared away, floors are swept and the works are given a last careful inspection, maybe a slight adjustment. Tables and chairs, microphone and lectern appear, trays of glasses and platters of food.
I always find that time hangs heavy in that last hour before guests arrive. Staff disappear and reappear, frocked up for the occasion.
When the doors open, at first there are just a few eager, early guests. Necks are craned looking for the arrival of the artists, the Mayor, the main speaker. Tonight it’s Jason Smith Director of Heidi Museum of Modern Art. Jason was one of the judges for this year’s award and mercifully he arrives in good time and with him is Stephen Armstrong representing the Sidney Myer Fund. I introduce them to the artists and keep hovering, being briefed about which Councillors are here and who else I need to know about as a Shepparton newcomer. Are there any pollies, maybe the Israeli Ambassador?
Then we kick off the formalities, I introduce the Mayor and then Jason who speaks about the award with insight and warmth, he has the guests’ full attention. I blunder through the wrap up and we are done. Time to relax and enjoy everyone enjoying this spectacular exhibition. I sense that the reception is very positive, our guests respond to the spectacle of the show, the contrasts between Kirsten’s serene objects and space, Michal’s other worldly dynamism and Alex’s lyrical playfulness.
It’s a good sign when the guests are reluctant to leave as they certainly are tonight. When most of us have swanned off to have some dinner there is always a hard core of workers who stack chairs, clean and clear away to make ready for the morning.
The 2012 Sidney Myer Fund Australian Ceramics Award has taken off.