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Tracy Cooper-Lavery

Tracy Cooper-Lavery (image supplied)
Tracy Cooper-Lavery (image supplied)

You would have to be living under a rock if you haven’t heard that HOTA is opening a brand new Gallery in May. With it, will fine-dining restaurant Palette, and of course a Rooftop Bar, appropriately named – The Exhibitionist’s Bar. To say we are excited, would be an understatement. In preparation for the highly-anticipated opening, we spoke with the Director of HOTA Gallery, the talented Tracy Cooper-Lavery. She gives us an insight into her career to date, along with what’s to come from the opening of the HOTA Gallery.

How long have you been a Gold Coast local?
Even though I have moved around a lot, the Goldie has always felt like my real home. I grew up here in the ‘70s, started my career here in the ‘90s and have been settled here for the last 5 years. I was always back for holidays too as my grandparents and parents are proud GC locals!

Tell us a bit about your career to date.
I was so fortunate to begin my career on the Gold Coast. Fran Cummings, the first Director of Gold Coast City Gallery took a punt on me and gave me my first job as the Curatorial Assistant. She literally threw me in the deep end and in my first week put me in charge of overseeing a large exhibition of bark paintings and sculptures from Arnhem Land that was arriving along with many of the artists, some who had never left their communities of Maningrida and Ramingining! After eight years, I moved onto the Bendigo Art Gallery in 2000 and then as Director at Rockhampton Art Gallery in 2011, until 2016 when I came back for my dream job as Director at HOTA Gallery.

Samuel Leighton-Dore, Cloud-Drive (2021). SOLID GOLD Artists from Paradise, HOTA Gallery. Image courtesy of the artist.
Samuel Leighton-Dore, Cloud-Drive (2021). SOLID GOLD Artists from Paradise, HOTA Gallery. Image courtesy of the artist.

What career achievement are you most proud of?
That’s a no-brainer – the opening of HOTA Gallery on 8 May! I feel so invested in this project and have been part of the development of the Gallery since it began in 2016. After so many years working in the former gallery spaces and having an intimate knowledge of the City art collection, I know how important this project is for the Gold Coast and for the arts in Australia.

What excites you the most about the art scene here on the Gold Coast?
We have so many incredibly talented and resilient artists working on the Gold Coast and the scene continues to grow at a rapid pace. There are great artist-run initiatives like The Walls at Miami and Generate GC which supports the development of new site-specific work by emerging artists. An exhibition like SOLID GOLD has been a great way for HOTA to amplify the work of Gold Coast practitioners and elevate their practice to a national audience.

What impact do you think the HOTA Gallery will have on the Gold Coast community?
The Gallery will be a game-changer for the Gold Coast and for cultural tourism locally. It provides the first significant seven-days-a-week offer at the Precinct (except for HOTA cinema of course!) and will present local through to international exhibitions. Who would have thought you would see a major exhibition featuring Andy Warhol, Jean Michel Basquiat and Jeff Koons – right here on the Goldie! The Gallery really brings together all of the aspects of the cultural precinct and provides more opportunity to spend a day with us. Take in some art, have a swim in the lake, catch a film or some comedy and finish your day off with sunset drinks in The Exhibitionist Bar on Level 5.

HOTA Gallery Exterior (image supplied)

What are you looking forward to the most about the HOTA Gallery opening?
The opportunity to present aspects of the HOTA collection in international standard exhibition galleries for the first time. Many of the works you will see when we open have never been shown publicly or not for many years. There will be some treasured favourites, as well as some stunning recent acquisitions to enjoy. Be sure to also check out our viewing window above the collection store to get a sense of the behind-the-scenes world of the Gallery!

If you had to pick one piece from the upcoming ‘SOLID GOLD: Artists from Paradise’ exhibition, which would be your favourite?
That’s tough, it’s like your children; you aren’t supposed to have favourites! What I do love is that there is such a diverse range of ages, careers and mediums on display. There are paintings, photographs, sculptures, installations, digital projections, outdoor works, immersive rooms, augmented reality mixed with ceramics, robotic sunrises and crystals! I think there are plenty of favourites!

What are your Gold Coast favourites…
Café: I love dropping to Bumbles at Budds Beach or Bam Bam Bakehouse at Mermaid
Coffee spot: Hot Shott Café at Main Beach, Urban Monkey at Bundall or Merlo Coffee at The Brickworks in Southport
Restaurant: Currently Etsu Izakaya or Mr Kojima; but soon to be Palette at HOTA Gallery
Bar or pub for a drink: The Exhibitionist Bar at HOTA Gallery

How do you choose to spend your weekends?
At the moment I don’t stray far from home on the weekends. I have spent so much time at work, I like to hibernate and spend time with the family. If we do venture out, it’s usually to the beach, to Rosser Park for a dog walk or a drive up into the glorious hinterland.

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