The Creative: Ric Spencer of Fremantle Arts Centre

Published on September 20, 2011
Categories - Blog, The Creative

There are always so many exhibitions around these days. Both at the larger, as well as more boutique and smaller galleries. But whose job is it to put together? And what sort of life do those seemingly mysterious, behind-the-scenes people live?

This coming Friday 23rd September will see two new exhibitions and a journal launched at the Fremantle Arts Centre. We thought this would be the perfect excuse to chat to FAC’s curator, Dr Ric Spencer, about his work for the exhibitions, and the position came about!

The beautiful grounds of the Fremantle Arts Centre.

Official job title: Curator

Summarise your career background and how you’ve come to where you are now:

I traveled a lot and had a million jobs through my twenties. I landed at art school because art is the perfect place to understand, challenge and respect this world and your role within it. I studied art both here and in the UK and completed a Doctorate in art at Curtin University. I have shown my own art both here and overseas and taught art at all the universities in Perth. I also write a lot about art and have been published in lots of art mags, and was the art critic at The West Australian for six years. I began as Curator at Fremantle Arts Centre at the start of this year.

Dr Ric Spencer

Where do you work?

Fremantle Arts Centre.

What is the best thing about your job?

Creative freedom and fulfillment – meeting and working with a lot of amazing people from all over the world.

Take us through a typical day of your work:

There isn’t such a thing – each day is different but the consistency is in talking ideas with people and making them happen.

What music do you listen to whilst you work?


What are you currently working on?

Lots of projects at once; I am programming two years ahead for exhibitions – for example coming up after the Print Award we have the Mark Howlett Foundation 20th Anniversary exhibition, after that IASKA’s spaced – art out of place, then the FotoFreo festival and then a major Shaun Tan exhibition – lots to look forward to.

A Print Award contender, Bill Moseley, Running Man 2011, 3/20, 58 x 75 cm, copper plate photogravure.

Tell us a bit more about the exhibitions opening this weekend at FAC:

Opening this Friday is the 36th annual Fremantle Arts Centre Print Award. This is Australia’s premier print award with a $12000 acquisitive first prize and a second non-acquisitive prize of $5000. It’s judged by a panel of three judges who come from all over Australia and this year they whittled down around 300 entries to 33 artists, with the winners being announced on Friday night. This is a prestigious award and a major event on FAC’s calendar.

Another Print Award entry, Janet Parker-Smith, When the Hunted Becomes the Hunter, 2011, edition 1/3, screenprint on canvas, 85 x 135, courtesy and © the artist.

Also opening this Friday night are two other print related shows. Daniel Bourke and Clare Wohlnick, two emerging Perth artists, are building two nomadic reading rooms in which you can peruse their magazine Avant-Garden – to be launched at this exhibition. The magazine is a mix of gardening, design and art and has a number of national and international contributors. Also opening this Friday is Kambarang, an exhibition of prints drawn from the City of Fremantle Collection which are inspired by the colour and energy of spring.

Image of the Avant-Garden Benchpress Riso.

What has been your proudest achievement?

The home births of my three kids.

Which local artists/musicians/creatives do you admire?

Those that take on the world (either from Perth or beyond) as an even playing field.  Perth is a thriving breeding ground for creative ambition; we have an inherent expansive vision in our work that lots of people would die for.

Any advice for those trying to enter into the creative community in Perth?

Come on in, the water’s fine.

A Print Award Entry, Wintjiya Napaltjarri, Watanuma (ii) 2010, 19/40, 55 x 45 cm, etching on paper.


Perth Questions:

What do you love about Perth?

Its potential.

What does Perth need?

Confidence in its cultural uniqueness and the planning visions to meet it.

Most frequented coffee spot?

Fremantle Arts Centre Café.

Favourite beach?

South Beach.

Rottnest or Margaret River?

Both. Ric.

Live music in the grounds of Fremantle Arts Centre.

Thanks to Ric for the interview! With so many new exhibitions opening, it’s hard to not be overwhelmed even just a little. And we’re just the visitors. Imagine what it would be like if it was your job!

We thought we’d give you a few more details of the upcoming shows.

The Fremantle Arts Centre Print Award for 2011, supported by Little Creatures Brewery, opens this Friday night, 23rd September, with the announcement of the winner. A prestigious award in contemporary print making, it continues through to 20th November, open 10-5pm daily with free entry.

Avant-Garden, a contemporary journal focusing on the representation of nature in art, will also be launched this coming Friday 23rd September. This journal has not only been produced by WA artists Daniel Bourke and Clare Wohlnick, but they have also published it themselves through Benchpress, the side printing business of their design studio Benchwork. The launch will take place in a custom designed reading room, where one will be able to relax in a home like environment whilst enjoying the nostalgic design of the journal. Sounds very nice indeed!

Named after the Nyoongar word for the warming months of September and October, the third opening for the night is Kambarang. A selection of prints will be on display, reflecting the colours of spring wildflowers.


Head down to Fremantle Arts Centre and take in some art, read a new journal, and say hi to Ric if you bump into him!

Images courtesy of the Fremantle Arts Centre.


  • As a person keen to work back in arts management, I thoroughly enjoyed an insight into the creative mind behind the magic of FAC. I crave that creative freedom and opportunity to work with like minded people. My fave thing to do in Summer is to sit on the hill on a balmy night, glass of wine in hand, the refreshing Freo Doctor dancing through my hair and the tunes of The Waifs soothing my soul. The live music image takes me there in an instant, bring on the Summer program at FAC!

    by Karen G on September 21, 2011 at 1:02 pm
  • He is great father.

    by lucian elson-spencer on February 22, 2015 at 7:47 pm

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