Olivia Welch is an emerging curator and arts professional living and working on Gadigal land, Sydney. She is the Exhibitions Manager for Museums & Galleries of NSW, currently working on tours including: Vernon Ah Kee The Island developed by Campbelltown Arts Centre, Just Not Australian curated by Artspace, and Void curated by Emily McDaniel, among numerous other projects.
Olivia worked as an Exhibitions Assistant and then a Curatorial Assistant at the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum - Modern Collection, Lisbon, Portugal, from 2015 - 2018. This role primarily involved developing exhibitions through research and practical planning, as well as editing and proofreading English translations. She worked closely with the curators in developing a number of exhibitions and their catalogues for both Portuguese and English-speaking audiences, including The Delaunay Circle; Hein Semke: A German in Lisbon; I do not evolve, I travel. José Escada retrospective; Portugal em Flagrante; José de Almada Negreiros- a way of being modern; and Post-Pop. Beyond the commonplace. From July to August 2015, Olivia was selected by the Australia Council for the Arts to be a venue attendant for the Australian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale.
From 2009 - 2018, Olivia worked for MAY SPACE (formerly Brenda May Gallery) in varying capacities. In 2019 she curated Our Common Bond for MAY SPACE, an exhibition that looks at the omissions present in the Australian Citizenship booklet of the same name that eliminate diverse histories and experiences from the Australian narrative. In July 2013, Olivia curated Mighty Small, an exhibition that focused on artworks where a small-scale was integral to the work’s intended impact. In April 2014, Olivia developed the curatorial project In Tandem for Brenda May Gallery, which placed her in the position of creative matchmaker and mediator. She paired six Australian artists based on similar sensibilities, aesthetics or thematic tendencies with the brief of creating pieces in collaboration or in conversation with one another.
Olivia graduated from UNSW Art + Design in Sydney, with a First-Class Honours degree in Art History and Theory, focusing on First Nations contemporary art, post-colonial studies and the politico-legal issue of Indigenous sovereignty. These concerns provided the focus for a comparative and evaluative study of several Australian Aboriginal artists, with a particular focus on the photographic work of Darren Siwes, a contemporary artist of Aboriginal and Dutch descent. From 2020 she is undertaking a Master of Curating and Cultural Leadership at UNSW Art + Design. Connecting with her own identity as a mixed African American Australian, Olivia's current research interests focus on navigating liminal identities through culturally and linguistically diverse Australian stories, as well as interrogating collection practices via decolonial institutional critique.
Dual citizen of Australia and the United States of America
Resident of Portugal
Image: Brenda May Gallery at Art Stage Singapore 2014 presenting Mylyn Nguyen. © Desmond Foo for Straits Times, 2014.
Image: Olivia Welch with Yayoi Kusama's 'Pumpkin' (1994), Naoshima Island, Japan.
Personal photograph, all rights reserved.