i had heard about the passing of jan mcculloch – her mother and editor-in-chief of art almanac last year and it filled me with sadness. jan was an amazing figure in australian art and there have been many tributes to the work she did since her death in november.
i had hoped to catch up with cath this weekend to extend my condolences and see how she was doing so when i walked past the off the wall stand, with its dedication to both jan and cath, i was confused. and bloody shocked.
apparently cath died just 6 weeks ago and i’m sure that all the staff at art almanac and the rest of the massive mcculloch family are still in shock.
my first dealings with art almanac were as an artist running an ARI in the cultural backwater of wollongong. it was rewarding, but tough – financially and otherwise – so the support of cath, on a monthly basis was amazing. she would extend deadlines (even when she wanted to throw a palette of magazines at me), give us amazing deals on advertising, feature our artists and curated shows in the magazine for free and always, always ask about how i was and how the gallery was. she fucking cared it felt like, as an artist and involved in a gallery, that i was important to her and the world at large.
being able to continue that working relationshp with both women – especially cath – through a number of arts jobs was a pleasure and i always felt a sense of allegiance towards the publication. i believe that art almanac is absolutely vital to the core of art in australia – as an archive of the millions of exhibitons, as a key promotional tool, as a record of the relationships and the dynamic of art and art spaces across the country.
and cath was a specific identity to my relationship with that publication. both keen collectors, cath wore her love of contemporary art on her sleeve and her frustration with artists and their poor timekeeping skills behind her smile.
and she was a total spunk – dreadlocks, tattoos, a love of the four letter word – she was a welcome antithesis to the pompous arrogant wankers that can hang out on the periphery of art.
my heart goes out to her family. and to the art almanac crew – the fact that they have the courage and determination to keep producing the publication and to front up to art fairs is a testament to the guts of the terrier-like organisation and the family.