Q&A with Amy Batchelor, Graphic Designer
Amy Batchelor has been the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia’s graphic designer for more than 10 years and has worked on countless campaigns, exhibitions, books, events and more. Amy brings a lively, inspired and experienced presence to the Gallery team, not to mention a stellar sense of humour! Her talents extend beyond the Gallery— she has previously taught at NSCAD, and has been teaching a weekly graphic design class at the Nova Scotia Community College for the last three years.
We recently had a chance to sit down with her to learn more about her role and her own views on the art world.
What’s your role within the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia?
Basically, I’m responsible for putting together all print and online materials. That could mean designing the visual components for anything from a family guide to a 350-page book, advertising to our print magazine (the Journal), as well as signage and wall labels for all exhibitions. I also play a strong role in the management of the website and e-commerce—in other words, our online services like donations, memberships, class registrations, plus our online shop. It’s a creative position that keeps me on my toes!
What continues to surprise you about the art world and, specifically, the art you come across in the province?
We get such an interesting perspective here in Nova Scotia. We get a real opportunity to get close to and “see inside” the best of the arts here. It can seem intimidating at times; before I started working at the Gallery, I would often gravitate towards an attitude of, ‘I don’t understand it, and it’s over my head’, and I wouldn’t feel comfortable talking about art—but the Gallery changed that for me. We get such interesting insider views working here. I find it continually amazing how engaged people are with art, and how excited they get when they discover more about it. A recent example is when Camille Dubois Crôteau (the Gallery’s Communications & Marketing Officer) and I travelled to our other location in Yarmouth to meet with some of our volunteers and stakeholders of the Gallery there. Their enthusiasm in being a part of this family was incredible. That's what’s amazing to me—seeing how different communities embrace being a part of the arts in this province is awesome.
What role does art play in our everyday lives?
If we want to talk about a challenging topic –something that might normally be a difficult conversation, or hard to bring up—being at the Gallery can allow you to see a piece and make you feel a certain way, and that gives you an opportunity to start exploring those feelings in a safe way. In a way, art is like a friend that helps you to start a conversation on a difficult topic by giving you an outlet. I think creativity and self-expression are so vital, especially when we are constantly surrounded by technology all of the time. We need to shake ourselves out of this mindset and remind ourselves to look at art and different perspectives.
People are busy. Why should they make the time to visit the Gallery?
People are busy, we’re all busy… We sometimes don’t make time for ourselves, for our families or to just take a breather. I think the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, and any sort of museum, gives you a moment to catch your breath and be with yourself, regardless of whether you’re usually working a nine to five, or spending time carting the kids around, etc. That stuff doesn’t go away, but while you’re here at the Gallery, it gives you that much-needed space and perspective. It gives you a chance to see what artists are doing in Nova Scotia, and to connect to the world through art. Again, as we get more and more immersed in technology and much time spent in front of screens, we need to take the time to have those moments to reconnect to something meaningful.
What’s something the public can do within the Gallery that they can’t do or find anywhere else in the province?
You can see the Permanent Collection, which is essentially the collection of the people of Nova Scotia—that’s one of the important parts that people tend to gloss over. As stewards of the collection, the staff here are dedicated to caring for the works on behalf of the province. The collection is relevant to Nova Scotians and its history, and the legacy that we are promoting within Nova Scotia. We also have amazing events and activities which offer ways for people to engage with art, so every time you come here you will have new experiences. I think that’s exciting!
What is your favorite piece on view in the Gallery?
There are so many great things that I love for different reasons. I’m having trouble picking a favourite, because there are so many great choices! I love the cheeky little piece, Whale Watching People, by David Slaunwhite in the exhibition Buoys and Gulls. It makes me giggle every time that a whale is people-watching. I also love when we have a new work on the Focus Wall in the main lobby—it’s always a chance to see something from our collection and learn a bit more about the featured artist. Currently, we're featuring a Garry Neill Kennedy piece from a 2008 exhibition. That exhibition has so many memories, like the amazing experience working with Kennedy, and remembering how powerful the walls of the Zwicker Gallery felt when painted for the installation of The Colours of Citizen Arar. There are many other works that I love. My favourites are always changing, and I’m excited to see what’s coming up this spring and summer.
Garry Neill Kennedy, The Colour of Citizen Arar, 2007, felt tip markers and graphite on graph paper, 42.5 x 272.0 cm
Photo: Steve Farmer