Artist set for new director role

SENIOR university lecturer and accomplished artist Neil Fettling will head up the newly created La Trobe Art Institute.

Mr Fettling has a strong vision for the La Trobe Art Institute and aims to build on Bendigo’s growing reputation as a regional arts hub.

“I’m very excited about the challenge of reinventing the visual arts and design activities across the university,” he said.

“The vision that the university has for the institute is to create a premier regional arts school here for Victoria. In fact it could be as expansive as Australia... we want to expand the reach of visual arts based here in Bendigo right across regional Australia.”

La Trobe University announced plans to develop the art institute in Bendigo earlier this year.

The initiative will bring together organisations including Bendigo Art Gallery, La Trobe’s Visual Arts Centre, Bendigo Senior Secondary College and Bendigo TAFE.

It will offer resources and leadership in a collaborative venture to co-ordinate regional arts training, promotion, employment and overall development.

“Not only do we want to partner Bendigo Art Gallery, but we want to make connections with regional art galleries in other places,” Mr Fettling said.

“We’ve got a regional art gallery in Mildura, and we’ll make connections with Horsham, Albury-Wodonga – there’s a whole range of partnerships and community engagement that we want to start.”

He said there was a “quiet enthusiasm” building within the community in regards to the La Trobe Art Institute.

“I think we’re still shaping how the institute is going to be developed but there is some quiet enthusiasm about its potential.”

Mr Fettling was born in Castlemaine and gained his first qualification, a diploma of fine art, at the former Bendigo Institute of Technology.

“Then I did some post-graduate study in Paris and then came back to Australia and completed a masters of visual arts at RMIT in Melbourne,” he said.

“And I’m currently putting the final stages of my PhD together, for visual arts, which has an exhibition and also a major thesis component.” La Trobe University vice-chancellor Professor John Dewar said Mr Fettling was an ideal candidate for the role, having lived and worked in country Victoria for much of his career.

“Neil is an excellent choice as the inaugural director of the La Trobe Art Institute and brings a unique set of talents and experience to this role,” Professor Dewar said.

“He has consistently demonstrated a strong regional vision and a long-standing commitment to regional Victoria. 

“As a practising artist and academic he has a detailed understanding of the visual arts and graphic design program taught across the Bendigo and Mildura campuses. 

“In addition, he has a strong understanding of international arts practice and institutional enhancement, which will be vital in his new role.”

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