There aren’t many staff members at UWA who can claim their university connection goes as far back as campus kindy.
Pier Leach, Executive Assistant to the Chief Cultural Officer, fondly remembers her kindy time here and sometimes feels like she never left.
“Most of my time growing up involved UWA in some shape or form as I lived nearby and would often be doing something on campus during school holidays.
“I guess my connection to UWA is pretty strong as I also graduated here with a Bachelor of Arts and have now worked at the Cultural Precinct for almost a decade,” she says.
Pier hasn’t always been part of the UWA scene having lived and worked in Italy and Canada.
She worked as a nanny in Italy during her gap year and later was granted a UWA scholarship to study at the University of Venice. Later while living with her young family in Vancouver and teaching ESL, she became an accidental freelance writer reviewing theatre for the Capilano Courier, a small university community newspaper. From this she realised she could include her love of the arts in her career path.
“The way I kind of ‘fell’ into doing theatre reviews was serendipitous. My friend was unable to go to the show and asked me to step in and do a review of Margaret Edson’s Pulitzer prize-winning play Wit. It was my first night out after my baby was born so it seemed like an offer too good to refuse. It eventually paid off,” Pier laughs.
From that moment on, writing about theatre and film as a freelance journalist became a much-needed constant and a big part of her career trajectory.
Pier has worked for many publications but her most enduring gig was writing for the arts and film pages for The West Australian from 2002 until recently. She has been film reviewer for The Post for almost 12 years, a job she loves.
She also loves her main role - working with the team at the Cultural Precinct.
“Without sounding too clichéd, it’s wonderful to come to work everyday in such an inspiring workplace that’s constantly changing.
“There’s a certain joy in knowing that you can bounce ideas off those around you, and be proud in knowing that together we are delivering a culturally rich and thought-provoking program,” Pier says.
For a girl who grew up in a television-free household with sporty parents (the first husband and wife team to win the City to Surf) – to a professional and personal life hugely shaped by screen culture is quite a remarkable transition.
As for what’s in store this year at the Cultural Precinct, Pier reveals that the first three exhibitions on show at the Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery are Zadok Ben-David’s Human Nature, presented as part of the Perth Festival, FLORA from the Cruthers Collection of Women’s Art, and In Light of Shadows from the Berndt Museum’s Asian Collection.
“For Human Nature, which is a breathtaking exhibition by prominent Yemen-born, London-based artist Zadok Ben-David, we’ve had to recruit the help of more than 25 volunteers to assemble 20,000 little sculptures into the gallery space.
“All three exhibitions are beautifully interlinked, and there are plenty of interesting public talks, tours and workshops,” she says.
An expanded Winter Arts program throughout July is also in the works, complemented by a new offering of Spring Arts, which will excite many young audiences with creative workshops in the gallery.