Meet our Curator Jasmine Kean

Published on 04 April 2024

A young woman standing with a middle aged woman in front of artwork at MAC yapang.

She discovered a passion for arts as a child, gave up caffeine during the pandemic and is cultivating an edible garden. Bringing a wealth of experience - garnered everywhere from the Campbelltown Arts Centre, the Biennale of Sydney through to the Gosford Regional Gallery - meet our new Curator and Operations Co-ordinator Jasmine Kean. 

1. When did you first fall in love with art?

When I was five my parents entered my artwork into a local country show where I won first prize. Instantly I was hooked. My parents and family friends are artists so I was exposed to performance and visual artists, musicians and curators from an early age. 

Aside from one fleeting moment of considering using my skills in another industry (potentially medicine), I’ve never strayed from my first love. I studied sculpture and performance at Sydney College of the Arts under some fantastic artists. It’s part of my fabric.  

2. How did you end up living here and working at MAC yapang? 

I grew up in Picton, south of Sydney. It was a small country town and we lived in a rambling old house. I was lucky enough to have my own studio to escape as a young kid. Shortly after finishing art school and travelling Europe, I started a gallery in East Sydney. 

From there I curated exhibitions of all types including at commercial spaces and Campbelltown Arts Centre and at art fairs. This provided me with an overarching understanding of our industry.

For the past decade my focus has been on regional galleries, which is where I feel most at home. I love providing experiences at a community level for both artists and visitors. I moved to Newcastle around four years ago and feel privileged to now spread my wings at this incredible gallery.

3. What's one thing people don't know about you?

I love gardening, a passion I inherited from my incredibly talented mum who is both a CEO and hobby gardener. We still garden together, share seeds and promote permaculture practices. I love sharing this with her and my own daughters through keeping an edible garden. I’m attempting to build a wild cottage garden grotto in my urban backyard to promote biodiversity and self-sowing plants.

jasmine at first class opening (2).JPG

4. Why are the arts important for regional destinations like Lake Mac? 

Regional galleries play a pivotal role in promoting and fostering artistic talent at all ages and stages. We provide local communities with a place to connect and grow while encouraging dialogue with artists from out of town - through residencies and presentations of new work, touring shows and commissioned artwork. 

Every community should have access to a gallery in some form as a sandpit for new ideas and ways of being and as a place to challenge existing systems for the greater good.  

I want to ensure there’s a seat at the table for everyone at MAC yapang.  

5. What would you like to see happen during your time as curator here? 

Located on the shores of Awaba on a pocket of land steeped in local history going back pre white settlement, MAC yapang is a special place. I’m looking forward to the grounds being revitalised over the coming year with new plantings and pathways so we can connect our program within the gallery to the outside space. 

I’d love to see our residency program take off with an onsite residence and studio where artists can come and directly engage with visitors while they make work. 

6. What do you love about Lake Macquarie?

Every day, the body of water looks different. It’s amazing to see a landscape change so dramatically day to day. This must have an impact on the mindset of the people who live and work here – where every day there’s the opportunity to embrace change. 

7. What's one thing you'd like visitors to know about MAC yapang?

We have an incredible permanent collection of artworks held onsite. Some huge notable names sit in this collection such as Sir William Dobell alongside other local artists. We’ll be showing some of our most recent donated works in an exhibition later in 2024.

8. Coffee or tea?

Both as long as its decaffeinated! I got off caffeine during the pandemic and haven’t looked back.


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