Wendy Martin finds her next adventure with PIAF

Wendy Martin. Picture: Andrew Ritchie d446088
Wendy Martin. Picture: Andrew Ritchie d446088

IT has been exactly nine months since Sydney-born Wendy Martin moved to Subiaco to start her four-year adventure as Perth International Arts Festival (PIAF) artistic director but her connection to the city began long before then.

“My paternal grandfather was born in Perth in 1898 and was an impresario who ran the Tivoli circuit in Melbourne and Sydney,” Martin said.

“My dad took over the Tivoli circuit when he was 24 before becoming a film and television producer and then for 26 years he was the chief executive of Sydney Opera House.

“So I grew up sitting in the plush red velvet seats of the Tivoli Theatre as a little girl and one of my strongest memories is being just over two years old, sitting in my mother’s lap at the Tivoli watching The Wizard of Oz.”

It was while Martin herself was working at Sydney Opera House that she became aware of the “amazing programming” former PIAF artistic director Sean Doran was doing before she travelled west for her first PIAF program driven by Lindy Hume.

Several more festivals later, Martin left her role as head of performing and dance at London’s Southbank Centre to see Jonathan Holloway’s final ‘giant’ triumph in February before taking on the huge role.

“I now have an office overlooking the Swan River and before that I was overlooking the Thames and before that I had a view of Sydney Harbour,” Martin said.

“I don’t know where you go from here but I have four years to think about it.”

Martin, who is a keen cyclist and in love with Cottesloe Beach, said the sense of adventure and opportunity to discover the city her grandfather grew up in attracted her to the position.

“I am definitely inspired by a sense of place, by the extraordinary landscape of WA, the rich indigenous culture positioned on the Indian Ocean rim and the diverse cultural community,” she said.

“At the heart of PIAF is the work of the world’s great artists; I think it’s through the lens of their imagination that we get to see, understand and re-imagine our world and that’s why I think festival time is so exciting, to be in the orbit of the world’s great creative imaginations.”

Martin said she looked forward to the new PIAF hub at Elizabeth Quay hosting an incredible program of contemporary music while festival opening Home at Langley Park would be an epic celebration of landscape, culture and community.

“We’ve put so much thought and passion in to creating the program and hope audiences embrace it with that same passion and excitement.”

Perth International Arts Festival 2016 runs February 11 to March 6.

The 2016 program was launched on Wednesday at Perth Concert Hall and is at www.perthfestival.com.au.