Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Acknowledging An Abhorrent Truth

While reading my earlier blog posts as research for a new entry, I noticed references to John Buckley, former art consultant and gallerist, former director of Institute of Modern Art, former director of Australian Centre for Contemporary Art and a former teacher and housemaster at Geelong Grammar. I knew John Buckley briefly, in 2004. I was represented by his gallery for a few months and left after my first solo exhibition there. I haven't seen him since. However I mentioned him here several times, in passing or in recognition of his accomplishments in the arts.

As part of my return to the world I am updating my overview of past associates and new art. I clicked a link to the John Buckley gallery to see what he was showing now. But the website no longer existed. I thought the gallery name may have changed, so I googled "John Buckley art Melbourne".

T
he title of the first article on the page read Famous art dealer abused boys when he was a teacher at Geelong Grammar. It was written in July, 2015.
John Buckley had been found guilty of paedophilia. In September 2015 he was sentenced to seven and a half years in jail for thirteen charges of child abuse while he was a teacher. He also pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography relating to 96 photographs of the boys. He is currently in prison and will serve his sentence in protective custody.

I have no sympathy for John. I condemn his actions absolutely.

I feel compelled to address the fact that I have previously written about him in a positive light. It is very difficult to reconcile that someone's abhorrent personal actions exist parallel to their significant career accomplishments. It is also important to acknowledge that accomplishments do not absolve anyone of their crimes.

Although I am revulsed, I see no benefit in deleting my past mentions of John Buckley or the record of my exhibition at his gallery. Attempting to erase a past association would be disingenuous. I can't help but think of how someone he abused may feel if they saw a record of his great reputation in the arts here with no mention of his crimes. Or if they had read my mentions of him or his art career before, then discovered I had erased them with no explanation. I believe it is appropriate to acknowledge John's criminal convictions here, in the same archive where I previously mentioned his career accomplishments.

Above all, my heart and thoughts are with the survivors of John Buckley's abuse.

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