Can’t get gallery representation? Willoughby offers two alternative spaces

Gina Fairley

In a tightening gallery market, rental spaces provide an opportunity to boost artists’ professional careers and visibility.
Can’t get gallery representation? Willoughby offers two alternative spaces

Installation view Domestic Goddess exhibition at Incinerator Art Space 2017; all artists courtesy Sabbia Gallery, supplied

Does your artwork lend itself to the slick white cube – that top-drawer presentation that defines art galleries internationally – or are you seeking to show in a more industrial, experimental space that better suits multi-dimensional installations?

Incinerator Art Space and Art Space on The Concourse are two Sydney metropolitan spaces operated by Willoughby City Council and, as the real estate sell goes, they both offer that magic boon of “location, location, location”.

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Art Space on The Concourse is within Chatwood’s cultural and performing arts precinct, bringing with it round-the-clock visibility and foot traffic.

Incinerator Art Space is located in a busy hot spot of Willoughby, neighbouring the Incinerator Café and Willoughby Leisure Centre, both popular meeting points. It gives access to exactly the audience that many artists want to capture.

Willoughby City Council’s Curator said: ‘It’s not like an arts venue tucked out of the way.  We are also attracting audiences that are not just from the art world, so artists are really getting their work seen by a much broader network.’

She continued: ‘A lot of the artists we get here have a commercial hat on and are thinking about how the art space can present professionally with the view to sell their work.’

Apply now to exhibit in their 2019 program.

Be proactive with your career

Trying to get gallery representation in today’s art market can be challenging and at times disheartening. Simply, there are not enough galleries to match the number of artists coming out of art schools.

There is a way, however, to take charge of your career, create some visibility and energy around your art, and build up your CV at the same time.

‘Obviously we support local artists and an inclusive community approach, but it is also really important to develop an exchange with artists from outside of the Willoughby area. There is incredible value in being part of the national arts community, and it is also a great opportunity for artists to get their foot in the door to the Sydney market,’ said Willoughby City Council's Curator.

The gallery said they are not only looking for emerging artists, but recognise that their spaces were attractive to mid-career artists who might be interested in pushing a new body of work, or perhaps presenting their work in a more raw, immersive space such as the Incinerator Art Space.

‘That opportunity to think beyond the blank walls of the exhibition space can sometimes be the shift that an artist needs to take their career to the next level,’ said the Curator.

Installation view Ned, Koala & Me (2017), The Young Creators presented by Rosie Deacon and Liam Benson at Art Space on the Concourse; supplied

What the spaces offer

Willoughby City Council offers the best of both worlds: the Incinerator Art Space is raw and edgy, while Art Space on The Concourse has a slick, commercial presentation.

As its name suggests, the Incinerator Art Space is a converted industrial site, which creates a modernist feel. It has even been described as “Berlinesq”, reminiscent of one of the world’s hottest art scenes with its remnants of historic graffiti.

‘This is the strength of this space – artist can bounce off its industrial and historical atmosphere,’ said Incinerator’s curator.

The space is very flexible for showing 3-dimensional and installation-based artwork, but it is not exclusive to any medium. Some artists have even floated 2-dimensional artworks from the custom suspended hanging racks at Incinerator.  

In contrast, Art Space on The Concourse is a classic white cube space, and the professional presentation it offers is its strength. And with floor to ceiling windows that open on to the public areas of the cultural precinct, the art experience is uninterrupted — and 24/7.

Equipment for exhibition installation, professional lighting and a selection of exhibition furniture and pedestals are available to artists.

Installation view Grit (2018), group exhibition Incinerator Art Space; supplied

How to apply

Incinerator Art Space and Art Space on The Concourse are actively seeking artists to exhibit in their 2019 program. 

While essentially DIY rental venues, these two art spaces have developed a benchmark through their core programming - curated exhibitions that pepper the annual program and providing a strong platform within which artists can show.

These exhibitions offer a good indication for applicants of the professional level the curatorial team are expecting. ‘What we are trying to do is ensure a consistency and standard across the exhibition program, so it steps beyond the regular hire space,’ the curator told ArtsHub.

The team managing the two art spaces also provide support and advice as required to exhibiting artists, and assist in promotion of the program through general channels.

Applications open: Wednesday, 27 June 2018

To apply visit www.willoughby.nsw.gov.au/whats-on/visual-arts

Application deadline: Midnight Monday, 13 August 2018

Exhibition period: Three week period (two weeks available on request)

About the author

Gina Fairley covers the Visual Arts nationally for ArtsHub. Based in Sydney you can follow her on Twitter @ginafairley and Instagram at fairleygina.