Blurring the lines between community and professional arts

Melanie Sano

Little Woods Gallery is seeking proposals in June for artists to exhibit in a part community part professional art space.
Blurring the lines between community and professional arts

Little Woods Gallery is seeking proposals in June for artists to exhibit in a part community part professional art space.

Little Woods Gallery is an offshoot of Artful Dodgers Studios, a creative space in Melbourne for young people aged 15 to 27 whose lives have been affected by difficult circumstances. Artful Dodgers has been operating since 1996 and is a flagship program of the Jesuit Social Services. Little Woods Gallery, running since mid 2012, is open to all artists inside and outside of the Artful Dodgers program.

Amy-Jo Jory, curator of Little Woods Gallery, believes the inclusive gallery space is a great way to connect Artful Dodgers to the wider art world. 

‘The idea is that Little Woods Gallery gives young people who are experiencing hardship the equal opportunity to show in a professional contemporary art space – in this case a gallery where they have an existing sense of belonging. The young people who use the studios make real connections with contemporary arts practitioners from around Melbourne, and in the same way it is a really excellent way for the Melbourne’s art world to learn about what is happening here.’

The gallery is a front window space in a busy part of Collingwood with track lighting and white brick and MDF walls. Print and online promotional support is included in the exhibiting cost. ‘For contemporary practitioners who work outside of the Artful Dodgers Studios, it is incredibly affordable ($250 for three weeks) to show with us, and it’s a great opportunity to experiment with ideas and connect with a diverse audience.’

Previous exhibitors have included the ARTMONEY collective, Kati Elizabeth and Kom Kaddel. Work has been contemporary and diverse with projections, sculptures, installations and more. ‘People are really excited about what we are doing here at Little Woods. The quality of exhibitions we have been showing has been really high, and the number of people showing up to support our openings has been overwhelming.’

To ensure Artful Dodger participants and professional artists are adequately represented applications are assessed according to unique guidelines. ‘We make sure there is a curator, at least one contemporary artist and one participant from the Artful Dodgers Studios on each panel – giving that participant some professional development, and the opportunity to see what makes for a good application. There are 12 exhibition slots open to artists each year, and we curate 25% of our shows to include artists from the Artful Dodgers Studios, and the remaining 75% of shows are filled through our call for applications – open to all emerging and established Melbourne artists.’

Check the Little Woods site for information about current and upcoming exhibitions, and for the artist proposal call in June.

About the author

Melanie Sano is an ArtsHub writer.