Two Thousand and Four
Celebrating the 10 year anniversary of Brunswick Arts Space
Opening Fri 17th October
Running 18th October to 2nd November
Max D. Piantoni . John Stevens . Alister Karl . Tamara Watt . Adele Smith . Joel Gailer . Alex Clark . Ive Sorocuk . Jo Waite . Sarah McKenzie . Alison Hanly . Jenna Corcoran . Benjamin Webb . Karis Sim . Carmen Reid . Leon Van De Graaff . Damien Pitts . Ahmarnya Price . Claire Manning
Two Thousand and Four was Ten Years Ago
by Alister Karl.
Brunswick Arts Space has survived the ups and downs of the last ten years, surviving both the financial turmoils and the rigours of running a not-for-profit art space. We have seen four Prime Ministers in office, two Presidents, the rise of the smart phone, Facebook, Google and YouTube.
Over that ten years, many talented people have been involved in the space in all sorts of ways. To celebrate, we are bringing together as many of these people as we can to have a show about the gallery's inaugural year.
At first glance 2004 seems like quite an uneventful year viewed from the lofty heights of 2014. But if you look a little longer you find great things, terrible things and the occasional straight out strange thing: riots in Redfern, an Australian Miss Universe, whales exploding in the streets of Taiwan, robots on Mars and the invention of a little internet fad called Facebook.
The science fiction year 2000 was still vivid in our memories, we hadn't become so blasé about living in the 2000's, most of us remembered living in the 80's and watching the amazing future in the television show Beyond 2000.
September 11 was fresh in everyone's minds and we were right in the middle of “The War on Terror”. Our world leaders using the word “Evil” in every second speech they gave causing racial tensions in every walk of life (especially here in Brunswick). The proclamations never really sitting very comfortably with us, we all knew in the back of our minds that describing things as evil was the undertaking of children’s morning cartoons not Presidents and Prime Ministers.
Walking down our stretch of Sydney Road I overlay how it all was five years ago and over that how it was ten years ago and more. The portion of Sydney Road I mean lies between Hope and Albion and is almost unrecognisable now to how it was then. A fruit and veg' shop replaced with a hookah cafe which in turn is replaced by a bridle shop. Cool bars, toy shops, cafes and pubs are starting to choke the old life out of our stretch. Some would say that we are to blame, the vanguard....what can you do.
Not a lot of things survive for ten years around here, certainly not a little gallery away from the cultural centres of the City and Fitzroy. And now that we are surrounded on all sides by high rise developments who's to say how much longer we will survive.
Ten years ago when Joel Gailer started Brunswick Arts I remember how excited I was. This bold little gallery starting up in my favourite part of town. Down a back alley, eclipsed by the Alasya trucks in a little warehouse behind a yellow door. I was at an opening at Counihan Gallery sometime in 2005 when I got news that Brunswick Arts might be closing. I don't remember how exactly I came across that news. But I was quick to try to get the ball rolling to try to save it. Finding other like minded people to run the space with me and give it more time to be eclipsed by those trucks.
Since then we have certainly had our fair share of ups and downs, people have come and people have gone. We have proudly never needed funding or support from outside bodies during our entire ten year history, we have managed to be completely independent and sustainable. Run entirely by volunteers and a cat called Winchester, who won a lot of hearts in the seven years he was the galleries cat.
We have supported hundreds of artists, musicians and performers over the time the space has been around and hope there will be many more in the future.
Dear Brunswick Arts,
Happy 10th birthday!
That my friend, is a tremendous achievement!
You have been patient and giving and steadfast through thick and thin. Each time we painted you, you transformed into bright white space brimming with potential.
You have seen it all!
The openings, the de-installs, dinner parties, just plain messy parties, first kisses, relationship break ups, everything. And through it all, you’ve always been constant. Years of renovations have not aged you a bit, and you could easily pass as an ARI half your age.
A decade is a unit of time that seems to trigger much reflection. There seems to be an awful lot of sentimentality about you these days. I must admit I myself have sorta gotten swept away with it on occasion.
Mostly I think of the fun stuff.
What about that time when the guy with no pants on wandered in after Ben at 4am in the morning. Remember the weird purple stain on the front door that nobody could figure out what it was for ages (turned out to be vodka watermelon).
You have played host to some amazing shows, and supported a diverse arts scene. You’ve been home to many, including cats and possums. But what really stands out is the friendships that have formed between your walls over the years. Friendships that I can't imagine ever forming under ‘normal’ circumstances, but perhaps that’s the great thing about you, you’re not normal!
And we love you for it. You can be hosting a show featuring the latest emerging artists, and then next play host to punk bands and plays like Oversexed.
You mean so many things to so many people, and I think it’s important that you know that. How many generations are we up to now? You have been a rite of passage for a lot of us, as you would have seen over the years.
I don’t want to go meandering into sentimental dribble so I will leave you with a drawing of Winchester.
All the best my friend, and I wish you many more years of openings, shows and the whole shebang.
by Merryon Ryall
No funding, no commissions, no institutional, government or business sponsorship – not-for-profit, artist run galleries offer exhibitors and visitors a unique and unfettered space to explore.
Artist run initiatives (ARIs) have been a vital and vibrant part of Melbourne’s gallery and arts scene since the 1990s. ARIs offer artists, particularly new, emerging and outsider talent, a broader range of options and opportunities.
Often the stepping off point for many artists to exhibit their work in a real gallery environment, ARI’s give new artists the chance to share and gain perspective on their work from other artists and viewers.
ARIs can also be an important experimental space for artists to test out new work and ideas. Allowing artists to gage how a work in progress functions in a gallery space and how people interact with it.
ARIs provide an invaluable service to the growth of contemporary art in Melbourne, and I’m sure in other cities as well, by offering an alternative to the limited and often conservative options available at the major institutional and commercial spaces.