Since its establishment in 2017, Adelaide’s flagship contemporary art gallery, ACE Open, has been determined to support the careers of emerging South Australian artists. In 2019, the gallery began its Studio Program initiative; an intensive, 12-month residency offered to emerging artists based on the merit of their artistic practice and an established need for studio space. As the 2019 Program comes to an end, the five selected artists, Tamara Baillie, Max Callaghan, Steven Cybulka, Tara Rowhani-Farid and Jess Taylor will participate in Open Studio, a collaborative exhibition culminating in 12-months’ worth of shared artistic development.
‘A key aspect of the ACE Studio Program is its celebration of the diversity of contemporary art practices in South Australia,’ says studio curator Patrice Sharkey. ‘Reflected in ‘Open Studio’ is ACE Open’s commitment to presenting new voices and ideas to local audiences, as well as our investment in meaningful creative and professional development opportunities for artists.’
Uniquely, ‘Open Studio’ marks the first occasion where individual studio artists will exhibit communally in ACE’s downstairs gallery. Here, audiences will have the opportunity to view a year-long collaborative and individual progress through works of 3D printing, site-specific installation, painting and research-based material explorations.
‘I want the audience to feel like they’ve poked their head into my studio for a cup of tea from a paint smudged mug,’ Rowhani-Farid, who is currently working on a collection of paintings, tells Art Almanac.
Likening the exhibition to a type of ‘organised chaos’, Rowhani-Farid states that she feels grateful to have been creating work alongside peers who often share differing perspectives from herself. ‘As the most emerging artist within the group, I have been able to gain perspective from the others about how I should work and think about my practice in the short and long run.’
Her studio mate, Taylor, who has created 3D printed sculptures that draw upon a fascination with mythology and love, also agrees that the collaborative workspace has given way to important new perspectives and ideas.
‘There’s a great kind of competitiveness that exists in a good studio that pushes you to do better,’ Taylor says. ‘Having a studio alongside a group of artists who are all pushing their practices ignites a desire to work harder. Knowing that you have people around you at similar stages of their careers is hugely beneficial from a support point of view.’
Embracing this order and chaos through the reconfiguration of his signature large-scale public art pieces, Cybulka is seeking to destabilise embodied assumptions about the spaces in which people live and work.
‘This is a site-responsive installation that aims to walk an intriguing line between art and architecture, using the physical characteristics of timber wall frame construction to explore themes of support, potential and the framing of our internal spaces,’ Cybulka notes. ‘The walls are not acting as barriers, but as structures to be explored.’
Also exploring the importance of space in large-scale installation is Baillie, who informs Art Almanac that the supportive environment amongst the artists has been vital in negotiating space and practice.
‘Having a community of other committed artists working around me has been inspiring and motivating on a day to day level,’ says Baillie. ‘I generally make quite serious work, but sometimes I wonder if the more playful pieces I’ve made have been influenced by my peers’ more light-hearted approaches!’
Her neighbour, Callaghan – who Baillie states ‘knows how to have fun with paint!’ – is working on twenty collaged paintings that show the sense of freedom and confidence to make different kinds of work without constraints or preconceptions, a determination that the Studio Program has instilled in him the past 12-months.
‘This amount of cost-free open space has allowed me to not be limited to making one set kind of work or bound to having to stick to one scale, material or physical approach to art,’ Callaghan mentions, ‘In the space of one year, I have been able to make three different bodies of work in different parts of the studio that have all informed and pushed each other in new and interesting directions.’
25 January to 15 February 2020