Leading contemporary visual artists Abdul Abdullah and Caroline Rothwell are currently carrying out their artistic practices in an expansive 50m² studio space within the TWT Creative Precinct – a dynamic artistic community stretched across three blocks between Atchison and Chandos Streets in St Leonards.
‘Studios in Sydney are really difficult to find: it’s incredibly expensive and square metreage is not within most artists budget,’ says Rothwell, who recently took up her residency. ‘What is great about this studio is space. I’m on the ground floor and for sculpture that’s really important because I’m often lugging twenty-kilo bags of plaster around. I now have a studio with great light and good access. It’s really beautiful. I’ve managed to dig up old works to reconsider things, start afresh it¹s exciting. And there’s a real community of artists.’
Rothwell is known for her large-scale sculptures of hybrid animals and plants, which have been described as ‘nature on acid’. ‘Now Caroline is able to breathe with her work it’s changed the scale of the work she can now create,’ notes Natalia Bradshaw, TWT’s art advisor and curator.
‘The artists were chosen on their individuality, their characteristics, and their personality. It’s about artists who fit in well within the creative hub and about finding balance,’ adds Ariel Zhang, TWT’s Manager of Arts Initiatives.
For Abdullah the studio offer came at an opportune time having recently lost the lease at his studio collective in Alexandria where the building has now been converted to a furniture store. The photographer and painter creates work that explores the experience of the ‘other’ in society, particularly young Australian Muslims. ‘Finding studios is a huge issue,’ says Abdullah. ‘Without a studio it’s really hard to have a practice and it’s really hard to have an ambitious practice or a practice where you can work at any type of scale.’
In return, in lieu of rent, each artist gifts one artwork a year to TWT Property Group’s founder and arts benefactor Tina Tian for her collection. ‘We are given space and we pay our rent with artwork most artists are art rich and cash poor, so that works really well. TWT are doing some interesting things they are creating quite a hub in St Leonards,’ says Rothwell.
More than 70 artists and creatives are already practicing in the TWT Creative Precinct in fields ranging from dance to film to music production. Additional leading, contemporary visual artists will join the creative hub with Tom Polo, Joan Ross, Karen Black, Jason Phu and Aly Indermühle moving into the precinct over the coming months.