Artists + Architects

Reblogged from

Loads of artist-run initiatives have popped up in Perth in the last year or so. What exactly are they and what do they bring to the local arts industry? What is it like to work with/for one? Advice for young artists just starting out. The pros and cons of ARIs vs traditional art galleries. How do you get involved or find representation as an artist? What does it means to be an emerging artist in WA and what part do galleries or studios play within this as a whole?

What’s the deal with ARI’s is one of two artist talks hosted by Buratti Fine Art as a part of BRIGHT LIGHTS, SMALL CITY, a showcase of contemporary art from early-career creatives in Western Australia.


Anna Dunnill (Paper Mountain)
Sarah Rowbottam (Proximity Festival)
Shannon Williamson
Claire Bushby (Heathcote Museum & Gallery)
Alina + Danni (Shiritori Press)
Jessie Mitchell (Nedlands Tresillian Centre)
Dan Bourke Dale Buckley (Moana)

As a young architect with an interest in fine arts I sat in the audience keen to learn: a) what exactly are ARI’s [ar-ee’s]? and b) how do ARI’s affect me?

An Artist-Run Initiative can take many forms but typically has some of these key factors: 1) it is managed by artists, 2) operates on a non-profit basis, 3) has a continuing program of activities (Australia Council of Arts 2013). We’re talking gallery space: traditional/pop-up/collaborative. Think Heathcote Museum & Gallery/Paper Mountain/Mona.

The Australian government offers grants of up to $20,000 (Victorian ARI’s can apply for up to $25,000) designed to support ARI’s to present programs and/or activities that enrich the diversity of artistic practice in Australia and enable artists to make new work. To an outsider like myself who knows nothing about the costs of an ARI this sounds great, however the number of grants available are limited and tend to fall towards the eastern states. See the official list of ARI’s nationwide at

It was interesting to witness the panel focus a fair fraction of the discussion on funding, or lack thereof. The impression I got was that even the opportunity offered by the national government and supportive peer environment combined are not enough to aid the maintenance let alone growth of ARI’s in Perth. I was pleasantly surprised to hear the optimism towards the potentials of corporate funding and interdisciplinary collaboration. Then I was taken aback at hearing architects referred to in both these instances. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised as I was once guilty of the misconception about architects being wealthy professional magnates. This was obviously before I started my degree and spent time with real architects. Although I work for one of the few corporate firms in Perth there is a clear distinction between practicing corporate architecture and having a financial capacity to provide corporate funding. It is flattering that our profession is perceived as capable of providing both monetary and artistic support…or is it because of this perceived financial capability that artists would be willing to endure our collaboration?

As the discussion progressed from rent and administration overheads to the pro’s of a non-artist-based board/committee, focus shifted towards the physicality of ARI spaces. Dan related a challenging experience he had faced with a space that presented a undesirable size and layout combined with unusual interior finishes. Dale shared his collaborative process with Spacemarket architects-educators-visionaries Nic and Beth of transforming a neglected space into the dynamic gallery-studio-cafe that is now Moana. Jessie expressed her excitement in the potentials of an “empty” council space. It sounds to me that some artists like white/black boxes while others are game to collaborate with other designers to feed off the existing character of a space to enrich the art making/viewing experience.

The second artist talk IN FOCUS: Fine Art and Commercial Photography in WA will take place at 3pm on Saturday October 5th. The panel of local photographers will discuss…

What does it means to be a photographer in this isolated state? What are the opportunities for local photographers in both a fine art and commercial sense? Advice for younger photographers starting out. How do you get your work out there? Digital vs. film. A general discussion about the medium.

Audience participation is encouraged. This event will be particularly interesting for student and amateur photographers, and is also a networking event for WA photographers of all backgrounds and level of experience.

BRIGHT LIGHTS, SMALL CITY at Buratti Fine Art runs until October 12th.
Gallery hours: Wed-Fri 10am-5pm Sat 11am-4pm
Address: 222 Queen Victoria Street, North Fremantle WA 6159

This is MC’s debut in a commercial exhibition with three illustrations titled ‘Claustrophia’, ‘Agony’ and ‘Liberation. All works are for sale.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s