Yesterday marked the 1 year anniversary of the end of my first art exhibition at gaffa gallery with 3 other delightful talented girlfriends!!! Twisting the Lilac Stalks: a contemporary ode to the figure was the title and inspiration for our collaborative exhibition, and it was a truly incredible experience to share our artworks and inner thoughts on paper and canvas with our family and friends. Something that had been in the making for many years, and it was a great success! To read a review of the earlier exhibition:
And so last night I returned to gaffa gallery to enjoy one of the regular fortnightly exhibition openings on a Thursday night in the heart of the city. Gaffa is an art gallery which promotes emerging artists and seeks to provide an open space for diverse “creatives” to exhibit freely and unencumbered by the need to fit a mould or artistic profile. As such, their exhibitions are often eclectic, eccentric and intriguing. Each exhibition goes for 2 weeks with a launch on a Thursday night (free entry!) accompanied by cheap drinks and an artistic crowd!
Gaffa gallery is located on 281 Clarence St, Sydney CBD: the heart of town and right behind the QVB and Town Hall station. An easy stroll from your work offices or from the station for those coming in from out of town. It is housed in an old building with a beautiful colonial façade and an atrium in the centre of the building to create a sense of space and openness. It also creates an excellent exhibition space with windows, interesting views across the corridors and through the emptiness in the centre of the building.
The space is like a rectangular warehouse with several rooms – whitewash walls, wooden washed-out floors, high ceilings and partitioned with white concrete walls. It is a bright space filled with natural light and professional lighting to accentuate each art piece and presents as an “underground” exhibition space.
The gallery is also home to a fantastic, creative and top quality silver jewellery workshop, studio and a gallery shop (where I could leave LOTS of money spent on silverwares and homewares!) and acts as the entry store into an arcade with pop-up stores full of Australian designer wares: clothing, conceptual works, homewares, ceramics and more.
It is a constantly shifting, renewing, changing mix of artists and stimulation – perfect for Gen-Y who are constantly looking for novel experiences and creative outlets!
This week’s exhibits were an eclectic amalgamation of textured abstract artworks, contemporary jewellery slash installations, and figurative works. Something I love about the ethos of gaffa is that a freedom of expression stands out above all else – and this was evident in spades in this week’s opening!
Gallery 1, the largest longest room in the gallery, held a collaborative exhibition “MMMMM Hong Kong / Sydney”. It was a mixed collaboration of contemporary jewellery designers, almost none being traditional. Most pieces were not functional – some were conceptual (like images of ear plugs being used as jewellery and paper with stamps of jewels rather than necklaces themselves) and some were experimental.
For example, I met one of the artists from Hong Kong, Au Yeung (Pilz Schmuck: Experimental Wearable Objects) who made jewellery out of acrylic or plastic and silver. Much of the jewellery had an industrial design element to it with light inside the acrylic parts – almost like fluorescent lightbulbs for earrings! It was fascinating!! Much of the artworks in the exhibit were not functional but rather incredible works of meticulous construction and creative thinking! The whole exhibition was an interrogation into jewellery as art or art as jewellery?? I particularly loved Melissa Cameron’s works, The Sieve, as they reminded me of kaleidoscopes of metal and patterned gothic architectural motifs. Check it out!!
Gallery 2 “Spot the Difference” was a colourful mix of paintings with figurative inspiration. It felt like a series of graffiti inspired or stylised figures looking displaced in the city: akin to a “Where’s Wally?” and Matisse love-child – but not quite as striking. Whilst the figures were quite clearly depicted, it had an abstract feel in terms of spatial exploration and felt very much like an experimental drawing and painting feature where the artist was also trying to communicate something related to how individuals interact and assimilate in societies, how do we belong and how do we experience belonging. I quite enjoyed it but didn’t have enough time to really connect with the visuals.
Gallery 3, which is always the room I seem to enter into first when I go to gaffa, was entitled “From New Beginnings”. Part abstract art, part textured paint, it was a geometric delight of bold colours: black, white, ivory, red. The artist Steve Tyrell mentions in his description compositions which explore the interaction of colour, texture and shapes, and inspiration from the environment. I definitely felt a sense of connection with the works, in their abstraction making it unclear whether they were cityscapes or rural settings, but in their simplicity they highlighted the essential characteristic of loneliness in the environments in which we live. Either way, city or country.
There were fewer people in the room when I arrived and I felt I could just stare quietly at each artwork, mesmerised by the lines and faded austere tones contrasted with one artwork which stood out with red bands.
That was definitely my favourite!
I love the galleries of Sydney!! These galleries are the product of a vibrant city that supports the arts and seeks them out to add beauty and social comment to a city that can get caught up in itself, working and driving itself towards technical perfection, or just downright ugliness at times. I love gaffa gallery and many other small independent galleries dotted across Redfern, Surry Hills, Paddington, Newtown…just to name a few!
Galleries are like a haven of creativity and an alternate universe of colour: visiting art galleries and being exposed to new ideas and artworks keeps me feeling fresh. It makes life feel brighter and more exciting because I am presented with something novel and new in my ordinary life!
So next time you are free on a Thursday night, or planning on dinner out with a friend: head to gaffa gallery for one of their opening night exhibitions to add some ‘culture’ and variety to your life, and add to the lively conversation afterwards at drinks somewhere like grandma’s bar or Bodeguita del Medio down the road or at dinner somewhere like Chef’s Gallery around the corner!
And remember the current exhibition is on for the next 2 weeks!