Sunday, June 13, 2010

Contemporary Indigenous Art Centre, Newtown


My art gallery serves as the back-room for the MCA, a back-room meaning a space where items which aren't displayed may be viewed and purchased. It is however curated and co-owned by Keith Munro, MCA curator for Indigenous and Torres Strait Projects. The gallery consequently has a focus on Contemporary Indigenous Art.

The art to be displayed celebrates contemporary Australian art. From my own, previous experience with setting up an art workshop for Indigenous children in Redfern, I know that there is a struggle for young artists to define their art as a separate from the stereotypes of traditional dot painting and didgeridoo painting. These young, emerging artists would thrive from a local artistic centre in trendy Newtown, a centre which promoted different ideals of Indigenous art. I have included spaces for permanent and temporary exhibitions. The most prominent permanent exhibition is the Larrakitj Installation, currently held in the MCA. These painted columns reference traditional art in their form, yet through painting, expresses contemporary experiences - the beach, the streetscape. Other artworks include paintings by Paddy Bedford, Richard Woldenrop and Robert Boynes (seen below) - artists which also bridge the gap between contemporary art and traditional Indigenous art.

My design is a type of 'modern landscape,' contemporary abstractions of landscape which houses art of a similar content. The boomerang-shaped mezzanine level creates movement and direction from the facade, the sharp angle encouraging pedestrians to enter, then when inside, to follow the curve to the stairs. The setback creates a semi-private space, also an inviting gesture, whilst the series of shallow stairs serve as a continuation of the interior cafe. The cafe on the street-front is a further attraction of the facade. The two-storey timber columns introduce the motif of trees and also introduce a rhythm which references nature. The entrance space houses the Larrakitj installation, direct correlations between the structural columns and these sculptural columns can be made. A strip of water connects the interior to exterior spaces, leading the eye across the entire space.

This landscape is comprised of a series of descending steps, which break up the open-plan gallery to suggest 'rooms.' These descending steps also allow visitors to see right through the space, as well as creating a fluctuating space, reference to my ideas of landscape. The precinct on the back, right corner consists of toilets, kitchenette and backroom. This is in essense, a backroom of the backroom of the MCA, the office situated in front of the doors where people may purchase art. I intended for this area to be quite separate from the gallery space, as is the back screening room - a quieter, more intimate space to view video art or films.

I intended the artist residence on the second level to provide a sanctuary for the artists. I included a bedroom courtyard, as well as two layers of vegetation - a plant box, then trees behind, to create privacy and block the adjoining property. Loggias from the studio and kitchen areas and the double height created by the mezzanine studio ensures a bright and open living space.

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