Curator Inquisition: Brunswick Street Gallery
Words - Melbourne Arts Club Photos - Evan Mery
CURATOR INQUISITION: Miriam Arbus - BRUNSWICK STREET GALLERY
We had a little think about it and decided it had been far too long since we had an Inquisition around these parts! We've remedied that by visiting our good pal Miriam from Brunswick Street Gallery and asking her our patented list of questions for curators. Good conversational times ensued, as you'll read for yourself below!
Tell us a little bit about what's currently happening at your gallery? And what upcoming shows can we look forward to seeing there?
Brunswick Street Gallery focuses its platform in providing exhibition opportunities for emerging artists and as a result we always have a ton of stuff happening! At the moment, we just opened our annual Art Prize, SmallWorks. This year’s edition features over 270 artists with over 850 works hung up! It is really incredible and not to be missed. Coming up over the next few months we have a number of solo exhibitions that I’m looking forward to, and a group exhibition called Projects for Our Future (5-18 August) that focuses an important conversation regarding our environmental futures. I also am excited to see the group exhibition our assistant curator Bethany O’Connor is putting together, called Four Walls (24 June -7 July 2016).
How did you first get involved in art - were you one of those little kids who always loved being creative, or is it something that came later?
I think that looking at things creatively and really thinking about them, and dreaming up ideas have always been aspects really present with me. I loved making things from such a young age and would always spend time day dreaming and thinking up new ideas and new questions. However it wasn’t until later that my interests became focused. In Uni when I encountered in depth aesthetic theory and really began to study, I understood the immense capacity for arts and their contexts and impacts.
What's your process for selecting works and artists at the gallery - how do you find new talent? Do you have a particular style of work that you're drawn to?
We try to keep a really open platform at BSG, welcoming artists from all mediums, practices and walks of life. I believe this openness allows for an amazing insight into contemporary practices as we ultimately are exhibition what artists are working on right now. I really just like to have an understanding of any specific artists’ practice, gaining some insight on if they have a collected body of work and are therefore ready to present their work in the context of a solo exhibition.
How does living and working in Melbourne influence you?
I live just down the road from BSG and spend most of my time between the two, so mostly I feel like I am influenced by my local surroundings. Fitzroy is an excellent neighbourhood and I have become super familiar with many of the people, nooks and crannies this neighbourhood encompasses. I love the architecture, the street art, the back alleys and the characters. I find this space really inspiring in it’s beauty and history. Fitzroy, and Melbourne have to me, always seemed like an incredible space that embraces creative practices and pursuits. I feel comforted by this place and encouraged to pursue projects and think about doing things in new ways all the time. There are amazing people in Melbourne who push forward the ways we do things and how we interact with materials.
Who or what do you turn to for inspiration on days when creativity just isn’t flowing?
I am so lucky to be constantly surrounded by different artists and artworks so just coming into work in the morning and turning the lights on is enough to feel inspired…humbled…and definitely creative-juicey flowing. Other times it’s music (hugely). And also my friends, and the internet. My fish John John who lives on my desk is really good for gazing at and can spur some idea flow. Also the sunsets over the Fitzroy rooftops across from BSG are so incredible (especially at this time of year)…Really thought, I think that inspiration is found everywhere all the time.
What is your favourite artwork of someone else’s, and why?
Right now in this moment I am obsessed with this tiny little photographic work in our SmallWorks exhibition. It’s a perfect frame the involves a ping-pong table foreground and a beautiful window looking out away from the image. It is tiny, measuring only 13x19cm and by an artist named Salar Niknafs. I also have been day dreaming about the incredible drawings of Melbourne local Chris Gooch. I think I have new and different favourites multiple times a day :)
How is the relationship between your gallery and other local galleries? Is there a good, collaborative, supportive vibe? Are there any galleries you particularly enjoy visiting or find inspiring?
I think that BSG occupies a really interesting niche in the arts community. We focus on emerging artists and believe in the importance of having a platform where experience can be gained. We’ve got some really neat connections with spaces who work with similar communities - Montsalvat, Neon Parlour, Rubicon, Off the Kerb, you guys [Melbourne Arts Club]…to name a few! I think we all want each other to succeed, and that most importantly we want our artist to grow, and gain positive experiences that will shape their practice and allow for their futures to expand. I think that all of us are pretty busy working our own exhibitions and so collaboration doesn’t get to happen very frequently- but I love it when it does! I love getting a chance to visit any of the spaces I just listed, and some of my other favourites to visit are neighbourhood locales Strange Neighbour and CCP [Centre for Contemporary Photography]. If I can I also love getting a chance to explore Bus Projects, Fort Delta, KINGS ARI and Blindside.
Who in your opinion is the most underrated artist in Melbourne at the moment - or, in other words, who can we expect big things from in the future?
This question is so impossible for me to answer as I would have to list a huge number of names! Working with emerging artists I see a whole lot of unrecognised incredible talent. I think that in general - Melbourne needs to pay attention to the artists that are working SO hard and are so talented, yet haven’t had a chance to have the spotlight yet. It is so important to diversify the interests of our city and remember that so many artists are making groundbreaking, beautiful, important work - even if they might not be getting attention from more major/commercial.
Brunswick Street Gallery 322 Brunswick St Fitzroy VIC 3065 AUSTRALIA