Ruffian Gallery – 361 Barkly Street, Footscray Words and photos - Kate Forsyth

As part of Melbourne Arts Club’s Westy Week (it’s a real thing you know, it has a hashtag), I had a chat to Madz Rehorek, one of four co-conspirators of new gallery in Footscray; Ruffian.

Opening last September, the primarily photography gallery is a one of a kind in Melbourne, because its free for artists to exhibit and Ruffian don’t get involved in the sale of the art, with 100% commission straight to the artists’ pockets. POW POW!


I caught Madz on Saturday, while she was deep in grant writing hell, because but one must write grant submissions if one is not going to charge for the usual things. Good with the bad, and all that.

The gallery is gearing up for its next exhibition, Akin by street artists and cute couple Ambrose Rehorek and Chanel Tang. Awesomely, they are painting directly on the gallery walls and were half way through their artistry the day I was there.


Opening on 7 February, Akin is Ruffian’s fourth exhibition. They’ve taken the approach that art should be engaging and entertaining, and so their openings also feature a beer garden out the back with live music. West Footscray institution Wrangler Studio helps out on that front.

Madz explains that her and three recent photography grads and pals - Sarah Pannell, Ken Hughes-Parry and Bella Capezio - were disheartened  by the financial stress and inaccessibility regular gallery exhibitions  put on emerging artists especially. The regular model of exhibitor-pays then only leaves the option of online exhibitions for most budding photographers. But Ruffian gallery gives these artists a real life, offline option, which I think is a super and I am sure would float the boat of many an emerging artist.


Ruffian runs group shows which Madz says is by design, because it enhances collaboration, and reduces the isolation that can come with the life of the photographer.

So, Melbourne Arts Clubbers, I beseech you to get your derrière out west to visit Ruffian, which by the way is a reference to pirates. What more can you ask for in your gallery? Plus you’ll get to see the finished art for Akin.