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August 09 Edition Cover

Docklands Art Collective closes doors

30 Jan 2019

Docklands Art Collective closes doors Image

By Meg Hill

The Docklands Art Collective (DAC) had its last day of trading on January 25, two weeks after The District Docklands confirmed the artist residencies could no longer be kept available.

The project, which never had a definitive time-frame, ran for 13 months and was a collaboration between Renew Australia and The District Docklands.

Selected artists were given empty retail spaces at The District rent-free in a bid to activate the mall and bring in more visitors. The spaces are now needed for the Marriot Hotel development.

“The space currently occupied will be affected by the new Marriott development and due to potential disruptions, the space is no longer suitable,” a spokesperson for The District said.

“The District Docklands is speaking with individual DAC operators about potentially staying on in alternative locations as we are keen to continue to engage with the local community and artists.”

The DAC residents included: Janicke Johansen, Crowther Contemporary, Tree Paper Comics, The Artist’s Guild, Trash Puppets, Loose Print, The Band Presents, Fat Yarn Store, Visual Economy, Studio Xl Xs, Magnet Galleries, The Australian Cartoon Museum, Octave Music, Tiger in the Jungle, At Current Gallery and Dodgy Paper.

Renew Australia manager Angela Simons said it had been “delighted” to work with The District Docklands to activate vacant space on Wharf St.

“Renew Australia curated the available spaces with interesting and diverse creative enterprises with a view to bringing a new demographic to the shopping precinct while providing a high-profile Melbourne location for our participants to trial an idea or further develop their practice,” she said

The artists are heading in different directions, but believe the relationships and collaborations they have established at the DAC will continue.

Some of the artists are moving to home-based studios, online modes, to different locations or simply adjusting their operations.

The Artists Guild said it would continue running a number of its programs, but would also take time out to focus on its own art.

“We can proudly say that since we opened our gallery in December 2017 we have held 17 exhibits, 255 artists have exhibited with us, hundreds of people have attended our talks, workshops and openings,” co-director Karima Baadila said.

“We have offered and delivered three major art residencies, a university internship and five mini-residencies.”

“This year we are taking our own advice and making more time for our own work. We will continue to run our fellowship circle program and make space monthly for artists to connect and support one another.”

“However, we will be running this alongside our own art practices so we can ensure that The Artists Guild is not asking its own team to stop their art in order to help others with theirs.”

Jim Bridges from the Australian Cartoon Museum (ACM) said the ACM would probably now focus on its website, which has more than 200 films it has put together.

Lynda Sharp’s Fat Yarn Store, which started out online, is likely to go back to focusing on that medium too.

Sam Emery from Tree Paper Comics said he would go back to a home studio for the time being and open back up in Brunswick or Fitzroy in the future.

“I learnt a lot from my time in the Docklands. My initial proposal was to build an arts community through social drawing nights, group exhibitions, life drawing and printing workshops,” he said.

“As well as making many artistic connections I gained the valuable experience of running a multi-faceted art business.”

Jonathon Crowther of Crowther Contemporary said he would continue to work on his painting and has an exhibition coming up in Sydney

Michael Silver from Magnet Gallery said he would go back to focusing on a single gallery – the Magnet Gallery on Bourke St. He said the DAC experience has been unusual.

“Being in a shopping centre was an experience. But for us it gave us some remarkable space which meant we could hold some really large events, which really, I suppose is what the owners were after,” he said.

At Current Gallery founder Malini Maunsell said the gift of space without financial pressure "could not be over-stated".

"We thank them for that and we thank the larger Docklands community for supporting us and for the very lovely comments we have had about how much we will be missed."

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