IF you compare the Gallery of Small Things in Watson with The Corner Store Gallery in Orange, NSW, it’s like going from a telephone booth to a proper lounge room.
The owners of the spaces, Anne Masters and Orange’s Madeline Young, are dedicated arts professionals who live within walking distance of their galleries and they’ve now collaborated to do a “swap” of artists, so that Orange comes to Canberra and Canberra goes to Orange – virtually.
Masters and Young say the exhibition is all about mentoring and promoting artists to go beyond their comfort zones and be exposed to new audiences and new spaces and that an online gallery gets around the problem that regional artists find it hard to break into city galleries.
Canberra’s Anne Masters is a respected ceramicist with a masters from the ANU, well-known to the wider visual arts community through her work as the higher degree research administrator for the university’s School of Art & Design.
That was before she conceived the idea of opening her own gallery to show small artworks and converted the family’s granny flat and garage into a public exhibition space and shopfront. The Gallery of Small Things opened in September 2017 and Masters left her job at the ANU School of Art & Design to run the gallery full-time.
I saw an amazing exhibition there last year where she has persuaded top quality painters to express themselves in works created on CD covers, a rare opportunity to buy works by leading artists at affordable prices.
Orange’s Madeline Young is a painter who creates abstract artworks inspired by the Australian bush. She established the Corner Store Gallery in 2014 and has run back-to-back exhibitions providing artists and designers from all over Australia with a space to showcase their work, while also teaching regular workshops for adults and children in watercolour techniques, abstract painting, macramé, crochet, weaving and jewellery-making.
“Madeline and I met last year when she came to Canberra to visit relatives and realised my gallery was around the corner,” Masters tells me by phone.
“She popped in to introduce herself and once we got talking, we realised there were similar ideas behind our galleries.”
Also Masters says, while she set up her gallery in her backyard, Young built a house in hers, so each has only to pop out the door to the respective art space.
Of course given that Young’s gallery is much bigger – 32sqm to Gallery of Small Things’ 6sqm – she can normally show larger works, something the Canberra artists will need to adjust to.
“Madi’s very business-orientated and has back-to-back programs of exhibitions, whereas I can only host so many exhibitions a year,” Master explains.
“But we both want to help artists to become better at their business practice, I offer workshops here and last year I went to Orange and hosted a workshop for her artists.”
When we spoke this morning Masters was flat-out preparing for a virtual walk-through of the gallery to be posted online and on social media, then the exhibition catalogue to go online at live at 8pm on April 16 and sell art works on a first come, first served basis until May 3.
“The Corner Store Gallery Swap”, The Corner Store Gallery featuring Gallery of Small Things artists; and Gallery of Small Things featuring The Corner Store Gallery artists. Opening night launched online, galleryofsmallthings.com/exhibition at 8pm, Thursday, April 16, then the two virtual exhibitions run until May 3.