BELCONNEN Arts Centre, now known as Belco Arts, recently doubled its footprint when it opened several new spaces, writes Meredith Hinchliffe.
In addition to a new black box theatre, there are two new exhibition galleries and changes were made to the main foyer area, in which visual arts are also exhibited.
The two new spaces are the Window Gallery, which runs along the front of the new building and can be seen from the footpath, and Pivot Gallery another black box space.
The two existing exhibition spaces have been given new names: West Gallery is the old main gallery, and Generator Gallery is the former foyer gallery.
Window Gallery is an excellent addition to the collection of spaces at Belco Arts. It is a narrow space to the left of the entrance to the theatre on street level, which due to the lack of climate control will be used for robust works, such as ceramics – on show now – glass and metal. Its prominent position gives the building a street presence and will act as a beacon to people attending evening performances. They have a collection of plinths to display objects and the gallery will be lit from 7am to 2am.
Loretta Halloran is exhibiting a series of rounded, hand-built ceramic forms titled “Ngunnawal Country Dreaming” celebrating her connection to her Ngunnawal culture. The works, all from private collections, represent the Ngunnawal river systems, infused by memories of her childhood, in particular her father.
The Pivot Gallery is described as being the centre of the building. It has no natural lighting, high ceilings and approximately 40 metres of uninterrupted running linear space. The lighting is controlled and there are no hanging systems, no distractions to the pure lines of white walls. Projectors have been installed to encourage projected works. The name ‘Pivot’ has been chosen to imply a new, high point in an artist’s career, and also as a new and important space in the Arts Centre.
The newly named Generator Gallery is a large space and has been revamped so that it offers a more sympathetic exhibiting space. It faces onto Lake Ginninderra with lots of natural light. This space is intended to be more for community engagement exhibitions, although Julie Bradley – a professional artist – was chosen as the first exhibitor. Her work looks good in the space, particularly as she is showing several large pieces.
Monika McInerney, artistic director and joint CEO is hoping to have moveable walls to break up the space and make it more flexible.
All the walls in the galleries are painted white and all spaces can be hired – for book launches, musical performances, poetry readings, play readings and other artistic pursuits.
When the bike path around the front of the building has been completed, a sculpture court will show changing sculptural exhibitions.
All gallery spaces will be open during performances in the theatre and audiences will be encouraged to take their drinks to look at the art. This will add to their art experience, and perhaps introduce visual art to a wider audience.
A new online shop, for those who like to purchase works without leaving home, is selling jewellery, hand-woven scarves, works in glass, postcards featuring local scenes, ceramics and works from the exhibitions.
Belco Arts aims to lead the ACT in Community Arts and Cultural Development, to be an inclusive, progressive and vibrant arts centre, and to be the heart and soul of Belconnen. They have set themselves a very high bar.
Belco Arts, 118 Emu Bank, Belconnen.