Et Al Gallery and Studio – the beginning

Ok, so…I thought this was going to be soooooo easy. I also thought I would be in the space quick smart, that everything would move forward in a timely manner and I would be in the space by February at the latest. I was sooooooo wrong. But I want to say this, I have been in the gallery and my new studio space for two weeks now and I am in love. All the things that went before in getting here are fading and feel less big and overwhelming. But first, I think I need to take you on that before journey, not just so you can be caught up to speed with how I got here, but also for myself so I can remember the moments.

So let’s head back to last year when I had just finished my exhibition and I was frustrated and exhausted and wanted something…more. I love the Art Community. There is a lot about it that is positive and uplifting. What I do not love is the lack of good quality spaces to exhibit in around my area of Brisbane and the fierce competition that you push through to even be accepted at any of the spaces available. And some of these spaces are very expensive for what you pay for. Add to this that most of the galleries in this area are single artist galleries, which is totally ok and there should absolutely be these types of galleries in the artistic spaces of a community. It’s really important to have diversity. Not all spaces will suit every artist.  However, it means that only a few people are able to exhibit at any one time, which in turn fuels the competition for artists needing spaces to show their work and enlarges that barrier to entry for artists at the beginning of their careers.

So all of that combined as a catalyst to propel me forward into looking at spaces that could possibly be utilised as a gallery space not just for myself, but for others. I have talked about the idea of what I wanted in another post I did last year, so I won’t go into it again, but the idea of what I wanted was coalescing in my brain and I could not let it go. I looked at spaces, some were too big, some were too small or the rent was more than I could possibly afford. I had to change my idea of what I would be willing to pay for rent more than once as it was unrealistically low. Some were in places I did not want to be in, or in places that were no good for what I needed. And then, I came across a small space in my local area that used to be an old florist. It had been unoccupied for a few months by the time the keys were found and I stepped inside.

The moment I saw it, I KNEW. I don’t want to sound all mystical about it, but sometimes you get a feeling that hits you in the gut and settles there waiting for you to acknowledge it. This was one of those times for me. The place was a mess. There was a frightening cold storage room with rusty shelving sulking heavily in a corner, the dirty tiles on the floor were outdated, the interesting counter in the middle of the room made the space look small and the mirrors on the wall were…something. The back area was cluttered and dark. The building it was a part of was old. There was cobwebs and dirt, so much dust and a SMELL.

But I knew. I could see the space clear as day as I walked through it. I could see the gallery and the people, the art on the white walls and the track lighting. I could hear the laughter and conversation of people visiting this clean, bright, welcoming space. I could see my studio in the back room and myself creating things. I belonged here.

I was excited and afraid. I walked away from the space to think. I would drive past the space at different times of day and consider the traffic and the people walking past. I did a scoping document examining the different businesses in the area and security and what I would need done to the space before I could take it on as a project. I worked out the financials, wrote business plans and tried to work out whether this was something I could make work. Armed with all that, I knew. I put in an intent to lease, found out what I needed to do and waited.

There was going to be a lot of that. Waiting, that is. Six months of it, in fact. It was six months between the time when I first arranged to see it and when I took possession of the space. You would think it was six months of me just twiddling my thumbs and pining right? Nope. Well, there was some pining. A lot of pining truthfully. So much pining, I am pretty sure everyone I knew were very sick of the constant pining. But it was also six months of learning how to assemble a team of people to make this idea come to life. It was six months of working out exhibition models and workshops, networking, asking for advice, forming ideas, discarding ideas and worrying. It was six months of driving past that space and dreaming.

Life happened in that six months, really damn intense, hard going life. I talk about that time a little bit here and here but I didn’t know if I could adjust the dream to the life changes that were happening around me and demanding attention. All I could do was try and with the support of my partner and family, we pivoted and worked out a new kind of normal. I am still trying to adjust to that new normal. The days I have blocked out to work in the studio and gallery are often cut short or interrupted by family things. But I can see this getting less as time goes on and we all get used to it.

Now though, two weeks into having the space, I am filled with joy every time I walk in here. I don’t HAVE to be here, I GET to be here and that is delightful. This space inspires me. I can’t wait to walk in the doors on work days and even when I am not here, I am thinking about it. It does feel like that moment when you are falling in love and you want to be with that person all the time and text them and you have all these great date night ideas and you can’t wait to see them next and life suddenly is so good you can’t quite believe that it is YOUR life and this is YOUR adventure.

And so, here we are. We have a space and a very big dream.

Now it’s time to turn the dream into something real.

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