Creating the lines that form a criss-crossing pattern over the city, Art Month 2019 is tying together a rapidly changing arts scene. With a program in its tenth year that is as large scale as it is fine-grained, as many of the featured events are the individual shows of small galleries, artistic director Kate Britton ran us through some of the evolutions in her second year as director and curator.
Along with Britton herself, ceramics studio kil.n.it is back for the second year in a row, and will be showcasing their work process not only at their Glebe home, but in the heart of the world of commercial, contemporary art at The Other Art Fair, presented by Saatchi Art at the Australian Technology Park. Representing what Britton terms a maturation of the material, ceramics is no longer bridging the divide between art and craft, and is firmly established in the field of contemporary fine art.
“You don't need to be talking about why you're putting on a contemporary art exhibition of ceramics or explain to people the breadth of practices and the level of work,” highlighted Britton.
Unlike other exhibitors at The Other Art Fair, however, the kil.n.it studio will be presenting a hands-on workshop for attendees to get their fingers dirty with wet clay.
“They'll be making and artists working on site and people can come by and talk to them as you would on an open studio visit,” said Britton.
Shaking up conventions in the world of contemporary art is what Art Month is here to do. Getting a peek into artists’ studios and combining walking tours of art galleries with raucous parties are some of the highlights of the 2019 program. Britton saw this willingness to experiment and cross boundaries as becoming increasingly present in the way that galleries themselves function, and is excited to showcase this in the reinvigorated talks program.
“We've got a few galleries that are operating under a different model; there's Filter Gallery, they've got this partnership with Living Edge, a high end design furniture store, where they're placing artwork within their flagship stores and we're having a talk about that merged model.”
Bringing together the disparate art world in Sydney, and inviting those from elsewhere to participate, provides a sandpit for the emergence of new ideas, particularly in an industry that can be notoriously parochial.
“The sector that Art Month represents is very diverse in Sydney,” noted Britton. “It encapsulates the commercial galleries as well as ARIs, a lot of smaller spaces, studios. I think opportunities for all of those siloed communities and spaces to come together and share discussion about the industry and the state of the industry at the moment is really important, and I think opportunities like that are quite few.”
In addition, the talks program provides a method by which those who have a connection to the art world to take the next step, whether that may be understanding more about the art that is displayed at each of the galleries, starting a collection or reinvesting in the cultural life of the city.
“All of the talks are about whatever level of engagement you're at with the galleries that are in your city, we're trying to give you the tools to take the next step,” described Britton.
A further evolution of the Art Month program from last year’s iteration is the continuation of the show of artists that are not represented by a commercial gallery. While last year’s show was held at the Darren Knight Gallery, this year’s will be in the Walter Burley Griffin designed Incinerator Gallery in Willoughby. Curated by Britton herself, the show, titled Saturated Terrain, revolves around the theme of water and responds to the site’s previous usage.
“I loved this idea of flooding the space and cooling it,” noted Britton. “People think of water as quite passive and but in the context of an incinerator it's quite a violent force and a force of resistance and an equal power to that of fire.”
Saturated Terrain is one of a number of events and exhibitions that are located north of the Harbour Bridge, an area that accounted for 30 per cent of the stakeholders in Art Month 2018, and is increasingly emerging as an artistic precinct in its own right.
“I think that the North Shore has always had an arts scene, and I think it's only recently that they've started thinking about how they can look at themselves collectively.”
Showcasing the breadth of artistic practice in this region, Art Month is running a North Shore Art tour taking in St Leonards, Lane Cove, Chatswood and Willoughby.
The full Art Month program can be discovered here: https://artmonthsydney.com.au