A couple of months ago, Curve Gallery opened its doors on the corner of Watt and King Streets, adding an exciting cultural layer to what is turning into one of the great city blocks of Newcastle – read “Boccado’s”, the new “Petit Deux” and “Good Brother”.
Curve Gallery, supported by Renew Newcastle, is the manifestation of Lisa Who and Wayne Heaton‘s homecoming after over 10 years spent in the UK and Europe. It is also an extension of the work they have undertaken there and sharing the same name, the new gallery acts as a sister project to Curve Liverpool, UK.
© Images courtesy of Curve Gallery.
Curve, as a “brand”, supports “a contemporary and professional art practice at an emerging level,” says Lisa Who, artist and curator. “The works chosen are curated to show something new without alienating the audience. The gallery is about the audience and the interaction with the works.” However, you would be mistaken in thinking that the artists and works exhibited are anything but bold and thought-provoking. “There isn’t much fun in safe!” declares Who and I’m glad to hear it.
While Curve Liverpool has built a strong reputation in the UK over the years and Curve Newcastle still has that consolidation work ahead of it, it is the relationship between the two galleries that is probably the most exciting aspect of this project, apart from the works and artists themselves.
Indeed, far from being considered an outpost, the Newcastle embodiment of Curve creates a legitimate and potentially extremely interesting framework for exchange between galleries, cultures and hemispheres and while being oceans apart, there is an obvious synergy between the two cities.
“Liverpool is to London what Newcastle is to Sydney. Both cities are working harbors that have been forgotten for a while but they have an authentically growing art scene and something to offer at an international level,” says Wayne, co-owner of Curve.
Exchange and dialogue are at the heart of this project and the first seeds were expertly planted at Curve‘s inaugural show in Newcastle last month. Anything to Declare was a group show featuring a dozen artists both from Newcastle and the UK, which was “designed to comment on independent global curatorial practice and the journey of objects.”
Later this month, international artists (Robyn Woolston and SCAN) will be presenting new works in Newcastle with the gallery’s second show, AlteRATION, alongside local artists (Mark McDean, Shan Turner-Carroll, Lisa Who, Olivia Parsonage and Shelley Cornish) working across a range of disciplines that include textiles, photography, installation and film.
While it’s fantastic that Lisa and Wayne are exposing international artists to a Novocastrian audience, Curve also hopes to expose what Newcastle has to offer to the Liverpool art scene by curating shows there as well as setting up short to long term residencies, in both countries. As an emerging artist in Newcastle, this is a not-to-be-missed opportunity.
The experience and enthusiasm Lisa and Wayne bring to the table is a privilege and an unprecedented opportunity to blur boundaries across oceans. There is no doubt the Newcastle art scene is alive and kicking, it has a palpable energy which in some ways is at risk of being too contained.
More than a window, Curve stands to become a door to the world, inviting contemporary Novocastrian and Australian artists to cross that threshold. It is an invitation one would be sorry not to accept.
Locally, exhibiting alongside critically acclaimed international artists sets a benchmark and raises the bar for all those who are committed to their art.
Maybe with Curve, comes the time to stop labeling artists as being local or international. Maybe with Curve, comes the time to see where it is that we stand, not in Newcastle, not in Australia, but on a contemporary world stage. This is where Newcastle belongs.
AlteRATION Opening night: 29 June 2012 – 6 to 9 pm.
Visit: 37 Watt St. Newcastle – Thursday to Saturday – 1 to 7 pm or by appointment.
Curve Gallery on Facebook.
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