The Directors of artist-run initiative (ARI) Moana may be closing the doors on their Hay Street gallery, but the group of young arts workers are stepping up to a fresh start. Cool Change Contemporary is the latest addition to the growing number of ARI’s popping up around Perth, and is due to open on August 3. Solo exhibitions from artists Eric C, Paul Sutherland, Oliver Hull and Laura Edmunds will set the tempo for this new space, which is upstairs in the Bon Marché Arcade. JESS COCKERILL spoke to co-founder Jess Boyce about her hopes for the new space, and the challenges the team faced in setting up a new ARI. Cool Change Contemporary is located on the First Floor, Bon Marché Arcade Building, 7484 Barrack Street, Perth. The gallery opens on Friday, August 3. For more information, visit facebook.com/CoolChangeContemporary.
How did Cool Change come together as both a gallery and a team?
There’s seven of us directing the ship, we’re all volunteers and all come from arts and performance backgrounds. Five of us – myself, Matt (Siddall), Grace (Connors), Emma (Buswell) and Miranda (Johnson) – took over directing Moana project space since early last year, and then Moana lost the space we occupied in the city at the end of last year. Melissa (McGrath) and Shoshana (Rosenberg) had also both recently moved back from Adelaide, so we all came together to put this on.
What happened to the Moana space?
Basically, the lease ended. It looked like the lease was going to be renewed up until the very last minute, and then they decided not to renew it. We had a good five years but unfortunately, everything comes to a close. So we were looking for something to fill the hole not only in our lives, but in the Perth arts scene that Moana left, because when Moana closed there were not really any other ARIs in the city itself.
Why do you think that is?
I think it’s really just rent. Plus, it was one thing finding something affordable, but also a space where they’re willing to give you a go and give you enough time to make it sustainable. A pop-up gallery sounds nice, but when you’re volunteer-run and you do all that work to get a space up to a good standard, it isn’t really viable for all that labour. It’s taken a fair bit of work getting [Cool Change] looking like a gallery.
Was it a challenge for you to secure the Bon Marché space, then?
We were looking for quite a long time and that was difficult, but once we found this place it’s all come together quite quickly. We’ve got the lease for two years, with the option to extend after that, so we’ll be here for at least two years, and hopefully a lot longer. It’s a really old building and it had been vacant for four or five years, so we’ve been spending the last month doing it up.
We’ve been crowdfunding for the fitout, and we’ve been really blown away by the support we’ve had. There’s also been a huge amount of support from artists and different arts organisations, and way more applications than you’d expect for a space no-one’s even seen yet… so we’re really looking forward to actually having it open, and being able to share it with everyone.
What inspired the name ‘Cool Change’?
We were wanted to represent the idea of a fresh new mood… our aim is to support mosty emerging artists and have them exhibit alongside artists at varying stages in their career.
And then, thinking about the weather in Perth: we have beautiful weather and yet the Fremantle Doctor comes in with a cool breeze. It’s a little bit playful.
What kind of artwork can we expect to see at Cool Change?
Most of the exhibitions are quite different in theme and medium. There are some nice parallels between some of them, but we weren’t looking for a particular style or anything, selection has been based on the strength of the artist’s application, and also interesting use of the space. We went for artists that really considered how space influences their exhibition, rather than just hanging pictures on a wall.
At the opening, we’ve got three different exhibitions, one in each of the rooms. Eric C is an emerging local artist who was just in the Hatched grad show at Pica, and hers are textile and print-based works. Then we’ve got Paul Sutherland, another local artist who is using photography and other mediums to discuss surveillance, and a bit of performance on the opening night, where he’ll be deleting all of his Facebook friends. Oliver Hull is from Perth but lives in Melbourne now, and his exhibition is an ongoing series of weather-themed objects he will gift to Cool Change, to become a part of our permanent collection. And then Laura Edmunds is coming for a residency from Wales, she’ll have a sound piece in the opening exhibition and her here residency begins in mid-August.