To an outsider, Sydney may sound like a ghost town right now. With the Keep Sydney Open movement continuing to voice its concern over the city’s fading nightlife, it’s easy to believe that we’ve got nothing left to give.
But right now, Sydney’s art scene has never been more alive. Galleries dot every suburb, and lines form around the block on exhibition opening nights.
One of our favourite spaces is Galerie pompom, on Abercrombie St in Chippendale. We spoke with gallery manager, Samantha Ferris, about the satisfaction of running a successful gallery and the need for more artist-run spaces around the city.
So, what does a day at Galerie pompom look like?
We start the day at the gallery at 11am, with various meetings with artists and gallery visitors, we all like to interact with whomever comes through the doors and take them around the exhibitions and explain the artist intention. This also includes sifting through the stockroom in the back, then it’s closing time at 5pm.
How do you find the artists you exhibit?
We regularly visit other galleries, especially artist run spaces, and we go to most of the grad shows at the art schools and also look at proposals.
What are some of the trials and triumphs you have achieved since you first opened the space?
No real trials, it is very satisfying running the gallery, installing exhibitions, putting together curated shows and of course the intellectual banter, the best bit!
It can be at times a lot of hard work and you need to keep your finger on the pulse—the endless deadlines! A lot of our artists have won major awards, have been collected by major institutions and as well as that, important artist residencies overseas.
Do you think the art scene in Sydney is in a good place right now? How and where do you guys fit in?
We have come from an artist run gallery to begin with, MOP Projects, which became one of the most important galleries of its type in Australia. We then decided to add a commercial element, to take the artists even further with their careers.
Now we are fully commercial as Galerie pompom, which is coming along very nicely and fits in with some of the top galleries in Australia. I think the art scene has always been the same, it’s a difficult job selling contemporary art, it’s not for the faint-hearted! It has to be your absolute passion, to be involved with like-minded people.
What advice would you give students and young adults interested in working at, curating, or owning their own gallery space?
What we need more than anything are more artist run spaces – ARIS – whether it be in your garage or your living room, it doesn’t matter, it gives young artists and curators the chance to work together in an affordable situation.
We would also encourage young artists and curators to apply for funding—it is a complex procedure, but brilliant for building business skills. Art is a business, like anything else.