Artist-run spaces are the lifeblood of Melbourne’s creative community. They’re where emerging artists show their work for the first time, where they establish lasting connections with fellow artists and collectors – and drink some free beer. However, thanks to rising rents and lack of government funding, the logistics of running an ARI has seen their number diminishing over the past few years. Enter Slopes.
Housed within the Neometro development at 9 Smith Street, the brand new space will operate with free rent for a year. “Initially I thought it was too good to be true, but it turned out that it wasn't!” says Utopian Slumps founder Melissa Loughnan, who is running the ‘sister’ gallery along with gallery director Brooke Babington and curatorial advisor Helen Hughes.
With the pressure off from making rent payments, the focus at Slopes is on presenting challenging work. “There are lots of spaces and exhibitions that are risk-taking in Melbourne, but perhaps not consistently risk-taking,” says Loughnan. “We're also encouraging artists to curate, and are ensuring that there is an element of international exchange in every exhibition.”
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First cab off the Slopes rank is The Knock-off Show, featuring an eclectic bunch of familiar and not-so familiar names presenting their take on artwork from the past, including Jon Campbell, Lou Hubbard, Masato Takasaka and Geoff Newton along with New Zealand’s Ella Sutherland and Italian Gabriele de Santis. It looks to be a cracker.