It's come a long way since its Frankston beginnings, but last night the highly reputed artist run initiative West Space swung its new doors open to the public. After a year and a half of negotiations in a bid to secure the venue, West Space has found a fresh location fitting of its 13-year legacy. The gallery was officially opened by Councillor Jennifer Kanis last night, with cake by the Hotham Street Ladies, ribbon cutting by Hit & Miss and music by Qua.
Up on the first floor of a 1940s building owned by the City of Melbourne, the new space is central, accessible and almost double the size of its previous location near the Queen Victoria Market. The fit-out has been designed in consultation with John Wardle Architects, and as part of the move, they have unveiled their new identity with a website designed by fellow members of their board, Stuart Geddes and Brad Haylock. They've also commissioned artist Spiros Panigirarkis to design a library and workroom for public perusal.
Boasting 350 square metres of gallery space, West Space will now continue to showcase its quality, peer-assessed program of works in three new galleries. The re-launch presents a group show with works by artists Ian Haig + Kotoe Ishii, Carmen Reid, Dan Price, Taree Mackenzie and Nick Waddell, with a permanent installation by Andy Hutson. This represents another chapter for West Space and director Phip Murray, with the potential for a much bigger audience.
What's unique about West Space is that they recognise it's not just about the final product, but about the process. And so to many an art lover's delight, they have set up a project and forum space that will host events, talks, screenings and performances. This opens up the practice of art making and research, helping to give insight to what might otherwise be a cryptic process and make the work more digestible. Opening up the discussion around the artworks, it also re-enforces the gallery’s reputation as a space that promotes critical discourse alongside its own publications, presentations and public programs. This was and is an important element of what West Space offers, and a key reason why it is held in particular regard by both emerging artists and established practitioners.
The West Space opening exhibition runs until August 20.
Level 1, 225 Bourke Street, Melbourne
Wed to Fri noon–6pm