If you’re into the local art scene, you’ve probably downed a glass of wine on the other side of the roller door of Chalk Horse on Lacey Street. Perhaps it was at a show of Gallery Director Jasper Knight’s bold, architectural pop works. Or maybe you took in Gallery Manager James Kerr’s delicate, natural sculptures. Well, from now on, you’ll be viewing the curation of Chalk Horse’s new and emerging artists on William Street, Darlinghurst, in a new underground gallery below what was once the fantastically garish Royalty Prussia furniture store.
After scouting spaces for 12 months, the team was keen to lock down a spot in Darlinghurst. “There’s potential to build a great art hub there in the coming years,” explains Kerr. “The area is thriving with really strong galleries that have already welcomed us by sending their clients our way.”
When we slipped into its new, subterranean domain for the joint opening night of John A Douglas’s The Visceral Garden – Landscape & Specimen, and the gallery itself, we found a much bigger space than we had anticipated. As well as a beautifully considered show that more than filled it.
At once sublime and grotesque, Douglas’s new works merge otherworldly geography with macro medical photography of a diseased body. Organs in extreme close-up become surreal landscapes for a metallic being to navigate, and represent Douglas’s own battle with – and journey through – illness. The show includes multi-channel video art and photography, and sits across the whole two-room gallery space.
Most of Chalk Horse’s 2014 program, however, will present exhibitions of two solo shows across the spaces. “We’ll always approach them with sensitivity in terms of a dialogue between the spaces and artists,” says Kerr. “We’re very excited to be presenting Mathew McWilliams in March as well Kate Mitchell and Tara Marynowsky in May.” And as per usual, Chalk Horse’s community of artists, including Kerr, will continue creating new works at the Lacey Street studios. Now they just have a little further to travel for the hang.
John A Douglas’s The Visceral Garden runs until March 8.
Chalk Horse Lower Ground, 171 William Street, Darlinghurst (02) 9211 8999
Hours Thu to Sat noon–6pm, or by appointment only.