Ready to immerse yourself in some of the most interesting and talked-about new art in the country? Put on your walking shoes, and let’s head out to take a look at what’s on offer, all within easy distance from your boutique accommodation at 381 Cremorne. Don’t forget to take your chequebook, in case something takes your fancy.
First up, you’ll want to see what’s on at Niagara Galleries, at 245 Punt Rd, just a short walk from 381 Cremorne’s front door, midway between Swan and Bridge Streets. This prestigious art gallery has been going since 1978, and moved to Punt Rd in 1986, so the precinct has really grown up around them. From the front, facing the road and parklands, Niagara is a white Victorian double-storey house. From the back, it’s all angles and stripes, an extension that has gained it a place in architecture journals because it’s bold and edgy, perfect for an art gallery. William Nuttall is the man behind Niagara, and his gallery represents a big and diverse range of artists, including Rick Amor. He’s also interested in earlier artists, such as Ian Fairweather and Tony Tuckson, so you might find an exhibition there to surprise.
From here, we’re going to do a loop, down Bridge Road, turning right into Church Street for another gallery veteran, then across the road to a community gallery space. We’ll continue on down Church Street, crossing Swan Street and the railway line to a couple of very chic spaces, then cutting in towards Cremorne down Balmain Street for another gaggle of galleries in this cosmopolitan precinct.
Charles Nodrum Gallery, at 267 Church Street, rises high above the street, a grand mansion, beautifully restored. It’s been there since 1984, as around it so much of the precinct’s faded glory has been revived and become genteel and lovely. This gallery specialises in abstract art, so a good one for those who look for something thoughtful, but the gallerist also has a reputation for valuation and restoration so he knows his stuff.
Almost over the road, the Richmond Uniting Church building at 314 Church Street is part of that graceful row of churches all set back slightly from the street, in landscaped surroundings. This building is renovated as an arts space, and so you might find an exhibition there, perhaps a community group show. They post what’s on outside, but even if there’s not an exhibition current, the building is delightful and this is a green and leafy precinct to while away a few moments in between the busy visits to the design shops and art galleries.
Crossing over Swan Street, and turning into Albert Street, you come to two spaces well worth a look. Sophie Gannon did her apprenticeship with the highly respected Brisbane dealer, Philip Bacon, and you may well see some of that gallery’s artists on show here, such as Michael Zavros, Gwynn Hanssen Pigott and Nicholas Harding. This space, at 2 Albert Street, open since 2009, has the special quality that slightly out-of-the-way galleries offer, as though you’ve found a secret. Very slick, very inviting, and there’s always something intriguing on show.
The Anita Traverson gallery is its neighbour, at 7 Albert Street. This one has set out on a new course, a “new model” for exhibitions, with three-month seasons of group shows, they call “At_Salon”, like a mini art-fair. They offer curatorial advice and professional staffing for unrepresented artists, opening up the space for that all-important break-through on a collaborative basis. Established in 1989, this is an enterprising space like so many of those in the precinct. Good ideas, done with panache.
Across Church Street and off Balmain Street, you’ll find the very contemporary and always surprising Nuttal Kibel Nguyen Gallery or NKN, at 79 Stephenson Street. This used to be Blockprojects, run by Yasmin Nguyen and Jeremy Kibel, and that amalgamated with William Nuttall, the man behind Niagara Galleries, to create a working space and gallery for artists and designers in 2014. It’s all about relationships, seeking out the new and interesting, fostering and developing talent. It’s an inspiring space.
You’re heading back towards 381 Cremorne now, with two very different gallery spaces in your sights, epitomising the range of what’s on offer in the art world.
William Mora Galleries is on the first floor at 60 Tanner Street, on the corner of Wangaratta Street. This is a famous name in Australian art; the gallerist is the son of Georges and Mirka Mora, whose glamorous and sometimes flamboyant style was so influential in the mid 20th century. Mora Galleries are now agents for the Paddy Bedford Estate, following the death of this Kimberly artist, whose work has been shown in Paris, Austria, the Netherlands, and the subject of major exhibitions in Sydney and Melbourne. Once in Flinders Lane, Mora relocated to Richmond 15 years ago, and has set the pace for purpose-built contemporary art galleries. It’s flexible and relaxed, and the standard is high.
A little further down Wangaratta Street, at 1/32, you’ll find Low Rise Projects, a smallish space, set up by the folk behind “artsphere”, which creates websites for artists. This space opened in 2011, with the idea that, alongside the top-end commercial galleries, the precinct needs start-ups, spaces for emerging artists for exhibitions that don’t require big areas, but do need good professional service. It’s almost anonymous from the outside, sandwiched between offices and warehouse buildings in this long laneway, but it’s bright and full of ideas inside.
Most galleries are open Tuesday to Saturday, but a couple close on Tuesday as well, and 5pm is the usual closing time. Enjoy!