Annual West Space Fundraiser

Words – Sheena Colquhoun

Photos – Andy Donohoe

Annual West Space Fundraiser, Westspace, Level 1, 225 Bourke Street, Melbourne CBD

120 artists across six gallery spaces – this is West Spaces annual fundraiser. What is fast becoming a Melbourne institution, West Space holds a fundraiser exhibition to help with the upkeep of the gallery. Artists from the extended West Space family donate works for the general public to buy. Being a not-for-profit gallery, this will be the only time all year you see price tags below the artwork. The show packed out with people from 6pm, and red dots adorned the works soon after. The incoming director Danny Lacy, welcomed the crowd followed by a short speech by local councillor Ken Hong.

The experience of seeing so many small works reminded me of a Salon style install. This set up is vastly different to the manner by which West Space generally use their space. Seeing as it would be near impossible to review all the works, this review will act as a subjective highlights reel, for the works that I likes the most. The Glenn Walls ‘Life without Objects’ series featured in one of the smaller galleries at the back. This was a series of fabricated book covers, made from plastic, mirrors, and other mixed media, with long and potentially absurd names such as ‘To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all – Modern Architectures contribution to public loneliness’ The works all critique the complex role modernist architecture plays in our day to day lives, using humour, irony and hint of sadness.

Two artists have works in the fundraiser from shows that Melbourne Arts Club had recently reviewed. Tucked away towards the back I found the watercolour renderings of Isabella Knowles, who depicts in fine detail suburban rooftops with no context so as they become abstract shapes in their own right. Knowles recently had a show close at C3 gallery in Abbotsford. One of Natalie Ryan’s electric blue velvet covered animals sat on a low plinth looking both vibrant and vulnerable; if you’re quick you can still catch her solo show at Dianne Tanzer Gallery on Gertrude Street. The beautiful work of Dell Stewart stood somewhere between art and design. A bag with different screen-printed wood grain patterns hung from a bronze cast of a tree branch. Stewarts practise generally involves work with the aesthetics of natural materials, and ways in which she can shift and change those aesthetics to encompass the manmade and homemade.

This is the third location for West Space, which was originally in the west once upon a time in Footscray. They then moved to a building on Albert Street in the CBD, and are now in a prime city location one level up on Bourke street and have been enjoying continual growth and popularity. I’m a long standing lover of the vibrant and diverse program that West Space presents, and it’s a very satisfying experience to see so many members of the Melbourne art community feel the same way.