Project helps Coast artists draw inspiration from within four walls

A rapid-fire program that was one of the first to support artists during the COVID-19 crisis has delivered a collection of works with “a touch of wildness” and identified new artists who are helping to evolve the arts and cultural reputation of the Gold Coast.

May 08, 2020, updated May 08, 2020
Sunlounger from artist Kathy Mackey’s Rage Against the V(irus) Studio Bathroom project. (Photo: Supplied)

Sunlounger from artist Kathy Mackey’s Rage Against the V(irus) Studio Bathroom project. (Photo: Supplied)

Home of the Arts (HOTA) on the Gold Coast rushed to make funding available to artists in March, rapidly turning a budget of $50,000 into support for artists during the coronavirus pandemic.

HOTA CEO Criena Gehrke said the organisation reacted quickly, brainstorming and developing the program to offer artists much-needed commissions within 24 hours of shutdowns taking hold.

“We decided you can’t call yourself a Home of the Arts and not love artists and be committed to artists,” Gehrke said.

“I am very proud that we were amongst the first to announce support for artists in this way.  It made us think really long and hard as well how we are supporting artists and their work.”

(Photo: Supplied)

HOTA is among the galleries, organisations and philanthropists who have stepped in to support artists and arts sector workers who have fallen through the cracks of coronavirus-related government financial support.

Queensland Arts Minister Leeanne Enoch last week called on the Federal Government to improve eligibility arrangements for the JobKeeper program to address the exclusion of many Queensland arts sector workers.

On Thursday, Philanthropy Australia’s Arts Funders Network released a one-off National Assistance Program for the Arts, collectively donating $1.4 million to support individual artists and arts workers who couldn’t access JobKeeper or whose employers could not access JobKeeper.

(Photo: Supplied)

The HOTA initiative has received more than 220 applications and has supported 34 projects including short films, photo exhibitions, stop-motion video, concerts, colouring books, and animations.

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The program asked artists to produce the work in a digital format and develop and deliver it within one week.

“Some of them are crazy, some of them are beautiful and eloquent, some of them are really heartfelt and deep and meaningful, but all of them are outstanding and there’s a touch of wildness in them that I’m finding amazing,” Gehrke said.

Photo-media artist Kathy Mackey was inspired by family slide nights and the revelation, as a result of spending so much time at home, that the architectural features of everyday spaces could become a blank canvas.

For her project Studio Bathroom, she built installations within her bathroom and projected images of cultural settings and sites, including nostalgic Gold Cost holiday locations, on the reflective surfaces and other domestic objects within her high-rise apartment.

“There is an amazing community of artists on the Gold Coast who are quite maverick and even time you turn around we prove this,” Gehrke said.

“Things have changed so much over the past five years, but there is still a perception about the Gold Coast. What we are uncovering is that we have some of the most incredible, contemporary, interesting artists here and we need to capitalise on that and promote it.”

This article is supported by the Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas

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