Arts Project Australia
Written by: Sue Roff
From New York to Philadelphia, from London to Belgium, from Hobart to Sydney, the work of Arts Project Australia studio artists has been receiving growing attention and acclaim on both national and international fronts. As a Melbourne-based studio and gallery for artists with an intellectual disability, the aim of Arts Project is to provide support and pathways for studio artists to have far-reaching practices and careers in contemporary art.
This arts project takes many guises and sees many successes. Artist, Alan Constable, is a leader in this aspect: with a career spanning two decades and well-known for his ceramic camera sculptures, Constable is now represented by Darren Knight in Sydney and DUTTON gallery in New York, and has shown at The Outsider Art Fair in New York, South Willard in Los Angeles, and The Museum of New and Old Art in Hobart. He has collaborated with artist Peter Atkins, is held in collections at the National Gallery of Victoria and The Museum of Everything (London), and has an international reputation of such standing that Matthew Higgs, Director of White Columns in New York, recently declared: “Constable makes incredible ceramic sculptures of cameras, which should, in my opinion, be in every major museum collection.”
Another artist seeing the strides of success is Julian Martin, whose dense use of pastels strikes a perfect equilibrium between the abstract and figurative. He is currently represented by Fleisher/Ollman in Philadelphia, has held solo shows at Arts Project, Australian Galleries and Manningham Gallery, and has exhibited at The Armory Show and Outsider Art Fair (both in New York), as well as The Museum of New and Old Art and the National Gallery of Victoria. These achievements and the immediate connections many have with Martin’s vivid forms, now see him earn a liveable, stable, income from his practice.
At the level of textiles, the soft sculptures of Terry Williams have recently received great renown, partly burgeoned by artist Ricky Swallow curating an exhibition of Williams’ hybrid human, alien and technological forms at White Columns in New York in 2015 – it was a sell-out show. During his two-decade career, Williams has also shown at The Museum of Everything (London), Ian Potter Museum of Art (Melbourne) and The Museum of Old and New Art (Hobart), among many, many others.
Yet these are, of course, only snapshots of three artists out of the one hundred and fifty that Arts Project supports and advocates for. As a world leader in supported studios, Arts Project is fuelled by an unwavering belief in every studio artist, holding that individual creativity triumphs over conformity and those divergent voices make life much more interesting. Perhaps it is best summed up by collector and patron, Peter Fay, who has said of Arts Project, “A top drawer outfit, champions all!”