Art & Design

Art Month Sydney: The Director’s Cut

By Mitchell Oakley Smith
15th Feb 2014

Established in 2010 as a way of bringing new life to Sydney's commercial gallery spaces, Art Month is now a thriving, month-long series of events with over 200 exhibitions and events. 

For 2014, newly installed artistic director Scrap Wall has titled the program Intersections + Parallels, with its series of talks, tours, exhibitions and experiences exploring the crossover between artistic forms, and including the mediums of fashion and architecture. 

We sat down with Scrap to find out his highlights from the upcoming program.

TUL: Now in its fifth year, what is Art Month Sydney all about? 

Scrap Wall: Art Month is about celebrating the incredibly vibrant and diverse art being made across Sydney. At its heart it's about trying something new, looking at art in different ways and visiting new spaces in this brilliant city. This year the programming is themed with this idea of 'intersections and parallels', specifically between art and other creative industries. 

TUL: For those who aren't collectors or regular gallery visitors, what's the great thing about Art Month? 

Scrap: Art Month gives anyone the opportunity to take part in what is happening in galleries across Sydney right now. It works to break down any perceived boundaries around art and art spaces; it's an open door for discovery. There are so many great ways to find out more about art and get more involved. Panel discussions and talks, bike and walking tours, a slew of exhibitions and experiences, all designed to be approachable and exciting.

TUL: How does this year differ to previous Art Months under your directorship? 

Scrap: Each director has his or her own perspective and interests. My approach is probably informed by being an outsider of the local industry, as well as my interest and involvement in other creative industries. I'm originally from New Zealand, and I operate in the spaces between creative industries in a catalytic way, bringing them together and seeing what results. 

TUL: There are some great talks—what kind of outcome do you hope for at these events? 

Scrap: As a starting point for these discussions I really thought about the contemporary art questions I wanted answered. Hopefully they will be as enjoyable for the speakers as for the audience. We've got some really interesting topics and dream participants. The plan is to get many perspectives and ask as many questions as we answer. I'm very excited to hear from the panelists on 'Drawing the Line', as it's a full spectrum of positions on the place of graffiti/street art and the gallery.

Another fascinating talk is 'Art on the Runway', talking about the relationship between art and fashion. It's a great panel and should get well beneath the surface you'd expect from this topic.

TUL: The tours, too, are an interesting component—which should we sign up to? 

Scrap: There really is so much to discover in Sydney, and so much fascinating work being produced. I think the cycle tours are a great way to cover some ground and be guided around an area you might not usually explore. Of course the precinct nights will be a lot of fun too, wandering between galleries outside of the usual hours, and meeting for celebratory drinks at the end. Go West will be great too. It's such a thriving art precinct these days and many are still to discover it. 

TUL: Are there particularly exhibitions you're looking forward to? 

Scrap: Many! There are incredible galleries all over Sydney showing great work at the moment. I think the retrospective show at Sarah Cottier Gallery will be really interesting. I'm also excited to see the development of MOP and Pom Pom in Chippendale, as their re-fit looks so great and I like the way they fit together with slightly different agendas. It is a sure sign of strength and support for a growing market. 

TUL: Can you tell us about Visual Feasts? 

Scrap: The Visual Feasts will be two great experiences with two amazing chefs interpreting the work of artists through a number of courses. Dank St Galleries has aligned with Luke Mangan's Mojo on Wednesday the 19th March, and the hatted Italians from Popolo will be serving their flavoured interpretation of Tim Johnson's paintings at Dominik Mersch Gallery in Rushcutters Bay on the 25th. I'm very excited to taste these.

TUL: What does Art Month say about the Sydney art landscape? Is it in a healthy place? 

Scrap: It's a vibrant and diverse environment, and it's an exciting time for art and the creative economy. There is a huge amount of overlapping growth and experimentation, and a wider acceptance of new styles and expression. 

TUL: For you, what's the best part about being artistic director?

Scrap: In all honesty, it's the discovery. I'm in a very fortunate position to be dedicating my time to finding out what's happening in the contemporary arts in a major international city. It's going to be an exciting month, and I hope you'll join me.

Art Month runs from 1-23 March throughout Sydney. Visit Art Month Sydney.

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