• News
  • Dec 14, 2023

Artspace Returns for 40th Anniversary After Major Renovation

Exterior of Artspace in The Gunnery, featuring new commission by DENNIS GOLDING, Colouring Memoring, 2023. Photo by Katherine Lu. Courtesy Artspace.

Artspace, a contemporary art center in Sydney funded by the New South Wales (NSW) government, reopened its Woolloomooloo headquarters, The Gunnery, on December 15, coinciding with the institution’s 40th anniversary. NSW’s arts and culture agency commissioned the architectural firm DunnHillam to spearhead the three-year renovation project, which cost over AUD 19.2 million (USD 12.6 million). Artspace now occupies all three floors of the heritage-listed building, providing increased exhibition and multiplatform space, a learning studio, an accessible archive, and ten subsidized artist studios to combat the city’s raising rent prices. The institution can inhabit the renovated space for the next 35 years. 

To celebrate its relaunch, Artspace will open with “Jonathan Jones: untitled (transcriptions of country),” an exhibition centered around the Wiradyuri and Kamilaroi artist’s mixed-media collaborative work, comprising embroidery, sculpture, soundscape, and video. Co-commissioned by Artspace and Paris’s Palais de Tokyo, “untitled” explores colonial transport, trade, and the French acclimatization of Indigenous plants, animals and objects during an expedition into Sydney in the early 1800s. The exhibition will expand on Jonathan Jones’s presentation at Palais de Tokyo in 2021.

Installation view of JONATHAN JONES, "untitled (transcriptions of country)," 2023, Gallery 2, Artspace. Photo by Katherine Lu. Courtesy Artspace. 

As part of the renovation, The Gunnery entrance now opens onto Forbes Street’s pedestrian plaza, creating clearer paths to the foreshore of Woolloomooloo Bay and the new Sydney Modern. The ground floor gallery was also enhanced, adding a 250-square-meter space with a sprung floor for live art, performance, public programmes, and events. On the first floor, new multipurpose learning spaces and an archive will further develop Artspace’s programme offering and community engagement. The top floor includes new studios and breakout spaces to facilitate artists in realizing ambitious projects, as well as allow staff to collaborate with artists and foster a sense of community. 

In Artspace’s press release, executive director Alexie Glass-Kantor explained that the infrastructure was built more like “a ute [utility vehicle], not a Porsche,” staying true to the institution’s vision of “a high-functioning, multi-platform, agile programming institution.” NSW arts minister John Graham also acknowledged the importance of providing affordable arts spaces, stating: “the revitalisation of The Gunnery in Woolloomooloo preserves and restores the heritage listed building and is an important starting place to begin addressing the need for more dedicated space for creatives in the city.”

The opening will kick off with a weekend-long celebration, involving exhibition openings of Sydney-based artist and photographer Debra Philip’s “LOUPE,” Kamilaroi-Gamilaraay artist and curator Dennis Golding’s “Colouring Memory,” performances by multi-disciplinary performer Akala Newman and hip-hop artist DJ Rosano Snooze, a book launch, artist panel discussions, and 11 open studios with Artspace’s 2024 One Year Studio Program artists.

Camilla Alvarez Chow is an editorial assistant at ArtAsiaPacific.  

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