05-08 September 2024
05-08 Sept 2024


Conversation with Gallerist, Mark Feary and Tracy Burgess from Gertrude Contemporary

We spoke with Artistic Director Mark Feary and Executive Director Tracy Burgess from Getrude Contemporary to talk about their presentation for Sydney Contemporary 2022.

Jason Phu, some demons strolling around playing music all day and night because they have nothing better to do and it is very fun. Courtesy of Gertrude Contemporary. Photography by Christian Capurro.

The gallery is located in Preston, in Melbourne’s northern suburbs, can you elaborate on its location and why you chose to open here?

Preston is a growing hub for creativity – as artists have been pushed out of Melbourne’s inner suburbs by rising rent, many have moved north, creating a vibrant local atmosphere. Our neighbours include a local cinema, Perimeter Books, music venues, and many excellent bars and restaurants, including the iconic Cedars Bakery right next door. Our location allows our studio artists space to create large-scale works, and our exhibition space was designed as a responsive site by Edition Office, adapting to each exhibition’s needs. It is important that we house our main gallery and studios in a single, cohesive and accessible space. The community we foster through our combined studios and exhibition program is linked inextricably to the functionality of our spaces, and Preston’s history as home to factories and warehouses provide large, single-level buildings that are ideal to be adapted to creative work and presentation. Our building was, in a past life, a furniture store, and the large street-facing windows have proved to be a wonderful space to share art with the passing public, particularly during pandemic lockdowns.

We also have a satellite gallery space in Collingwood called Gertrude Glasshouse. This space is used primarily to present ambitious exhibitions by our cohort of studio artists. The location of this space, around the corner from our original home in Fitzroy, helps keep us connected to our long-time home and neighbouring galleries. This site allows us to present programming at a more intimate scale than our main gallery, giving us the opportunity to run concurrent projects and offer a wide variety of experiences to our visitors.

Installation view of Octopus 21/ On Fire, 2021, featuring work by Warraba Weatherall, Jemima Wyman, and Mavis Ngallametta at Gertrude Contemporary. Photography by Christian Capurro.

Installation image of Rob McLeish’s HEADLESS at Gertrude Contemporary. Photography by Christian Capurro.

What are some career highlights, or exhibition highlights in the gallery to date?

Recent highlights include Polyphonic Reverb, curated by Mark Feary, Atong Atem’s solo exhibition Everything in Remission and Contact High, a performance-based residency curated by Anador Walsh, culminating in two events in January this year.

Polyphonic Reverb features artists based in Australia and Aotearoa with cultural connections to the near pacific, particularly Polynesia and Melanesia. This project focused on voices reflecting the diasporic and migratory influence of the Pacific, and how these identities may be disembodied through distance and dislocation.

Everything in Remission featured a large-scale collage work alongside portraits of the artist’s parents and a rare foray for Atem into sculptural work. This exhibition was conceived as a self-portrait, in which photographic remnants from past projects and personal collections were brought together into an abstracted, textural environment, eschewing the representational quality of her work to date.

Coming out of a two-year period in which performance was engaged with primarily through the intermediaries of phone and laptop screens, Contact High set out to emphasise that which is lost through digital dissemination: action and dialogue, movement and sweat, laboured breath and foot falls, audiences and performers, dancers and spectators, dramaturgy and scores.

Visitors at the opening of Andrew Atchinson’s, …shaped by a vision that is always structured through his own multiple horizons of experience…, Gertrude Glasshouse. Photography by Machiko Abe.

What was your first exhibition, and why?

Gertrude was formed in Fitzroy in 1983 first as a studio complex, and in 1985 hosted its first exhibition to expand its reach and to provide a connection between the practices of its artists in residence and the visiting public. This interconnected, hybrid model, providing equal support to both the production and presentation of contemporary art, has been central to the organisation since. Gertrude’s first group exhibition included artists Bion Balding, Carole Bryan, Ben Creaney, Kim Donaldson, Merrin Eirth, Philip Judd, Catherine Martin, Will Mitchell, John MacKinnon, Jan Murray, Jan Nelson, Siobhan Ryan and Ann Weir.

Mira Gojak, Cutting through #3, 2018, sliced photographic paper, 33.5 x 41.5 cm. Courtesy the artist and Gertrude Contemporary and Murray White Room, Melbourne.

Who are you bringing to Sydney Contemporary and why?

In 2022, we’re bringing a special archive of our annual Gertrude Editions to Sydney Contemporary. The Gertrude Edition is an annual fundraising initiative that contributes significant financial support to our not-for-profit gallery and artist studios. Each year, an alumnus of the Gertrude Studio Program is invited to contribute a work, released in an edition of 50 – often this will result in a pair of works or a series of works.

We’re opening our archive of past editions to showcase the breadth of influential artists that Gertrude has supported over our nearly 40 years of operating. Collectors will be given the opportunity to acquire works that speak to the local Australian artistic community’s strength and diversity, while also supporting a key institution that allows our artists to thrive. Artists include Elizabeth Newman, Brent Harris, Mira Gojak, Renee So, Damiano Bertoli, Paul Yore, Ann Marie-May and Jon Campbell.

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