Kate Prendergast interviews Nelson Jeffrey & Frankie Shaw
- How did you come up with the idea of running your own exhibition?
Over the years we have come across many artists from different walks of life. Although some have exhibited their works previously, many just do art as a hobby and had yet to show their works to the public. Seeing the talent of these individuals and recognising I had a fairly decent amount of skill myself, we decided to showcase select local Perth artists by setting up an exhibition called AMOR.
- Who were the exhibiting artists, and how did they get involved?
The AMOR artists were Frankie Shaw, Raen Coplin, Josh Naxington, Jake Quodling and Sanjay Zev Weinstein, along with myself. These people are all friends of mine, including Frankie, my girlfriend. Talking to them about their art and seeing their excitement in getting involved in an event gave us the inspiration to host an exhibition.
- How did you go about launching the dream? Who did you approach?
Getting the space from UWA was one of the biggest challenges involved in creating the exhibition. Our first step was to contact UWA’s Faculty of Arts, Landscape and Visual Art- ALVA for short. ARTLAAB, a street-front gallery on Broadway, was the space given to us free by the university, which was a great help in getting us started and preferable to more expensive alternatives. We found that the space itself was heavily booked, giving us only four days over the Australia Day weekend. We pasted posters and flyers all over the city and used Facebook to create hype around the event. Word of mouth was also important in raising public interest. We only had two weeks to plan and execute the entire event- some more time would have been beneficial in maximising turnout.
- What was it like working within the gallery space?
The Art LAAB was a fantastic space to work in. It has a really interesting character as the exterior to the Masonic Hall. The smallness of the room worked for us, as it provided an intimate setting to fall in love with the art. We also had the opportunity to display our works outside, and when it was all lit up at night, it created a romantic atmosphere perfect for AMOR.
- How much of a response from the public did you get?
Opening night was better than expected, with 70 to 100 showing up from doors-open to midnight. An array of people came along, ranging in age, culture, social class, etc.— it was great that our art was appreciated by all kinds of people. We received a lot of positive feedback and were able to tell the stories behind our works and our individual processes. Through the event I also met many other artists, several of whom showed an interest in being part of new events. Eight pieces where sold overall, which only motivates us to do something like this again.
- What did you learn from the experience? Would you do anything different next time?
Next time the beer will be free! We found out after the event that local breweries offer sponsorship for events like this as promotion. Also the government offers grants to artists who put on community events. We’d also have the space being used more like a studio, with artists painting over the duration of the exhibition and allowing interaction with the public and possibility of communal paintings.