room01 collective is an emerging arts organisation from Perth. All its members are UWA postgraduate or undergraduate students; they include Aimee Dodds, Grace Hewitt, Annie Huang, Stirling Kain, Claudia Minutillo, Elizabeth Smith, Molly Werner, and Jaimi Wright. They discuss their goals for the collective; the processes that lead them to this point; and their upcoming art exhibition, (cross)hatched.

Please note that Elizabeth Smith and Jaimi Wright were unavailable for interview at this time. Additionally, Stirling Kain conducted the interview, and therefore was not involved in answering the questions.

 Stirling Kain: Describe what you are trying to achieve with (cross)hatched.

Grace Hewitt: I think what we are trying to achieve is an opportunity for emerging artists in WA to gain recognition for their practices since graduating. Finding your feet as an artist outside the confines of university and/or TAFE can be a daunting and overwhelming prospect. (cross)hatched offers a platform to support these artists and shine a spotlight on what they have to offer, not just within the Perth art scene but also the art world.

S.K: Do you feel that being an all-student group influences the way you collectively envision (cross)hatched?

Annie Huang:  I think it does influence the way we vision the exhibition. Most importantly, being a student-run initiative, we hope that (cross)hatched will be a safe platform that celebrates the hard work of all graduates, and a place for students to be able to present their work as freely as possible without a curation or selection process. I guess an important aspect of (cross)hatched and how we envision it is also the opportunity for students, including ourselves, to step outside of the academic system and further their career by contributing to the public sphere.

S.K: Why did you decide to become involved with room01 collective?

Aimee Dodds: A couple of reasons really – I think the idea to have an exhibition showcasing only WA graduates is very important for aspiring artists, arts workers, curators, writers and those involved or wanting to be involved in the “Perth arts scene”. I greatly respect Molly (the brains of the operation as it were) as an artist/writer/person, and I think that the opportunity will be a great experience to learn and share what is important to young graduates right now. Also, if I’m being really honest, as a recent graduate myself, I need those sweet, sweet resume fillers.

S.K: Why do you think it’s important that we hear student-artists’ voices?

Molly Werner: These people are the ones who will one day be starting and contributing to public conversation, if they are not already. This is important because the best art sparks thought and change, even if purely cerebral, and one day we’ll probably all be watching some Netflix show, or theatre performance, or advertising campaign that someone in this cohort had a hand in creating.  Whatever the future of media looks like, will likely be shaped by their ideas in 5-10 years.

Claudia Minutillo: I think Molly makes a great point here and I agree. Further to that though, I would add that student-artists have their finger on the pulse of what’s happening right now. Recent graduates have just spent the last few years in a degree which demands of them a connectedness to their environment, social issues, politics, technology, trends (artistic and otherwise) etc., and then to work out ways to communicate their ideas, often in sensitive and nuanced ways. This is an even more important reason to be listening to what they have to say.

S.K: What is the selection process for artists who want to be involved in (cross)hatched?

G.H: Artists selected to be involved in (cross)hatched must have completed their final projects at their respective institutions in 2018. We have been using contact details obtained from the various graduate show catalogues so if you or someone you know is an art graduate from last year and has not been contacted by us via email or Instagram, let us know! We want maximum artist involvement!

S.K: Describe how you settled on the name (cross)hatched.

M.W:  We originally had this very well thought out name, that Liz suggested.  One that we discussed in depth and had decided upon for both practical and conceptual reasons, but it was based on our names.  As we started to add more members, as the nature of this show invites, we decided to name the group after the room that we meet at in the EDFAA library.  By the way – you can book the study rooms at the library so that you don’t get kicked out.  Sorry to that guy I kicked out today.

A.H: I wasn’t there when the collective settled on the name, but I still have a few thoughts about it. (cross)hatched to me was such a perfect name for the exhibition. I think it carries many nuances which are both entertaining and real. Not only in its reference to the Perth Institute of Contemporary Art’s annual Hatched exhibition, but I think it also summarises the wide range of different methods, mediums and discourses that the graduates of Perth showcase in their work.

S.K: Are there are particular styles or themes that you are particularly excited to see explored in (cross)hatched?

A.D: I love stuff that is reactionary to big ideas/events/themes in interesting, small and nuanced ways. That’s a pretty vague statement, but I guess I mean the kind of work that the more you look at it, the more you get out of it. I also like when artists show their proficiency across a range of media, so I’m excited to see works that engage with more than one way of making at a time.

C.M: I’m not looking out for any artistic style or theme in particular, but more excited to see it all come together; we really want the exhibition to be varied, inclusive, and democratic, so we’ve planned for a ‘salon-style’ hang. I think this will allow for the works to talk to each other, for prominent themes amongst the work to arise naturally, and (I hope) to create a picture of the Perth locale.

(cross)hatched opens at YMCA HQ on July 19; there will be more information released closer to the event. For updates on the exhibition and room01 collective, follow @room01collective on Instagram.

Image Credit: Madeleine Beech, Transformed Artefacts, 2018, dimensions variable, found objects, plaster and thread. Image courtesy of the artist. Madeleine Beech is a featured artist in (cross)hatched

Interview by Stirling Kain