Abstractions fill the gap

A temporary art space is giving local artists the chance to show their works, Emma Macdonald writes

Queanbeyan's main street will host a pop-up gallery from this week as local artists from around the region establish a temporary artistic hub out of a former real estate office.

Located opposite the plaza, PopUp! Monaro Art Space will house exhibitions across various media, including paintings, sketches, jewellery, textiles and mosaics.

Neil Lade discusses his work with Ros Hales, convenor of 'Pop up' a new temporary gallery on Monaro St, Queanbeyan.
Neil Lade discusses his work with Ros Hales, convenor of 'Pop up' a new temporary gallery on Monaro St, Queanbeyan. Photo: Rohan Thomson

There's space for more artists to set up small workshops and the venture's convener, Queanbeyan artist Ros Hales, is hoping it will become something of a drawcard for an already busy Queanbeyan arts community.

The whole point of pop-up galleries, of course, is they are impermanent fixtures - taking advantage of low rent in commercial buildings in between major tenancies.

Hales, a cultural development officer with the Queanbeyan City Council who has been advocating making more commercial space accessible for local artists, says the property owners had been extremely supportive of the pop-up concept and had approached her to fill the space after the real estate lease ended.

''With this sort of venture you can never predict how long it will be in operation, but I hope it will be successful and around for quite a while,'' Hales says.

Canberra writer and painter Neil Lade is one of the local artists who will exhibit oil paintings and sketches.

He has called his exhibition Delade Reaction because it's been a long time coming. The works are abstract and ''somewhat surreal and weird''.

Lade says the pop-up concept is a boon for artists who would struggle to afford main street frontage on their own.

Lade, 60, retired from journalism, and The Canberra Times, late last year and has been painting since he was in his early teens.

''Painting has always been a bigger interest even though I became a journo,'' he says. ''It always came as a great relief for me to disappear into my art spaces after a rigorous day at work.''

Having already had small installations at Pulp Kitchen (still showing) and a Melbourne restaurant, Lade says he is thrilled to join a pop-up art collective.

''I mean, people go to restaurants to eat, not to buy paintings, so it is going to be nice to exhibit in a gallery and this is a terrific initiative,'' he says.

Hales says pop-ups are increasingly practical ways for artists to afford to work in the commercial precincts across Sydney and Melbourne and she hopes the Monaro Street experiment will also provide exhibiting artists with a supportive community.

''The pop-up concept not only allows artists to have access to affordable space, but also looks good for the streetscape as commercial properties aren't left empty,'' she says.

Hale says passers-by had already been intrigued by the large ''watch this space'' sign on the blocked-out windows and had popped their heads in the door to find out what was afoot. The gallery will officially open at 1.30pm on Saturday. Lade's exhibition will be opened by former colleague and SBS Canberra Bureau Chief Karen Middleton.

Exhibiting artists also include Canberra painter Aria Stone, and Queanbeyan painters Ric Bennett and Jenny Sheppard. The space has also offered an emerging local businesswoman the opportunity to try out her range of giftware before plunging into a commercial lease arrangement. Deborah Keenan is importing hand-made Turkish ceramics and other items.

■ PopUp! Monaro Art Space is at 138 Monaro Street, Queanbeyan. Open 10am-5pm Tuesday to Saturday and operating on a month-to-month lease.