If you were to go about setting up an art gallery in the midst of a global pandemic, you might very well find the world feeling a whole lot cosier than it once did.
The art world, that is; for Canberra artist Kacy Grainger, reaching out to artists while the world closed in on itself turned out to be perfect timing.
Because while finding and buying art has never been easier, connecting to it in real life is still as necessary and alluring as ever.
With her new eponymous art gallery up and running on Dairy Road in Fyshwick, she said she had already been surprised at how much appreciation there had been for the chance to see new artworks in a different space.
"Because of COVID, the art world became smaller, because everyone started buying online and relating to people, reaching out and finding their community," she said.
"And I think the role of the white-wall gallery has changed. It's probably less necessary for artists to make a living and sell their work.
"However, I believe that we need to also celebrate people's work in creating a body of work, and putting it up on the wall, stepping back and saying, 'I made this'. This is a celebration of this work, there'll always be a place and I think people want to interact physically with the artwork."
Grainger Gallery is now part of a new warehouse space on Dairy Road in Fyshwick, site of the Molonglo Group's fast-growing cultural precinct on Lake Burley Griffin's east basin that already includes Capital Brewing, a chocolate maker, coffee, a gin distillery and a rock climbing centre.
Grainger said the gallery would soon share the warehouse with musicians, artists, a yoga studio, a naturopath and a co-work space, among others.
She first saw the space two years ago, when it was part of an yet-to-be-developed warehouse, and could instantly visualise setting up a gallery.
She now has a stable of around 25 artists on her books, several, like glass artist Lisa Cahill, from Canberra, and all working in a range of disciplines.
The gallery also includes a framing business - to satisfy the precinct's "light industry" requirements - and Grainger will soon be running art classes (taught by other artists) in a mezzanine studio above the gallery space.
Joining a cohort of just a handful of commercial galleries in Canberra - including Beaver Galleries in Deakin, Nancy Sever Gallery in Civic and Aarwun Galleries at Gold Creek - she said she was aware that the market was a tough one.
But she said the art-loving Canberra public stood out from other cities.
"I think people in Canberra buy because they love an artwork, not so much for the collector value of the artwork," she said.
"Whereas in Sydney, galleries have clients that will come and buy at each exhibition because that is the calibre of the artists that are there or they're happy to be led by the gallery, and by the curation of the gallery instead of their own taste in art.
"But I think Canberrans buy art because they love it. And they want to live with it in a space and to make a house a home with art."
She said the artists in her stable determined their own pricing, which means she's currently selling works ranging from $200 to around $25,000.
"I won't be making as many small sales of artwork from the gallery, but that's okay as well," she said.
"I think you've got to make sure you're clever with your business structure and have ways of making it through tough times, with framing, with workshops.
"People want to do workshops, they want to learn about art. They don't just want to do that online.
"People actually like to hang out with other people. So creating together, feeding off each other's ideas and energy is really important as well."
- Grainger Gallery's first exhibition of 2021 will be a solo exhibition next month by German abstract painter Stefan Heyer.