Local galleries make their mark

Rhonda Dredge

They might be down a back alley or beckon from a shop window. They might be outward looking or introspective.

Local galleries have an advantage over commercial ones in that they create their own individual cultures.

Some are on Instagram but never seem to be open; others are on Yelp but have long since disappeared.

North West City News went looking for those mounting regular exhibitions and found one thing local galleries have in common.

Most of their shows are by local artists rather than from interstate, and their openings are events at which friends, fellow artists and family meet. 

“We do have occasional interstate artists,” said Neil Shurgold, a local resident who has been connected to Rubicon Ari, an artist-run space on Queensberry St, since its inception. 

“We had a group from Adelaide,” he said. “They had a small turn-out at the opening. We prefer local artists because of that.”


The gallery turned 10 on November 10 and will be mounting a celebratory exhibition next year of work from their stable of artists. 


There is often a painful division in the art world between commercial galleries which represent artists and the plethora of artist-run spaces that have proliferated to fill the gap between what is often called an “emerging” artist and an “established” one.

Neil said that commercial galleries tended to be more conservative. 

“Traditionally, artist-run spaces are catering to more experimental art. At a commercial gallery you do what you’re known for. Artists might want to explore other stuff,” he said.

Artist-run spaces are the places where this can happen. Most charge an exhibition fee but no commission on sales and it’s up to artists to generate interest themselves.

A more recent addition to the inner north-west gallery scene is One Star in Victoria St which combines curated group shows with self-curated solo exhibitions and has an excellent street profile with a bar, verandah and occasional musical performances. 

But what cannot be manufactured is the cred connected to past shows. Artists will look for a gallery that shows work they like and will assess the orientation of the curators.

Richard Knafelc is a local artist who currently has a show on at Rubicon Ari, his second in three years, and he’s pleased with the space. 

He is a conceptual painter and is hanging work himself for Exuberances, a show that pushes the boundary of landscape into the surreal. He digitally manipulates his botanical photographs then paints them up. His show is on until November 26.

One Star, by contrast, focuses on the conventions of painting itself and is gathering a community around the interests of curator and director Katrina Beale.

Matthew Simpson exhibited his lovely freeform linear works in October, abstractions that followed a show of a painter mate the month before. Matthew has already booked another exhibition for next year.


Local galleries don’t have to do expensive promotions because they attract like-minded practitioners.


One Star is still developing a reputation for showing a cross between ironic and expressive works. •  


Caption 1: Matthew Simpson with a stochastic abstraction at One Star.

Caption 2: Richard Knafelc lost in his surreal landscapes at Rubicon Ari.

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