How did you come together for this event?
We first came together as a group in 2013, motivated by the offer of a free studio in a derelict city-centre shop, which we could use provided we activated the space. It had great foot traffic and huge windows, which made for easy interactions with passers-by. We were surprised how much we loved this, and over the nine months of our tenancy we held a series of open days, exhibitions and events to capitalize on it.
When we moved to our permanent studio, tucked away on the 2nd floor, we missed the day-to-day contact with the public and realized that if we wanted continued engagement we had to get creative. To draw people into our space we’ve hosted exhibitions by guest artists and accommodated artists-in-residence. As a way of getting our work seen outside we’ve developed our ‘occupation’ model of exhibiting as a group, which takes advantage of jewellery’s small scale and portability to cheekily insert our pieces into existing displays in galleries and other public places (most recently, OCCUPY ANNA, where our work can be seen in the respected Anna Miles Gallery in Auckland, NZ).
Radiant Pavilion is therefore a natural fit for us; a great opportunity to trial our model overseas and a way of contributing our energy and support to an exciting new jewellery initiative.
Are there themes that connect the work in this event?
As artists who came late to the relatively niche field of contemporary jewellery, we are all actively engaged with the challenge of transitioning into an established practice. This is a general theme that underpins all our group activities; we are inspired by the Guerilla Girls and by witty initiatives like Regan Gentry’s ongoing Foot in the Door, where he inserts 12-inch rulers into the doorways of major galleries round the world.
The gravitational pull of Gallery Funaki lured us to Crossley Street; there’s definitely a strong element of “pressing one’s nose against the glass” of a prestigious gallery.
Aside from that, our key theme is to respond in some way to the venue we are occupying, whether visually (using the spatial dimensions to frame our work), thematically (linking with the wares or the artisan nature of a shop) or relationally (taking the opportunity to work in partnership with a long-loved industry or establishment and its customers).
How did you decide on the way the work would be presented?
Being out-of-towners, we began by scoping out Crossley Street via Google Street View and the websites of individual businesses, and by coercing friends to take snaps and measurements on their trips to Melbourne.
We each chose our venue for the opportunity afforded by specific attributes (type of business, availability of display space, and so on), and have then either made or selected work that has an affinity with these attributes; for instance Kelly McDonald’s Tinker, Tailor was driven by the relationship of her own work with the tool-like door handle at Charles Edward Master Shirtmakers as well as their dedication to quality, tradition and craftsmanship.
The final form of each presentation won’t be determined until the time of installation, when we will each work with our host venues to create a win-win display which allows our work to be seen by their customers and also draws the attention of Radiant Pavilion visitors to their premises.
What are the benefits and restrictions of showing work in these spaces?
One obvious benefit of showing work in Crossley St is that we can be sure that all Radiant Pavilion participants and visitors will head for Funaki at some point, so our potential audience is huge.
Showing work dispersed across several separate venues is an easy way to accommodate a number of artists with very diverse styles and interests; effectively we are staging a group of solo exhibitions, where we each have autonomy for our small part.
Also, given the number of exciting RP events over the 6 days, it’s to our obvious advantage that nobody has to ‘mind the show’; using the shopkeepers’ windows gives 24/7 access to the viewing public and 100% freedom for the artists to roam and explore.
We have been constrained by not actually being in the country, so there has been more guesswork than might otherwise happen, but we also see this as a benefit because collectively we are embracers of the happy accident. Having a collective of seven means there’s always someone with the perfect suggestion for how to solve the problem, and we all benefit from knowing each other’s practices so well that the suggestion proffered always seems to fit.
What do you hope people's reaction will be?
Our gentle invasion offers an experience for all.
For passers-by: entertainment, engagement, perhaps puzzlement, a diversion, a subconscious encounter, possibly a challenge.
For RP viewers: refreshment, connection, excitement.
Start in a bar, end in the gutter (there are treasures to be found there too!) and enjoy everything in between. For full details, see our website Occupationartist.wordpress.com.
Our work is work viewable 24/7 from 1 September til noon on 6 September. Come along any time, or join us on Crossley St for the opening: Tue 1 September, 6-8pm.