Over the course of its lifetime, the gallery has come to be something of a mainstay for the undiscovered and emerging talent of the Australian art scene. As Kerr acknowledges, time and retrospect have been favourable to Chalk Horse and have confirmed the strength of its stable. However, when I ask him to pinpoint some examples of this past success, he is more reluctant. “We don’t really cite examples, because we don’t want to come across as ‘we built these artists up’,” he initially explains, before eventually mentioning names like Alex Seton, Marley Dawson, Dane Lovett, and Sanné Mestrom.
These artists have all moved on – yet Kerr wants that to stop. “When artists have left, we’ve always been proud and we’ve supported the idea of them going on to a bigger, more established, gallery,” he explains. “But moving forward, the intention is to set up a gallery where the artists don’t need to leave.” Chalk Horse may have evolved, but the importance of supporting its artists clearly remains indelible. “The key for me is that the new premises don’t change the spirit of Chalk Horse, but simply make it better able to stay at the leading edge of the art world,” confirms fellow director Nick Curtis. The gallery represents a fascinating balancing act as it attempts to adapt with the times and aspire towards an ambitious vision, while also remaining true to its founding principles. What will Chalk Horse look like in a decade’s time? That’s another conversation.