Collectors should keep a close eye on the Chippendale gallery that is home to both the Artist Run Initiative MOP and commercial gallery Galerie pompom. MOP (Modes of Practice) is a stepping stone, a launching pad, a test lab for carefully selected emerging artists – both young and old – and pompom gives many MOP artists a chance to show in a commercial gallery. MOP co-director George Adams says: “What people don’t realise is that a career in art has a grass roots beginning; most people read art journals and think artists instantly go from graduation to representation by Roslyn Oxley, or instantly have a show at the Art Gallery of New South Wales.”
Each year MOP receives hundreds of proposals from emerging artists keen to show their works at the ARI. MOP’s mentoring extends beyond artistic creation, they also advise on the curatorial and administrative side of the business. “It’s good for the artists to be taken seriously by a gallery like MOP,” says George. “We help them set up future careers so that if they don’t continue on the art practice they can go into administration.”
MOP began life in 2003 at the instigation of co- directors George and Ron Adams and a team of artists as committee members. Started, George says, because of the “lack of spaces, reputable venues, for unrepresented emerging artists to show in.” The government funded ARI was first housed in an ex- rag trade building in Redfern and for many years had the gruelling schedule of presenting a new show every two weeks. Moving to a new gallery space in Chippendale eight years ago allowed the committee to rethink their program. “Our original intention was to take MOP to an institutional level and have a building with studios, but we would have needed a lot of funding,” says Ron. They decided upon adding a commercial gallery arm and Galerie pompom (MOP backwards) came to life.
With a delighted smile George says: “Once everyone realised we were opening a commercial gallery people came out of the woodwork, unrepresented artists, or artists represented interstate but not in Sydney and some mid-career artists. We really wanted to continue the legacy of MOP and create a new model at the same time. So we decided to just pick artists who we felt were the next artists that commercial galleries might come along and snaffle up.” Samantha Ferris runs pompom, which now boasts a strong stable of 18 artists. “The progression from MOP to pompom enables us to give people even more opportunities,” says Ferris. Additionally pompom has on occasion presented work by represented artists. The late Adam Cullen had two shows with the gallery despite having gallery representation in Sydney.
The two galleries co-ordinate opening nights to maximise exposure for all the exhibiting artists and Ferris says the feedback from the Arts Ministry for their business model has been favourable. “The ministry is really about sustainable business, they recognise the need for ongoing and not short lived businesses,” she says. The gallery directors also promote their artists beyond the gallery walls: “We have had artists at Art Stage Singapore twice and this year will be our second time to Sydney Contemporary,” says Ferris.
George, Ron and Samantha are regulars at all the art school graduation shows and are clearly unfailing champions and nurturers for committed artists.
Do they ever fiercely disagree? “Oh yes” says George simply. “We largely enjoy the same thing,” says Ferris and Ron adds with a laugh: “We enjoy the intellectual banter and are all good at arguing!”
PROGRAM HIGHLIGHTS AT GALERIE POMPOM