Where we have been and where we are going ...

company-secretary And now, a rather long-winded ‘word’ from the Company Secretary.
(Image: “The Company Secretary”, Lindsay Hunt)

The Channon Gallery is still very young, less than six months old at the time of writing (November 2011). The overarching question for our visitors, customers, artists, observers; and indeed us, is:
Who are we, what do we do, and where do we go from here?

Initially, the response seems obviously simple. We are a fine art gallery. However, there are a number of crucial, less obvious strands that flow from, and are informed by that answer.

Firstly, what exactly IS a “fine art” gallery? Is it one that obsessively pursues only specific modalities of art, and will have no truck in others? (“Madame, we only deal with Soviet Constructivists from 1922 until 1929; however, you strike me as a Bauhaus gal; follow me to the Kandinsky room…).
Nyet!

Is it a gallery that believes it can elevate commercial “sausage – machine” tourist kitsch into timeless & revered pieces that will transcend a constructed fad? “Yeah mate, that bloke does a beaut Bondi Beach ay?” “No worries, you don’t have to buy the picture (sic), we got tea towels if ya’ like.
I suggest not.

Put very simply, our belief is that we are a fine art gallery because we DO NOT pander to populist ideals of what is “chic / funky /awesome” (choose your semantic decade). Nor do we feel a responsibility to be tied to the established modes of traditionally “safe” bourgeois galleries. Viz.: “Sir! We have the finest Tom Roberts that would cut a fetching look above your Chesterfield!”. “You can almost smell the sheep, can’t you?
(See, we can have it both ways! LOL!).

Stylistically, (and this is what some folk don’t get), we aren’t really aligned to any style or genre. It may sound trite, but we really believe that fine art transcends these boundaries, and means very different things to many different people. At the very least, we refuse to be boring.

So, yes, by our own definition, we are indeed a “fine art” gallery. But hey, we’re not government funded, ipso facto, we are a commercial gallery (Joy!). By this we simply mean that we sell art to survive, as do our artists. That’s it. We don’t sell, we close the doors, and our artists move back to their garrets. (This is sometimes, closer to being reality than imagined, given the media-driven perception of the economic times. Thankfully, some sane folk value art above bulls#@t stories and continue to buy; and so, we greet you at the door with an effusive smile, and continue to pay our brilliant artists). Finally, for those misguided souls that think that commerce is an anathema to art, go tell that to the House of Medici.
Here endeth the (commercial) lesson.

We’re professional – I truly hope! In that we genuinely desire the best outcome for patrons, artists and ourselves. In an industry that sometimes can be short on ethics, fair play, and a view to the long term, we hope that our growing reputation will bear us out. It would be sensational to be here in the years to come with happy collectors who trust our curatorial judgement, delighted and inspired artists who can have faith in us and can rely on us to do the right thing for them in good times and bad, and the general community, who may always be welcome to witness the beauty and challenges within our gallery.

You see, we are seeking a long-term symbiotic relationship between patrons and artists and ourselves. We all need each other to thrive for any of us to be successful. This extends to forging partnerships with local, regional and national galleries. Again, it’s a tiny industry in a small country; we all need each other to generate an engaging discourse with the public, because without an audience, art is irrelevant.

To us, professionalism also means being focused on quality without being affected or pretentious. This includes our art, our events, our media, our web presence, our printed material; and our physical presence. We want everyone to enjoy what our artists have to bring to the greater community. To this end, we will continue to be focused on being coherent, consistent, and passionate. As we often say, we may sometimes be edgy, but always accessible.
We aim to surprise, provoke and delight!

Professionalism is bigger than this though. It implicitly means engaging, with honesty and passion, with everyone we deal with. We are NOT a shop.
We are an experience.
And one we hope that people will want to have again and again. If we succeed in this, if we are a compelling destination that can lure artists and the public alike, we will have succeeded.

We want people to have a cultural experience without them even knowing it!

The hundreds of conversations we’ve had range from a simple smile and an approving nod to a 30 minute impassioned recollection of how one of our artist’s works reminded one fellow of Rothko’s Seagram panels in the Tate Modern … he bought the piece. We want more conversations.

We are a commercial gallery, and we are not funded in any way, we need people loving and buying the artists’ art for us and the artists to thrive and re-inject it into the community. But its not all about commerce, hundreds have simply wandered in and been transported by the unexpected visuals they confronted. As one erudite middle aged Melbourne man recently remarked:
...What the f#%k is this doing HERE!?”.

Indeed.

Live long & prosper.

(There you go. We said it would be long-winded!)