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STORIES

COMMON PEOPLE #4

Alex & Xanthe, Port Kembla NSW

A creative power-couple redefining the industrial stereotypes of Port Kembla. They recently opened Bike Park Gallery, which has become a supportive space for sharing stories and ideas. Their quirky character ensures a diverse range of exhibitions, while the artistic talent running through both of them makes the jump into starting a contemporary gallery an exciting move forwards into an emerging arts hub for the Illawarra. With innovative ideas and upcoming collaborations in sight, Xanthe and Alex contribute an asset of vibrant growth to Port Kembla and the greater Illawarra, encouraging a positive future in the local creative arts industry.


Words by Rachel Abbott

Images by Anna Heyligers


STORIES

COMMON PEOPLE #4

Alex & Xanthe, Port Kembla NSW

A creative power-couple redefining the industrial stereotypes of Port Kembla. They recently opened Bike Park Gallery, which has become a supportive space for sharing stories and ideas. Their quirky character ensures a diverse range of exhibitions, while the artistic talent running through both of them makes the jump into starting a contemporary gallery an exciting move forwards into an emerging arts hub for the Illawarra. With innovative ideas and upcoming collaborations in sight, Xanthe and Alex contribute an asset of vibrant growth to Port Kembla and the greater Illawarra, encouraging a positive future in the local creative arts industry.


Words by Rachel Abbott

Images by Anna Heyligers


Tell us about Bike Park Gallery and it’s artistic vision.

Our little creative space in Port Kembla is there to tell stories from local perspectives in unusual or unconventional ways. Our inspiration varies from concepts we find intriguing to working with local biologists and ecologist to present the first images of a new species of crayfish. It varies greatly as Alex and I want to showcase interesting and engaging art with purposes from educational to aesthetic, which is a way for the gallery to generate interest from an array of different people in the creation of a wide and diverse audience.

What began your journey together as co-owners of a contemporary gallery?

The idea of not being involved in the creative world for the rest of my life scares me, and the best way to make sure you do the thing you want to do, especially when it is something like art where you can’t just go out and find jobs, is to make it happen yourself and create your own jobs. Even if it is really challenging to begin with, you’ve got to do it. One day I woke up and the price had dropped on the rent for the space we had our eye on, so we just took the opportunity while we could.

Why Port Kembla?

Port Kembla is getting a good reputation as an arts and culture hub on the South Coast. It is pulling away from being known as an industrial town with confining stereotypes and the art culture has a lot to do with that. New creative spaces and initiatives are important for the emerging creative scene in Port Kembla, and we are both excited to become a part of that community after such a positive start. We have had a great turn out on our opening nights for both exhibitions. It’s nice to see everyone coming down to Port Kembla to support us and it’s great to be a part of the emerging arts culture we are creating.

 Our little creative space in Port Kembla is there to tell stories from local perspectives in unusual or unconventional ways. Our inspiration varies from concepts we find intriguing to working with local biologists and ecologists to present the first images of a new species of crayfish.

 Our little creative space in Port Kembla is there to tell stories from local perspectives in unusual or unconventional ways. Our inspiration varies from concepts we find intriguing to working with local biologists and ecologists to present the first images of a new species of crayfish.
Tell us more about your exhibitions.

Our current exhibition Acting Out: Exploring Behaviour addresses issues related to the effects of science, technology, and globalisation on our place in the world, as well as our relationships to it and other people. It includes 7 artists from multiple disciplines including Alex’s multimedia artwork, which has a strong focus on our relationship with the environment. Our first exhibition Words Speaking explored the way our society integrates text into contemporary practice to become more than words and communicate through the visual language of text. We also installed some work in Crown Street Mall earlier this year, based on the interconnectivity between different elements of a community like Wollongong; including the natural elements of flora and fauna, the people, the infrastructure and about how they all work together.

Tell us more about what it’s like running a new gallery.

I (Xanthe) consider myself curator, and do a lot of the general day to day management as well as researching grants and liasing with artists. Alex and I work together to generate ideas for the exhibitions, even if it’s more one of our ideas. Financing it is without a doubt the most challenging aspect of running your own gallery. People don’t just go out and buy art everyday like they do with coffee or clothes.

What’s the future for Bike Park Gallery look like?

We want to connect, collaborate with and represent local community groups and individuals in the hopes of building a reputation as a place for sharing and cultivating innovative and provocative art ideas. We have partnered up with Cortext Journal; an online publication which is a great way for us to become multifaceted and engaged in the community with different aspects to our gallery.

Learn more about Alex & Xanthe here.


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