Bridging the gap between artist and audience

A new artist residency by Fox Galleries encourages interaction and connection.

Imagine walking by a gallery space and instead of just seeing beautifully hung works on pristine ecru-coloured walls, you witness an actual artist in the mess and muck of making. Fox Galleries, situated at the intersection of two busy roads in inner city Melbourne, will enable this behind-the-scenes scenario as its hosts two artists, Harold David and Nigel Sense, going about their business as they lay bare their process of creating.

Fox Galleries is running an innovative program of exhibitions and artist events that provide a point of difference from standard operating procedures. 

Director Michael Fox speaks to ArtsHub about how the gallery pioneered a sponsorship program to nurture upcoming and established artists. 

‘It’s another way of connecting artists with their audience,’ Fox says, explaining his residency initiative, ‘unlike the typical commercial gallery model where an exhibition is just put on and works are delivered to the gallery and everything is in order … but you never actually see the artist in the middle of their work. I think this model is the third way of presenting.

‘In the art market itself you either have an engagement with exhibitions through commercial galleries, which is called the primary market, then you have an auction market, where the artworks are sold as objects without any interaction with the artists. So this residency is a middle path between these two models,’ he adds.

With prominent windows and 100 square metres of floor space in the gallery, Fox hopes to encourage foot traffic and points out that passersby, and potential art clients too, will have a better understanding and appreciation of the art-making process should they wander by and engage with David and Sense. Both artists, he says, ‘are happy to talk about their work in an impromptu way. Though sometimes Harold is so engrossed in what he’s doing he’s not even aware of people staring at him. He turns around and is given a bit of a shock!’ 

If you pass the gallery at various intervals, you will be able to see blank canvasses transform within weeks, Fox continues, noting how gratifying it is to see how the outside elements can also impact upon the artist and their work. ‘Harold is an abstract artist, but you can see how the urban environment –the colour of the bricks, asphalt on the street and so on – can seep into his work.’ 

In terms of cutting down on travel time, this residency also saves artists time and inconvenience. ‘A lot of times artists have to deal with transporting their artwork, so having this residency takes that pressure off. It also saves money. They don’t have to produce their work away from the gallery and then move the pieces over. Here they can spend time connecting with the community and interested collectors of their work.’

Fox Galleries will be hosting US born, Australia-based Harold David, a photographer turned abstract painter, and neo-expressionist painter Nigel Sense, who recently had his first institutional exhibition at the Northern Centre for Contemporary Art in Darwin, until June this year.

David says he values spontaneity when it comes to his art. ‘I like certain colours, but I am open to using new colours. I think I’m always prepared in my head and up in my heart. So, I just go and see what takes shape!’

Sense meanwhile, explores simultaneous moments of opposing emotions all rolled up with psychedelic colours and erratic lines. ‘I see the works not just representing subject matter, but a visual record of a deeper emotional experience and finding joy in the mundane.’

Both artists will be seen plying their craft through the windows of Fox Galleries should you consider walking in to enquire further about this melding of improvisation, colour and life.

For further information about Fox Galleries

Thuy On is the Reviews and Literary Editor of ArtsHub and an arts journalist, critic and poet who’s written for a range of publications including The Guardian, The Saturday Paper, Sydney Review of Books, The Australian, The Age/SMH and Australian Book Review. She was the books editor of The Big issue for 8 years. Her debut, a collection of poetry called Turbulence, came out in 2020 and was released by University of Western Australia Publishing (UWAP). Her second collection, Decadence, was published in July 2022, also by UWAP. Her third book, Essence, will be published in 2025. Twitter: @thuy_on Instagram: poemsbythuy