Melbourne: A city that acknowledges its love of laneways and the secrets tucked within them. And now there’s a new kid on the block. The opening of Raglan Street Gallery earlier this year heralds yet another secret space to add to your city exploration to-do list. Tucked away in the solitude of Raglan Street (between Errol Street and Leveson Street, North Melbourne) its four founding four artists (Sen, Katie, Julia and Ethan) have been busy converting an office space into a non-profit, artist run exhibition space focused on emerging local artists.
Last week, a friend dragged me along to see Tepid and O-Wimba Way (the two solo exhibitions currently exhibiting) and while there, I got talking to the artists who explained the logistics of transforming the tired space into the vibrant stark-white gallery I was now standing in. A large humming fridge and office desk had to be removed, ugly marks on walls painted over and polished floorboards lain down. Their hard work has been rewarded; this bright fresh space definitely has a professional gallery feel to it.
Currently showing are the solo exhibitions of two local artists, Julia Romaneix’s O-Wimba Way and Ethan James’ Tepid (the first instalment from his three-part series, Here it is.) Romaneix’s subject matter will surely resonate with most university students who have experienced the rental/share house life. In a series of photographs she pays homage to an old residence of hers, documenting the gradual emptying of her possessions from within.
Her images remind us that although we will always hold tight the memories of our times in each house, the space will not do the same for us in return. As the space is gradually emptied of her personal belongings, it becomes clear how little an imprint we leave for its future occupants; wiped clean of our lives lived within its walls.
Downstairs Ethan James’ Tepid explores an entrancing assortment of found objects he has photographed. Some such as Dead Animal Trolley and Fallen Fence present viewers with objects of decay and abandonment, whereas others like Chickenwiretreehouse demand your curiosity – depicting a horse stuffed into a tree’s hollow, eyes mournfully staring back at you.
Personally, my artistic knowledge is limited. I do, however, firmly believe that art should make you feel something. Both exhibitions achieve this. While not huge, the exhibition is definitely worth a trip, as is allowing yourself times to browse the bookstall that currently shares the space; and to have a chinwag with whichever artists are prowling around. Congratulate them on their efforts because in setting up Raglan Street Gallery, they’ve done a great job.
The joint exhibition of Tepid and O-Wimba Way closes June 30. Entry is free.
Applications are open for upcoming exhibitions.
For more information, go to rsgallery.org