A Contemporary Art Gallery located in Melbourne, Australia www.tuskgallery.com.au : e-mail art@tuskgallery.com.au
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Inside Their Studio – Johanna Wilbraham

You may have been fortunate to spot featuring in our South Yarra and Camberwell galleries one of the several pieces by portrait artist, Johanna Wilbraham. Her unique bleeding abstracted paint overlaid with a vulnerable female form – capturing your attention with her prominent gaze – puts Johanna’s work in a category of her own.

What also places Johanna close to the Tusk Gallery heart, is her beautiful and infectious personality which we all are lucky to experience each day as Johanna is also one of Tusk’s Art Consultants!

After relocating from England to Australia, each new series of work produced by Johanna highlights slight shifts and adjustments in her style. This is to me, a reflection of growth and development. But what always remains is her talent and ability to capture innocence and beauty within. From witnessing this artist broaden her ideas is proof of her continuous dedication to her practice and perhaps her unconscious way of nurturing the concrete foundation for a progressing career within the arts.

We are looking forward to having brand new work of Johanna’s arriving to the gallery very soon! But before we do, Johanna has taken time out of her duties here at Tusk and has answered a few questions for us all!

When did you first discover your creativity?

I was interested in art at a very young age, and was determined to be an artist throughout primary and secondary school. I spent all my spare time in the art room with friends – I would say it was just woven in to my being. This didn’t mean I was any good at it though, I’m convinced that at this point my determination was more important than my skill level. This naturally led to the study of art at Degree level.

How has living abroad impacted your work?

Living and working in India had a huge impact on my life, which could only inevitably influence my work. I was already interested in quiet and unseen moments of womanhood. Working large scale, magnifying these moments and demanding attention be paid to them. Spending time working with children in India inspired me to take their beauty large scale too- I love the idea of portraiture elevating and celebrating people, especially those outside the eyes of mainstream media.

Moving to Australia has also influenced my work in a more practical way. Establishing myself in a brand new market has challenged me to develop business skills in order to promote and market the work – a part that is very challenging for me.

How do you select your models?

My portraits of children, as mentioned, have often been children I have worked with. I work from a moment captured by photograph, these images are raw and not stylised.

Abigail 100 x 100 2490For my portraits of women I often use friends or family as models. It is very important they feel comfortable with my approach and with the process of being vulnerable as photos are taken of them- it is an intimate moment I am searching to capture, so there needs to be a lot of trust between myself and my models. I often also explore self-portraiture as I find it fascinating- I feel like I never quite have a firm grasp on my own appearance, so a self-portrait is a vulnerable and interesting journey to go on.

Can you please explain your technique/process?

I use jugs and jars to pour the paint on to a flat canvas in very diluted layers. In this way the process is highly abstract, especially in the first few layers. There is an extent to which the paint will choose its own path on the canvas – I just try to control enough variables to form this into a portrait slowly. During the last few layers I use a pipette to drop on paint for finer details. It is an exciting an unpredictable process. Though I use oil paints, I use them as if they were inks or watercolours.

How did you discover your method?

At university I spent a lot of time painting traditionally with a brush and finding that the work I was producing was not innovative or new – I was painting in a style ‘expected’ for oil paints and I was getting frustrated with the results. One day in my third year I made a huge canvas and found some jars and turpentine. I literally threw the paint on the canvas, fairly aggressively- this is when the work started to become unique and exciting.

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Why portraiture? What is your connection with this subject matter and where did this first surface for you as an artist?

When I was at college we had a project to explore self – portraiture. I had no interest in it until this point. I fixated on this project because my portraits were so terrible. I had no natural skill for them at all, and determined to succeed I kept pushing trough until I felt confident. This minor obsession caused me to fall in love with the portrait and I have not been motivated to paint a still life or a landscape ever since. The portrait gives me endless opportunities to explore the subjects I am interested in, fragility, imperfect beauty, vulnerability, and a critique of representations of women in mainstream media.

What/who are your main influences?

I have been very influenced by the artists Marlene Dumas and Peter Doig ever since visiting an exhibition at Saatchi London ‘The Triumph of Painting’. These artists inspired me to keep pushing the material in new directions and that process is just as important as subject, if not more. Recently British artists Claerwen James and Pippa Young have inspired me to be more playful with the clothing element of the portraits- leading me to experiments with hand painted flat pattern work. They also challenge me to consider my colour palette carefully and to contrast the uncontrolled and controlled well within the work.

How has your work developed in recent years? Are there certain elements such as colour that has shifted?

I think it is so important to keep developing as an artist. I have had periods of time where I use the same ‘strategy’ for each painting and it starts to work less well each time. It is a challenge to find new ways to keep falling in love with the process and maintain your childlike playfulness without fear of failure. Recently for me this has meant experimenting more with colour palettes, applied gold leaf work, and areas of detailed hand painted pattern work.

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In your own option, what role does an artists play in society?

I believe an artist should inspire and communicate. I also think that art, like music, has an incredible power to evoke a transcendent experience, like visual poetry. I also think it is important to find a way to use this role to help others- however that may be. This is a something I am keen to explore this year within my own work.

What are the plans and goals for 2016? Any upcoming arts projects?

2016 started busy with an exhibition in Sydney. I am now building a new body of work to exhibit in Melbourne. This year I would like to push myself to produce as much work as possible and to maintain an experimental approach that keeps the work unique and exciting. I also really want to consider how I can use my work to benefit and help others in areas I am passionate about.

 

 

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Inside Their Studio – Kym Barrett

We at Tusk Gallery are fortunate to introduce Kym Barrett to our stable of artists! Kym is a landscape artist focusing on the experimentation and organic nature of cold wax.

Having studied Fine Arts at Brisbane College of Art, Kym has worked with a range of mediums including drawing and painting. From the discovery of cold wax, Kym has combined these mediums together and her work has evolved rapidly becoming much more “abstract, luminous and intuitive” in recent years.

With the influence of expressionist painters and their use of mark making, Kym discovered the cold wax medium through internet research including studying other cold wax artists such Rebecca Crowell from the US. After exploring as much as she could online, she began working and experimenting with this medium. As Kym explains, “cold wax medium is a smooth, soft paste-like substance – a blend of beeswax and solvent”. She will then mix this medium with oil paint and apply many layers to a rigid surface like plywood.

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There is never any sort of initial plan when beginning a piece. When creating a new work, there are two processes involved: a building-up and breaking-down process. She starts by building up upon the base of the board with oil and cold wax mixed together which is applied with a palette knife, brayer or squeegee. From there, Kym will then break this down by using scratching tools and solvent. Kym is in control and the medium is manageable and will lets her instincts take over as Kym explains, “sooner or later composition emerges from this largely intuitive process”.

What is left is a landscape. When asking Kym where these specific placClose Quarters_kymbarrett[1]es are, Kym explained her enjoyment of photography of her immediate surroundings, often taking photos at close range but never copying them during the creating period. Kym explained, “the colours and marks of the landscape that I live in tend to dominate…but maybe they are internals states of being – with no obvious connection to places I’ve been”.

Kym is off traveling to Ireland and Scotland to immerse herself in the wild landscape and “fill the creative coffers ready for some new work in 2017” and we cannot wait to see what will develop and emerge from her travels.

When looking at these distilled and silent places Kym has created, is allows the viewer to step away from their everyday life and just relax and reflect which is something incredibly special. Kym’s work has recently been delivered this week and are currently on display in our South Yarra Gallery.

We look forward to providing visitors of the gallery the chance to admire Kym Barrett’s creations and offer them an opportunity to take them away from the everyday life that often consumes us all.

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Inside Their Studio – Faye Depasquale

When returning from her visit to outback Australia, landscape artist Faye Depasquale discovered her appreciation for the ancient land. There was a connection to this subject matter that cannot be completely explained other than an experience that has held onto her which she has continued to capture throughout her work.IMG_5248[1] copy

Her work depicts the vast eternity of the Australian terrain as the viewer looks further towards a never ending horizon.

Faye continues her fascination and intense preoccupation with heightened colour and repetitive patterns found in the outback. While she likes to explore the more opaque quality of acrylics on canvas, it is Faye’s love of works on paper and the medium of watercolour which has also taken her interest. This is highlighted with the strong appreciation and influence from work by John Olsen and John Wolseley, as she describes, it is the “variety of surfaces and how the medium responds”.

Teaching has been a significant part of Faye’s life which has assisted the growth and development of her career as an artist – enabling her to continue expanding her art styles and forms, through teaching secondary level students and more recently, adult classes. She has been able to share her skills and appreciation for creating with others.

Screen Shot 2016-03-04 at 10.37.18 AMFaye emphasises that the role of an artist is to provide her audience with “peace and joy”. More specifically, she admits that during her role as an art teacher, she has always encouraged students to pursue a career in the art industry and it is this advocate position that she feels is an important role for her to play.

The year ahead is looking to be an exciting one for Faye and includes new art prospects and even an exciting award! We at Tusk adore the dedication Faye has always put into her works, which is why we currently have hung a collection of Faye’s work our Camberwell Gallery for you all to see her stunning range available.

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Inside Their Studio – William Holt

William opted out of having a pristine attendance record in school, in favour of more creative and rebellious pursuits. At this point, as a very young man, William would paint camouflaged patterns on toy soldiers and army vehicles. This soon extended to a 14 year old William painting footballers taking spectacular marks – something he jokingly ponders ‘perhaps I should have stuck to that idea…’
When he left Australia in his 20’s and traveled throughout Europe he involved himself in music and spent some time experiencing what the world had to offer. It was during this time that he felt the pull back towards his earlier artistic endeavours – he found himself forgoing music and immersing himself in serious art, sketching and painting in a more traditional style than he had previously explored. Fascinated by the cobble stoned streets and and old world buildings, he fell in love with art again. This lead him to return back to Australia and take on a Bachelor of Fine Art at Monash University where he then went on to complete his Masters.

Final Break

The 6-7 years of university provided him with the chance to experiment with various forms including photography, sculpture and installation art. Towards the end of this academic marathon, while finishing writing his thesis, William notes that “the early forms of what would become my ‘fine art’ emerged as constant streams of ideas, material and the fascination with the challengers of painting began to surface”.
Alongside this academic pathway William was an Art Teacher at an independent gallery in Toorak. The owner used to offer his endless supply of old and disused house paints to William, and this was the catalyst for William’s painterly experimentation. The idea of recycled and unwanted paints appealed to him and he began working with these materials, manipulating them into large scale paintings. By trial and error, successes and failures, Holt slowly formed his unique method of mark-making.

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William describes the act of creating as incredibly addictive and his sheer enjoyment and thrill of this form of art “conveys an endless internal landscape of the vitality of living and I always come away from my studio enriched and renewed”.
For 2016, William Holt has been invited to teach painting within a retreat on an Island in Philippines. Apart from teaching, his aim this year is to push the boundaries and produce the most powerful and original paintings he can. We at Tusk can certainly express our excitement for the noticeable immersed growth which Holt has achieved.
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Inside Their Studio – Paul Blewitt

Artist Paul Blewitt may be of English heritage but the weave of various cultures that have intertwined throughout his legacy have become a driving force during his practice. Having been inspired by cultures including Celtic, Maori, Indigenous and Aztec, it is these multicultural influences that have brought “different visions to my art” Blewitt explains.

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Drawing was a preferred choice of recording for Paul although this flat surface limited himself as an artist. It wasn’t until 2012, whilst managing an art store, that he realized this and began exploring other options. He started to experiment with acrylic paint, adding a new dimension to his work.
Nan's garden 63 x 87 cm[3]Working as a full time artist, he has now developed his painting technique on both canvas and linen. Whilst colour has added an extra depth within his works, Paul has become indebted to these materials as they have provided a 3D element which he would never have achieved through drawing alone. His technique of applying the painting thickly on the surface has brought him to a new chapter within his career.                                                                                               Now exhibiting across Australia, Paul is focused on displaying and producing new work for 2016. Paul Blewitt offers no specific direction behind the meaning within his works and prefers others to find their own interpretation. Although, what he does offer is his personal view that artists enhance others through thought, unlimited clarification and unrestricted analysis. To create your own interpretation and see the result of Paul Blewitt’s practice, Tusk Gallery currently have several works in stock in our South Yarra location for you to see.

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Tusk Review: Andy Warhol | Ai Weiwei Exhibition

This week Tusk Gallery staff headed to NGV International to check out the exciting new works from Ai Weiwei featured in the current exhibition Andy Warhol | Ai Weiwei. With many works to see from both artists, the exhibition took over the entire ground level. This included both main spaces and the foyer, making it the largest international exhibition in the NGV’s history.weiwei4

When heading into the NGV on a Sunday afternoon around 3.30pm, I expected a quiet crowd with only a few people filling in the last few hours of the weekend. Maybe it was the usual yet unfamiliar hustle and bustle that the weekend brings, or the anticipation from the relatively new exhibition, but to my surprise the combination of the two had drawn in the crowds!

The exhibition generated an energetic anticipation from all who were there – which is what usually happens when you feature interactive balloons and lego building blocks throughout the show.

The viewer is first introduced to Andy Warhol and Ai Weiwei as three repeated self portraits of each artist have their eyes locked, staring directly across from each other, helping to set the scene for the exhibition.

One may ask what the connection is between Andy Warhol and Ai Weiwei. Coming from someone who didn’t know too much about Ai Weiwei, I was surprised to hear that they had never met. With their prime artistic highs throughout their careers being some time apart, there are similarities between the two throughout their careers. These similarities include their use of repetition within their works as well as their interest in documenting the countries they visited.

Even though Ai Weiwei is quite famous internationally, there are many Australians who had never heard of him before the show. The NGV certainly catered to this by displaying the wonderful array of works in a seamless flow, introducing him to visitors as a politically compelled installation artist. His many years of experimentation with various mediums are explained and examined, which help the viewer to understand how he arrived at the newly developed works, which are the main feature of the exhibition.

These five new pieces by Ai Weiwei included ‘Caomina Balloons’, an interactive installation of red and gold helium balloons which the viewer can gently push into the air, and ‘Forever Bicycles’ in which hundreds of metal bicycles tower over visitors upon entering the gallery foyer. ‘The Letgo Room’ was a highlight, which was constructed of more than two million plastic building blocks and has now been donated by Weiwei to the NGV collection.

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Next Sunday, when you’re sitting at home wondering how to end your weekend on the best note possible, find an accomplice – art fan or not – and persuade them to share the experience with you. The exhibition is perfectly executed and receives a big thumbs up from Tusk Gallery. Thoroughly entertaining and compelling, this exhibition feels accessible to all and is certainly for everyone to enjoy.

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Inside Their Studio – Amanda Steadman

Serendipity struck a few years ago when Amanda Steadman was given a chair. Unusual as it may sound, this rare colourful chair became an opportunity for experimentation and led her to the unique technique that stands her apart from the stable of artists at Tusk Gallery.
This discovered process is best described as a warm, colourful and textured blend of mixed media materials including the use of paper, fabric and paint on canvas. This is combined by the exotic shape and pattern influences from Morocco, India and Turkey. It is these aspects of sharing colour, texture and beauty which she describes as an important element of an artist’s role in society.
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Marrakech iii, Mixed media on canvas, 150 x 150cm 
After receiving the multi-coloured four legged piece of furniture, so began the objective to create a matching piece of art as unique as her new chair. From taking a mixed media art class at Cheryl Petersen Gallery, Amanda discovered rust paint and collaging and “after a bit of experimentation, I created my first Marrakech which now hangs next to the chair” Amanda explains.
Although we can’t give the chair all the credit as Steadman’s active and creative imagination has always been a significant part of her life. Having spent her childhood growing up on the family farm, she can recall times sitting in the paddocks in her own world capturing her surroundings through drawing and painting. Creating has always been a large part of Amanda’s life. Even after completing her studies in Art and Design to then jumping into a career in the corporate world – she has never stopped exploring her creative side.
It wasn’t until 2013 that Amanda left her business career to take on her own creative pursuits. Now painting full time, she has established a business, Peninsula Art Space, with artist Christine Sharp, where she has her studio and also teaches art classes and workshops.
When asked how her work has changed over the years, it wasn’t so much about Steadman’s technique that has developed, but rather discovering the best method to execute her childhood imagination into a style of painting that, as she expressed, “I’m proud to see hanging on someone’s wall”.
Amanda Steadman’s enthusiasm for the new year is obvious as she reveals her new Japanese inspired mixed media range of paintings which are currently in the planning process. We look forward to seeing the final outcome of her newly inspired experimentation, discovery of new patterns and the use of Japanese leaf.
Kate Ellis, January 2016

The Exhibition Process -Felicia Aroney

Exhibitions are often appreciated in their final outcome – and as they should! The exhibition is a platform for artists to showcase their most recent works in a formal environment. But underneath all the celebration and champagne glasses clinking together on opening night, an exhibition is constructed upon a number of stages made up by the efforts of the Directors, Art Consultants and Artists to bring all components and ideas to life!
If you were fortunate enough to take part in the opening celebrations of the exhibition ‘I Know Why The Cage Bird Sings’, you may of noticed the vibrant artworks by Felicia Aroney. The creation of her exhibition was such an enjoyable experience that we felt the need to share with you as Tusk Gallery unveils the steps behind the creation of her show with us last October.

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The initial idea
Discussions for possible exhibitions can begin between 6 – 12 months before a show. It is most often in conjunction with a new body of work from one or more of our artists. Seeing as our shows exclusively feature artists we represent, it is extremely important for the Tusk Team to continuously keep in contact with all of these artists in order to receive regular updates on their practices.
Once Tusk Gallery is aware that there are possible new bodies of work, most often there are artists overlapping with the creation of new pieces and group shows can be formed. Seeing as our space is significantly large, this allows us showcase 4 artists at the one time! It is a perfect opportunity for the gallery to exhibit more artists throughout the year.
The Details
It may not seem too important but gathering details is vital to the success of any show. This includes a great deal of communication between Artist and Art Consultant, including finalisation of artist statements and CVs along with all artwork specifics and images . All these details are used for many purposes including online publishing, marketing and the production of catalogues.
Pink-Peonies-and-Yellow-bellied-robin-100x100cm-OIl-and-acrylic-on-canvas-240022                                                                Pink Peonies and Yellow Bellied Robin, 100 x 100cm, oil and acrylic on canvas
The Hang
There are many techniques and methods to installing an exhibition. With all these in mind, at Tusk Gallery, our fundamental goal when hanging works for a show is to utilize the space to achieve a visually appealing flow throughout the gallery and of course – to respect the artwork which the artists have worked so hard to produce.
The hang is a visual process. Every work is considered for its colour, size and subject matter and at times can seem like a jigsaw as the Tusk team will layout all the pieces and place them in their correct positions. This can be at times a very long process but every time, without fail, there is always an appropriate position for them all.
Of course, each hang is always going to de different as it is dependent on what theme is to be conveyed. As you can see from these images, Felicia Aroney’s last body of work was a collection of smaller and larger pieces. This allowed the Tusk Team to create an interesting flow by using the smaller works to break up the larger pieces which worked well with Aroney’s subject matter.
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There you have it! – a small insight into a massive component of Tusk Gallery. In recent years, Tusk Gallery have held many of their exhibitions in the South Yarra location although in conjunction with the recent Camberwell renovations, we look forward to a possible 2016 exhibition in our new renovated location at 76 Harold Street, Camberwell. Make sure to come visit to see the new space and to see some of Felicia’s latest work from her October exhibition!

 

Day Dreamer                                                                         Day Dreamer, 80 x 80cm, oil and acrylic on canvas

 

Creating Pathways

Inside Their Studio – Miertje Skidmore

 

In 2016, Tusk Gallery will be taking a step behind the scenes and entering the studios of some of the 90 artists that we currently represent. This insight is a great way to learn more of what goes on behind the processes as well as the thought and inspiration that drives some of Australia’s current practicing artists. To start the year off, Miertje Skidmore has been kind enough to answer a few of our questions. We hope you enjoy!

 

IMG_0532[4]         By gazing at Miertje Skidmore’s large scale glossed canvases, components that are clear to us are her relationship to the Australian landscape which she translates to her audience in an abstract and colour-charged language. Yet, what remains concealed are certain aspects of her process which I was fortunate enough to ask Miertje about as she reflects on her inspiration, processes and practice – without giving all her secrets away of course.                                                                                                          Adelaide artist Miertje Skidmore has been professionally painting for the last decade, but her involvement within Australia’s arts community ventures back 35 years. She has spent this time developing her technique and working in every painting and drawing medium possible having exhibited in over 40 solo and group shows across Australia since the early 1990’s and in recent years has been international collected in a number of countries including London, New York, Singapore and Stockholm.
Creativity has forever been an imperative part of Miertje’s life and she has never considered herself anything but a creative contributor to the community around her. Having worn many hats over the years including owning 15 retail clothing stores, designing her own clothing label and owning boutiques in North Adelaide and Melbourne, it was also in 1990 that Miertje purchased a large scale old town hall in South Australia and opened an Art Gallery/Restaurant.
Now having closed her retail business, Miertje Skidmore is now painting full time and takes her audiences to altitudes above earth. Her abstract patterns are a reflection of a broader view of the planet as Miertje describes, “the undeniable power, majesty and diversity of the oceans, lands and the never ending organic life never ceases to amaze me”.
Endless BoundariesEndless Boundaries, 180 x 120cm, mixed media on canvas
The medium and technique she uses is a result of over three decades of trial and error for Miertje. It has always been an endless pursuit of something new and fresh and it is this developmental progression that she believes to be a fundamental importance for any artist.
When stopping to admire Miertje’s work, one commonly asked question audiences have is how her pieces are produced. How does she create the detailed pattern? What paint does she use? What is her process? The reason for keeping certain aspects of her process hidden is the belief that in order for artists to learn and progress, experimentation should lead the way rather than others reusing similar methods to those before them.
Harmless SolutionsHarmless Solutions,  180 x 120cm, mixed media on canvas 
This veiled element of her practice only complements the intrigue and fascination which her works portray. What remains paramount is the “attempt to remind people to occasionally simply stop, look, and appreciate the incredible planet we have the privilege of inhabiting and share” Miertje explains.
Presently working on international shows in New York, London, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpa and Singapore, it looking to be an enormous year for the Skidmore studio and we look forward to being taken to even greater heights in 2016.  You can  see Miertje’s works in both our South Yarra and Camberwell galleries.
Kate Ellis, January 2016

Tusk Gallery in 2016

We went through huge changes in 2015, the main one being the expansion and transformation of our Camberwell Gallery. I started this place in 1986 as Graphic Impressions Camberwell and it has built itself up to being one of Melbourne’s most innovative picture framing businesses but I’ve always wanted it to be an Art Gallery. 2016 is our 30th year in Camberwell. There have been many evolutions and great deal of metamorphosis but we have finally arrived where we want to be. Another significant anniversary in 2016 is the celebration of our 10th year in South Yarra.

 

At the beginning of 2015 we made the decision to re-brand and become Tusk Gallery Camberwell and formally let Graphic Impressions Camberwell rest in peace.

In June we started doing renovations to the Harold St space and temporarily moved into 835 Burke Rd which had been the original Melbourne location of the “Rivers” clothing brand. This was just going to be a pop up until the renovation work was completed.

During this period we started discussing the possibility of renting both spaces and doing a huge Tusk Gallery exhibition space in the existing rear end and creating a “print and art shop” in the Burke Rd space. This would involve knocking a wall out and making the 2 areas one big space.

This is now done!

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The New Burke Rd Entry before signage went up.

 

By late November Tusk Gallery Camberwell was pretty well functioning as we had planned it. The rent is frightening but at the same time our sales have tripled. The pictures below show the transition….not yet fully complete. They show the Burke Rd area.

 

The next stage is to set up Tusk Art Space Cafe in the Burke Rd section. We inherited the basic fit out from the prior tenants Cacao Green.

 

We’ve got Proud Mary Coffee on board. This is very exciting as they are at the forefront of Melbourne’s extravagant love of coffee.

 

If all goes as planned we should be up and running in early February. The plan is to have the best of everything ……. great coffee, Kombucha on tap, raw vegan sugarless cakes (but still very yummy), organic juices and some simple yummy food. You’ll be able to get something to drink, relax, have a bite to eat and then wander around our exhibition space and look at the latest artworks.