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City artists score prime studio space

It was once a fire station, and was even a police impound at one point. Now the old Kent Brewery site in Chippendale has entered its next phase: multi-disciplinary art space reports Caroline Lai in City News of 5th October 2008.

The Fraser Studios Project aims to make creative use of the vacant warehouse in an effort to contribute to “the unique creative and cultural spirit which is a defining feature of the Chippendale community”.

Ten local artists have been selected to participate in the first three-month residency.

As demolition concludes on the Carlton-United Breweries site in Broadway, the chosen few, hailing from painting, sculpture, photography, digital arts, installation and design backgrounds will share common living and work space in a three-storey heritage building on Kensington Street.

CEO of Frasers Property Dr Stanley Quek says interest in the location had been overwhelming.

“We are delighted that through this initiative Frasers can help Sydney artists find space in the inner city,” Mr Quek said. Frasers Property hopes the studios will inspire local artists to produce work that can be featured in the future development of the site.

“Free studio space in the city!” exclaims Sumugan Sivanesan, an established video and sound artist. Having worked in a tight-knit community in the Chippendale area for a number of years, he confirms that many Sydney artists are competing for limited space, audience and exposure.

Sumugan Sivanesan believes: “the biggest challenge is to make the space and time to think and develop, as well as finding some kind of niche or community to provide the necessary encouragement and support.”

Tasmanian-born artist Mai Long is looking forward to developing two major works for charity events such as the Sydney Children’s Hospital and the WAYS Youth Services Art Auction.

While Mai is eager to work and collaborate with likeminded people, she is keen build a new creative community.

“I will be working with media and methods relatively new to me,” she said. “I would hope to establish meaningful rapport with [my peers].”

Multimedia artist and key member of the UnCollectable Artists collective, Diego Bonetto is taking a different tack.

Hailing from Redfern, he is mostly interested in the politics of space in “the real estate junkie City of Sydney”. As a result, he hopes to create a “botanical portrait of the Chippendale area” by creating a temporary Greenhouse in the Fraser Studios.

“My personal practice... revolves around the understanding of human's dependency on their own ecological surroundings.”

Sam Chester, co-manager of Queen Street Studios hopes that the Fraser Studios will motivate other big property developers to invest in future art initiatives.

“Our main concern at the moment is: will the model for the project work?” she said.

Other participating artists are Zehra Ahmed, Zanny Begg, Gareth Ernst, Rudy Kistler, Anna Kristensen, James McCallum and Jessica Sutton.