27 April 2015

First Time for First Site

Harry Hughes

Harry Hughes was one of the five students who participated in the February Studio Residency (image credit by Tanya Ngerengere).

Five RMIT artists were given the opportunity to use RMIT’s First Site Gallery as a working studio to produce new works throughout February.

RMIT students and alumni have made the most of First Site Gallery’s inaugural February Studio Residency.

Five students were selected to develop their practice using First Site as a shared working studio. The studio was open to the public at selected times to enable other students and members of the public to engage with the creative process.

Each artist was paired with a mentor for the duration of the three-week residency, with the program culminating in an exhibition of the works created as part the orientation activities on the City campus.

RMIT Fine Art: Expanded Studio Practice (Painting) student Harry Hughes noted the importance of working in a shared space.

“It was motivational to be working with the talented artists I shared the space with, and the mentors actually gave us constructive critique,” he said.

“I would gladly do it again if I could and would recommend it to anyone that would like to push their creative practice.”

Hughes used the studio to paint a portrait a day, no small feat considering the residents could only access the space from 10am to 5pm.

Participants were asked to produce works ranging from installation, new media, painting, drawing, sound, film, animation or dance.

Recent Masters of Fine Art alumni Eugenia Raftopoulos used the studio to develop her work; an investigation of the contemporary portrayal of women.

Working with mentor Sophia Hewson who was named one of Art Collector Magazine’s 50 most collectible Australian artists, Raftopoulos’ paintings explored the inherent contradiction of physical perfection and female empowerment in visual media.

Through the exposure generated by her residency at First Site Gallery, Collingwood’s Lindberg Galleries will soon hold an exhibition of Eugenia’s work this June.

The February Studio Residency also provided participants with the perfect opportunity to bridge the gap between their studies and their professional practice, bringing together both undergraduate and postgraduate students from various artistic disciplines.

First Site Gallery curator Simon Pericich is particularly interested in exposing RMIT students and alumni to the ‘real world’ of professional arts practice. “Nothing can be made in isolation and everyone needs a space to develop a practice without the concerns of academic structure,” he explained.

The program was devised in order to give students an unprecedented opportunity to access a free studio, made possible through support from RMIT Link Arts & Culture.

First Site’s February Studio Residency will run again in 2016. Details will be released on the First Site Gallery’s Facebook page later this year.

Story by Alan Weedon.

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