Thursday, December 20, 2007

Roomies Artspace Strategic Plan for 2008

  1. continue fortnightly roomies art class Boarding House Project
  2. annual exhibition Roomies Coordinator and Advisory Board
  3. create/continue roomies advisory board Roomies Coordinator
  4. keep roomies artspace open Advisory Board
  5. extend vol links with roomies artists Roomies Coordinator
  6. run art classes Roomies Coordinator
  7. merchandise roomies stuff Advisory Board
  8. outsider art at newtown festival
  9. outsider art on the road

1. Fortnightly Roomies Art Class
Securely HACC funded, although costs are increasing. Class can be held anywhere if Roomies Artspace has to shut.

2. Annual Exhibition
Fantastic showcase for roomies work and provides funds for artists which they greatly appreciate. Funding for exhibition needs to be sourced (approx $5,000 pa). Smaller exhibition being planned mid year for 2008 due to the next exhibition being at Parliament House early in 2009. The Boarding House Project and Newtown Neighbourhood Centre have previously funded the exhibition but are unable to guarantee 2008 onwards.

3. Roomies Advisory Board
We need to focus our willing and interested friends to achievable outcomes. We have 1 day/week coordinator funding for the first half of 2008 and will use it to generate as much funds and as many linkages as possible. In particular, the Roomies Coordinator's job is to revitalise the Roomies Advisory Board to share the work load. Items 2, 4 and 7 are the Advisory Board's primary agenda!

4. Keep Roomies Artspace Open
The Boarding House Project and Newtown Neighbourhood Centre have been funding the artspace but cannot continue indefinitely. Funding currently exists only until mid 2008. A strong strategic and marketing plan will help us to continue seeking outside funds and partnerships. We have a great profile and relationships already with Addison Rd Centre, Addison Rd Gallery, Marrickville Council, Accessible Arts and Pine St Creative Arts Centre. Roomies is ideally situated for artists from a number of local boarding houses, and we know that travel and lack of motivation are issues the artists face, so we want to minimise change, keeping the Artspace going at Addison Rd as long as we can.

5. Extend Volunteer Linkages
One coordinator hour can generate 4 hours of face to face volunteer art worker/artist linkage. Volunteers require support and assistance. Paperwork and training needs to be properly provided. New volunteers need to be found and followed up! Items 2, 3, 5 and 6 are the Coordinator's primary agenda.

Roomies Exhibition 2007

More than 300 people attended the exhibition which ran for 2 weeks at the Addison Rd Gallery

Our sale percentage continues to improve with every artist selling something and some artists selling everything! The quality of presentation of works has improved and allows a higher price to be charged. Roomies artists are looking forward to spending their earnings and are planning works for the next exhibition.

In 2008, there is likely to only be a small print exhibition as the 2009 exhibition at Parliament House will be held early in the year.

Roomies Artspace achievements in 2007

"I now introduce myself as an artist, not a person with a mental illness"

"What do I like about doing art? People ask how you do it. It has a mystery."

excerpts from artist interviews, 2007


17 artists participated fully in the Roomies program, with an additional 4 newcomers participating in workshops and 3 others attending art gallery visits.

80% of art produced for sale by Roomies artists sold at exhibitions, with 75% of the proceeds going directly to the artists. Some Roomies t-shirts and cards were produced with an annual fee going to the artist(s) and the rest being reinvested in ongoing production.

More than 300 people attended the Exhibition and art works were on display at Newtown Festival for approx 75,000 visitors to see, with 50 attending workshops given by Roomies artists through the day. An additional 50 people joined our email list, now approx 300 strong, plus a new Facebook group.


Residents who do not usually attend art group got to try printmaking at the workshops and produce some quality artwork: Phyllis Grimer, Norman Hansen, Wayne Breed, Therese Howell. Some also sold their work at the art exhibition. The prints were presented in a folder and received a lot of interest and admiration at the Exhibition.

The workshops provided an opportunity for the residents to try something new with success and gave each the confidence and motivation to do more workshops.


The sketch club have continued to donate funds to Roomies in 2007 and provided support, sharing 2007 exhibition staffing and publicity with Roomies.


Newtown Festival Art Tent – see separate article
Roomies Exhibition 2007 at Addison Rd Gallery – see separate article
Pine St -
OPC exhibition -

CONCORD HOSPiTAL art purchases -


Tony Camilerri: Tony spent all year working on his Munster drawings to create a strong and amusing body of work. They received excellent response at the exhibition selling many of the framed works and works from folders. Tony loves being in the limelight and seeing his work up on the wall. He also loved being at the NSW gallery and surrounded by all sorts of people.

Bruce Carlisle: Bruce broadened his usual motif of houses this year by interpreting a painting of Paul Klee’s to produce a beautiful artwork. It was used for the Exhibition Invite and created a great sense of pride for Bruce.

Bruce also participated in the Festival workshops

Clarrice Collien: Clarice always enjoys an opportunity to talk about her art and life. After giving the workshop at the Festival, Clarrice has a better understanding of her work. It also gave her good first hand experience in teaching others her special art of window wire tapestries.

Roomies Artspace and Clarrice’s Volunteer links allows her to do her art in a pleasant and supported environment and get away from the disruptive environment of her boarding house. Clarrice has been able to improve her organizational skills by having her own designated workspace and also increase her creative output.

Clarrice’s work sold out on the opening night of the Exhibition and she is receiving ongoing commissions.

John Goldsmith: John and his father got to share their first BBQ together at our closing exhibition party. Mr Goldsmith was thrilled to receive some of John’s artwork and a T-shirt with John’s Bird print design. He liked it so much bought one for John’s cousin and donated some money to Roomies.

John’s large Paintings of various animals all sold and were a standout favourite for the show. He loved that his drawing was printed on a t-shirt and would like to do more designs for t-shirts

Mark Hood

Mark has continued accessing Roomies independently four or so times a week to develop his techniques and body of work. He tells me that he feels he has a part time job and often acts as an advocate for Roomies when people pop in to say hello.

Mark’s growing experience and increasing confidence has allowed for more variation with his new Motif “Angel in the Garden”. Mark finds his own resources for inspiration but does not hesitate to ask for technical advice if uncertain.

Three of his works have been purchased for the new ward at Concord Hospital. Mark already has two works in the Permanent Collection of NSW State Parliament. With Mark’s dedication to his art he will be soon ready for a solo show.

David Hanson: David was very proud of his achievements with his window wire tapestries techniques that he has been learning from Clarrice and showed immense improvement this year. He sold out at the exhibition and also gained a commission.

David loved the opportunity to share his skills at the festival and enjoyed meeting the public.

Harry Kaard: Harry’s work is always diverse and spontaneous. He created a beautiful drawing of a bird that incorporated his own poetry. This was reproduced at the Festival on one of the gallery walls. It was spotted by a passer by and they wanted to purchase it prior to the exhibition.

Violet Minnet: A couple that purchased some of Violet’s artworks enjoyed the opportunity to meet her at the exhibition Party and Violet was very responsive and pleased to receive commentary on her art.

Violet takes a lot of care in her appearance and enjoyed immensely our outing to the NSW Art Gallery to see the Sidney Nolan Exhibition. Violet also participated in the Festival workshops with much pleasure.

John Scott John usually paints images from his imagination. This year he looked for inspiration from Aboriginal art to try something new with great success. John created some beautiful layered paintings and sold well at the exhibition.

Leon Suchecki: Leon was very pleased to see his artwork reproduced in large scale on a Banner for the Festival. His Banner was also chosen for display at the Spirit of Soul Festival.

The Printmaking workshops at Roomies gave Leon a chance to broaden his artistic skills and he enjoyed seeing the printmaking process and the final product. He also participated in the Festival Workshops.

Leon’s work was very well received at the Exhibition. Using more canvases and better paper for his paintings helped achieve this. Leon also spent more time on a piece, often doing a second layer to produce better quality work.

Leon has some interesting philosophical ideas and for the first time he incorporated them into some of his works with text and drawing/painting. These were also well received at the exhibition.

Roomies Artspace at Newtown Festival 2007

Approx 75,000 people were at Newtown Festival on November 11th 2007. It was a beautiful day and the biggest and best Festival ever! The Roomies Artspace tent was eyecatching and appealing and offered a great exhibition of Roomies artists works.

Roomies Artspace at Newtown Festival 2007 was funded by a grant from Festivals Australia, and provided a wonderful showcase of art by inner Sydney boarding house residents on display panels surrounding the art workshop marquee.

Roomies Artspace Tent was opened by the Hon A. Albanese and Sydney Street Choir. 25 artists and 50 members of the community participated in producing the artworks, either ahead of time or at the Festival in a series of workshops led by artists with mental illness or disability, supported by art tutors.

Art workshops delivered by Roomies artists and art tutors were very popular and had to be capped at 10 participants per session. We were accompanied by workshops from other local groups, Wrapped with Love knitting group and Samoan garland making, and Tai Chi demonstrations, augmenting the local village focus of this section of the Festival.

Festivals Australia funded the production of the tent and panels, and the public festival workshops. The display panels and marquee have been used at successive events, to promote the work of roomies artists.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Short History of Roomies Artspace

ROOMIES ARTSPACE started as a series of art workshops in Inner West boarding houses conducted in 1996 and 1997 by KANCAM (later Inner West Cultural Services). In 1999, this developed into fortnightly workshops at the Tom Foster Community Centre in Newtown under the aegis of Newtown Neighbourhood Centre's Boarding House Project.

This award winning art group has had several sell out exhibitions since 1999 and it has long been a dream of the artists and art workers (many of whom are volunteers) to have a space of their own. ROOMIES are people with mental illnesses or disabilities who live in the community in a boarding house. ROOMIES have very little money, they share rooms and often clothing and personal possessions. They have very little privacy and no space to themselves.

With the assistance of Addison Rd Gallery and Newtown Neighbourhood Centre, ROOMIES ARTSPACE was founded at the Addison Rd Community Centre in an old army hut. ROOMIES ARTSPACE was officially opened in October 2005 by Archibald prize winning artist Cherry Hood, with a sellout exhibition and a highly enjoyable opening party.