The Art Vault
I visited The Art Vault in Mildura on Tuesday 3rd Feb. The gallery is closed to the public on a Tuesday but staff are still in: hanging exhibitions, packaging and posting art and performing the usual organisational administration. The founder, joint-owner and Director of The Art Vault, Julie Chambers, showed me around.
The first big room is the main gallery:
While I was there, The Art Vault was in their summer break when they show works from their own collection rather than booked exhibitions. The main gallery was themed with ‘works on paper’ with a wide range of styles and techniques on display.
The second gallery was showing other works from the collection, salon style:
The third room showing works houses their original lithography press from the former workshop of Master Printmaker, Fred Genis, along with a number of stones.
Opposite this space is the studio etching press. I’m pleased to see that people visiting the gallery are thus able to see printmakers in action on this press. I was also very impressed with the stainless steel shelves used for litho stone storage: they are incredibly smooth running and pulling a drawer out with a full size stone on it was just so easy:
The Art Vault is so-called because it was the site of the Mildura branch of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia who had added the beautiful Art Deco front to an original two-storey shop. The two vaults from the bank have been retained as storage for the group with their collection of works hung on, once again, beautifully engineered racking.
Out back is the lithography graining area:
and beyond that is the new Takach lithography press with motorized drive, along with inks etc:
The Art Vault also runs residencies with visiting artists and/or master printmakers from Australia and all over the world. Most residencies are three weeks duration and the artist can pay for the residency in full or provide works in part-payment. Two apartments are provided upstairs for the use of visiting artists. The apartments are reached from a lovely courtyard, complete with gas barbeque:
and are beautifully appointed:
Also upstairs are ten studios rented by local artists along with two studios for the resident artists:
The third picture above is the studio of local artist, Sonja Hodge, an indigenous painter who has found a new enthusiasm for lithographic printmaking and whom I met while visiting.
Finally, a meeting/lunch room upstairs is used by the artists and by staff for meetings:
(I did finally manage to get Julie in one of the pictures!)
If I sound enthusiastic about The Art Vault, then I have conveyed the right impression. This was one of the best spaces I have seen for displaying art, for welcoming resident artists and for supporting the local art community. Julie and her team deserve huge amounts of praise for all they have achieved. I hope I can enthuse other printmakers to consider a residency at The Art Vault: please contact Julie for more information.
As if that weren’t enough, Julie has also been persuaded to organise a Printmaking Triennial. Details have not yet been finalised but it will happen towards the end of this year: the draft program I have seen has a full range of events organised from Thursday 29-Oct-2015 to Monday 2-Nov-2015. Please keep an eye on The Art Vault website and their Facebook page for forthcoming details.
There will also be a Triennial Prize, to consist of a residency and cash prizes. I would urge all printmakers to enter for this prize: the cash will certainly be enough to cover your visit to Australia for the residency and I can guarantee any foreign winner will see in Australia and in and around Mildura enough to prompt new works for years to come. [EDIT: applications for the Mildura BMW Australian Print Triennial Prize are now open here.]
I want to thank Julie, Mia and everyone at The Art Vault who made me so welcome on my visit and encourage everyone to visit it, whether as a gallery visitor or resident artist.