An open white warehouse space in which to house your office isn’t all that easy to come by in Sydney these days, and we all know that open white warehouse spaces are the places where your inspiration wants you to seek when it’s playing hide. But it seems that when Bill Dimas and John Wiltshire reached into the lucky dip, they got exactly what they were searching for – and what everybody else is likely dreaming for. It turned out they were happy to share their wealth, so they turned their strike of gold into part office/part gallery for emerging artists.
When it’s not the workspace of communications agency Wiltshire and Dimas, the spot takes the pseudonym Ambush Gallery and plays host to works by some of the best up and coming – and already there – artists today. When asked what prompted them to open up a gallery, Bill replied that, well, they really just wanted to give artists an avenue to get noticed. They enjoyed the atmosphere of the beers-in-paper-bags and appreciation for culture at venues such as China Heights, and they knew Sydney’s art scene was – to put it simply – nice. It turns out that their passion for art is about as unpretentious as it gets.
“I used to go to Tokyo and New York a lot for work, and I would see how street art integrated into the public arena,” says Bill.
“There are these kids dancing with stereos on the streets, and all the want to do is take their art into the open space.”
And so like the many before him, he brought back the inspiration from his travels into his nine to five – and beyond. Bill and John managed to score the warehouse through a friend, and it just so happened that all it needed was a bit of a clean, a paint job and some character lighting to transform the vision of Ambush into the simple yet beautiful space it has become. Staying true to his master plan of supporting the emerging scene, Bill keeps the artists at the forefront of his mind when it comes to his day job as well, and tries to stimulate employment on the advertising and billboard scale (you know, the one that pays bills).
“We try and create a commercial platform for artists to exhibit their work in front of a professional, industry audience – it is such a creative hub around here and a lot of people who attend the shows put work up in their offices,” he says.
“It’s a great energy at the events, and loads of great discussions arise at them.”
Some standout events have included the Stab Magazine launch, the pre-Semi Permanent launch and a few exhibitions by WATIM, including the GRRRLs Show and the 12x12 Exhibition. Bill cites putting people together and encouraging young artists who don’t conform to the style respected by general opinion as reasons enough to run his not-for-profit venture.
Up next at Ambush are Once Upon a Leeloo, which will feature female artists including Caitlin Shearer, Amy Borell, Bec Winnel, Alicia Rosam, Tabitha Patterson and Jessica Hyde among others, and there is an as-yet untitled show scheduled in December which will feature Beastman, Numskull, Phibs and Yok.
Thanks to their links to the property industry from their previous jobs, Bill and John have recently started to take their exhibitions on the road, showing at random, empty spaces where art manages to fill an almost undercover drought. The most recent, In Full Bloom, has been at the HSBC Tower Lobby and 580 George, where suits have mingled with the works by the likes of Ben Frost, Drewfunk, and Kareena Zerefos. You can actually still jot down there for another week, so get your running shoes on.
During exhibitions, Ambush Gallery is open from 9am to 5pm weekdays and 12pm to 4pm weekends.
words: Seema Duggal