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Everyone’s Invited: Once Upon Exhibition

Once upon a time, an artist had an exhibition. She worked very hard on it, so by the time the date drew near, boy, was she excited. And a little bit nervous. What if nobody showed up? And then the date came.
Nobody showed up.

Well, a few people showed up, but nowhere close to satisfy the amount of effort Renee Baker had put in it. Like a childhood birthday gone wrong, it was a little traumatic, and she was pretty pissed off about the lack of support for the emerging art scene in Sydney. Enter one Angela D’Alton, owner of online boutique Leeloo, who not only attended the exhibition, but decided, you know what? Screw you, exclusive scenesters. Talent should speak for itself.

And so the story goes like this: Angela and Renee got to talking, and decided to have their own exhibition, where everyone was invited and where fairytales did come true. And the best part? It’s on tomorrow night.

Anna Laura Blandford

The Ripe Collective

“Since we’ll have artwork from men and women, young and younger, people of all origins and from all over the country, as well as an open door policy, we expect to see all walks of life enjoying the exhibition,” says Angela.

“We are a little tired of the ‘in’ scene only being able to have fun.”

US TOO. Angela always thought this kind of exhibition was the way to go, and had long had dreams of creating it. But after Renee’s show, she felt the kick she needed to get the event going.

“The idea had always been in the back of my head, since Leeloo supports emerging artists and the community, but when Renee’s first exhibition had low attendance, and I could see how sad that made her, I became determined to make something happen,” she says.

And then two months later, Once Upon: the exhibition, was born. Angela and Renee put the submission poster online, and it didn’t take long for the word to get out there. By the time submissions closed, the ladies had to make the difficult decision of choosing between the 100 bids from Leeloo artists, invited established artists and the general public. Now, the likes of Catherine Campbell, Sarah McNeil, Bec Winnel and Kareena Zerefos are all on the program, including some very talented up and comers who have never exhibited before.

Catherine Campbell

With an exhibition of this scale, it’s no surprise that local art enthusiasts – particularly those of the non-stuck up kind – are itching for it. It is, however, hard to believe that Angela and Renee started this thing from scratch, with zero experience in large-scale event management. Angela claims the experience has been bigger than her wedding, which you know is saying something.

“It’s been a steady process of common sense with lots of learning, some fabulous mentorship, great help from our supporters and network and a lot of hard work,” she says.

“We are still however reeling that this has been something that we created from scratch with no real idea of how to do it, and the buzz is very exciting!”

Angela says the last few weeks have been a little insane, which we’re pretty sure is an understatement. Each chosen artist was given their own fairytale to interpret and created four original works out of it. And because of the volume of submissions, some additional artists will present one piece for a special part of the exhibition, On the Wall. Needless to say, the most exciting part has been the arrival of the artworks.

Caitlin Shearer

Bec Winnel

“To be honest that’s incredibly exciting for both Renee and I as we are groupies to a lot of these clever people,” she says.
“We primarily hope the exhibition achieves greater exposure for the artists involved.
“While some are more established and have had previous solo or group shows, for many this is their first ever show.
“It would be great if we have a community turn out of friendly people, in order to break down some of that snobby art scene barrier too.”

Nonetheless, Angela has a huge amount of respect for the Sydney art scene, but she says it can tend to be too highbrow or inaccessible.

“Unfortunately our infrastructure does not lend itself to a quick night out and it takes a lot to get people out the door,” she says.
“With initiatives like the Finders Keepers independent art and design market, the artist features in Frankie magazine and galleries that support emerging, and lowbrow art, we are definitely getting there.”

And this exhibition is clearly going to help make that happen. There will be drinks, really pretty artworks for people to buy, plus a Leeloo pop-up store, and you know what that means! More pretty stuff to buy. Hey, it’s almost Christmas, and the whole point of Christmas is to buy yourself presents, right?

The opening will be tomorrow night from 6pm to 9pm at aMBUSH Gallery. The exhibition will stay open from 10am to 5pm through to Sunday.

We’re pretty sure this one’s going to be a happily ever after.

words: Seema Duggal


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