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An Art Hub Multiplex: Hardware Gallery

Lew Palaitis has been directing Hardware Gallery for so long, he isn’t quite sure when his youth ended and his career began – an enviable transition, to say the least. Now based in Enmore, the gallery just celebrated its 10 anniversary and is about to host a party to mark the end of what was, incidentally, its best year yet; a feat not many can lay claim to in 2009. Boasting two exhibition spaces, a shop front, a record room and a framing centre out the back, Hardware gallery is like four separate locations in one, and for artists and art lovers, this can only mean good things.

Prior to 2006, the gallery was in St Leonards, and relocated along with Lew when he moved to Enmore four years ago. What started as his part time university job became his very own project when he purchased the space and started to grow it – at first with its clientele, and then with its size. His move initially just incorporated the rear gallery space until Lew purchased the shop front 18 months ago. He then proceeded to undergo a series of renovations to get it where it is today.
Hardware currently hosts about 18 shows per year, a third of which are solo, a third of which are group and the remaining third of which are project-based. Lew describes Hardware as halfway between an artist-run space and a commercial gallery; while he likes to keep work and continue to sell it well after the exhibition is over, he doesn’t demand exclusivity over the artists, even the 20 or so who have a permanent presence in the gallery. Each year Hardware hosts three to four artists who have never exhibited before, an initiative which is testament to Lew’s support of the country’s emerging artists.

“I grew up in an art family and I know what it’s like for visual artists to make a living in Australia, so I have a huge amount of respect for young people who choose to pursue creativity as their career,” he says.
“It gives me a buzz to put on shows when there’s enthusiasm from the artists – it drives me to keep doing what I do and pushes me along.”

In addition to trying to sell and promote their work, Lew creates mini essays for each artist’s show and tries to get the public to engage with it, which is why he often holds artist talks during the course of their exhibition. With an acute awareness of the differences between both sides of the brain, he also helps artists get their business affairs into order and gears them in the right direction when it comes to things like tax and ABNs and other fun stuff.
Lew says he looks for art that is not only of a high standard but also passionately created.

“I look at how prolific the artist is and what their body of work is like, regardless of whether they have a solo show coming up,” he says.
“Their productivity shows whether they are serious about art and committed to art making – and of course they need to be confident and have the ability to self-promote and sell themselves.”

One of Hardware Gallery’s upcoming 2010 exhibitions is Medium:Vinyl, a show that will feature the work of 150 artists who will use vinyl records as their canvas. Aimed at being an all-inclusive, community-driven project, everyone with creativity is welcome to submit applications for the show, whether they are practicing visual artists, students or artists by night. And the best part? If they get it in before the applications hit 151, they’re pretty much guaranteed a spot. Entry forms for the exhibition can be downloaded through the website.

Partay Feeling is on this Saturday night from 5pm, and will feature Matthew Hoare’s sound sculpture as well as Susannah William’s light drawings. The shop front will also showcase words from a variety of artists who have exhibited throughout the past year.

Hardware Gallery is located at 263 Enmore Road in Enmore.

words: Seema Duggal


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