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The Neighbour's Space: galleryeight

One stroll up The Rocks to Millers Point and it’s hard to imagine that you are right next door to the bustling city-fare of Sydney. The suburb has this old school charm about it, which is made all the more stunning by its art-deco homes and its corner-street shopfronts. One of these is galleryeight, a small artist-run exhibition space in the heart of the suburb, Argyle Place. If walking in feels like home, that’s because it is – to Peter Cramer, anyway. He opened the space where his office used to be in May 2009, and is fast to invite people in past the front area towards his kitchen and back porch (he lives upstairs) – making this gallery feel more like a visit to a friend’s place than an art space in the traditional sense… Which is pretty perfect, if you ask us. On one such occasion, we had a cup of tea and a chat, and further established why we love Sydney oh so much.

What prompted you to open a gallery?

Well, there’s nothing in the area like it. Millers Point is changing now – there are two theatres and the Sydney Dance Company, and no galleries are keeping up with it. People often come in when they’re parking or having dinner, and it’s nice for tourists who come here. We started with a friend’s exhibition, and grew from that.

Tell me a little about the space. How was it designed? What were you inspired by? What kind of message did you want it to exude?

It used to be my office space, but before that it was an old shopfront for a barbershop from about 1901, so it was calling for a better use of space. We changed the lights, painted it white and put up hanging systems. It has a homely vibe to it – it’s not threatening or intimidating or snobbish. It’s small but it suits small artists.

How do you support and mentor artists, and what is your philosophy behind promoting the Australian art scene?

It’s all about getting younger artists to start their career, so we go to end of year art shows and give our card. It’s a personal thing – I have a great time at art shows and having conversations about what art is, what it means… it’s great to be surrounded by people who are passionate about what they do and about making a living out of being an artist.

What do you look for in your artists?

We try not to define it too much as it closes the mind to lots of people, so we’re open to anything, really. They’re usually on the contemporary side or have something edgy to their work.

What events do you have coming up?

We have openings every two weeks; our next one is Lizzie Hall and it opens on Good Friday [next week].

What do you want the public to know about your space?

That it’s here and people are welcome!

words: Seema Duggal


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