THE LIGHT GALLERY: a brief history
The Light Gallery has always been a vital part of our teaching of photographic art at the CCP, both to the students as well as the public. The gallery has never been intended to be a commercially viable concern; however we are very proud to say that because the Light Gallery has existed almost from the inception of the CCP, it is the only fine art space exhibiting photography continuously in Adelaide for the past two decades.
The gallery began as a student-run concern with me presiding as the representative of the CCP in its early days. In the fullness of time it has evolved to a point where it is run with the expertise of a dedicated curator for quite some time now, and shown a very broad range of mainly local and interstate photographic artists.
For posterity I’d like to note many of the truly excellent, inspirational exhibitions we have shown.
The 1998 Gallery schedule:
Even in its modest early days the Light Gallery managed a regular six week rotation of artists showing their photography with Michael Lim (now Mike) as the original co-ordinator, including
15 July-30 Aug Sophia Marchand Note the Coaster for a Small Bottle
5 Sept-7 Oct Michel Barone Recent Work
12 Oct-13 Nov Sue Michael Domestic Photographer
17 Nov-19 Dec CCP Student Work – our annual GHOTI (pronounced “FISH”) student exhibition. In these exhibitions we show artwork by students from the past academic year. Why GHOTI – that’s a whole other story, but essentially it’s because we are a school after all.
Here are a few images from that heralded first opening evening with a spiky haired (porn star moustachioed) me awarding some prizes while ensconced in the main studio (one of only two) on the night of the opening. See the rest of the album at our Facebook page.
Twenty years on we’ve just recently hosted GHOTI XX and the openings are still a fantastic event to add to your social calendar. If you would like to become involved in this venture for a year or longer if you would like, please contact Alyssa at the CCP. You do not have to be a student of the CCP, just passionate about photographic exhibitions, promoting the medium, and helping artists find success. Many firm friendships have been formed between gallery committee members since its inception and I can highly recommend your association with such a great and diverse group of people.
One of the greatest things about being associated with the gallery as a voluntary committee member is that you get to experience all facets of the organisation required for putting a top quality exhibition together. Every facet of gallery operations can be experienced by any member of the Gallery Committee from the initial planning of the schedule of exhibitions, to hanging the show, publicity of the show and the opening night and associated preparations.
Along the way gallery volunteers get to meet and work with artists using photography who are passionate enough about it to show their work. Many members have benefitted from this association and as such have come to realise just how broad working within the arts can actually be aside from making artwork. There’s a whole world out there of working in the arts in which an interested person can be a theatre programmer, a galley curator, an artist’s representative, a theatre mechanic, even a window dresser, not to mention being a practicing artist and much more. Gaining practical experience by volunteering with a space like the Light Gallery provides opportunities for practical experience no matter what your end goal.
In 1986 when “The Developed Image Gallery” closed its doors on King William Street there had been no dedicated photographic gallery in Adelaide until the CCP opened its doors in 1997 and formed our gallery as a result. Today the Light Gallery still remains as the only photographic gallery in the state! Honestly, I have no idea just how many exhibitions have been held since 1997, but we held our first student exhibition Friday October 12 2001 having established a critical mass (70) which could support this venture; past student Bianca Barling was our Gallery curator way back then. And today another past student Alyssa Cavanagh is our current curator; Alyssa is also our in-house designer, so this is a great combination of job descriptions for all concerned.
The original Gallery Committee comprised: Bianca Barling, Mike Lim, Monique Sengpiel, Allie Pfitzner, Graham Crane, Yasmin Steen, Barrie Washbrook, Connal Lee, Adam Lee, Lynn Freebairn and me. Since then Barrie and Yasmin are now happily married and I attended their wedding as best man 10 years ago – the first of a few CCP relationships that have evolved at the CCP since our time on this planet! Below is a recent image of four of the Light Gallery curators gathered for a meal and the occasion for their silliness is something I’m not a party to except to say that clearly the friendships still continue even post CCP. We have from Left to Right Alyssa Cavanagh the current curator at Marleston, Mike Lim (Union Street), Sarah Eastick (Early Marleston) and Ross McNaughtan (Marleston).
I also have a little bonus for our readers. In 1991, I installed “Strange Attractors” which was an installation of composite images I’d made; the completed piece had to be edited down by a row or two of images to accommodate the smaller walls of the Union Street Gallery main wall and below is a wobbly Polaroid photograph as seen from the street.
The bonus though is in the next image as it’s of Aaron fresh out of school the day the installation was completed and standing in front of the images and the next one is the composite approximating where he was. Aaron was 14 years old and in year 8, way before his beard and his administrative duties here - he’s even cuter now though don’t you think?
As I stated earlier, I have no idea just how many exhibitions the Light Gallery has hosted between Stepney and Marleston, it’s certainly in the triple digits and its always been a lot of fun attending openings and meeting the various artists who have shown their work on the walls and befriending a lot of them. Essentially though, the gallery has continuously shown work throughout the entire existence of the CCP over its two locations with a few blanks being during the move to Marleston in 2004 and the renovations to the new gallery in Marleston in mid-2010. The Gallery was a very different looking venue when we first arrived in Marleston as the original space in its previous life was a showroom of sorts and given the main focus at that stage until all classes were settled and the school had grown to accommodate the new space, the Light Gallery made do very well with the space it had. You can see from the image below that it WAS indeed very different from its current manifestation; however there were still exhibitions to see and openings to attend nonetheless.
The space seriously changed mid-2010 once the classrooms, darkrooms and studios were moved and located more comfortably into the larger place. We then had the time and resources to dedicate to turning the Gallery into a more fully functional space. Our Builder Trevor Hocking was once again enlisted to assist with the realisation of our “mud map” for the Gallery, which Aaron and I had determined also required a purpose built administration office and reception desk. Firstly though the carpet had to be torn up so the floor could be polished, giving it a more urban industrial feel, which also in turn facilitated the construction of the extra walls. Here’s a brief record of the progress as it rolled out. If you’d like to see more, there’s an entire album documenting the process in our Facebook page.
As you can see, with Trevor and Aaron working together, there was still time to have a bit of fun during this process!
So in the fullness of time, walls were completed, doors were hung, new power points installed along with hanging rails, everything was ready for painting and voilà, the new look Light Gallery at the Centre for Creative Photography was ready to roll.
The inaugural show in the “new venue” opened to much applause on Friday December 17 2010. It was “Images for a Rhest Cure”, a solo exhibition and book launch from the CCP’s own Sue Michael, the first graduate featured on May 12 blog entry. At last everyone was feeling that this place was getting its legs, and the CCP was feeling like the brilliant place it is as soon as you entered the building.
The Light Gallery is also an excellent second venue for the various “Photography for Exhibition” classes we’ve held at the CCP and I can recommend the current showing which ironically is opening tonight (oops, I meanfew nights ago—slight delay with posting this blog entry!). OPUS comprises seven students including four for their final Diploma subject being Chris Holmes, Sarah Battistella, Lucy Partington and Shianna Mules, one Diploma graduate Megan Ferguson and two still completing their Diploma, Natalie Rowland and Janet Simpson.
The Photography for Exhibition class is an extremely important part of the Diploma in Photography and Photo Imaging which we run at the CCP. It is not a core subject as the skill sets the students pick up as a result of this experience are not necessarily where everyone wishes to go with their photographic enterprise. Due to the intensity of what is covered in this class, it has to run over two Terms – Term 4 and Term 1 the following year. My task is to be co-ordinating the end event which is of course a professional exhibition of the group’s personal photographic work in a public art gallery which is not initially at the CCP rather an “outside venue” so the group has to actually approach an unknown quantity being a gallery which is able to accommodate their work.
I consider it a “coming out” in terms of the end result being a sustained body of images being exhibited along with the ensuing publicity machine required to create a great opening event. This also ensures that the exhibition is not only successful, but it provides each exhibitor with an excellent opportunity to continue with the self-promotion of their artistic endeavours well into the future .
The next instalment will take us back to the Stepney location which still concerned our registration as a Registered Training Organisation and the eventual move lock, stock and barrel into our Marleston complex…stay tuned.