In March, ACE Open held its debut exhibition BLACKFLAG by the prominent South Australian painter Christian Lock and also announced the name of the new organisation after the merger of the Contemporary Art Centre of South Australia (CACSA) and Australian Experimental Art Foundation (AEAF).
Since the March announcement, the organisation has come a long way with the vision and brand becoming more evident. This month sees the official launch with an exhibition by local artist Sera Waters.
“Sera Waters’ exhibition is part of a new initiative we are calling our ACE South Australian Artist Commission,” ACE Open CEO Liz Nowell says. “It’s a way of investing in and supporting really ambitious large-scale commissions by South Australian contemporary artists. It will be an annual facet of our program.”
ACE Open CEO Liz Nowell (photo: Jessica Clark)
Investing in South Australian contemporary artists is an important aspect of the organisation’s vision. “We are focused on creating opportunities for South Australian artists that help them develop their career, grow professionally, expand their practice and also build their market and audience,” she says.
In particular, ACE is interested in working interstate. They recently worked with Artspace, Sydney, to present Julia Robinson’s work which is currently on display in their Ideas Platform.
Sera Waters, Boundary Wreath (2017), installation view, found woollen needleworks, wool, velveteen, beanfill, hooks, 210 x 130cm. Courtesy the artist and Hugo Michell Gallery. (photo: Grant Hancock)
“It’s a taste of what we are working on,” Nowell says. “We are talking to other institutions about how we can co-commission, co-present, exchange and collaborate. We want to make sure that even though there is only one organisation, we have a broader, more diverse offering, presenting opportunities that are bigger than just exhibiting in a gallery space.”
Part of this offering is focusing on programming and bringing the space to life. They have employed a public program officer, Vivian Cooper, who was previously at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney. “We are looking at exhibitions in a more holistic approach and trying to create an exhibition space that is active not passive,” Nowell says.
Sera Waters, Nothing to Sea (The Growth of Ivy) (2017), found shells, shell shelves, lights, dimensions variable. Courtesy the artist and Hugo Michell Gallery. (Photo: Grant Hancock)
Waters’ exhibition Domestic Arts is a taste of how ACE Open intends to work with their artists — in terms of the scale of ambition and the fact that they have produced a monograph, with an essay by Miriam Kelly from Artbank, to accompany the exhibition.
“It is indicative of what we want to do in terms of the way we work with artists. We want to create a space where artists can be ambitious,” Nowell says.
“It’s a great gallery space in terms of providing an opportunity for artists to take their practice to the next level.”
Header image: ACE Open team, (left to right) Stephanie Lyall, Toby Chapman, Sarita Burnett, Vivian Cooper, Liz Nowell. (photo: Jessica Clark)