Watch this SPACE is the only contemporary experimental art space in Central Australia. We support local, national and international artists, both emerging and established.
Watch this Space aims to create and support a dynamic, artistic and sustainable community in Alice Springs. We encourage, nurture and promote contemporary arts practice that challenges and inspires. We give artists an accessible platform to develop within a constructive critical environment.
WTS is an artist-run initiative where artists intersect and share direct experience of all aspects of presenting and exhibiting whilst maintaining control over the entire creative process.
- Watch this Space works to be a catalyst and conduit for conversations and experiments in the always evolving languages of art. We support contemporary art dialogue in Mparntwe/Alice Springs both inside and outside a gallery space, encouraging, nurturing and promoting Central Australian and visiting artists.
Watch This Space is located on unceded Arrernte land. We pay respect to this apmere (land) and its traditional custodians;
we will listen and learn.
Watch This Space is proudly supported by the
Northern Territory Government through Arts NT
The Watch This Space site has a number of facilities to support artists and the community. It holds:
- An onsite gallery
- Five studios for local artists
- One studio for Travelling Artists in Residence
- JBird’s Place: an outdoor area for events, performances and screenings, equipped with a large professional projection screen
- Onsite bathroom and kitchen facilities
Gallery Floor Plan
Not to scale
Watch This Space has had a prolific and meaningful impact on the arts ecology of Central Australia over 24 years of multi-disciplinary contemporary and experimental arts activities.
Alice Springs – its unique positioning in Australian cultural, geographical and historical contexts make it an important place for contemporary art production. As an artist-run initiative (ARI), and in a location that lacks a peak arts institution, WTS has provided a constructive and supportive, environment for artists to develop, collaborate and experiment through exhibitions, artist residencies, artist camps, festivals, offsite projects and an on-site studio community. We have fostered partnerships with other community and arts organisations and developed strong relationships with traditional cultural custodians of Mparntwe (Alice Springs).
We hope to grow our capacity and continue to nurture a dynamic, artistic and sustainable community and contemporary arts practices that challenges and inspires.
“Artist-run initiatives are about people, about who is prepared to do what. We are not in a place where there’s a major arts institution pouring out energetic young artists to support an initiative like this. But we’ve had terrific public support in the past and we’re look forward to that continuing. Artist-run spaces do come and go, but I don’t think this one should [go], because it contributes so significantly to the cultural life of Alice Springs.”
– Pam Lofts, artist and founding member.
Alice Springs is the undisputed focal point of the Indigenous arts industry. This industry has grown rapidly over the last thirty five years creating a concentrated and energetic visual arts community. A high number of non-Indigenous artists have joined the many Indigenous artists who call Alice and the central Australian region home. The interaction between these two artist groups has been a constant industry influence. Exchange and creative influence is ongoing and based on skills sharing and cultural respect.
WTS was first established in 1993. WTS was seeded as a response to the lack of contemporary arts activity in Alice Springs, in 1991 by five artists. These artists were Pam Lofts, Anne Mosey, Jan Mackay, Angela Gee and Pip McManus. WTS became established as an artist run initiative in 1993.The first charter of WTS stated that it was essential that it be artist run so it could maintain its independence from commercial galleries.
The first charter included a number of objectives including:
- Providing a forum for artists wanting critical dialogue on works in progress and resolved works.
- It was for a venue for emerging and professional artists as it was a non-commercial Space with no pressure to sell.
- It was to be an exchange between artists around Australia and internationally with 50% local and 50% visiting artists.
- There was a strong emphasis on collaborations between artists and all media.
The name, WTS, evolved from the potential for something to link with the Space in the desert. The first ‘Space’ matched the original vision as it had installation possibilities and hanging Space. It nurtured exposure to artists practicing cross-disciplinary art forms who came through Alice. During this time there was often a show a week. So many shows and potential exhibitors led to a curatorial committee being established in 1997. WTS has ebbed and flowed over the years in various locations, as all ARI’s by nature are ephemeral and struggle to exist. However in terms of ARI’s WTS has had a relatively long history, as the Alice Springs community has never completely let its existence completely peter out. In fact in 2004 when it was suggested by the current co-ordinator that the annual program be cut down to five exhibitions a year, there was community outrage as this is one of the main places for local artists to exhibit their work.
Over the years WTS has secured funding from Arts NT and the Australia Council for operational costs and also for different projects such as artist camps, web galleries and offsite installations and exhibitions. All of these projects focussed on exchange, audience development and alternative Spaces to develop and exhibit work. Testament to the needs of Alice Springs artists and also to the power of the arts on a whole, WTS still exists and has a large following in Alice.
In 2007 WTS developed the contemporary site-specific program ‘Shifting Ground’. Attendance across ‘Shifting Ground’ was over 4,000 and new audiences were reached as it took place in public spaces frequented by community members on a daily basis. Shifting Ground has been recognised nationally, on the strength of its artistic merit and has received media coverage in the Australian (May 8 2007), Real Time magazine (Aug- Sept 2007) and more recently in The Age (March 1 2008). Shifting Ground was a highlight year for WTS with its significant off site program of events, installations and exhibitions. Shifting Ground was successful in exciting, informing and challenging the local community. This was particularly evident with the occupation of the empty shop spaces in Reg Harris Lane. Featuring performance, video and visual work; these were stimulating and highly original events that not only attracted regular art attendees; but attracted tourists and the average person doing daily chores. Since the success of this event, a shop front in Reg Harris Lane has been leased as a commercial artist co-operative.
In 2008 engagement with the wider community through off site projects continued with the WTS / RedHOT Arts shop front project ‘Alice in View’. 22 business premises hosted works by 28 artists from the Alice Desert Festival in August through until the Masters Games in October. In 2009 WTS presented a Little Cube of Eco Art – portable miniatures gallery as part of the Alice Desert Festival Hub Space, 30 artists exhibited over 100 artworks on ANZAC oval.
Community & Supporters
Watch This SPACE is part of a fantastic network of arts organisations:
- Red Hot Arts Central Australia
- Alice Desert Festival
- Alice Springs Town Council
- Araluen Arts Centre
- Artback NT Arts Touring & Development
- Central Craft
- Regional Arts Australia
- Territory Craft
- CRAWL – Australian ARI Network
Watch this Space receives funding by the following organisations:
Watch this SPACE is supported by the Northern Territory Government through The Northern Territory Arts, Programs and Services Category through Arts NT.
Watch this Space is supported by the Visual Arts & Crafts Strategy, an initiative of the Australian, State and Territory Governments. Watch this Space is assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.
Watch this Space presents projects in partnership with the Alice Desert Festival, an initative of Red HOT Arts Central Australia.
Watch This Space has accessed new high-quality digital camera and digital imaging software through the Community Benefit Fund
The LOFTY 2012 was generously supported by Brian Tucker.
The new energy efficient gallery lighting was made possible with funding by the Alice Solar Cities Program.
Board, Curatorial & Staff
Watch This Space has always had a strong, skilled Management and Curatorial Committee. All members have a strategic, project and ideas input as well as being very hands on with programming, openings and events. If you are interested in joining either committee please contact us.
Dan MurphyDan has been living and working as an artist in Alice Springs since 1993. He is primarily a metal sculptor and exhibits his work frequently in Alice Springs and Interstate. Dan contributes to the arts and the community through his work as a sculptor, as the Chair of Watch This Space, through stints on the board of Red Hot Arts Central Australia and the N.T. Arts Grant Board. He has instigated, worked on, or volunteered for numerous community projects, and has a strong connection with the indigenous custodians for Mparntwe [Alice Springs].
Elliat RichElliat Rich is an inventor, designer and part time explorer based in Alice Springs, a small town equidistant from every beach in Australia. She moved there in 2004 after graduating with honors (B. Design, COFA UNSW), to undertake an internship working with indigenous communities at the Centre for Appropriate Technology. She is known to take meditative walks of up to 3000km across deserts and mountain ranges accompanied by camels and occasionally donkeys. She runs ELLIAT, a multidisciplinary design studio for a diverse client base and a conceptual design practice that uses slow-motion-seeing to identify small things and everyday moments that deserve or facilitate contemplation.
Stephen WilliamsonCurator, Araluen Arts Centre, visual arts program coordination, exhibition curating/installation, arts management, Bachelor of Fine Arts (Honours), Darwin.
The LOFTY Annual Art Award
What is the LOFTY Art Award?
The LOFTY award is unlike other art awards; it is awarded to an individual acknowledging their contribution to community. The LOFTY recognises those who play a role in the ‘ever evolving creative culture’ of Central Australia. The LOFTY was named in honour of Pam Lofts, founder of Watch This SPACE.
Whilst the award is given to an individual, it is the broader community who ultimately benefits from the acknowledgement, encouragement and mentoring of those involved in creative enterprises. This type of encouragement enables the broader community to be inspired and participate in arts and culture. It helps develop an inclusive, healthier and more vibrant place to live.
Drumroll… the LOFTY Art Award Winners
We warmly congratulate Kieran Finnane as the 2013 Lofty Award winner.
Kieran is an accomplished writer and journalist, and has reviewed countless exhibitions in our region providing a consistent and much needed critical analysis.
As Craig San Roque mentions in his nomination of Kieran for the award, “she has, over more than 20 years, consistently written on, commented upon, encouraged and reviewed Central Australian arts events. Her work has been intelligent, culturally informed, critical and constructive, and by its very consistency has provided local artists with a much-needed reflective mirror. Her quiet presence at events and her incisive, often fearless and also compassionate reviews have encouraged many of us, and offered critique of a high standard that we as local artists rarely experience. Her eulogy piece on Pam Lofts stands as a vital part of local history and testimony to Lofty.”
And from the judges Dan Murphy, Stephen Williamson, Leo Ortega and Shrike O’Malley:
Overall it was felt that Kieran had the strongest claim of this year’s nominations. This is due to her direct contribution to Watch This Space through writing many exhibitions held there and inviting people into this community arts space by articulating the philosophy behind a community arts space, giving coverage to emerging as well as established artists, and giving serious meaning to art shown at Watch This Space (and at other venues in Alice Springs) and opening up this dialogue with a broader audience through her articles on line and formerly in printed form.
Her reporting and documentation of cultural events in Alice Springs over a long period has produced a very valuable record of the richness of arts in this town, and through her own arts practice (poetry and prose) she has produced a body of work that is of and about this community.
Kieran has honoured and confirmed Watch This Space as a critical and serious cultural space in this town through her writing. Congratulations to Kieran as the 2013 Lofty Award recipient, and thanks to the people who contributed nominations to this year’s awards and to the other artists considered for this year’s award!
Kieran will be awarded with a $1000 cash prize, the opportunity to have an exhibition at WTS here at no cost and a beautiful trophy has been made by Julie and Steve Vincent.
2011 & 2012 Award Winners
The LOFTY award was set up to honour those who really stand out as key contributors to the cultural and artistic life in Central Australia. Franca Barraclough was the first ever winner of the LOFTY Prize in 2011. David Nixon was the 2012 winner.