I was the Program Manager and a committee member at West Space from 2005-2006. Here are some things I remember:
- I believe I was the first person to ever officially clean the West Space toilet in Anthony St.
- I consumed and dealt others with a sickly amount of hummus and pita bread from the local IGA. Committee meetings, installs, exhibition panel assessments and fundraiser shows doubled as hummus ingesting competitions. If it were possible to OD on hummus, we would all be dead.
- Simon Maidment (West Space Director at the time) and I used to play squash at Melbourne City Baths before work. All that sweating and screaming was a buffer to the anxiety and insanity of running an art space.
- During my time at West Space, I was too poor to afford to rent both an apartment and a studio in Melbourne. I wanted to make big sculptures so I rented a cheap house with big living and working space in the Dandenongs. Working at West Space kept me connected to the city and my peers and fostered my belief in myself as an artist. One year we held our West Space planning day at my house. We took a walk in nature to open our minds to new possibilities.
- During my time at West Space, I felt genuinely connected to the arts and artists in Melbourne. Cleaning that nasty toilet, doing paper mail-outs, feeding people hummus, working the bar, installing shows, handling artist inquiries, and managing the seemingly endless flow of admin was fun, exciting and purposeful.
- However, as in all groups, there were also tensions and disagreements between people on the committee. This was productive but stressful. (Does West Space still attract intense people to its ranks? Extreme introverts, extroverts, idealists, workaholics, control freaks and sports aficionados?)
Years after leaving an artist run space, you may find yourself yearning once again for the camaraderie, the sweat, the beer, the hummus and the critical dialogue. I know I did. Luckily, if you travel up Bourke Street, you will find it is all still on tap at West Space.