by Christian Berechree
The leafy north shore suburb of Hornsby could be on its way to becoming one of Sydney’s artistic hubs following Hornsby Council’s decision to open a pop-up art gallery, Number 5, in an abandoned shop.
The Council says Number 5 is the start of a project designed to support local artists and bring new life to the area. The plan is to find short-term tenants to fill vacant shops on Hornsby’s west side with the purpose of adding vibrancy and pedestrian traffic to the area.
Kelly Mapleston, the Council’s Community Events Project Manager, says the response to the pop-up gallery from the artistic community has been good.
“We’ve had a gorgeous array of talented local people come in and we’re now booked up until Easter next year,” she says.
She hopes Number 5 will be the beginning of a transformation of Hornsby’s west side with all its fine old building facades. “I’d love to see the west side grow, with street festivals on Coronation Street and weekly markets,” she says.
The Mayor, Steve Russell, says Number 5 supports local artists and has a positive impact on the broader Hornsby community.
“There are a lot of talented people in the area and I thought the Council should try and help them,” Mr Russell says. “It brings more people to the west side of Hornsby. It’s in a state of decay and we want to breathe some life into it.”
Mr Russell says that art is part of Hornsby’s history with artists travelling there to paint the surrounding rural landscape and remains important to the community.
He says that pop up art galleries like Number 5 are more commonly associated with the inner city but this does not have to be the case.
“We’ve got a lot of talented people here. There’s no reason why we can’t do it, too,” he says.
The Artist’s Loft, the exhibition currently on display in Number 5, features artworks created by members of the Australian Textile Arts and Surface Design Association.
Barbara Schey, convener of the Artist’s Loft, says Hornsby Council is working hard to provide local artists with the kind of support enjoyed by artists in other parts of Sydney.
“Hornsby is a very suburban place. It’s not like the inner city where there is a lot of support for the arts. The Council has been very helpful in promoting the arts all over Hornsby,” she says. “It is really hard to find a selling opportunity for your work. Galleries have to charge 40 per cent commission to cover costs. This is an opportunity to sell with a lower commission. I have had my work in galleries, then the venue went broke, they disappeared and so did my work.”
Exhibiting work at Number 5 has been a more affordable and rewarding experience, she says.
Joanna Joyce, the Council’s Arts and Cultural Development Officer, says Number 5 makes art accessible to people who would otherwise not be interested in it as well as exposing different genres to a broader audience.