The Observatory Gallery – The Observatory Collective
The Observatory Collective. Artist-run space, gallery, curatorial program, publications, events, performance art and newsletter
The Observatory Collective Members and co-ordinators, including Anna Zsoldos, Robyn Gray, Lehan Ramsay & Jay Younger.
August 1985- April 1986.
Located in the old Shirley’s Fertiliser building once located at 92-102 Little Roma Street Brisbane.
The Observatory Collective including artists Lehan Ramsay, Robyn Gray, Anna Zsoldos & Jay Younger. Exhibitions including The Demolition Show, Suspending Belief and Occlusion. The Little Roma Street precinct enjoyed a brief by incandescent period of activities including entrepreneur, artist and designer run small businesses in the building like Atomic Workshop ( Designer Anna Bourke), Jewel Palace (Despina Macris) , Chi Chi Deluxe ( Claire and Jon Adams) , Zip and dance studios with classes led by dancers including Mark Ross, Janice Claxton and Tim Gruchy. This precinct also was the spiritual home for the Little Roma Street Fair.
The Observatory was established in August 1985 by three artists, Robyn Gray, Lehan Ramsay and Anna Zsoldos, whose primary interest was contemporary photographic practice. Located in a small warehouse at 92–102 Little Roma Street, The Observatory included a gallery space and darkroom. The space was sublet from Anna Bourke, whose fashion studio Atomic Workshop was also in the building, as was the rehearsal studio of the ZIP performing group. Artists exhibiting at The Observatory included collective members and Ivan Nunn, Vincent Long, Marian Drew, Jay Younger, David Gofton, Joanna Greenwood and Margaret Rol. In February 1986, The Observatory presented Suspending Belief, a group exhibition of Sydney photographers (Geoff Kleem, Jacky Redgate, Robyn Stacey and Anne Zahalka), and developed an exhibition of Brisbane photographers, Occlusion, that toured to the Australian Centre for Photography, Sydney, and then to THAT Space in December 1986. The Observatory was the focus of The Demolition Show (curated by John Stafford), which marked the demolition of the large city block bounded by George, Turbot, and Roma Streets in April 1986. The exhibited works were left in situ to be destroyed with the building. Of all the spaces, the short-lived Observatory has left the least archival trace, with few records or documentation available. In the end, it is the materials produced around the demise of the space in the context of The Demolition Show that offer the most tangible record of this space.
Excerpt from the University of Queensland exhibition essay: Ephemeral Traces – Brisbane Artist-Run Scene in the 1980s
Curator & Writer, Peter Anderson
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