Watch This Space
WTS was seeded as a response to the lack of contemporary arts activity in Alice Springs/Mparntwe in 1991 by five artists: Pam Lofts, Anne Mosey, Jan Mackay, Angela Gee and Pip McManus. WTS was first 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.
8 Gap Rd
Alice Springs, Northern Territory
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.
February 6, 2002
Pamela Lofts: Wide open spaces
The closure of their shop-front gallery [in Cummings Plaza off Todd Mall] is not the end of Watch This Space. Alice’s only artist-run initiative never was primarily about having permanent exhibition space: its main goal has been to foster experimental and non-commercial art, which often takes shape outside a gallery setting. Founding coordinator and on-going curator, Pamela Lofts, says loss of Australia Council funds which prompted the decision to close the gallery is being seen as “an opportunity to re-evaluate what we’ve been doing”.
“The gallery was a commercial space, chewing up a significant chunk of our budget, and may have altered our direction to a certain extent.”
The Space is also supported by Arts NT and these funds will be used to maintain a scaled-down program of events.This may include a second Outsite sculpture prize. The inaugural prize, with all work sited at the Desert Park, was one of the highlights of the Alice Springs Festival last year. Artists’ camps, now something of a Space tradition, are another possible focus. At this stage, and pending supplementary funding, three are planned at sites linked by the Finke River. As in the past, an established guest artist would lead the camps.
“Artist-run initiatives are about people, about who is prepared to do what,” says Lofts. “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, because it contributes so significantly to the cultural life of Alice Springs.” An AGM is due in March, when Lofts hopes an energetic committee will be elected to take the Space forward.