Sydney artists Caroline Rothwell and Abdul Abdullah reveal what their TWT studio space means to their practice.
At a time when inner city artists’ studios are scarce and artists are being pushed further and further away from the city, TWT Creative Precinct in St Leonards has offered valuable studio space to some of Australia’s leading contemporary visual artists including Abdul Abdullah and Caroline Rothwell.
Abdullah and Rothwell are currently working out of their expansive 50-metre square studio spaces within the TWT Creative Precinct, each offering vast windows and natural light essential for the artists to further their practice.
The studio space is part of dynamic artistic community that is thriving at the TWT Creative Precinct in St Leonards, supporting local artistic talent. The studios are one of only a few options artists have left in close proximity to the city centre.
Artist Caroline Rothwell who recently took up her residency said: “Studios in Sydney are really difficult to find: it’s incredibly expensive and square metreage is not within most artists budget. What is great about this studio is space. I’m on the ground floor and for sculpture that’s really important because I’m often lugging twenty-kilo bags of plaster around. I now have a studio with great light and good access. It’s really beautiful. I’ve managed to dig up old works to reconsider things, start afresh – it’s exciting. And there’s a real community of artists.”
Rothwell is known for her large-scale sculptures of hybrid animals and plants, which have been described as “nature on acid.” As Natalia Bradshaw, TWT’s art advisor and curator, notes: “Now Caroline is able to breathe with her work – it’s changed the scale of the work she can now create.”
TWT’s Manager of Arts Initiatives Ariel Zhang added: “The artists were chosen on their individuality, their characteristics, and their personality. It’s about artists who fit in well within the creative hub and about finding balance.”
For artist Abdul Abdullah, whose work Untitled was selected for this year’s Sulman Prize exhibition and who is a subject in Jonathan Dalton’s Archibald painting Abdul, the studio offer came at an opportune time having recently lost the lease at his studio collective in Alexandria where the building has now been converted to a furniture store. The photographer and painter creates work that explores the experience of the “other” in society, particularly young Australian Muslims.
Abdul Abdullah said: “Finding studios is a huge issue. Without a studio it’s really hard to have a practice and it’s really hard to have an ambitious practice or a practice where you can work at any type of scale.”
In return, instead of studio rent, each artist gifts one artwork a year to TWT Property Group’s founder and arts benefactor Tina Tian for her collection. Caroline Rothwell added: “We are given space and we pay our rent with artwork – most artists are art rich and cash poor, so that works really well. TWT are doing some interesting things – they are creating quite a hub in St Leonards.”
More than seventy artists and creatives are already practicing in the North Shore’s TWT Creative Precinct in fields ranging from dance to film to music production and leading contemporary visual artists join the creative hub with Tom Polo, Joan Ross, Karen Black, Jason Phu and Aly Indermühle also moving into the precinct over the coming months.
- AFR, ‘Art Pays Your Rent in St Leonards’
- AFR Weekend, ‘Modern Medici: Art Pays Your Rent’ (below)