In late 2014, I was starting to become restless at my job and knew I needed to make a change, I'd always had dreams of running my own gallery but had never really given it any serious thought. But now, I decided I had to talk to someone who really knew the realities of setting up an independent art gallery.
I had recently started working with Barb Nanshe from Nanshe studio gallery on another art-related project, the Newcastle Gallery Collective and I felt comfortable enough to ask her the nitty gritty personal questions, like how much did it cost to set-up her gallery, how much is her weekly rent, how does she cover this rent, does she make a living from it. I was relieved to find that although it was daunting, the reality of setting-up a gallery like Nanshe's was actually within my reach.
The next step would be finding a space.
I considered Renew Newcastle, but I really wanted to be close to home and my studio at the Newcastle Community Arts Centre (Hamilton East/Newcastle West). Then one day Barb told me that the Hunter Animal Watch op shop which is almost opposite her gallery was moving a few shops up and that space would soon be up for lease. At first, I had decided to re-focus at work and my own art-making, but as my temp contract was coming to an end at LMCAG, the more I wanted a new beginning and to have a gallery of my own to run.
So, I made an appointment with the real estate and had a look inside the shop space. It had great natural lighting, nice round lights and ceiling fans. To me it already looked like a gallery space, it just needed another coat of paint, a wall built to hide the toilet/kitchen and a gallery hanging system and I'd be good to go. So with a bit of naivety, all my savings and my parents on the lease as guarantors, my application was accepted and I became the proud Lessee of 139A Beaumont St Hamilton 2303.
~ Ahn Wells