Interview :: Joseph Allen Shea for Gallery A.S.

November 1st 2011


Look at it from whatever angle you want, Joseph Allen Shea is a man with his finger firmly on the pulse. From the beloved Monster Children Gallery to his one-stop mixed art business izrock, from his rapidly expanding list of excellent collaborators to the latest roaming curatorial project Gallery A.S., it seems you can’t escape the indelible Shea stamp on Sydney’s thriving art scene. And I, for one, am glad for it.

Gallery A.S. has proved a valuable addition to the city, breathing life into some of our most hidden or wasted spaces. Darlinghurst’s quite spectacular Christian Science Church, the old Paramount Pictures building, Campbelltown Arts Centre, and now a disused sex shop on George Street have each experienced Shea’s particular brand of home improvement, and were, for the limited run of the exhibitions, all the better for it.

There is an air of excitement to the idea of a floating gallery; there's something reminiscent of breaking into construction sites, or midnight swims. It adds to the enthusiasm previous shows have attracted. It’s not everyday an exhibition opening warrants a guest list, but that’s exactly what Gallery A.S. seems to encourage, like a modern day Parisian salon. Throw in the fact that the list of artists involved so far reads like a veritable who’s who of emerging Australian artists (this time its street artist-cum-internationally renowned painter Anthony Lister) and baby you’ve got a stew going.

The Flog caught up with Joseph Allen Shea to find out how on earth he manages to keep it all up!

Flog: Firstly, I love the floating gallery concept and I think what you're doing curatorially is really interesting. It's great to even get to see inside some of the spaces! How did Gallery A.S get off the ground?

Shea: Gallery A.S. came after five years of running Monster Children Gallery and curating several shows in institutions in Australia and Europe. After working inside galleries for that time I wanted to reach a more varied audience. I felt this could be done by creating interest around architecture and environment and how these things could relate to contemporary art. Like any new project, the way it began through personal investment – physcial, mental and financial.

The spaces so far have been so ambient and perfectly suited to the work. Do you choose the work based on the space, or vice versa, or has it just been serendipity?

It can go both ways and a collaboration with the artists and their visions is very important. I am always looking for new spaces. Daniel Askill's work warranted a church and we found one. Then the curatorial theme for Motion/Pictures was inspired by the building that it would be housed in – the former offices for Paramount Pictures.

What is it that the moving gallery can do that a more traditional gallery space might not be able to do you think?

Use context to bend perception.

And next up is Anthony Lister – is it new work in this show? How did you hook up with him?

This exhibition is all new work. I have worked with him on and off and in various capacities for around 6 years. We have collaborated on a solo show, a publication, written text, museum exhibitions and pub lunches.

What: Anthony Lister at Gallery A.S.

Where: 779 George St (near rai


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