In 2010, six artists working out of the former Paterson’s furniture store in Collingwood set out to establish a space where emerging artists could create and exhibit new works. They formed a collective, took over what used to be the piano department and created Dear Patti Smith, a dynamic artist-run initiative. The name was not so much a tribute to the godmother of punk as a punning riff on the Smith St address.
Now in its second year, Dear Patti Smith has already played host to a diverse roster of artists mounting everything from graduate shows to gigs, and working in media as divergent as sculpture and soundscapes. Board members Anna Gilby and Marika Nilsen are clear on their philosophy and practise.
“We always envisaged that we had these two opportunities,” says Gilby, “one being a set program that’s locked in and the other being the availability of this space to do more than just exhibit.” Time-based artworks are of particular interest, and December will see the 10th instalment of Dear Patti Smith’s 3-DAY events, a series dedicated to projects and installations which occupy the gallery for a fleeting 72 hours.
“The motivation for 3-DAY has been twofold,” says Nilsen. “There is that kind of experimental practise that we are interested in, and breaking down what it is to present artwork, and that lends itself to those durational works. On the flipside there’s also been opportunity for less experienced artists to, in an affordable and accessible way, just get an exhibition out there.”
Like the3-DAY exhibitors, the Dear Patti Smith collective know they’re here for a good time, not a long time. “We’re conscious of a limited life span. Smith St and this whole area is changing and we will be nudged out, so I guess that’s really driving it to happen and happen quickly.”