Following an extensive transformation, the former warehouse and naval facility has been given new life and will continue to be the home of Artspace – one of the leading institutions for the production and presentation of contemporary art in the Asia-Pacific.
“The Gunnery has played a number of significant roles in Sydney’s cultural history – as a bond warehouse for the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper; a naval gun training facility during the second World War and for the past 35 years it has been a home for artists. It has housed some of NSW’s most significant arts organisations, and run an important artist residency program,” said Minister for the Arts John Graham.
“Now with Artspace as the sole permanent resident, and an extensive artist residency and exhibition program it is firmly positioned as an integrated and holistic space for the development, production and presentation of contemporary art.”
“This reimagined space promises to remain an important home for artists and creativity – shaping careers of artists and enrich the cultural life of NSW for generations to come,” said Minister Graham.
The Gunnery features expanded gallery spaces over 3 floors, 10 artist studios, a 250m2 multi-purpose space, an accessible archive, offices and new facilities for learning, performance and public programs.
Each year, 10 artists will take up residence in the spacious, light-filled studios during Artspace’s 35-year lease. The building will become an important space for the development of new work, and to support a total of 350 artists over the next three and a half decades.
Responding to the community’s need for a more connected, visible and inviting space, the gallery’s entrance has been reoriented onto the Forbes Street pedestrian plaza, reinstating an original doorway to connect with neighbouring pubs, cafes and restaurants surrounding the tree-lined public space.
The acclaimed premiere of Wiradyuri and Kamilaroi artist Jonathan Jones will be the first exhibition held at the gallery. Jones’ work untitled (transcriptions of country) examines the impact of Australia’s colonial past.
Colouring Memory, 2023 by Kamilaroi/Gamilaraay artist Dennis Golding, will be the first instalment as part of the Banner Series, and LOUPE by Debra Phillips is the inaugural of 3 artist-led archive-focused projects presented in the Ideas Platform.
Much of the building’s original heritage features have been restored, with brickwork and structural elements retained, including timber trusses and columns. Integrating renewable energy and designed to be fully accessible, the building has been equipped with modern improvements to complement the heritage restoration.
“In 1992, Artspace began its journey in The Gunnery, a building with a unique and remarkable history which we will continue to celebrate for the next 35 years,” said Artspace Executive Director Alexie Glass-Kantor.
With The Gunnery’s transformation, led by architectural firm DunnHillam, Artspace now has the capacity to support multi-platform programming by artistic and creative leaders that are going to be living, making and working for decades to come.”
“The Gunnery building has now been transformed to be fit for purpose to allow for the agility of exhibitions, residencies, public programs, community gatherings, supporting the production and presentation of new work by living artists.
“The NSW State Government’s tremendous leadership and enduring investment has secured the building as a space for contemporary art, bolstering Artspace’s unique opportunity to demonstrate the potential for artistic leadership in the state.”
“We are so excited, not only for what is happening today, but for tomorrow and generations to come,” said Alexie Glass-Kantor.
The Gunnery project was proudly supported by the NSW Government, through Create NSW, assisted by NSW Public Works, and led by award-winning architects DunnHillam. For more information, visit: www.artspace.org.au for details.
Image: Exterior of Artspace in The Gunnery, featuring new commission by Dennis Golding, Colouring Memory, 2023 – photo by Katherine Lu