With 23 empty shops along Fitzroy Street St Kilda waiting to be rented, there has been much debate in state and local government, as well as among property developers and on the streets, as to why Fitzroy Street; from Grey Street down to the beach has become a tumble-weed zone.
Mobile artist Tommy Langra working at his draughtsman buggy
Inspired by the May St Kilda Art Crawl and with assistance from owners of 33 Fitzroy Street, Jenny Li and husband Rob Semple, GRID ART SPACE (GAS) organized a group of local artists to join forces. The result is an outstanding high-end pop-up art gallery in the middle of this neglected zone, to show what can be done with talent and teamwork.
This is the second time GRID ART SPACE in association with St Kilda Art Crawl hosted a pop-up art gallery in that space. GAS is a collaboration between Shakespeare Grove artist Adrian Spurr and producer / publicist Kerrie Pacholli with the aim to fill empty spaces with art and culture to bring about growth.
With encouraging sales on both occasions, the organizers received much praise from delighted visitors with encouragement to keep it open. But this of course can only happen with the community support of both local and state government.
With the debate still open most would agree that this collaborative artistic and cultural inclusion added much needed prestige to an otherwise depressed local economy.
During this St Kilda Art Crawl May 25, 26 & 27starting from 10am GAS will be working in collaboration to showcase the works of sculptures, painters, photographers, filmmakers and local businesses in Fitzroy Street. Artists include:
The Alex Theatre – Level 1/ 135 Ftzroy Stree, St Kilda an exhibition by Sculptor Adrian Spurr and Stonemason Calthestoner
At Punchinello Pop-Up – 33 Fitzroy Street St Kilda – Master printmaker & sculptor Adrian Spurr, Stonemason Calthestoner, Salvatori Lolicato with ceramics. Photographer Michael Kluge, painter & poet Tommy Langra and painter & curator Marko Maglaic.
The Linden Tree – 11 Fitzroy Street, St Kilda – exhibits by Emily Humphries and Calthestoner
St Luja – 9 Fitzroy Street, St Kilda a pop-up poetry event featuring Marian Webb, Hamish Danks Brown, Yoram Symons & singer Lisa Wood
HQ Gallery and Bar – 7 Fitzroy Street, St Kilda – A collective Aboriginal exhibition featuring Pop Indigineous artist Dino Damiani
For a live viewing of Calthestoner’s work he will be exhibiting at the Alex Theatre, Punchinello Pop-Up, 33 Fitzroy Street St Kilda, The Linden Tree – 11 Fitzroy Street, and HQ Gallery – 7 Fitzroy Street, St Kilda during the May St Kilda Art Crawl25, 26 & 27 . Map download
Australian sculptor and artisan stonemason
I explore changes in natural stone, through placement in different environments.
I begin sculpting when I discover specific veins of sandstone. A large portion of my work is Grampians sandstone, sourced in Victoria.
The weight and logistics of larger scale works, led me to begin ‘portable’ sculptures. The first portable, Stone River #6, weighs 800 kilos. The early works are from the Stone River series.
St Kilda Artist Thomas J. Barker-Webb, also professionally known as Tommy Langra and Tomb was born into a loving home where formal education mattered.
At the age of 4, upon reading a library book introduced to him by his mother referencing the mystical powers of Buddhist meditation Tom became hooked on the world of the unseen. From that point he continues to be a voracious reader and his quest for knowledge and inspiration remain paramount.
By the age of 8 he is reading books assigned to 20 year olds. Needless to say the authorities determined that Tomb, as he would sign his Art from an early age, was deemed an above average intelligence.
With the support of his loving family, his diet of books, his formal education at Scotch College, Geelong Grammar and Deakin University where Tom completed a Masters Degree in Architecture, he was earmarked for ‘old school’ success. After working as a draftsman in tandem with his studies and then professionally for 4 years after graduation a total of 10 years, Tom was advancing in his professional popularity and his 6 figure career.
Some would call it self-sabotage, others would call it artistic liberation that a number of years ago Thomas decided to live the road less travelled and leave his Architectural career to be the quintessential grass roots, street artist / vendor. A lifestyle, from my view, that is not for the faint hearted.
After such an investment in your Architectual career why did you put it on the back burner?
I simply didn’t have the energy to work on all the creative agenda that I had set myself. The more I was surrounded by regular office culture, I invested less in my productive self, and the more I behaved like a regular 9-5er.
I simply couldn’t face being in front of a computer day in day out. I had become an architect in order to draw – with a set of manual tools, the industry doesn’t support that as much as it used to.
Tell us what you love about your current lifestyle and artistic expression?
Whenever I think ‘oh maybe I should get a desk job and earn some money’ I look at what I’m doing and I can’t help myself but pick up my drawing utensil and keep going.
It’s extreme; it’s exhausting, mentally and physically and I love that, it tests my capacity as an individual to the limits. I draw non-stop all day in all weather conditions from gale force winds to 45+ degree days. What I work on is as important if not more than how I would work in professional practice. It requires all the same problem solving skills – and more because of the conditions!
How does your robust formal education assist you on your current journey?
Good question. I apply all my studies to the task: from research and essay writing, to woodwork, to physics, to architectural contracts.
At the end of the day, what we produce is only a display of our own conceptual understanding. Our desires and our distastes: the effort and patience, the diligence that we apply ourselves to them. The more that we nourish them and test them, the wealthier, richer and more resilient the outcome, both to our own selves yet also to the questioning minds of others.
The better the sources that we rely on, the less arguable is the notion, as the soil that nourished; has stood firm through human history.
“An educated person’s ideas of Art are drawn naturally from what Art has been, whereas the new work of art is beautiful by being what Art has never been… A temperament capable of receiving, through an imaginative medium, and under imaginative conditions, new and beautiful impressions, is the only temperament that can appreciate a work of art.” Oscar Wilde
Every day except Sunday Tommy Langra of ArchAngle Studios rides his self modified bike and homemade draftsman cart from St Kilda to his current post at the front of Hamer Hall at the Art Centre.
You will also have the opportunity to meet this extraordinary artist at Punchinello Pop Up 33 Fitzroy Street during this forthcoming St Kilda Art Crawl on the 25, 26, 27 May 2018. Stay tuned…