”It’s colourful and big, and it’s for art”. That’s how Art Day South artist Paula Whiting describes Nebula, Australia’s first fully portable arts space.
We catch up with Nebula’s Artistic Director, Rhian Hinkley, to find out more about this unique project and take a sneak peek at how the space is developing.
Run by Arts Access Victoria, Art Day South is a cross-disciplinary contemporary arts project, committed to providing a place for artists with disabilities to explore, develop and produce new work.
In 2009, we made a list of things we wanted to achieve in the next five years. Among these was to work somewhere other than the Dingly Community Hall and the concept of taking our work to the audience rather than the audience coming to us.
Nebula was largely driven by this. We needed a space that was portable, flexible, fully accessible and adaptable to the needs of the artists. It had to be small enough to be towed by a domestic vehicle but large enough to host a reasonable number of people. We also wanted the design to reflect the work of the artists themselves.
Among the problems that had to be resolved were the issues to do with wheel chair access, keeping the weight down, and the flexibility to use the space for a wide range of purposes.
Whilst researching portable workspaces I stumbled upon a caravan named ‘The Markies’ designed by Dutch Architect Eduard Böhtlingk; the innovative design features walls that fold out, increasing the floor-space threefold.
One of the instigators of Nebula was Adam Rosza, who was working for Arts Access. He introduced us to Andrew Maynard Architects, who used our ideas to come up with the original concept for the space.
At our first meeting, Andrew showed us a portable workspace he had designed for the botanical gardens that seemed to fit with what we were trying to do. He later visited our studio in Dingly and was instantly excited by the work we were creating.
Andrew took his designs to Michael Whytlaw, a designer and engineer who had the task of turning the concept into a reality. Using innovative design and materials, Michael constructed the floor from a light-weight wood called “Paulownia” and used aluminium for the structure and the trailer itself.
The result: a fully portable space that can be transformed into a gallery, workshop/seminar space or performing arts venue, allowing artists with a disability the opportunity to inject their work into the mainstream arts community.
Nebula will be located at Federation Square’s Amphitheatre alongside ACMI from March 5-10 and will launch in conjunction with the William Kentridge: Five Themes exhibition. The studio will display Kentridge-inspired work and animation created by Art Day South artists.
Stay tuned for an exclusive video interview with Rhian, exploring this unique project further.