Tinning Street in Brunswick has been home to a community of creators and producers for over a decade. Behind the anonymous facades between Sydney Road and the Upfield train line are studios of artists and musicians, workshops and galleries. The buildings are mid-century red and yellow brick and, at street level, there are more garage doors than front doors. Inside, the spaces are classically post-industrial with white walls, large windows and polished concrete floors. In a laneway off Tinning St there is street art (commissioned and otherwise), and light globes strung across the laneway to provide light during art openings and gigs, when audiences spill into the street, red wine in hand.
Local gallery Tinning Street Presents was instrumental in personalising the thoroughfare, extending art beyond its front doors. The gallery is situated in an old industrial space, accessible through a side lane. There are swathes of paint on the polished concrete floor when I enter, part of the gallery’s June exhibition by Naomi Nicholls and Linda Loh. Tinning Street Presents is one of two galleries in the area after last’s year arrival of contemporary art gallery, Neon Parc II from the CBD. A dynamic installation by Paul Yore fills the crisp white hall chosen as the gallery’s second site. With two galleries and many more studios, the area turns into an occasional art destination when there are simultaneous exhibition openings, or community-organised studio open days. Such events display a diversity of method and practice in the area.
In conversation with Tinning Street Presents gallery manager Belinda and owner Marito, I am offered a beautiful insight into the area the gallery has called home for the past seven years.
How would you describe Tinning Street Presents’ gallery and mission?
It’s quite tricky to describe the type of gallery we operate as. We’re a bit of a hybrid. The term “Shared Responsibility” is the closest we’ve come. We are consciously programmed in the same way a commercial gallery is, but in order to show artists who are not necessarily commercial we split a lot of the responsibility and costs with them in the same way an ARI might. It’s really tough for some artists to get their work out there if their sole focus isn’t making money, particularly for installation or multimedia artists, they’re kind of shunned by commercial spaces but are perhaps too far into their career for community spaces. We’re in the middle. We’re professional and considered, but we’re also willing to show work based on the merit of the artist, not how well we think they’ll sell.
Tinning St is home to artist studios and galleries – what does this community mean for you and Tinning Street Presents?
We’re quite a tight knit community, which has organically grown over the years. For me personally, I spend a lot of time in the area, and it’s quite industrial so knowing that there are people around is important. I love the feeling I sometimes get when walking down the lane, that we’re like a little country town, it’s quite an old fashioned neighbour situation. It’s also great for the gallery as it means we have a sustainable environment with artists, a platform, and a captive audience all contained within the same couple of blocks.
What kinds of changes have you seen in the area during your time at Tinning Street Presents and The Pea Green Boat studios?
When I founded The Pea Green Boat Studios back in 2007, it was based purely on the building and the rent. It was later that I realised there were a handful of existing creative businesses already. Jack The Bear mastering studio had moved in the year before, and there was an independent artist who had his studio opposite. They’re both still here, only now there’s three warehouses of studios containing a total of around 40 artists, our gallery which opened seven years ago, and two music studios are in our block alone. We’ve also got Neon Parc gallery which opened last year, and another huge music studio further down the street.
To make a long story short, it has changed a lot over the past nine years! But the change has been a slow and positive one, the street seems to nurture this kind of creative propagation.
Words: Amelia Willis
Tinning Street Presents
Lot 5/29 Tinning Street
1/53 Bourke Street
15 Tinning Street